Is Mat Time Always Better Than Strength and Conditioning?

Training, diet, lifestyle, it’s all a damn mystery. Every decade a new commonly-accepted wisdom comes out. The only thing I’m fairly certain of is that you need water and sleep, and even that seems to be optional for the tougher specimens of our species (aka collegiate wrestlers).

Anyway, I read an interview recently with someone big (I think Fabio Gurgel) where he said that strength and conditioning is never better than mat time (drilling, positional sparring, competition training). However, he continued to make the argument that you still should do strength and conditioning to prevent burning out mentally.

I like that philosophy. Strength and conditioning is the thing you do to spice up your relationship with jiu jitsu. At the end of the day, technique will conquer all, and you won’t learn technique running on a treadmill. But we are not robots, and can’t do the hard boring thing every time. We need to do the fun things as well.

Epilogue: Have you ever written something full of contradictions, and at the end you are not sure you agree with any of it? Well that’s what this blog post is for me. But I think the internal conflict I have on the subject represents something: the fact that it’s not easy to design the perfect training regimen under the constraints of real life and real mind.

0 thoughts on “Is Mat Time Always Better Than Strength and Conditioning?

  1. PhilQNY

    Jiu Jitsu is Jitsu Jitsu training.. You should do what you feel is right for you. I connect it all together while understanding the differences of life activites.. I’m a Jiu Jitsu player.. loves to train… on and off the mats.. Improve my mind and body daily.. rollerblade hard core Queens NY… I’m motivated by passion for action! : )

    Reply
    1. Lex Post author

      A life of action! Lol. There’s something really fulfilling though in spending all your time on the mats. It’s liberating in a way. To go through the full spectrum of emotions on the mat, from exhausted to ecstatic, from annoyed to content.

      Rollerblading is awesome by the way.

      Reply
  2. Josh Vogel

    Great post! I like what you said about spicing up your relationship to Jiujitsu. I think another point is that s and c and other physical activities outside of grappling can help keep the body from getting imbalances and injuries that come from doing too much of one activity.

    Reply
    1. Lex Post author

      That’s the reality of it, you’re right. Strength and conditioning rounds out the holes in your muscular system (is that a thing?). But in theory, you you can fix those imbalances by playing different jiu jitsu games on a regular basis. That’s probably highly idealistic and impractical however.

      Reply
  3. Kristin

    I think it depends on the sport as well. For judo/wrestling the s&c aspect is very important because it enables you to add explosiveness and speed to the techniques you are perfecting on the mat. Those facets of the game may not be as important for jujitsu.

    Reply
  4. Lex Post author

    Yeah, I think you’re right. But to watch the very top level wrestlers and judoka, everything always seems effortless. They are clearly master technicians above all else. I also wonder how much strength and conditioning heavy weights do vs lighter weights. So someone like Tamerlan Tmenov and Aleksandr Karelin vs Rishod Sobirov and Cael Sanderson.

    Reply
  5. Shaz

    Btw, great blog. I found it when I googled ‘jiujitsu never quit’ btw.

    I don’t know..I recently tore my LCL after a white belt armbarred me a few weeks ago and as a blue belt girl, it made me realise my limitations in jiujitsu. It’s put me out of action for 2 months and it also made me think that I need to build up on my strength and conditioning more (I used to do strength & conditioning for MMA once a week and a kettlebell programme once a week on top of jiujitsu twice to three times a week). Sure, technique is great, but as a 5’1.5″, 132 lb girl, I still didn’t manage to handle a crazy spazzy white belt that great…

    Reply
    1. Lex Post author

      Thanks Shaz. Sadly, you’re right. I’ve used strength quite often to prevent injury. In the ideal world, if everyone in training would just relax and use good technique, then perhaps 132 lbs blue belt girl could go against a 200+ lbs white belt. Sorry to hear about your injury. Heal up!

      Reply

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