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Improve your cardio by not improving your cardio

It happens all the time: young, terrifyingly strong and athletic dudes come into the gym. They roll a round or two and then go panting and wheezing to the edge of the mat.

“Man,” they say. “I’ve got to improve my cardio!”

I’m never going to say no to self-improvement, so yeah, we should all work on expanding our gas tank. But it’s funny that these guys rarely look around and see that people older, less strong and more girthsome around the waist are continuing to roll with no worries.

You may notice that the Revolution BJJ blog is one of the permalinks down at the bottom. That’s because they post articles like this one from Andrew Smith, who has a bunch of great tips allowing you to roll for longer even if you’re not blessed with cardio for days. Like most things in jiu-jitsu, technique and approach make the biggest differences.

Now that I’ve been learning jiu-jitsu for a while, I feel my body becoming much more efficient in movement. I do less to achieve the same results I used to have to strain for. When I took several weeks off with an injury, I came back and my cardio was garbage — but I could still roll several rounds and be less tired than the new folks.

Fitness is great. Cardio is important. We all should work on improving it. But I try to remember that technique and approach are often at the crux of what we’re trying to address, and I think Andrew’s article does a great job of showing that.

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About Jeff

I write, work for social justice, listen to music and grapple. That's about it for now.

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