Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and wrestling are physically demanding sports that require elite levels of endurance. To be a successful grappler, you must be able to outlast your opponent. This means having the stamina to roll for long periods of time without getting tired. And when you’re tired, you need the mental fortitude required to focus on your match.
There are four things you can do to improve your endurance for BJJ: cardio, strength training, adequate sleep, and a nutritious diet with the right supplements added. Here, in the 4th article in our series, we show you the nutrients and supplements that help grapplers recover quickly and improve their endurance.
What is creatine?
Creatine is a natural substance that helps to increase dense muscle mass and strength. It is used by the body to produce energy, especially during short-bursts of intense exercise. Studies shown that creatine can improve performance in short-burst, high-intensity exercises, such as grappling.
How creatine improves your endurance
Creatine works by providing your body with a readily available source of energy. When creatine is taken in supplement form, it is stored in the muscles as creatine phosphate. When your body needs energy, it breaks down creatine phosphate into creatine and phosphate. The creatine is used to produce energy and the phosphate is used to regenerate more creatine phosphate — a virtuous cycle of gains! This helps athletes train harder and longer and helps you recover quicker from grueling workouts and rolling sessions.
Your body needs protein to repair, grow, and strengthen your muscles. Elite-level grapplers consume 1.2 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight to help their bodies recover from hard training sessions. Good sources of protein include meat like beef, chicken, and fish, eggs, and protein powder. The best forms of protein powder are whey protein, pea protein, and egg protein. Generally whey protein tastes better then pea protein their BCAA profiles are similar to each other and it’s been proven that their effects on muscle growth is the same. Source: The Effects of Whey vs. Pea Protein on Physical Adaptations Following 8-Weeks of High-Intensity Functional Training (HIFT): A Pilot Study
Eating 1.2 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight may sound like a lot of protein, and it is. If you weigh 180lbs, that’s between 216 to 270 grams of protein every day… but it’s worth it! High levels of protein lead to massive strength and recovery gains. These strength gains help you better control your opponents, escape from submissions, perform more aggressive takedowns and throws, and of course win competitions.
Citrulline is a naturally-occuring amino acid known to improve blood flow. It does this by converting into arginine, another amino acid, which enhances your body’s nitric oxide (NO) production. This widens and dilates your blood vessels to improve blood flow, which improves your aerobic endurance. The nitrix oxide boost from citrulline provides numerous athletic benefits:
- enhanced exercise performance,
- reduced muscle fatigue,
- improved cardiovascular health,
- and, diminished post-exercise muscle soreness.
These endurance benefits are exactly why athletes supplement their diets with citrulline. Taking this supplement doesn’t only allow you to outlast your wrestling opponent, it also improves your ground game by allowing you to better focus and mentally absorb new techniques.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids, are a group of three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These amino acids play a crucial role in muscle protein synthesis and are taken by grappling athletes to improve their endurance and muscle recovery.
When you engage in an intense rolling session your muscles undergo stress and fatigue. BCAAs combat this by providing your body with the necessary building blocks to repair and rebuild muscle tissue. Let's take a closer look at how BCAAs enhance your athletic performance:
BCAAs: Muscle Recovery and Reduced Fatigue
BCAAs are known for their ability to reduce muscle damage and promote faster recovery. During high-intensity exercise, muscle fibers undergo micro-tears and breakdown. BCAAs help kickstart the repair process, reducing the extent of muscle damage and aiding in the recovery phase. By minimizing muscle damage and soreness, BCAAs can help you bounce back quicker, allowing for more frequent and productive training sessions.
BCAAs: Delayed Muscle Fatigue
One of the key benefits of BCAAs lies in their potential to delay the onset of muscle fatigue during prolonged exercise. When you engage in endurance activities like long wrestling matches or intense training sessions, your body begins to rely more heavily on BCAAs as an energy source. By supplementing with BCAAs, you provide your muscles with an additional fuel source, helping to preserve glycogen stores and prevent the breakdown of muscle protein. This delay in fatigue can allow you to push harder, maintain intensity, and outlast your opponents.
BCAAs: Muscle Protein Synthesis
Leucine, one of the BCAAs, plays a particularly crucial role in stimulating muscle protein synthesis. It activates the molecular pathways responsible for muscle growth and repair. By consuming BCAAs, you provide your body with the necessary leucine to trigger muscle protein synthesis, promoting the development of lean muscle mass over time. This can contribute to greater strength, power, and overall athletic performance.
BCAAs: Mental Focus and Performance
Beyond their physical benefits, BCAAs can also have positive effects on mental performance. During intense wrestling matches or rigorous training sessions, maintaining focus and mental clarity is essential. BCAAs can help by crossing the blood-brain barrier and serving as a source of energy for the brain. This can enhance mental focus, allowing you to stay sharp, react quickly, and absorb new techniques with greater efficiency.
Incorporating BCAAs into your supplementation routine can provide you with a competitive edge, supporting your endurance, recovery, and overall athletic performance. However, it's important to remember that BCAAs are not a substitute for a well-rounded diet and training program. They work best when used in conjunction with a balanced nutrition plan and proper hydration, rest, and recovery.
As with any supplement, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian to determine the appropriate dosage and timing of BCAA supplementation based on your specific needs and goals. By optimizing your nutrition and incorporating BCAAs strategically, you can enhance your wrestling performance, outlast your opponents, and reach new heights in your athletic journey.
- "Creatine Supplementation: A Review of Scientific Evidence" by Jagim et al. (2016) in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. This article is a comprehensive review of the scientific literature on creatine supplementation. It cites over 100 studies and concludes that creatine is a safe and effective dietary supplement that can improve athletic performance.
- "The Effects of Creatine Supplementation on Exercise Performance and Body Composition" by Rawson et al. (2017) in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. This study investigated the effects of creatine supplementation on exercise performance and body composition in a group of resistance-trained men. The study found that creatine supplementation significantly increased muscle mass and strength, and it also improved performance in high-intensity exercise.
- "Creatine Supplementation and Creatine Kinase Activity" by Kreider et al. (2003) in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. This study investigated the effects of creatine supplementation on creatine kinase activity in a group of resistance-trained men. The study found that creatine supplementation did not increase creatine kinase activity, which suggests that it is not harmful to the kidneys.
- "Creatine Supplementation and Muscle Creatine Content" by Volek et al. (1999) in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. This study investigated the effects of creatine supplementation on muscle creatine content in a group of resistance-trained men. The study found that creatine supplementation significantly increased muscle creatine content, which suggests that it can help athletes produce more energy during exercise.
- "Creatine Supplementation and Body Weight" by Candow et al. (2011) in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. This study investigated the effects of creatine supplementation on body weight in a group of resistance-trained men. The study found that creatine supplementation did not significantly increase body weight, which suggests that it is not likely to cause weight gain.
- "Creatine Supplementation and Muscle Function" by Sale et al. (1998) in the Journal of Applied Physiology. This study investigated the effects of creatine supplementation on muscle function in a group of resistance-trained men. The study found that creatine supplementation significantly improved muscle function, which suggests that it can help athletes perform better during exercise.