Warm-ups are an absolutely vital part of every sport, but it can be easy to encounter some common mistakes when trying to warm up for a BJJ class. It can be tempting to avoid warming up altogether as it’s often seen as tedious or boring, but it’s incredibly valuable and can provide numerous benefits. The primary benefit of warming up is that it allows grapplers to properly prepare their body for sparring, dramatically reducing the injury risk associated with the sport. Not only that, but attempting high-intensity exercise without a proper warm up can result in an adrenaline dump that reduces performance in subsequent rounds.
5 Common Mistakes In BJJ Warm-Ups
Much like any other high-intensity activity, there are some basic mistakes in warm-ups that must be avoided for them to have the desired effect in a BJJ class. At the same time, grappling is an unique sport in that it doesn’t really hyper-focus on one particular motion or muscle-group. BJJ is the definition of a full-body exercise and it also has the added difficulty of being an incredibly technical sport. Developing strength or cardio doesn’t improve performance linearly, it acts as a multiplier because technical knowledge is the real difference in performance. That’s why it’s so important to avoid these mistakes when performing warm-ups before BJJ, in order to get the most out of training and increase technical development as much as possible.
Static Stretching Isn’t Warming Up
Older grapplers doing ‘warm-ups’ by slowly stretching on the mats is a common sight in BJJ gyms, and it’s also one of the biggest mistakes that anyone can make. Static stretching without movement often attracts older grapplers because it’s much easier on the body and on the gas-tank, but it doesn’t actually function as a warm-up at all. Yoga and other methods of slowly stretching the body work very well as both injury rehabilitation and injury prevention when done as a separate exercise, but they don’t actually prepare the body for high-intensity exercise at all. Instead, grapplers need to actually get a sweat going before they start sparring.
Mistakes On The Length Of BJJ Warm-Ups
Even if coaches accept that warm-ups are a necessary part of a BJJ class, that doesn’t mean that they won’t make the closely-linked mistakes of spending too much or too little time on them. If someone makes themselves do a practice they don’t enjoy then it can be easy to skim through it a minute or two, and this is almost as bad as not doing it at all when it comes to warm-ups. At the same time, old-school coaches are famous for essentially doing a half-hour cardio conditioning session before class begins. An effective warm up should cause a grappler to start sweating, but not actually tire them out before sparring has even started.
Cooling Down Before Rolling
A common practice in BJJ gyms that avoid most of these mistakes and do warm-ups somewhat correctly is to start with them for 5-10 minutes before going into the technical portion of the class for almost an hour, and then sparring at the end. The problem with this is that there’s so much time in between the warm-up and the exercise that they’re preparing for. That means that the people sparring are almost entirely cooled back down by the time they start, and this is virtually the same as not doing a warm-up at all. It’s far better to have the technical portion of the class serve as the warm-up, or to move the warm-up in between the technical portion and sparring instead.
Wasting That Valuable Time
Everyone in a BJJ class pays to be there and one of the biggest mistakes is to use some of that time for warm-ups that don’t serve the purpose of getting better at the sport. Light jogging definitely serves as a good way to warm up in general, but 5-10 minutes spent jogging during a BJJ class is 5-10 minutes that could be better spent. There are several different movements that are vital to success in grappling, but can also double as a warm up as well. It’s far better to use that time warming up as time to perfect those movements, or with a light version of sparring that doesn’t involve much resistance at all.
Mistakes Can Be Made With Light Sparring Warm-Ups
A light sparring round without much resistance at all is one of the best warm-ups available for a BJJ class, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be mistakes made with this too. It’s very common for grapplers to start this idea with good intentions but then as soon as they start getting swept or passed, they increase the intensity. Naturally when the other grappler feels this increase, they do the same and within seconds both of them are sparring at full pace. This is functionally no different to avoiding warm-ups altogether so it’s vital to avoid making mistakes like this by focusing on executing correct BJJ movements and transitions instead of ‘winning’.
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