A lot of things go into being successful at BJJ.
First and foremost, you need to know the techniques inside and out. Your head needs to be in the right place. You need to put in the hours on the mat.
On top of all that, your body needs to be able to keep up – especially if you want to compete.
It seems obvious that you’d need to take care of your body in a physically demanding activity like BJJ. But a lot of jiu jitsu practitioners neglect their body.
While there’s a lot more to BJJ than physical ability, it does give you a great base on which to progress and succeed. So if you’re thinking it’s time for your game to take the next step, or struggling to keep up with a rigorous training schedule, you should see what supplementation can do for you.
Do I Need Supplements for BJJ? Why?
First of all, you don’t need to take supplements. For most people, it’s possible to maintain a high level of physical health through just eating well, living smart and training smart.
You might see a significant improvement in your physical ability just by cutting out the junk food and going out on the town less.
However, there’s no arguing that BJJ puts a toll on the body. Unless you have herculean genetics, training regularly and competing usually takes a more carefully managed nutritional intake than the average Joe.
So, while you don’t need to take supplements, they can help you stay on the mats longer, progress faster, and even make up for the odd night out or Big Mac.
I’m a big believer in supplements for daily life, to improve general health. So obviously I think it makes a lot of sense for BJJ athletes (and all types of athlete) to incorporate smart supplementation to their training regime.
How Do Supplements Help For BJJ?
There are many reasons to take supplements for BJJ and grappling.
- Joint support
- Immune function
- Bone health
- Mental clarity
While all these points are important for everyday health and wellbeing, they come into play even more when you’re a BJJ athlete.
The first is recovery.
We put our bodies through a ton of strain in training, rolling, sparring, etc. It takes time for the body to repair itself from this strain. If you’re training every day, your body may not get the time it needs to repair naturally. Supplements can help speed up this process.
On a similar note, maintaining the energy needed to train every day is hard. We’ve all had days where we just can’t muster the energy to train, especially when you have to go to work and deal with everyday life too. And while it’s good to take a day off every now and then, supplementation can give you a little extra push to give 110% in training, keeping your energy levels topped up on those days where you’re not quite firing on all cylinders.
Things like joint support, immune function, bone health and mental clarity are important for everyone. But when you train BJJ, and you’re getting your limbs bent, your body knocked around and you’re in close contact with a lot of other people, it becomes essential to maintain these areas of health and wellbeing.
The Best Supplements for Fighters & BJJ Competitors
If you want to take your training to the next level, any of these supplements are going to help.
One of the biggest drivers of muscle growth and recovery is protein. And in modern diets, we just don’t get enough of it on a regular basis.
You might think of it as something for bodybuilders, but protein powder has great benefits for BJJ and martial arts too. Taking protein, particularly after a training session, helps you develop stronger and leaner muscles, which is really beneficial for BJJ.
Protein also aids recovery of damaged muscle and tissue, which you’ll recognize as the soreness in your muscles after working out. Taking protein after training helps your body get back to 100% that much quicker.
There are obviously a million different protein powders out there, including mass gainer or lean protein, to suit athletes with different goals. There are thousands of brands you couldn’t go wrong with, but our pick is MusclePharm’s Combat Protein.
MusclePharm is a brand used and trusted by many high-level athletes. They put extensive work into ensuring their products are the highest quality, and provide the most benefits possible. Many of their products, including this one, are rigorously tested to ensure no banned or unexpected substances are present. A big plus if you intend on competing at a high level.
Pre-workout & Energy Supplements
Pre-workout supplements can be a divisive subject. To some people they’re essential, to some they’re just like snake oil.
There are a lot of placebos out there, as well as a lot of products that just make you jittery and have no real benefit to your performance. But if you get a good one, that supports energy levels over extended, balanced periods, you’ll see a big difference in your training.
Gold BJJ PreRoll is designed specifically for BJJ, which is an important selling point. A lot of pre-workout supplements are designed for weightlifting, which requires very different energy patterns. This supplement helps you maintain an energy boost over a several hour training session, as opposed to just a few heavy lifts.
Another option for energy supplementation pre-training is Onnit’s Shroom Tech Sport. Onnit’s clinically studied formula takes several natural ingredients, intended to give a natural yet effective energy boost, as well as improving cardiovascular performance and reducing fatigue.
Onnit has performed real, verified tests that show the positive athletic effects of Shroom Tech. Plus, Joe Rogan endorses it. What more do you need?
BCAAs, or Branched-Chain Amino Acids, work towards a lot of the same benefits as protein powder. Muscle growth, recovery and reduction of soreness and fatigue.
Amino acids help serve as building blocks for protein in the body. Basically, without amino acids you won’t have protein, and your body won’t be able to build and sustain muscle.
Some amino acids are produced naturally by the body, but some “essential” amino acids cannot be, meaning you need to get them from your diet. That’s where BCAA supplements come in, helping you get the full range of amino acids your body needs to build and repair muscle.
Again, we’re going to recommend MusclePharm’s product here, for much of the same reasons as their protein powder. Trusted by all kinds of athletes (including combat sports athletes), tested to ensure it does the job, and free of any banned or dodgy substances.
There are two kinds of people who can really benefit from Glucosamine. Old people, and BJJ athletes.
That’s because glucosamine is a compound that helps with joint pain. That means it’s most commonly taken by people suffering from arthritis, or people whose joints come under a lot of stress (like BJJ athletes).
Regularly taking glucosamine will help you avoid the aches and pains in your joints that show up after training for a while.
Jocko Joint Warfare, a product put out by retired US Navy Seal and BJJ black belt Jocko Willink, is a great product targeted specifically for athletes. It contains a large dose of glucosamine, as well as turmeric, curcumin and boswellia, which all have additional anti-inflammatory properties. It’s got all you need to reduce stiffness and increase training time.
Fish oil is a great all-round supplement, good for overall health and wellbeing. It provides you with healthy omega-3 fatty acids, in a supplement form that’s more convenient than going out and eating a boatload of tuna.
Fish oil has a ton of health benefits. Of some of the widely believed benefits, improved cardiovascular health, improved mental clarity and reduced inflammation all have direct benefits to your jiu jitsu game. Like glucosamine, fish oil can also be really good at reducing joint pain and stiffness, which makes it a no-brainer supplement for BJJ athletes.
Another everyday supplement, many people take a multivitamin to improve overall health. As our diet and food preparation has evolved, we don’t get enough of many vital nutrients from eating normally. That’s what a multivitamin is for, to kind of “top up” our overall nutrient intake.
A multivitamin generally contains a range of vitamins and minerals, which assist with a wide range of bodily functions, such as energy metabolism, immune health and bone health.
There are hundreds of multivitamins you can’t go wrong with, but the one I take is Mega Men Sport from GNC. The mixture is focused particularly towards athletic performance and muscle function, as well as providing antioxidants to fight inflammation. It won’t take you from zero to 100 like a pre-workout supplement, but with consistent use you’ll feel a noticeable difference in everyday energy levels.
Lack of vitamin D is quite a common thing today, with our modern lifestyles. We’re inside all day, which means we don’t get enough of one of the main sources of vitamin D – sunlight. It’s not something that is present in many foods, so supplementation is the best way to ensure stable vitamin D levels.
If you’re constantly fatigued or have low energy levels, low vitamin D may be the cause. Some of the vitamin’s main functions include cell growth and reducing inflammation, which will lead to soreness and fatigue if you don’t get enough.
Vitamin D also helps your gut absorb calcium properly, which leads to stronger bones, a must for BJJ athletes.
My pick is Klean-D, from Klean Athlete. This supplement is made for athletes and to maintain athletic performance. It’s also lab certified and tested to ensure no banned substances that could get you in trouble.
We put so much effort into being bigger, stronger, faster, that we forget how important the brain is for BJJ. Mental clarity, focus and memory will help you learn faster, pick up and retain new techniques easier, and react quicker in rolling and sparring.
Nootropics, such as Onnit’s Alpha Brain (made popular by Joe Rogan of course), are designed for this exact purpose. They may come under the banner of “smart drugs” or “cognitive enhancers” too. Basically, they contain a mix of nutrients and minerals which are thought to have a positive effect on cognitive performance.
The mind is a powerful tool, and it’s even more powerful if you feed it right.