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Next Level Guy

May 14, 2022

Today’s guest is one of my favourite people ... Josh Settlage, CSCS! 

Josh (or Coach J) has spent over a decade studying grappling sports and human performance, working with and learning from the best minds in physical therapy, biomechanics, strength, and conditioning. He studied 
kinesiology with a concentration in exercises science at William Jessup University and is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist within the National Strength & Conditioning Association. Coach J has studied under and worked alongside world record holders in powerlifting, professional bodybuilders, NCAA wrestling All-Americans & national champions, and IBJJF Worlds & Pan-Am champions.

Coach J has worked with high school & college wrestlers across the country, and many more Jiu-Jitsu athletes across the world. His unique blend of knowledge in strength & conditioning and experience on the mat, provide him with the tools necessary to help all of his athletes, win more matches & get injured less.

In this interview, we discuss:  

  • How to build your ability to squat, pull-up and move in general better. 
  • How you should adapt your training to your experience and personality type to excel in your training. 
  • A breathing hack that can save your relationships as much as your ability to roll better. 
  • And so much more!

Here are some key points that I would advise you to concentrate on

  • Time on the mat is not enough to build an overall athlete who will be successful during competitions.  
  • A lot of BJJ movement is unnatural and taxing on the body. 
  • There are hundreds of strength programmes available, but few take into account the challenging demands placed on the body just from BJJ training. 
  • Conditioning needs for BJJ are different than most sports, being able to run a 5k might not help you survive the demands of BJJ, you will need to use specific rolling and training to build the endurance threshold needed to work at a high workrate in BJJ.
  • You need to train all fitness and systems of the body to ensure that you can have longevity in BJJ. 
  • You should be able to/work towards sitting in the bottom part of a squat for ten minutes. Bodyweight exercises can give a good indication of how your general fitness is and the health of your body. 
  • You can build to pull ups by using dead-hangs on the bar, to build your shoulder muscles and improve your grip strength.
  • You don't need to spend hours in the gym to improve, and you can start small or partial movements, to build in the strength and movement ability needed to make the movements required in the training programme. This is not a race, it is a journey towards a better you and as a fitter BJJ player.
  • A lot of techniques do not work well, because of the ability of the player to utilise the body in terms of speed, explosive power etc more than their knowledge of technique. 
  • Everyone can have good technique at the start of a round, but as we tire, things can go wrong fast. Working muscle holds after sets with the goal to pre-fatigued the muscles with high reps can help you build specific attributes needed to have tighter triangles, control your body better when you need to finish a sub and breathing out your ass and so on. 
  • Strength is not a bad thing and should be something you work on. However, you never want to just strength a move over applying the technique right, the strength should allow you to apply the move better, tighter, more efficient etc. 
  • There is no stupid questions, ask the guys who are stronger, fitter or more technical for advice on how to improve. Your teammates should be there to support and help you evolve your skills. 
  • BJJ is a physical sport, you need to amend your training to allow recovery, so your poor recovery or DOMs etc are not affecting your performance on the mat. As you get fitter you can increase the sets, reps, etc. You need to listen to your body and use your brain. 
  • Different athletes will have different levels of aggression and approaches to things. You need to adapt your style of rolling and training to the type of personality you have, rather than trying to be more aggressive on the mat. 
  • You can use situational training to work on your ability to overcome claustrophobia and work on escaping from bad situations, so you can improve your skills rather than just get smashed in a live roll. 
  • Nasal breathing can be a free simple change you make to your training that will have the biggest impact to your training.