Mini Study: Explosive Repeat Intervals Leads to 12% Work Capacity Increase in Jiu Jitsu Athletes



Our study conducted and examined the impact of an explosive repeat conditioning cycle on athletes engaged in Jiu-Jitsu training 4-5 times a week, revealing a notable 12% increase in work capacity during the 4-week cycle.


Our jiu-jitsu training offerings are oriented towards serious hobbyists. These athletes all have careers, families, etc. which means that time is a limiting factor in strength and conditioning training in conjunction with regular jiu-jitsu training. Simple and effective conditioning protocols are key. With this in mind, we sought to test the explosive repeat protocols outlined by Joel Jamieson in his book, Ultimate MMA Conditioning. This approach underscores the necessity for training regimens that amplify athletic prowess without detracting from sport-specific practice.

Study Design/Deployment

Five Jiu-Jitsu athletes (author included) participated in a 4-week cycle, training 3x/week (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) for 30-minute sessions. This regimen incorporated explosive repeat intervals utilizing explosive compound exercises selected to complement the athletes’  Jiu-Jitsu training. The objective was to enhance work capacity and maintain strength while ensuring the athletes could fully participate in jiu-jitsu practice sessions.

Training Schedule

  • Tuesday: Explosive Repeat Conditioning
    • 6 Rounds of Sandbag Squat Jumps @ 60#
    • 6 Rounds of Explosive Alligator Push Ups
    • 6 Rounds of Lateral Hops
  • Wednesday: Limited equipment, moderate intensity strength maintenance
  • Thursday: Explosive Repeat Conditioning
    • 6 Rounds of Sandbag Burpee @ 60#
    • 6 Rounds of 30ft Shuttle Runs
    • 6 Rounds of 2-Arm Battle Rope

Session Details:

On explosive repeat days, the athletes warmed up in approximately 5-7 minutes, then began the first explosive repeat intervals. After 6 rounds, the athletes ran at a low-intensity pace around the gym for 5 minutes to recover their heart rate to ~120 BPM, then moved to the next explosive repeat exercise. Following 6 rounds, the athlete’s picked up a kettlebell for a 1-Arm Farmers Carry for 5 minutes, changing arms as needed. This was also meant to lower the heart rate, as well as continuing to build the chassis as this cycle had no dedicated chassis integrity work.

Strength sessions were basic sandbag and dumbbell movements with no associated assessments or progressions, with strength maintenance as the goal.

Explosive Repeat Progression

  • Week 1 (Assessment Week): 6 Rounds of 10 sec. max effort, 50 sec. rest
  • Week 2: 6 Rounds of 15 sec. max effort, 45 sec. rest
  • Week 3: 5 Rounds of 20 sec. max effort, 40 sec. rest
  • Week 4 (Re-assessment Week): 6 Rounds of 15 sec. max effort, 50 sec. rest


The initial concept to track and compare the assessment figures was a simple repeat of the 10-second interval, and see if more work was completed within that timeframe at the end of the cycle. We quickly realized that several of the exercises prevented an improvement due to time constrictions. For example, there was no chance of anyone improving their shuttle time in ten seconds… it simply takes too long and the interval is too short.

Instead, we used an efficiency ratio that would determine reps completed per second and increased the re-assessment interval to 15 seconds, while maintaining the same rest period as the 10-second work/50-second rest interval as a control. This gave us a longer period of time to improve the more time-intensive exercises.

  • Initial Efficiency Ratio:
    • Total time for one round = 10 sec (work)
    • Total time for all rounds = 10 sec per round * 6 rounds = 60 sec
    • Efficiency Ratio = Total Reps / 60 sec =  reps/sec
    • Example: 65 Total Alligator Push Ups / 60 = 1.083 reps per second
  • Re-assessment Efficiency Ratio:
    • Total time for one round = 15 sec (work)
    • Total time for all rounds = 15 sec per round * 6 rounds = 90 sec
    • Efficiency Ratio = Total Reps / 60 sec =  reps/sec
    • Example: 110 reps / 90 sec = 1.222 reps per second

Using the example, we have a 0.139 rep per second improvement, which equates to a 12.821% increase.

Full data tables below:

The findings seem to show the efficacy of the explosive repeat conditioning protocol as a means of anaerobic training. Removing Ray, who had incomplete data due to missed training on the initial assessments, the average for the group stands at 11.755% work capacity increase. This is an impressive increase considering the short duration of the individual training sessions (30-35 minutes), the short training cycle (4 weeks), and the high fitness levels of the athletes prior to the cycle’s start.

Next Steps?

This was simple, low-equipment training that resulted in strong results.

Moving forward, utilizing heart rate monitors would be beneficial to observe how recovery improved during the rest periods and better dictate intensity during the work periods. While I’m confident the efficiency ratio comparison is a good approach, a more direct comparison of work/rest intervals would be beneficial to provide further clarity. Lastly, a larger sample size of athletes would of course improve our understanding,

What’s next? There is a wide range of conditioning options that can and will be tested. Staying in line with our mission-direct research for performance and resiliency, the protocols need to be simple to best translate to MTI athletes’ utilization in the field.

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