Why You Should AVOID Long Distance Cardio!

by Abu_Daniyal

Article By Noor Uddin (aka ‘Maximus’), Copyright 2012 by Submission School BJJ

Hey all, I thought I’d post some content on here to get things going. I have done much reading and research around long distance cardio (endurance training), and I thought I’d post my experience here so you can all hopefully benefit.

If you are doing long distance cardio and Jiu Jitsu at the same time, then stop the cardio right now and I promise you you will notice an increase in your strength and performance during training.

Humans are very good at running long distances, your body can outrun even a horse over a long enough distance, because the human body is able to dissipate heat much better than most other animals. Running long distances however, puts a huge strain on your heart and musculoskeletal system.

Long Distance Cardio Strains Your Heart

It is common knowledge that marathon runners frequently drop dead toward the end of their run. They die of sudden cardiac death, bought on by heart rhythm abnormalities [1].

In a study on marathon runners before and after the 2004 and 2005 Boston Marathons, 60% of runners were found to have a cardiac profile that resembled that of a minor heart attack! [1]

Long Distance Cardio Makes You LOSE Muscle

You may be in your aerobic zone and burning fat while doing slow, long duration cardio, but you are also losing muscle at the same time.

Studies have found that doing endurance training alongside weight training causes a reduction in your muscle, strength and power gains [2].

Ever noticed how the best long duration runners (namely marathon runners) have thin, wirey frames that are devoid of any muscles? Compare that to a 100m sprinter. Ever notice how all sprinters look like they’re on steroids?

Personal Note:

Around when I started Jiu Jitsu in October 2011, I was cycling for 1 hour 30 minutes every single day. I really enjoyed it, but I knew (from prior knowledge) that it would reduce my strength and muscle gains, and leave me susceptible to illness. All I wanted to do however, was to lose weight, and at the time I thought long distance cardio was the best way to go about it. I was doing weight training (and Jiu Jitsu) at the same time.

I then chanced upon a book by a Dr Al Sears, called ‘P.A.C.E. – The 12 Minute Fitness Revolution’, which changed my mind about long distance cardio and weight loss, and re-iterated to me the dangers and drawbacks of overtraining.

I immediately stopped doing cardio and stopped doing weights. I decided to do ONLY Brazillian Jiu Jitsu. And guess what? Within a WEEK my strength levels soared, I lost weight and grew bigger muscles. To the extent that even the mighty Andrea has complimented me on my strength

Long Distance Cardio Damages Your Bones

Long distance runners (though cyclists and swimmers are exempt here) suffer from stress fractures of their bones more often than any other type of athlete. In a study of 121 athletes with stress fractures, 68 athletes were long distance runners, way higher than the next group, who were skiers (12), followed by sprinters (10) [3].

Personal Note:

I started doing endurance training in September 2011. At one point I decided (since I wasn’t losing any weight) to run for longer, so I went from doing 30 minute runs, to doing 1 hour 30 minute runs. On the very second day of making this change, I got myself a minor stress fracture and couldn’t walk without pain for a couple of weeks. I then switched to long distance cycling. Better than running, but still long distance

Long Distance Cardio Weakens Your Immune System

There is clear evidence that endurance training weakens the immune system, leaving your body prone to upper respiratory tract infections (the common cold, tonsillitis, pharyngitis, laryngitis, sinusitis). The longer you run, the more likely it is that you will acquire an infection [4].

Studies also suggest a strong link between long distance running and illnesses such as echoviral meningitis, gastrointestinal infections, cancer, cardio-vascular disease, and multiple sclerosis [too many references to bother listing, do your own research here lol].

Yes, the immune system even protects your body from cancer, so be careful when you go about weakening it through long distance cardio and overtraining.

So What’s The Alternative To Long Distance Cardio?

Answer = High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T.)

This is a topic for another forum article, but here’s a brief outline of its benefits.

I look at HIIT as a kind of ‘hormonal training’. Studies have shown that HIIT results in intense hormonal fluctuations that cause you to lose weight, gain muscle and get stronger after your short but intense exercise session.

For example, the male hormone testosterone (which is important for muscle growth) is known to be elevated after high intensity interval training. The more intense the training, the higher the testosterone levels[5]. Conversely, testosterone is lowered during and after long distance endurance exercise.

Here are some things that HIIT does and long distance cardio does NOT:

Strengthens your immune system
Makes you stronger
Gives you bigger muscles
Increases your heart stroke volume and total lung capacity (amazingly good for your health!)
Increases bone density
Raises your energy levels (via a boosted metabolism after exercise)
Takes up very little of your time
Improves your cholesterol profile
Makes you lose weight in less time by burning much more fat after you stop exercising

Sprinters commonly train using HIIT. If you want to have a sprinter’s body, then train like a sprinter – do HIIT.

Note that there is much HIIT involved in doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, during the warm-up (animal drills, burpees etc) and even more so during sparring. So be sure to turn up to our sessions on a regular basis. I suggest at least 3 days per week for optimal results.


1. Neilan TG, Januzzi JL, Lee-Lewandrowski E. et al. Myocardial Injury and Ventricular Dysfunction
Related to Training Levels Among Nonelite Participants in the Boston Marathon[/url]. Circulation.

2. Wilson, et al. Concurrent Training: A Meta Analysis Examining Interference of Aerobic and Resistance Exercise. University of Tampa, FL. J Strength Conditioning.

3. Orava, S., Puranen, J. & Ala-Ketola, L. Stress Fractures Caused by Physical Exercise. Acta Orthopaedica 49, 19-27 (1978).

4. Peters, E.M. & Bateman, E.D. Ultramarathon running and upper respiratory tract infections. An epidemiological survey. South African medical journal = Suid-Afrikaanse tydskrif vir geneeskunde 64, 582-4 (1983).

5. Azarbayjani, M., Fatolahi, H., Rasaee, M., Peeri, M. & Babaei, R. The effect of exercise mode and intensity of submaximal physical activities on salivary testosterone to cortisol ratio and α-amylase in young active males. International Journal of Exercise Science 4, (2011).


So that’s it, any questions, feel free to ask ^_^


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