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The Physical Fitness in High Level Judo Athlets - Judo Development

The Physical Fitness in High Level Judo Athlets

Cardiorespiratory demands

Sbriccoli with associates conducted a study on the Olympic Judo team of Italy competing at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athen. They did test the VO2max for the athletes both in absolute and relative values. The absolute values ranged between 4.2 – 6.8 l/min, and the relative values ranged between 37.3 and 61.8 ml/kg/min. The relative values of VO2max in this study had a lower minimum value compared with the values reported in the other studies.

In the study by Julio and colleagues from 2017, they could observe that the V̇O2 uptake under matches during effort and pause periods where ranging between 30-40 ml/kg/min for the athletes, where the highest values were observed at the 4 minutes, and the lowest values at the last minute of the match.

Sbriccolis’ team did report heart rate ranged between 177-194 beats/min at the VO2max test and the mean value for all subjects corresponded with 97.5 % of the maximal heart rate.  They could also see that the ventilatory threshold (VT) occurred at 80.8 % of the VO2max  and the heart rate at ventilatory threshold (HRVT) did correspond with 84,2 % of the maximal heart rate. Julio and his team fund an increase in heart rate from 160 beats/minute in the beginning of the judo match to 190 beat/minute at the end of the match, and lactate concentration in the blood at 2 mmol/l in the beginning and 6 mmol/l at the end of the match. 

Sbriccoli with colleagues concluded that the judo athletes showed low to moderate aerobic power capacity with values higher than untrained population, but lower than values for endurance athletes.

Strength demands

In 2005 Franchini and his colleagues did see that maximal strength and muscle power are two factors that can distinguish elite judo athletes and non-elite judo athletes . In another study from 2006 by Kubo and his team observed that Olympic and Asian games athletes had a more developed brachialis muscle, and that it did differ between performance levels. The thickness of the elbow flexor muscle was also significantly larger for the Olympic and Asian game athletes compared to the university athletes.

Barbado and associates in 2016 did compare differences in core strength, -endurance and -stability, between national and international judo athletes. Their results show that the athletes at international level had; a significantly higher trunk extensor strength and better responses after fast trunk loading in anterior direction, compared with the athletes on national level. They also found that the core muscle endurance and stability is important for competing in judo, but doesn’t seem to be the limiting factor between competitors on national and international level. 

In the study by Franchini & Takito from 2014 where they compared strength between non-medalist and medalists from the Olympic Games. In the study 66.3 % of all the athletes that had competed for Brazil at the Olympic Games between 1964 and 2008 participated. The scientist found out that there was no significant difference between strength for performance at this level. 


Barbado D, Lopez-Valenciano A, Juan-Recio C, Montero-Carretero C, van Dieën JH, et al. (2016) Correction: Trunk Stability, Trunk Strength and Sport Performance Level in Judo. PLOS ONE. 11(9): e0162962.

Franchini E, Boscolo Del Vecchio F, Matsushigue K.A, Artioli, G.G, (2011) Physiological Profiles of Elite Judo Athletes, Sports Med; 41 (2): 147-166. 

Franchini, E & Takito, M.Y, (2014) Olympic preparation in Brazilian judo athletes: Description and perceived relevance of training practices. J Strength Cond Res. 28(6): 1606–1612.

Franchini E, Takito M.Y och Bertuzzi R.C.M, (2005) Morphological, physiological and technical variables in high-level college judoists, Archives of Budo, 1: 1-7. 

Julio U.F,  Panissa J.L.G, Esteves J.V, Cury R.L, Agostinho M.F, & Franchini E, (2017) Energy-System Contributions to Simulated Judo Matches. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 12, 676 -683.

Kubo, J., T. Chishaki, N. Nakamura, T. Muramatsu, Y. Yamamoto, M. Ito, H. Saitou, and T. Kukidome (2006) Differences in the fat-free mass and muscle thicknesses at various sites according to performance level among judo athletes. J. Strength Cond. Res. 20(3): 654–657. 

Sbriccoli, P., I. Bazzucchi, A. Di Mario, G. Marzattinocci, and F. Felici. (2007) Assessment of maximal cardiorespiratory performance and muscle power in the Italian Olympic judoka. J. Strength Cond. Res. 21(3): 738–744.