Why do you train?
“Why you are doing this” should be the first question you ask yourself before deciding on anything. The way you approach training and the type of strength and conditioning program you follow outside of the academy must align with your answer.
How Long Do You Want to Do BJJ?
Too many people train like they are getting ready to compete at the world championship, but never actually intend to do so. Even worse, people train like they are preparing for the ‘Worlds’ year round. Most people training BJJ will never win a world championship. Most will never compete, or even want to. Yet, walk into most academies and you would think everyone is getting ready to do just that.
Take a long hard look at why you are training BJJ. Are you a competitor? Are you doing it for self-defense? Are you training because you love the sport or consider it a good workout? Do you just want the social interaction and be part of the community? All of these are perfectly fine answers so, for the majority of you who are not looking to win championships, your focus should be on longevity.
The way you train, eat, sleep… live… is going to determine how long you can stay on the mats.
Monitor Your Training Intensity
In Brazilian Jiu jitsu, intensity must be monitored closely. Training is taxing on the body, especially the nervous system. When you train too much, you will feel slow with your movements and have a hard time recovering. That is a warning sign to take a day off or reduce your intensity.
Since for most of us the goal is longevity, you should stick to two or three days a week of hard training (depending on age and abiity). The other days are for light training sessions, such as technique study or drilling. If there are days when you train twice a day, one of the sessions needs to be light and should be done after your more intense session.
Leave Your Ego at the Door
Injuries can happen in any contact sport, but an injury from not tapping is a different story. We all get caught in submissions. It happens. But do not let your ego get in the way. Tap before it hurts, not after. The more you tap, the more you learn.
Next, listen to your body. You know your body better than anyone else and if it is telling you it needs a break then listen. Some light rolling or drilling might be a better agenda for that day. Let your body – not your ego – determine how hard you train.
That being said there is definitely a difference in the feeling between your body really needing a break, and just being lazy. Develop the discipline to be able to recognize the difference!
Do Mobility and Recovery Work Every Day
There is no off day for mobility work. You should be working every day to improve your range of motion. You should work just as hard, if not harder on your mobility as you on your training. Find a routine that works for you. Spend ten to twenty minutes a day working your mobility. And one day a week spend 45 minutes to an hour on just corrective work.
Eat Real Food!
The best diet is one you can stick to. Find a style of eating that works for you. The bottom line on all diets is the focus should be on real high quality food and drink plenty of water. Letting loose once in a while is OK, don’t sweat it.
Individual diets may vary when it comes to nutrient timing or macro-nutrient ratios, but the concepts behind good nutrition always the same.
The longer I train, the more I realize the importance of training smart. I have seen many people start BJJ only to stop after a while due to burnout or injury. The longer you train and the older you get, the more adjustments you will have to make to your training intensity, lifestyle, and nutrition. The ‘Why’ about doing this may even change several times over the course of your life.
Jiu-jitsu is a ‘Lifestyle’ as much as it’s a sport or hobby or anything else which means it’s intended to be practiced and provide positive benefits for the rest of your life.
If you are smart with your training, there is no reason you can’t take Jiu-jitsu deep into your golden years!