If you’d like a little additional training and coaching at BJJ, you’ve come to the right place. BJJ is a seriously physical sport, which means that a part of your focus should be one avoiding injuring yourself.
There are those enthusiasts who believe that you need to train as much as possible. While this is quite true, this needs to be balanced with rest cycles so that you don’t end up overtraining.
If you end up overtraining, you’ll not only be in constant pain, you’ll also be likely to injure yourself seriously, and then you’ll be unable to train for days – or weeks – depending on how badly you injure yourself.
So what is overtraining?
You’ve heard the phrase a lot – but what does it mean? It’s quite simple. When you train hard physically, you rip up your muscle fibers. This is not an injury – indeed, the body repairing these ripped fibers is what allows you to grow stronger and more resilient. It’s also what causes the normal muscle aches that you feel the day after a training session. All this is safe and quite normal. I feel that an understanding of this process is a crucial part of training and coaching in BJJ.
The problems start if you don’t rest up sufficiently between sessions – especially if your sessions are very intense.
If you haven’t rested up enough, your muscle fibers are not completely healed when you come in to your next session. And then they get ripped a little more, and a little more in the next session, and a little more in the session after that – never healing completely, getting a little more damaged session by session, until they’re weak as water.
And then what happens?
You roll with someone a little stronger or more experienced, and because your muscles are so badly damaged, they provide very little support to your bones, tendons and joints – and something rips. If you’re very unlikely, it could be a joint. But more usually, it’s a tendon. And tendonitis – if you haven’t had it – is not something you want.
You’ll be taping up for weeks with a damaged tendon. That is, if it lets you do any training at all in the first place.
As you can see, this is a trap you want to avoid.
I know that you’ve heard the phrase ‘No pain, no gain.’
And it’s perfectly true – pure muscular pain is something that you’re bound to feel the day after a training session, and indeed it’s something that most athletes get used to, to such an extent that they don’t really feel it as ‘pain’ any more after a few years. But becoming resistant to the pain of exercise is quite different from not resting up sufficiently between sessions, which is a recipe for disaster.
One standard is to eat well, taking in a good balance of protein, carbs, vitamins and minerals, and to sleep well.
If you get your eight hours of un-interrupted slumber every night, there’s very little that can go wrong with your BJJ training program.
I’d also advise against training everyday – at least not at full intensity. Keep your BJJ sessions fun, rather than murderous. BJJ is tough, yes, but it can also be very enjoyable.
What I advise is that you keep things at a pleasant level of reasonable physical effort and technique exploration for about seventy percent of your session.
Then, in the last thirty percent, go all out, push to the limits of your endurance; spar and roll at intensities you would normally use in competition. Avoid injuring yourself or others, of course – please show consideration for your partners. But push yourself.
You’ll find that such a training routine provides a balance between training in technique and training in intensity.