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Are You Tired, Or Over Trained From BJJ?
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Are You Tired, Or Over Trained From BJJ?

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Training for any sport on a consistent basis is bound to bring on fatigue.

Jiu Jitsu, being a contact sport, is no exception to this rule. We all know the leaden feeling in our legs and have experienced the days that your muscles take extra long to loosen up before you feel ready to really work.

Overtraining can be detrimental and counterproductive to the time and effort you put in on the mats, so how can you tell the difference between building up good fatigue in your body and breaking it down by overtraining? 

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Fatigue is inevitable if you are training on a regular basis, but it should be solely physical and not long lasting. You are putting unfamiliar strain on your body, so being sore or a little physically tired is normal; but don’t forget to let your muscles recover and repair themselves.

The biggest difference in martial artists and other athletes that are prone to overtraining, such as triathletes, runners, and gymnasts, is that there is a huge mental aspect to the sport. In Jiu Jitsu you are forced to be defeated over and over again, which takes a mental endurance unlike most other activities. 

One of the primary factors of overtraining is mental exhaustion or lack of desire to go to training, so needing to be mentally engaged is even more of a risk factor. Other things to look out for that signify you are overtraining yourself are injury, illness, lack of performance or decline of performance, and irritability.

If you continue to stress your body and do not give it time to repair and recover, over time it will begin to fail to recuperate and injuries will start to occur. Similarly, the energy your body will be putting towards healing itself will take away from your immune system and illness will become more prevalent and harder to avoid and fight off. With nagging injuries and subpar health, your ability to perform to your best level will start to decline, and any hope to improve will quickly disappear.

Even though you need sleep to help replenish your muscles and fuel your body, if you are overtraining then you are likely to experience restless nights and poor quality sleep. The production of hormones in this stage is abnormal, and your body will likely be trying to stabilize itself by emitting higher amounts of stress hormones in hopes you will recognize its need for rest; these hormones will add to lack of sleep, which will in time contribute to your irritability. 

Now that you know what to look for to signify overtraining versus normal fatigue, what is the best way to avoid them? First and foremost is quality sleep, before you get into the downward spiral of stress.

The exact amount of sleep varies per person, but if you are on a regular training routine then you should be aiming to get at least eight hours on average, even if you feel okay for a few days on less. The next factor is your nutrition; fueling your body and giving it proper resources to pull from to repair itself is incredibly important. Learn what time of day your body needs each particular macronutrient based on your training schedule.

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Don’t deprive your body of healthy food, but pay attention to what you are eating and stick to natural, whole foods. Lastly, learn how much Jiu Jitsu your body can withstand and the cycle you should operate on. Learning to understand your body is important so you can tell the difference between being beneficially tired after a good training session and pushing too far into exhaustion.

Find the balance and then follow up by discovering how long you can train in peak phase before you need to taper or switch up your routine in order to cross balance the stress on your body. 

Learning the difference between proper fatigue and overtrained exhaustion can help make Jiu Jitsu a more long term sport, which is the overall goal for most people. Even though martial artists are prone to working themselves too hard, giving your mind and body a break every now and then can do you more good than you could ever imagine!

Remember that taking one day off only sets you back one day of training, but pushing through and training at thirty percent for two weeks, and then inevitably injuring yourself will likely cost you multiple weeks or months of good work. Take care of yourselves, and your teammates! 

Improve your submission defense by watching Tom DeBlass' Submission Escapes DVD! You can get this great series here!

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