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Exploring The Benefits Of Rest Days In Jiu Jitsu

Exploring The Benefits Of Rest Days In Jiu Jitsu


Ideas on rest days...

For a lot of us, the idea of a rest day is challenging. We tell ourselves that we are only competing against ourselves. However, the fact remains that others are getting better when we take time off the mats. Beyond that, Jiu Jitsu is our therapy; and you cannot have too much therapy. Right?

However, inevitably our bodies force us to take a rest day. The normal feeling for soreness is transformed into something far worse. Sheer exhaustion is coupled with the feeling like the morning after drinking a bottle of scotch and getting hit by a bus.  It is bad. So before we feel too guilty about a rest day let’s explore signs of needing a rest day and the benefits of taking a rest day.

Here are a few of the common signs of needing a rest day.

  1. You are constantly tired or moody. We all have heard the adage that exercise is supposed to make us feel better. When we work out our bodies release endorphins. Endorphins are peptides that activated the body’s opiate receptors causing a euphoric feeling. However, when the endorphins are released, cortisol is also released. Cortisol is a stress hormone.  Too much cortisol makes us tired or moody.
  2. You are exceptionally stiff or sore. I know. In Jiu Jitsu, stiffness and soreness is a way of life.  However, there is a difference between the normal stiffness and soreness associated with Jiu Jitsu and being exceptionally stiff and sore.
  3. You have an abnormal heart rate. An above normal heart rate is an indication that your body has not recovered adequately from your last training session.

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So what are the benefits of a rest day?

  1. First, from the physiological standpoint, it helps prevent injuries. When the body has too much stress to handle, it will lead to overuse injuries like stress fractures, muscle strains and joint pains.
  2. From a psychological standpoint, rests days can help rekindle our desire to train and prevent burnout. An occasional rest day can give us a psychological edge.

So we explored the indicators of needing a rest day and the benefits of taking one. Are they any dangers in taking a rest day? Rest days like cheat days are beneficial. However, there can potentially be dangers associated with them. One should not confuse a rest day with a bad habit. For example, if you made a commitment to yourself to train 3 times a week then honor that commitment. You can still take your rest day and achieve your training goals. Rest days are meant to enable goals and not compromise them.

Ultimately, rest days are required for most of us at some point in Jiu Jitsu. We should not feel any guilt with them, rather realize they are beneficial to us physically and psychologically and are necessary to achieve our training goals. However, we should always be mindful that it can be a slippery slope to confuse them with a bad habit.

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