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How To Keep Healthy Doing Jiu Jitsu ... Forever
The Keys To Longevity In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
It does not take long to become completely obsessed with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and other grappling martial arts. Spend only a few hours on the mats and you will realize that it satisfies you in a way no other sport or training regimen will. The jiu jitsu journey is a long road. On average it takes a student 10 years to earn their BJJ black belt. But the game does not end once you have reached this prestigious level. You want to remain on the mats for as long as you are able to train. So what are the keys to longevity in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
Well there are many ways to look at this, and you will get a variety of opinions from your training partners. But ultimately it comes down training smart and respecting your body. Let’s discuss some of the ways you should do this.
Strength and Conditioning
A big part of what determines how long you will be training on the mats is just how much training you put in off the mats. Strength and conditioning is imperative for avoiding injuries, recovering quicker, and performing at your best while grappling. All high level BJJ players incorporate strength training into their weekly routines. While there are a myriad of ways to cross train for strength and conditioning, some of the most effective are kettlebell workouts, weight lifting, strongman training, deadlifts, yoga, gymnastics, etc., etc. the list goes on and on! Ultimately, you want to find what works for you, and is something you will stick with consistently.
Strength training and gaining size has been one of Gordan Ryan's secrets to becoming the best submission grappler in the world. He fears no one due to his insane skill level, strength, conditioning and jackedness.
Need some ideas on strength and conditioning for BJJ? Check out Stephan Kesting’s basic weightlifting routine for strength development and injury prevention in the BJJ and martial arts training. There are 3 parts to this video...
PART 1 - Size gain vs strength gain vs injury prevention, tips, and why you should weight train.
PART 2 - The main exercises you'll build your program around and how to do them.
PART 3 - What your actual workout will look like and how to modify it over time.
How you balance your time on the mats depends on your level of athleticism and generally how your body feels. There are going to be days where jumping on the mats is not a good idea. If you had a session with some tough rolls, your body may need a day to bounce back before you hit it again hard. Often times, new BJJ players will think they can handle rolling daily and end up burning themselves out. Avoid chronic injuries or burning yourself out with active recovery! What is active recovery? Active recovery is not a day off. A good active recovery day incorporates some low impact exercises and stretches. Some good activities for active recovery day include yoga, hiking, stretching, de-load workouts and more. The goal is to keep your body moving, and stretch those muscles so that they recover quicker.
Need some inspiration for your active recovery days? Check out this video on Basic Yoga for BJJ!
Diet, nutrition, and good rest all play a big roll in BJJ longevity. There is a reason they call it the “jiu jitsu” lifestyle. To train well you need to live well, and this includes respecting your body with a proper diet, and getting much needed rest. Yes, sometimes this is easier said than done. For the average BJJ player, life is busy and hectic and it is not always an option to eat or sleep well. But, make this a goal just like you make it a goal to get on the mats on a regular basis. If you fall off with your diet, that’s okay.. sh*t happens. Correct course as quickly as you can. Did you decide an all night booze bender was a good idea? It probably was. Give yourself a day off to nurse your hangover and then force yourself back onto the mats. Even if you aren’t at peak performance you are pushing your body. A little discipline goes a long way. This is what the BJJ lifestyle is all about.
Need some dieting advice for jiu jitsu? Check out this video on nutrition for jiu jitsu athletes using the 80/10/10 diet.
There are many factors in what it takes to have longevity in training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. In an ideal world, you would train regularly, condition your body, diet and sleep well. But there will be many bumps and bends in your BJJ journey. Injuries happen, life happens. But no matter what, if you respect your body and give it what it needs you will have a long and healthy life of grappling. Now get out there and roll hard!