Getting the most out of your BJJ workouts involves making some decisions. Problem is, when making decisions it's very easy to choose the wrong path or maybe the longer path to where you want to be.
I love stepping off the beaten path from time to time and don’t always consider it a waste of time but I’m going to make four assumptions about your workouts for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu:
- You want to get the most out of your body.
- You want to get the most out of your training on AND off the Jiu-Jitsu mat.
- You want your workouts to compliment your BJJ specific training and not take away from it in any way.
- You want the greatest impact and reward from your training when you actually have the time to train...
With those 4 assumptions in mind I’d like to highlight some of the most common mistakes that I see BJJ players make in their conditioning plans. In no particular order by the way, as these may manifest differently for you and from athlete to athlete.
1. Devoting too much time to strength & conditioning: I know this is a weird one coming from a strength and conditioning coach but here me out. I truly believe that if you want to succeed at a sport then you must spend most of your time actually training that sport, upwards of 70-80% of your time should be spent on that mat mastering the basics and working on the technical skills you need for your BJJ game.
The other 20% of your time could be devoted to strength & conditioning and corrective exercises, injury prevention and reduction etc…
So, in case you’re not good with percentages, if you had 10 hours per week to train, 8 of those should consist of actual BJJ training, technical and tactical. 2 hours of your week would be supplemental strength & conditioning work. And that can further divided into shorter sessions over the course of the week etc…15 minutes before work, 15 minutes during a lunch hour. Your supplemental work does not need to be done all in one session.
Quick note: If you’re a re-creational BJJ player those percentages can completely change and disappear all-together. I know many people that use their time on the mats as their only workout and have no desire for additional training. There’s not one thing wrong with this unless (and it’s very probable) that imbalances occur. At that point they seek out some additional training but only enough to help correct the imbalance and speed recovery.
2. Getting too sport specific: I learned this term from Vern Gambetta “Athlete Specific- Sport Relevant. “ and I love it. Your athletic development program should be specific to you and relevant to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Unless you’re nearing a competition there’s no need to have your work and rest ratios to mimic a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu match. There’s no need to continuously stress the same movement patterns as in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. You’re getting enough of that on the mat. Save that stuff for when you’re in the top 3% of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitors.
3. Choosing the wrong exercises: This one is closely related to my last point. Since you’re only devoted around 20% of your training to strength and conditioning you better be choosing exercises that have the greatest impact on the physical attribute you’re trying to develop.
As in BJJ, the basics work best, deadlifts, squats, presses, rows and pull-ups. If you bore easily you can apply the “Same but Different” principle. Instead of pull-ups use gi pull-ups or mixed grip chin-ups. Instead of bench presses hit some incline dumbbell presses…you get the point.
4. Always working your strengths: Don’t be that guy that bench press 600lb but can’t wipe his pooper. You are not a powerlifter and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is one sport that requires several physical attributes to have fun and be successful…agility, mobility, flexibility, endurance etc…
If you know you’re lacking big-time in one area spend some time bringing it up to acceptable levels.
5. Not having fun: This one is hard for me to understand. It’s 2012, you have more options than ever before to get in-shape. Don’t suffer through some class that you absolutely hate. There’s no need to. Find something that makes you come to life and go for it. Don’t like yoga? There are other ways to get flexible. Don’t like weight training? I know some beast that do nothing but bodyweight training. Cool? Cool.