Thursday, August 4, 2011

Training and the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu athlete: part 2 competition prep.

In Part 1 I laid out training for an "off season" Brazilian Jiu-jitsu athlete. No competitions coming up, just training to keep them in the gym and on the mats long term. In part 2 it's time to talk turkey. Competition time. Once again there are some assumptions we need to make to narrow the scope of the recommendation:

You intend to be a competitor at the competition not just a participant. Competitors have the mindset to win, participants want to show up and "see how it goes."
You are male (females tend to respond better to more volume, and the recommendations will be slightly different.)
You are not cutting crazy amounts of weight, your weight is under control.
You are prioritizing the competition over other activities for the next few months. (I don't want to hear: I can't condition that much I have 3 soccer games this week, or If I reduce my lifting volume my bench will go down.) Yes, yes it will.
You have given yourself a few months to prepare.
You are strong and in decent condition to begin with (perhaps by following the recommendations in part 1, just a thought)
You have been training in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu for at least a year.
You are going to be on the mat at least 4x/week leading up to the competition.
You have 4-6 other training sessions/week to dedicate specifically to training.

Anaerobic training:
either once per week alternating, or ideally twice per week (once per week each).
Methods sprints, kettlebells, airdyne, circuits, drills or calisthenics (just to name a few.. anything that will use up oxygen quickly, but is not too technical).
a) Short. 10-20 rounds of 10-30 seconds on with short rest 1:1 - 1:2 work:rest ratio.
b) Long 4-10 rounds of 2-5 minutes with longer rest (similar ratios to above, but more complete rest).
These should be a pants soiling high intensity. If you can do anything other than lay on the floor and ponder why and the hell you are doing this after, your are not working hard enough.

Aerobic training:
once per week.
Drills, circuits, or something similar. I don't like running for these as the tendancy is to go too light, and does not require the upper body to work enough. I'll give you a pass if you live in a very hilly area, or add in calisthenics every minute. Do not use an elliptical or similarly mundane piece of gear. I will allow the versaclimber, or airdnyne (though the thought of 30-45 minutes on the airdyne makes my butt numb just thinking about it.)
3-5 rounds of 10-15 minutes each. 2-3 minutes rest between.
These should feel way too easy for the first 5 minutes, and the last 5 should feel like hell on earth. If you have a heartrate monitor use it. You should be in the 150-165 range.

Strength/power training:
1-2 times per week.
this should be about 2/3 of the volume of your 'normal' strength training. We're not trying to push weight up as much as stay strong. We're looking to compress rest intervals as much as possible, and accelerate everything. Rate of force development work is not as taxing as limit strength, so err on the side of light and fast. Don't try any new exercises, or anything cute. If you get yourself sore as hell you're going to blow up the whole rest of the training week.

Specific conditioning:
This is generally stand-up. I think this is an area where jiu-jitsukas (particularly in the lower belts) completely screw themselves. The fitness required on your feet is very different from the fitness required on the deck. You have to work your stand-up if only to make sure you don't gas out on the feet and ruin your chances to win on the floor. Drilling grips, footwork, takedowns, and throws along with live sparring are required to get this level of fitness without breaking yourself.

Recovery and adaptation:
If you are wise and plan this out you should have a 2 week "induction phase" where you add the extra workouts in and allow yourself to adapt. If you jump in with both feet your peak will be lower and probably be ahead of the competition.
Similarly the 5-7 weeks after that should get progressively longer and harder and more focused on conditioning.
Recovery is important. You have to sleep, and you have to feed your training sessions. That does not mean you eat whatever you want and end up 15 pounds over with less than a week to go and wonder what the hell you're going to do to make weight. Keep your weight in check, establish reasonable goals for weight cutting (ideally practice your cut outside of competition time frame if you haven't done it very much) and feed your body.
Similarly do not be afraid to pull back your training if you start to show signs that you did too much too soon. Better to have taken a couple light days you didn't need than to be sick or injured and miss the competition you've been training for.

The last week:
The last week before a tournament is a mental mine field. You have to believe you've done the work, you're not going to get any fitter in the last few days, all you are going to do is show up tired. This is the only time I think long easy aerobic training is a good thing. It lets you clear your head, get a sweat and burn some calories. Still keep it to 1-2 rounds of 20-30 minutes. Keep your rolls technical and friendly especially from Wednesday on (assuming a Saturday competition). Get on the mats and drill drill drill. One it helps your confidence, it allows you to visualize dangerous situations in competition (your weak positions) and you can work your way out of them.

Have fun!
Unless your last name is Gracie, or Machado no one is paying you to be here. This is your passion, not your job. Enjoy it. Show up prepared and represent your school and instructor well, and leave it all on the mats.
Please feel free to contact me with questions or comments.

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