Written by Team Juggernaut
Five Training Tips, Myths and Guidelines to Become a Nightmare on the Mat
1. Improve Your Maximal Strength and Everything Improves– Increasing your maximal strength will have a positive benefit on your jumping, sprinting, pushing power and conditioning. Jiu Jitsu has a large isometric (static/holding strength) component to it and even though it doesn’t involve movement, holding an opponent in your guard or trying to lock in a submission, which can take minutes, greatly taxes the body. The stronger the athlete is, the lower percentage of their maximal strength they must exert to complete the same move. In other words of one athlete is 2x as strong as the other, that athlete will only need to use 50% as much energy to execute the same maneuver. As the highly respected (and very quotable) coach Mark Rippetoe once said, “Strong people are harder to kill than weak people.” Which one would you rather be?
2. Everything You Do is a Stress to the System-People often make the mistake of looking at their sport practice (Jiu Jitsu training) and physical training (lifting, conditioning, etc) as separate entities. Why create a periodized plan for your lifting, jumping, and sprinting, but not your BJJ training? They are both stressors to the body and need to be managed properly to reach a physical peak. To go another step further, you also must consider stresses that your job, relationships and hobbys place on you. If all these stressors are not considered if is very easy for an athlete to experience Central Nervous System fatigue and overtraining, an issue that is common among combat athletes.
Charlie Francis, considered by many to be the greatest sprint coach of all time, likened the CNS to a cup. A cup has a fixed amount of liquid that it can hold, an all the training you do fills it up to various degrees. The more demanding the training, the more goes in the cup. The stresses of life, such as work or problems with a significant other, will also fill up your cup, so learn to manage stress. If the cup overflows, it is a lengthy process to recover from.
3. Circuit Training Should Be The Basis of Your Physical Preparation (Myth)-The internet is a great thing and full of lots of valuable training information, but it is also the culprit of perpetuating the myth that all fighters need to be nearly passing out from grueling circuit training. Now we certainly use circuits to help condition our athletes, but they comprise no more than 1 day per week of our training, or 10-15 minutes of work towards the end of other sessions. You are beating your body up enough through numerous weekly sessions on the mat, so make sure you are limiting your circuit work to 1-3 circuits per week and know that you should be walking away from your circuit feeling tired but strong and ready to do another after a few minutes. Athletes must begin to understand that hard work and quality work aren’t one in the same and that you don’t have to crawl out of the gym everyday to improve. Performing extremely intense circuits that cause you to become very sore are a great way to fill up your CNS cup fast and overtrain. For example, Olympic sprinters, the fastest and most explosive athletes in the world, have training that is largely comprised of sprints with full recoveries (eg. 5-6 minutes after a 60m sprint). They are improving because of their quality of their work, not because it is difficult to complete or has them vomiting on a regular basis.
4. Know What Works For You-Many athletes, particularly young or inexperienced ones, often lose sight of this. They want to emulate what the top in their field do, but do not understand that they are doing programs that are suited well to them. You must develop and intuition about and connection to your training to truly make it your own and make it effective. While this book will provide exercises, sets, reps, times and more information about your training, you must figure out what parts of that are the most effective for you and build from there.
The great Olympic lifting champion, Vasliy Alexeyev, often talked about how people would often ask what program he followed so they could follow it to, but he would not tell them. He didn’t do this to be secretive or to withhold information, but rather he would tell them that they cannot do HIS program, they must do THEIR program. Even if it happened that all their sets, reps, intensities, etc were the same, it was imperative that they understand the program for themselves.
So while it may be valuable for you to know the training program of great competitors like Roger Gracie, Romulo Barral or Rodolfo Vierra, it is imperative that you understand that they do what they do because it is what works best for them and you must find out what works for you. Learn to enjoy the journey of training, not just the destination.
5. Be a Professional–Being professional isn’t about getting paid millions of dollars to practice your discipline of choice, it is about doing the little things right and truly being committed to your craft. I firmly believe there is a difference between someone who practices a craft or someone who is a practitioner of it. There is a great difference between people who train jiu jitsu and casually compete in tournaments and someone who is truly invested in their success as a jiu jitsu competitor. To be a true Jiu Jitsu athlete you must be willing to sacrifice of your time, social life, money, or anything else that may stand in the way of your goals. You need to be willing to sacrifice time to do extra training and recovery work, to make sure your body is prepared to perform at the highest level. You must be willing to pass on going to the bars with your friends, because you know a night of drunken debauchery will hold you back on the mats the next day. You must be willing to put your finances towards better food, soft tissue/chiropractic work, seminars and other things that will contribute to your success, instead of fancy clothes, cars, or other unimportant material items.