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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Training Frequency and You

There's going to be a point in your early BJJ life when you're going to wonder how frequently you should be training. How much is too much and how much is too little? The key to solving that problem is finding your own personal sweet spot of training. Your own personal sweet spot if going to be predicated by the amount of free time you have, your physical ability, how many classes your school offers, and your financial ability to pay for them. 

If your school maybe only offers a couple of days of Jiu Jitsu a week, well then you're handcuffed. But that's not to say that you're not stuck with this problem. If you're fortunate enough to have a school that offers classes daily, then this problem becomes a little more present. So let's take a look at this common issue one symptom at a time.

Assuming your school offers classes daily, let's first look at your availability. Home life can be a real detractor from BJJ. I know that sounds harsh--because it is--but that doesn't make it any less true. If you're a family man there are going to be days when your family will need you at home. Aside from the task-oriented "need," you don't want to be an absentee parent/spouse even if you're not out doing something stupid--sometimes you just need to be there. 

That aside there are going to be the times when events pop up that will cause you to have to miss class. Obviously those are going to be random, but if you're going to be in this for the long run, you're going to need to account for them.

If you're not a "family person" and you basically have all the time in the world to give to training (e.g. the youngster with a day job) then not only are you the envy of the 30+ crowd at your gym, but you can take advantage of that and train often. Getting in frequent training is going to be a dance of measuring quality and quantity. It does not have to be one or the other, but if you're starting to burn yourself out by constant grinding it out on the mats then you're going to lose some of that quality. That becomes even more true if you're among the older crowd and might not necessarily be tied down to home obligations. So if you have the option to train as much as you want, keep in mind that you're going to want to be at your mental and physical best while you're there--for your sake and for that of your training partners'--because if you're just getting on the mat and only getting quantity time and not quality time, you're only doing damage to your body and frustrating your training partners. 

 That leads us to the next point: Physical Ability. If you're young and able, you're not going to feel the pains that someone maybe even just 5 years older than you does (and will). But your youthful physical ability needs to be kept in mind and cared for. Just because you can train for 9 days in a row doesn't mean the 10th day is on the schedule. I love seeing young guns out there on the mats every day (so please do take advantage of that while you can, you should be doing that, that's part of being young), but rest days are important. Even if you don't feel like you need one, take a day off here and there and take care of your body. Yes, seriously, take care of your body. Even if you're just taking an Epsom salt bath on your days off to soak, that will serve you so well later on; plus there are a lot of physical benefits to Epsom salt that everyone at any age should be taking advantage of.

If you're a little on the older side, I think you already know when to pick your of days. But if you don't, your body will start to let you know; though, you probably don't want to let it get to that point. I'm on the cusp of 33 years old, and while I know that's not old, but after 30, things just don't heal as fast as they used to (see the picture above when I had a busted mouth for like 2 weeks). So, for me I don't look at training in calendar weeks--I look at it in hunks of days together. I try to take a day off after 4 days of consecutive training. There are (of course) times when I push it, but I do keep in mind the quality and quantity cocktail that we touched on earlier. So a large part of how often you should be training is going to depend on you age and physical ability. Like pushing through injuries can be one of those things that can just ruin you for much longer than the injury could've. When it comes to physical ability, just be smart about it. Jiu Jitsu can be a life-long journey if you play your cards right.

I'm not one to make jokes about anyone's financial situations or ability, but if you're even interested in Jiu Jitsu then you should at least be warned that it's going to be a major force in your life. That being said you're going to have to consider BJJ against your other bills. Your heart may want to roll 7 days a week, but your wallet says that 2 days is more realistic. Let's keep it real, your instructor will love your desire but they have bills too. Don't be one of these guys who pays for 2 classes a week but puppy-dog-eyes your instructor and asks if they can train additional days anyway. If you want to train more days then take a look at your finances and see what you can start to cut out. Personally, I don't know a lot of Jiu Jitsu guys that are going out and partying every weekend. Do you know why? Because we have membership dues, new gis to save for, not to mention not wanting to set back any diet they might be on. Not to poo-poo on your vices, but trust me, if you want to train more but financially you're strapped, I've seen guys make the adjustments to un-restrict funds to put towards more classes, but that's also assuming your school offers more classes to be a part of.

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