GB Jiu-jitsu Lifestyle: Rest and Recovery

No doubt you have seen the workout motivational memes in your social media feeds.
“Pain is weakness leaving the body.”
“Embrace the grind.”
“What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”
These words, at the right time can provide a little burst of inspiration to carry us through a tough session at the Gracie Barra school or get us moving off the couch and on our way to class.
Working hard is only half of the equation however. The less tangible part of our Jiu-Jitsu training is our rest and recovery. To reach peak shape – for a competition say, we need to push ourselves beyond our comfort zones – but the improvement actually comes when our bodies recover and super compensate after the physical stress.
Over training IS a thing. It is possible to deplete your body’s energy stores and tear down muscle beyond your ability to recuperate in time for the next training session. If we spend a long enough time in that state of depletion, gains slow…and stop, and we end up in a chronically over trained state.
So how do we recover in between intense training sessions and avoid overtraining and possible mental and physical burn out?
Here are a few tips to help your recovery in between Jiu-Jitsu classes.
– Training efficiency. Your training ideally should be centered around technical improvement and not about driving yourself near exhaustion. I asked a Gracie Barra instructor how he managed to do so many rounds in a week of training – often against the most skilled upper belts in the school. “I try to be as efficient as possible.” he stated succinctly. He went on to explain that he always tried to keep his defense up and avoid positions which would put pressure on his neck and back; be judicious when he used explosive energy and he always looked for a technical solution when he found himself in a difficult position under the opponent.
– Adequate rest and sleep. While your samurai spirit might be strong, it requires quality sleep during which your body does it’s most important recovery processes. Many top level Jiu-Jitsu athletes have revealed that they had to sacrifice some of their social lives in order to train (and recover) at the level required to compete at the highest level of Jiu-Jitsu. So we must also pay attention to regular sleeping hours if we are going to demand a lot out of our bodies through Jiu-Jitsu training. The foundation of athletic improvement is routine and self discipline – which means that we need to make sure we are getting enough quality sleep. This means regular times of going to bed and waking times. It can also mean limiting external high intensity activities to make sure that our energy is going into training and recovery. Many athletes subscribe to the idea of ‘active rest’ like hiking or cycling as an activity that speeds recovery even more than complete rest (binge watching Netflix on the couch).
– Eating for recovery. Many athletes look to sports supplements to aid in recovery from all of those rounds of sparring. While augmenting our regular diets with a few select vitamin or food supplements may provide more convenience and a small percentage boost, the best advice is to have the majority of our meals coming from natural, unprocessed REAL foods. This means that you need to spend more time shopping for fresh vegetables, preparing healthy meals and avoiding convenient but unhealthy junk foods. It is rare to find a serious Jiu-Jitsu competitor who does not pay close attention to their nutrition. Yes, they need to pay attention to their bodyweight in order to stay in their best weight class. But you don’t need to be a PHD in Nutrition to recognize that if you are demanding high performance from your body machine, that it needs quality fuel. And following those tough training sessions, we need to find a way to replenish those nutrients and vital energy that we just expended. In fact, getting your nutritional program in order might be the single biggest factor in your recovery in between training sessions and performing at your best.
What is YOUR favorite recovery hack?
See also on Gracie Barra : The 3 Types Of Training Partners We Need
Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Asia