Say you just got into BJJ, and you’re loving every minute of it. You anticipate the next practice when one has just finished, and spend your Friday nights doing Stephan Kesting marathons until you begin to have a hard time blinking from how bloodshot your eyes are. Your new hobby has you completely infatuated. However, it’s vital not to overdo it because you may end up turning something you are very passionate about into a chore. Here are a few tips and things to look out for that will raise red flags if you are overtraining:
Have you ever noticed how a lot of athletes get sick before competition? That’s directly a result of overtraining. Rule one: Don’t train like a beast right before a competition! That probably sounds ridiculous, but you will actually waste all your body’s energy before having to actually do the real thing. Training decreases your body’s performance, therefore you need to replenish it with the same amount of rest you put into your session, or maybe even more. You can train heavily before a competition, but it’s recommended to give yourself 5-10 rest days before getting in front of the referees. If you can’t keep away from the mats, you should focus on doing just very light exercises… (This is probably cringe-worthy for those that are obsessed with BJJ)
That leads me into rule number two: The harder you train, the more you need to rest. Moreover, make sure you aren’t eating too little, and allow yourself the proper amount of time to recover from injuries. Even if you can’t stand being away from practice for more than a week, listen to your body. If your body needs rest, then let it be. If you hit the mats too early after an illness, you will squander all the energy your body has managed to create to fight off that illness, and use it to roll, which in turn, will just land you back on bed rest.
Rule number three: How can I tell if I’m overtraining? Is your appetite going down? Are you constantly short on energy, or easily fatigued? Are you always cranky or unmotivated? Are you sore all over? Is your performance average to low? And most importantly, have you lost your love for training? If you feel any of the above, it’s a good idea to slow your pace way down. Cut out one or two things out of your BJJ routine. This may involve going to one fewer class a week, and doing something else that excites you. Taking a day or two off and just relaxing will be a really good refresher. I’ve noticed that it’s key to have balance for anything in life, such as your relationships, daily activities, and even the food you eat, but particularly with BJJ since at some point it becomes a lifestyle. For me, practising BJJ keeps me sane. It helps me stay disciplined, and always puts a happy glow on my face when I arrive at practice and see my coaches and teammates. I consider them a second family. Despite how wonderful all that can be, I find myself at times being really discouraged, or just very moody. Now, I automatically associate that frame of mind with overtraining. The problem isn’t BJJ, it’s me. I decided that BJJ would be one part of my life, and that the rest of my day would be filled with other things I love to do.
Think about what you can realistically do at training. If you don’t think it through and just put too much on your plate, your journey in BJJ will not be an enjoyable one. It’s okay to take a break; BJJ will always be there for you.