Should You ‘Listen To Your Body’ or Overtrain: Best Formula To Achieve Your Goals

Should You ‘Listen To Your Body’ or Overtrain: Best Formula To Achieve Your Goals

When you train BJJ, you will often hear advise from various people telling you to ‘listen to your body’. What does that mean and is that really going to make you reach your goals?

First off, you have to know the difference between overtraining and ‘listening to your body’ and taking a break once in a while after a constant and intense training period.

There are really simple ways to know if you are overtraining. Here are the symptoms:

– Lack of enjoyment during class
– Slight fevers
– Series of injuries  
– Delayed reaction times
– Depression 
– Constant soreness and tiredness
– Lack of motivation to go to training

If these things happen, don’t hesitate to take a break. Either don’t do any Jiu-Jitsu for a few days or do a completely different sport for a while (to stay in shape).You will also perform better after a break. Doing one class with a fresh  body and mind is better than doing three classes feeling tired and bored.Resting is as important as training.

The problem, is when one is training for competition, the limits of physical and mental toughness have to be pushed in order to come in the best shape possible on D day .

During our workouts and BJJ training, we create tiny tears in our muscles. When we allow the muscles to rest, the tissue is able to repair itself using proteins and their amino acids. This creates stronger muscles over time.
Continuous workouts without rest will actually make us weaker- not stronger.

Now are you really overtrained or is your mind just weak?

Retired Navy Seal and ultra marathon runner David Goggins said that when your body tells you to stop, you’re actually only at about 40% of your limit and your mind you can push way further.

No Gi world champion Josh Hinger talked on social media that if he had listened to his body, then he never would have achieved anything:

A lot of people say that you should listen to your body. Meaning, rest if you feel tired and lethargic, or take a break if you feel beat up and achy. I’ll tell you all right now, if I listened to my body, I wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning. I wouldn’t go lift weights and run after morning training. I wouldn’t cut out the sweets that my body craves. My body is a liar and a manipulator. If I listened to my body, I would eat sour gummy worms all day and stay on my couch. I don’t listen to my body as much as I listen to my mind and my heart. My mind and heart are what drive me to be a champion. My body is usually the first one that tells me to give up. Listen to your heart, not your body.

Now, for the second question, can you achieve your competition or personal goals if you are always listening to your body?

A good example of someone who has found the right formula is 10x world champion Roger Gracie, who has been training in BJJ his whole life and had to go through the whole grind of daily training. He also fought in MMA at the highest level and went through very tough training camps. Despite all of this, he never required any surgery. This is quite extraordinary as so many fellow high level grapplers have been operated on and also have serious injuries.

In this recent in depth interview with Graciemag, Roger revealed his secret for longevity and hitting your goals in BJJ. Consistency:

GRACIEMAG: What is the biggest lesson that your career teaches the BJJ community?

ROGER GRACIE: I think, one about the importance of constancy in training. There’s no way around it: if you wanna be good, you have to train hard — that is, with the toughest guys at your gym. They hardly get there who run away from the toughest rolls or refrain from facing the toughest opponents of their division at tournaments. But “training hard,” mind you, does not mean training to get wrecked. One must train with intelligence. I don’t believe in preparing for a challenge overnight.

I have friends who go a month without training, or even longer, and, when they have a fight scheduled, they try to make up for it by getting wrecked in training, reaching their limit. To me that shortens the athlete’s life, and harms them technically as well. I strive to train every day, for an hour, and I’m satisfied. Of course there are times you’re travelling, or need to be away, but four times a week is alright. Not to mention that, if I go more than a week without practicing BJJ, I can kill a man! [Laughs.] You get in a bad mood, nervous… When I go without training, the pain gets worse too — shoulder, knee… With this method of mine, of always training for an hour, my body has never complained, and I have never needed surgery.

Also read:

Long Term Effects of A Lifetime of Grappling Competition Training



Seven hours of sleep might not be enough for many BJJ athletes to perform at their best. Sleep and its impact on athletic performance still is being researched. However, it is clear that athletes who are sleep-deprived are highly unlikely to perform at their best. Whether seven, eight or nine hours of sleep each night is the ideal number remains unclear.
The typical athlete is getting less sleep than ever before. Television, social networking, multiple jobs has people shaving off minutes or even hours from their sleep schedules. We often justify nocturnal behaviors such as watching television or surfing the net by convincing ourselves we are “resting”. But when it comes to physical recovery from exercise, there is no substitute for sleep.

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