If you participate in jiu jitsu, chances are that you want to be the healthiest version of yourself so that you can feel and perform your best. While you may have optimized your training, chances are that you haven’t optimized every area of your health and fitness. If this is the case, you’re leaving a lot on the table.
Here are five areas of health that you need to be optimizing to perform your best whether you’re on or off the mat:
Strength Training not only provides benefits for Jiu Jitsu, but overall health as well. Injuries are a part of life for jiu jitsu athletes and strength training can really move the needle on injury prevention. In jiu jitsu we push out joints to the end of their range, by becoming strong at the end of our range we can help safeguard our bodies against injury. Strength training is also incredibly healthy for bone health and prevention of osteoporosis as we age (particularly in females).
Additionally, strength training can add to your effectiveness overall. While jiu jitsu is a technical sport, strength and athleticism definetly plays a factor (anyone that tells you that strength doesn’t play a factor in your game is lying to you).
A great starting place for strength training is 2-3 times a week, utilizing compound exercises (Squat, Hinge, Single leg, Push, Pull) in your training.
Nutrition makes a massive impact on not only your daily life, but your performance and aesthetics as well. Proper nutrition can end up being the difference between finishing a match with energy, or gassing out before it’s over. If you have proper nutrition, you will have better training sessions, which lead to compounded mat time, and improving your game faster. Your dietary needs are highly individualized, however there are several foundations that apply across the board.
Aim for about 1g/lb of goal weight for protein every day, throughout the day. As for carbs and fats, it will depend on your goals, activity level, and other factors.
Some MINIMUMS for your day in terms of nutrition (for hormonal and overall health) are 150g of carbs and 50g of fat per day (below this, you may start to see negative effects on performance, well-being, and hormones). Eating mostly whole, nutrient dense foods for 80% of your diet is also a great standard to set for yourself as well (20% of foods can be more “fun foods” that fit into your diet).
If you are someone who sits at a desk most of the day when you aren’t training, you can start to see a negative impact on your performance and mobility. Aim to get movement throughout the day in some capacity (walking, stretching, yoga) and on days when you aren’t training, a great thing to do is pick a non-jiu jitsu related activity or improve your skills in other ways!
Some fun/great things to do for movement are:
(These are not the only things, but a list of ideas that we love!)
The more you can incorporate supplementary movement that keeps you healthy, the better!
Sleep is as crucial to your overall health and nutrition. If you are someone who regularly gets less than 7 hours a night sleeping, we recommend doing an audit of your sleep routine. Some healthy sleep habits that we recommend are:
Getting 7-9 hours nightly
Cutting caffeine out of your diet 8 hours before bedtime
Limiting caffeine intake to less than 400mg/day (and honestly, that is a LOT per day)
Create a healthy sleep space (cold, dark, and quiet)
Limit blue lights at LEAST 30 mins before bed
Limiting eating to 2–3 hours before bedtime (for sleep health, not for weight loss)
The better your sleep is, the better you will feel throughout the day, and the higher the quality you can bring to your day. If you can push further because you sleep better, why would you not?
Stress is something that seems to go hand in hand with reaching adulthood. Stress can have a huge impact on sleep quality and overall quality of life, so managing stress levels should be a priority. Some things that we recommend for managing stress are:
- Manage your Schedule. If you have your schedule in place and are organized, you will understand exactly what you are capable of doing in one day.
- Journal. Being able to write out your thoughts in one place will allow you to organize your thoughts, free up your head space, and allow you to understand what is in your control vs what you are unnecessarily worrying about, and allow you to process your thoughts accordingly.
- Get enough sleep. Lower quality sleep has shown to increase stress levels.
We’ve all heard the maxim, “you are only as young as your spine”, and that couldn’t be more true. While you may prioritize your training and possibly even weight training, optimizing your functional body movements will dramatically increase your performance. If you are flexible and strong, you are less likely to get injured. Add stretching and mobility to your training every single day! 5-10 minutes post-training is a great starting point. We also recommend a longer session 1-2x a week to increase your flexibility.
There is no single way to optimize your performance and training for jiu jitsu. This list gives a great foundation for your overall health that will allow you to work on these facets of your life, so that you can feel better and perform better. Cheers!
About the Author
Becca is a contributing writer to Alchemize, and fellow jiujiteria. She is a life-long athlete, nutrition coach, and mother of two boys. You can usually find Becca doing one of 4 things: at the gym, cooking, with her kids, or coaching her athletes. Practicality is the name of her game, and making the best of situations is her specialty.