Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Strength and Conditioning for BJJ - Assessment (part 1 of ?)

(alternative series title - "You Can't Do It All or Maybe You Can If You Do It Right.")

Should I just concentrate on skill work? What about cardio? Am I too weak? How strong is strong enough? What about power and explosiveness, when am I supposed to train that? Should I do Yoga or some other form of flexibility work? What should I be doing/not doing for rest and recovery? Where the @#$% am I supposed to find time to do all this?

Most of us are not professional athletes who can dedicate our entire day to training. In order to maximize the benefits of our limited training time we need to train hard but we also need to train smart. Training smart means doing the right things at the right times at the right volume/intensity.

So just how do we determine what all this "right stuff" is. I don't think anyone has figured out ALL the right stuff, but fortunately, there is a wealth of data and research in athletic performance that we can appropriate for BJJ that will let us postulate some general rules of thumb. When we combine these general rules with observation of what is consistently working in the grappling and MMA communities we can map out some suggestions for a training program that may not have ALL the answers but will be a significant leap beyond "Just Do It."

The first step in developing a good training program is to determine where you currently are - only then can you can make logical decisions on what should come next. We do this by performing an Assessment. An assessment helps to determine your individual needs. Some players gas early, other players may get manhandled and pushed around, and others lose matches because their skills are not up to par, alternatively the super-technical guy may be continuously fighting injuries because of strength deficits/imbalances. Even though we are all athletes in the same sport we are not all at the same place on our journey. We need to determine at an individual level what we need most to advance to the next level.

This is where I am going to suggest a few "rules of thumb" for determining where you are. First, the nature of our sport means that we are ALWAYS going to put skill/technique work at the top of the list and work it year round (no true off season). Second, low intensity flexibility work (such as light yoga) is almost always good for recovery and is recommended - that said everyone has varying levels of base flexibility that can be improved with regular stretching but BJJ in general does not require you to be able to do the splits or put your leg behind your head.

This leaves us with the big 3 training variables: Cardio, Basic Strength, and Explosive Power.

(next post in this series - Cardio Assessment)

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