Do BJJ Fighters Need An Off-Season Like Wrestlers?

Yes. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighters need an off-season to minimize the risk of burnout and overtraining

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu isn’t as regulated as wrestling, so students are often left to figure out how to manage their training routines on their own. Wrestlers have a considerable advantage in this department since their sport is much more structured. Wrestlers learn how to cut weight, prepare for competitions, and train year-round to reduce the risk of getting burned out at their wrestling academies. 

Wrestling season in countries with well-developed programs typically starts around October and ends in March. During this time, wrestlers focus their training on wrestling techniques, cardiovascular fitness, and competitions


The Benefits Of Having An Off-Season

It’s not reasonable to expect to train in BJJ intensely for several years without eventually getting burned out. Your body and mind need some rest away from the sport, regardless of how much you love it. An off-season allows you to work on things that might give you an advantage on the mat. 

You can’t commit serious time to activities like weightlifting while training in BJJ five times a week. It’s only a matter of time before your body starts to shut down. An off-season gives you a chance to address such issues before they start to interfere with your training. It gives your body the rest it needs to recover from all the nagging injuries that build up when training full-time. 

Since BJJ doesn’t have an official off-season, it’s up to you to manage your training so you don’t overwhelm yourself. Unlike wrestlers who have a clearly defined off-season, BJJ players can make their off-season any time of the year. 

Ideally, you want your off-season to be right after tournaments to give yourself a chance to recover from all the hard work you put in leading up to it. Try your best to schedule your competitions close to each other so you can take things easy once you’re done with them. 

Your break should be around two to three weeks, but you can take longer periods off if you think you have them. Wrestlers take up to three months off during their off-season. 


Getting The Most Out Of Your Off-Season

Some of the simple things you can do to get the most out of your downtime include:


1) Heal And Recover

Your off-season allows you to recover from all the minor injuries you’ve accumulated while training full-time. Take up to a week off for rest to allow your aching body to recover. Take more time off if you were overtrained heading into your off-season. Getting this much-needed rest will put you in a position to make the most out of your off-season. Keep strenuous physical activities to a minimum during your recovery period. 


2) Maintain Your Aerobic Base

Taking time off training BJJ doesn’t mean you get to become a couch potato. Avoiding all physical activities during your off-season will make it more challenging to return to your regular form since you’ll be significantly out of shape by the time you return to training full-time. 

Substitute your BJJ training with other physical activities during your off-season to help keep your body in relatively good shape. Sign up for Muay Thai classes, run, or play sports like basketball to give your cardiovascular system the simulation it typically gets from BJJ. Find fun activities that won’t feel like a chore while performing them. The fun part is crucial since it helps your mind to recover from rigorous training.

Look for activities that complement your BJJ training in some way. For example, playing basketball will improve your cardio and explosiveness for BJJ. Activities like rock climbing help to improve your grip strength


3) Don’t Stop Training In BJJ Completely

bjj conditioning

Just because it’s your off-season doesn’t mean you can’t show up at the gym once a week to train. Doing so will help to keep your BJJ sharp, and it’ll help to maintain your aerobic base. Just make sure you resist the urge to train more often since that would defeat the purpose of having an off-season. 


4) Create A Strength Training Program

The offseason is the ideal time to work on your strength and conditioning, so come up with a plan that addresses all the changes you’d like to make. For example, if you regularly find yourself getting overpowered on the mat, you could create a strength training program aimed at making you stronger. 

Most athletes make most of their mass and strength gains during the off-season since they can build their days around their strength and conditioning program. You can’t do that when training in BJJ five days a week. 


5) Address Weaknesses

The offseason is also the ideal time to review the things you need to improve on and devise a plan. If you struggled to get takedowns at tournaments during your last competition season, go over things that can help to improve the effectiveness of your shots. This can be as simple as watching videos that break down takedowns, watching BJJ players compete, or using your limited time at the dojo to work on them. 

Come up with a list of all your weaknesses and a plan to correct them. That’s how you keep growing as a BJJ fighter. 


6) Get Inspired

The off-season is the ideal time to rekindle your passion for BJJ. Read books written by your favorite BJJ instructors or watch inspiring videos documenting the hardships they overcame to get where they are today. Attend a seminar taught by your favorite BJJ player or watch some high-level BJJ matches. Doing these things will relight your fire for BJJ and make you look forward to getting back to training full-time. 


7) Slowly Increase Your Workload

bjj students rolling

Start spending more time as your off-season approaches its end. Start training twice a week instead of only once, and gradually increase the number of days you train per week. Your skills will be right back to where they were before you took a break in no time. 


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