Once people sign up for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu here at Gracie Smeaton Grange, they often fall into one of two categories. Some become addicted to BJJ and want to visit every day, while others stress because they think they can’t come to class enough times per week.
In either case, the question commonly arises: “How often should I be training?”
You’re embarking on a new martial arts journey, so it’s only fair that you want to know how much effort you need to put in to get something out. But there are many factors that go into the ideal training frequency, and almost all of them relate to you personally.
Broadly speaking, you should train as often as you can sustain doing, and you should aim for between 3 and 5 classes a week. But the real, in-depth answer is much more nuanced.
Easy does it
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, for those who don’t know, is a ground-based grappling martial art. It prioritizes timing, leverage and technique over athleticism. It’s endlessly complex, but also incredibly satisfying to learn. This satisfaction causes some new practitioners to become obsessed with the Gentle Art that is BJJ.
Yet Jiu-Jitsu, like all martial arts, is a marathon. Over the course of your life, years spent training will be more important than the amount of classes you go to each week. Better to train twice a week for 20 years than six times a week for 3 years.
The takeaway here is that sustainability is of the utmost importance.
One of the common mistakes keen new white belts make is that they train constantly — six times a week, multiple times a day — and then completely burn out. They then take a week or two off, which turns into a month, which turns into never coming back to class.
We’re not telling you not to train six times a week. We’d love to see you that often at Gracie Smeaton Grange! If you can fit that many classes into your life, and if your mind and body can take that much training, then great! You’ll get into fantastic shape, and you’ll progress quickly. The problem is when people think they have to train constantly otherwise they’ll turn into a BJJ failure.
(Important tip: If you are going to train more than five times a week, make sure you’re eating and sleeping enough. Recovery is key!)
When you’re new to martial arts, give yourself an advantage by forging a sustainable training schedule. Make it a habit to come to class 3 times a week. For most people that’s enough classes per week to improve at a solid pace, but not so many classes that you risk burning out. Anything on top is a bonus.
What if I can only train once a week?
Okay, so some people suffer from resisting the urge to train too much. But other people stress because, for whatever life reason, they can only train once or twice a week. And that’s totally fine too!
To succeed in Jiu-Jitsu, it’s important to remember why you’re doing it. Do you want to become a world champion? If so, yes, you will need to train far more than once a week. But for everyone else, simply training when you can, though not ideal, is enough.
There are a bunch of reasons why people train BJJ. Some already have a fitness or martial arts regime, and what to augment it with some Jiu-Jitsu training. Others want to try martial arts, but work or family duties stop them from hitting the mats consistently throughout the week. For many, BJJ is a hobby — it’s just for fun.
In all of these cases, you can still make progress by training once or twice a week. Remember: Sustainability is the most important factor. If you train once a week for 10 years, it’s true that you’re unlikely to be as advanced as someone who trains three times a week for 10 years. But you’ll be much more advanced than someone who trained zero times a week for 10 years.
Martial arts is about improvement, not perfection. Slow progress is better than no progress!
Improving off the mats
The mats are where you hone your skills in martial arts, but there are other ways of improving your skills when getting to the gym isn’t possible — or if being at the gym isn’t enough.
First, there are many excellent online resources, from YouTube videos to Instagram pages, where coaches and pros from around the world show off their techniques. This is not a substitute for in-class training, but it can be helpful in opening your mind to new possibilities and strategies.
You can then bring these techniques and strategies into class, where our coaches can talk you through what works and what doesn’t work — and why.
There are also many mobility drills you can do, which work on your hip engagement, explosiveness, and common movements that you’ll employ on the mats.
Finally, weight lifting and yoga are excellent ways to supplement your game. Resistance training that strengthens your core and legs is particularly valuable, as is the muscular endurance that comes with weights. Yoga instills the importance of balanced breathing — many newer BJJ practitioners either breathe too much or not enough — and is outstanding for injury prevention and recovery.
In Camden, Campbelltown or Sydney’s Southwest but yet to sign up to any academy? Feel free to come into Gracie Smeaton Grange for a free trial class.