Jiu-Jitsu is a mentally and physically demanding activity and known how often to train is important yo your success in it. Training too often too quickly can lead to a lack of recovery and can lead to injury. Also, training too often can lead to mental fatigue and burnout as there is a lot of information being taught in each class.
In general, a beginner should start with training twice a week to allow for proper recovery and ensure technical progression. After 6-12 months when the body has fully adapted to the physical demands of Jiu-Jitsu training 3 times a week will be ideal. Training 3 times a week, regardless of skill level, is known as the sweet spot. Training 3 times a week allows for steady progress, BJJ/life balance, and recovery. Four or more times a week is highly recommended if you want to be competitive or want to involve yourself deeper in BJJ.
Everyone is different and you will have to experiment with how often you can train Jiu-Jitsu. I found the best way to avoid burnout was to dedicate 2 days a week that I always go on. I go every Tuesday and Thursday, no matter what (unless I am sick or injured). This forces me to keep a routine. Each week I assess how I am feeling and will go to more classes if I feel good. I found this way was the best way to maintain a routine while also avoiding mentally beating yourself up for missing a class.
True Beginner – The First 3-6 Months
When starting in Jiu-Jitsu it can be very tempting to start training 3, 4, 5, even 6 days a week. As a consequence of training this frequently at the beginning, you risk burning out your body and the mind! Admittedly, I did this when I first started Jiu-Jitsu and it slowed my progress down on the mats and halted my progress in the gym.
Your body is going to be introduced to a lot of new movements as a beginner, assuming you haven’t been grappling prior to Jiu-Jitsu. The movements will be physically draining both on the muscles and the tendons. Typically, muscles can recover in a few days; however, tendons will take longer.
For a beginner, training twice a week is ideal. Training twice a week offers the time necessary for your body to recover and maintain techniques taught. In addition to this, you will not get overloaded with so much information. Having 3+classes each teaching a new technique and many variations every week can be overwhelming and unrealistic to remember. Consequently, training too often can lead to burnout and eventually not showing up to class anymore.
Once a week may be tempting, but it may be too much time between classes to allow retainment and refinement of techniques. If you can only do one class a week as that’s what your life allows, then 1 time a week is way better than none! If your schedule can only handle 1 time per week, try to supplement learning on your own time by studying videos.
When I first started my muscles had no issue keeping up as I was used to working out 4-5 days a week. Unexpectedly to me, my tendons were not ready for the demands of Jiu-Jitsu, despite doing strength training. After my first week of going to class 6 times in one week (removing the gym completely during this week) my tendons were shot! It took 4-5 months for them to handle going to BJJ class 3 times a week and perform heavy lifting again!
Evolving From A Beginner
As you get more experience in Jiu-Jitsu it will be beneficial to increase your training frequency. Your body will have adapted to the new movements and you will have a better grasp of the fundamental techniques. For this reason, it may be a good idea to add another day to your training.
After 6-12 months the body will have adapted to the demands of BJJ. You will have a better grasp of fundamental concepts that are many techniques are built upon. Thus, the risk of burning out from information overload will have decreased. Also, your muscles and tendons will have adapted to the stresses of BJJ meaning that recovery is quicker than when first starting.
Adding a third or even a fourth day to training per week will help progress your skills to new levels. Training 3 times a week is the common ideal frequency to train. It is enough to maintain technique and refine to transitions and movement patterns.
Incorporating an additional day to your training will allow you to have an extra class learning a new technique. Along with the option to have time dedicated to drilling a technique or getting an extra rolling session.
Progression will increase and you’ll find yourself quickly excelling in class when training 3 times a week. Especially compared to others in your class that may stick to training twice a week.
Once you are out of the beginner stages of Jiu-Jitsu your body will be used to the physical and mental demands of BJJ. A lot of people in the advance stage, think blue-belt and higher, train 3+ times a week. Training 3 times a week is optimal for most, as it offers a great medium of recovery, technical progression, and life balance.
insert picture here about life balance.
When you are advanced, Jiu-Jitsu is typically part of your life at this point. Hopefully, your significant other will understand when you want to train more. Training 3 times a week will suffice for most. While there are others that BJJ becomes a passion that leads them to train more. You’ll know who you are when the time comes.
Experiment with how often you train per week. If you’re currently training 3 times a week try adding in the fourth day for a few weeks. How does your body feel? Are you starting to get angry or overact to things that previously didn’t bother you? Assess how you feel to see if your increased frequency is working for you or against you.
Did you start Jiu-Jitsu to become the best? Maybe you started Jiu-Jitsu but are interested in competing to prove your skills! After your body has adapted to the demands of BJJ it might be time to start adding in the days to train for competition. Likewise, if you have been training for a while and want to start competing, increasing your training frequency is something you may want to consider.
It is recommended to train 4+ days a week for anyone thinking about competing. Clearly, there are no shortcuts to get better at Jiu-Jitsu, so if you’re looking to develop a flowing style and sharp submissions your frequency will have to increase. Incorporating more days will build your Jiu-Jitsu instincts and ensure your technical skills are maintained.
What Is The Optimal Training Frequency?
So what is the optimal training frequency for Jiu-Jitsu practitioners? The optimal training frequency will be individual and not a clear cut answer. Everyone’s body recovers at different rates and adapts differently. Furthermore, there will be months where training 5 times a week will feel great and others where you can hardly do 2.
For the most part, the optimal training frequency can be broken down as follows:
- Training twice a week is great for beginners to allow proper recovery and avoid burnout.
- Three times a week is considered ideal for all levels and allows for a great BJJ/life balance.
- To compete at higher levels of Jiu-Jitsu training four times a week is typically considered the minimum.
- Incorporating five or more days of training can be very fatiguing if it is not your primary hobby or way fo life.
Overall, it is important to assess how your body is feeling week to week. Assessing your body each week will help you avoid overtraining and decrease the risk of injury. There will be a maintainable training frequency your body can handle and finding that will come in time after your initial beginner stage.
An important rule of thumb, the more frequent you train the more time you need for recovery; which consists of nutrition and rest.
In conclusion, find the right training frequency for you and your life. For many, Jiu-Jitsu is a hobby they enjoy doing as part of their life. Find a way to keep your Jiu-Jitsu to life balance in check. This way going to Jiu-Jitsu is something you look forward too instead of being a chore.
People new to Jiu-Jitsu should consider training twice a week to get the best results. In the same way, someone that has trained for some time should consider training three times a week. While people that want to compete at a high level or involve themselves in Jiu-jitsu more should consider training four or more times a week.