As we get more involved in our jiu-jitsu training, our desire to improve grows. With every belt level, new challenges arise improving the timing of old techniques, learning the mechanics of new techniques, or even improving overall conditioning. All of this not only requires more time from you but also more effort and physical stamina. The harder you push, the more it will drain you. And the more it drains you, the better your nutrition and resting periods need to be. This is where the boundaries of professional training and recreational training are created.
The general outlook is that the only real difference between a professional and a recreationalist is the amount of time and effort you dedicate to something. A recreationalist can train once a week or once a month. They can train as often or as little as they’d like because they do it for fun as a hobby or passion.
On the other hand, professionals must train as often as possible to achieve their goals of winning. Because in jiu-jitsu, if you don’t win, you don’t make any coin – it’s as simple as that. Being a professional has its perks. When you dedicate yourself one hundred percent to something, you are able to manage every aspect properly, such as conditioning and nutrition. This type of full-time management makes it much less likely for full-time athletes to over-train. Of course, it still happens, but they are able to gauge their abilities much easier than the recreational enthusiast. The “part-timer” has a much higher chance of overtraining - something that can have quite dire consequences.
For the recreationalist, jiu-jitsu is not the only thing they have on their plate. They most likely have to work a separate job for a living, study in school, deal with family, and whatever else they may have going on in their lives. They don’t have that much time to dedicate to training, let alone the maintenance that’s required for it. The more you train, the more maintenance you will need. Some recreationalists who have the time may train just as much as professionals but lack the time or knowledge to really focus on the maintenance. This can easily lead to overtraining.
Overtraining is when you’ve pushed your body to the limit, and you can feel serious fatigue afterward. This can linger for some time. If you don’t properly rest and recover, not only will you feel significantly weaker in the next training session, your immune system can also become compromised. That’s why many trainers recommend taking a day off after a strenuous session. You have to listen to your body - professionals do the same thing.
To help yourself recover, there are many things you can do: napping during the day and/or going to bed early, eating proper foods, staying completely hydrated, and taking the proper supplements. Proper supplements do not mean steroids. Although it should be common knowledge, it is worth mentioning again that steroids have serious side effects and consequences in the future. Not to mention it is ethically wrong – it’s cheating.
All levels of practitioners should be mindful of the amount of time they train and how much energy is expended. Train smart and listen to your body.