Something’s gotta give

So as I mentioned in this post, I have recently undertaken a very ambitious training schedule. Since then I’ve also lost my recovery day (Fridays) to tournament training. Not surprisingly, this has left me feeling perpetually exhausted and sore. I know that I cannot keep this pace. Eventually something is going to give and I’m going to get injured or just worn down to the point of uselessness. This means I have to cut back on something but what?

I am now training BJJ 7 times a week. It seems obvious that this is what I should cut back on. But this doesn’t make sense to me. I am training for a BJJ tournament, why would I cut back on BJJ? This means that I am going to need to cut back on weight training or cardio. But which one?

I was giving this some thought the other day as I was stuck under my opponents while rolling, too tired and sore to do anything useful. It is my belief that I either need to lose weight to get into a smaller division or build some muscle to compete at the weight I am at. I feel like all the girls at my weight are stronger than me. This is why I started weight training a few weeks ago. So naturally I was leaning toward giving up cardio.

But of course this seemed like a bad idea too. If I want to go hard for 6 minutes, I better have some cardio in reserve! Then I started to think about rolling at the gym. That is a pretty good cardio workout in itself. Could that count as my cardio?

I got a headache from all the thinking I was doing so I decided to just ask people who know better than me. I asked one of the school’s coaches who is a pro MMA fighter (and also a brand new BJJ brown belt) and I asked my coach what they thought I should be focusing on. Both of them said they didn’t think traditional weight training should be my focus right now. They also said I don’t need to be doing a lot of cardio. They both suggested I check out a video by Marcelo Garcia in which he explains to his students how he uses jiu-jitsu and nothing else to train for jiu-jitsu.

The basic idea is that you go really hard and fast the entire time you roll. This does not mean you muscle everything and beat your opponents up (the quickest way to find yourself with no rolling partners) but just that you make yourself constantly move an exhaust yourself. He contends that this is not only good for cardio but also great training for when you are tired and out of gas while competing.

I wanted to try yesterday but I was still so tired and sore that I could barely move. This reinforced my belief that I am pushing myself too hard. Monday and Tuesday I felt like I was rolling good, moving out of bad positions, getting where I wanted to go, etc. Wednesday and Thursday I could feel the drain on my body and could not do anything.

Part of me thinks that I should just push through. I am tired now because of the extra activity and I just need to adjust. The other part hates that I have no energy for rolling because of the other work I’m doing.

I am thinking of trying to combine cardio and weights next week by doing kettlebells or something similar and just keep moving so that I don’t need to do 13 different workouts a week. I’m also going to take Marcelo’s advice and try to be constantly moving while I roll so that I have to drag my lifeless body off the mat every night. Hopefully I will find the right strength/cardio/BJJ balance to bring out my inner badass.

For those of you interested, here is Marcelo’s video:

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3 responses to “Something’s gotta give”

  1. Megan says :

    I’m loving your blog! I deal with a lot of size/strength/gender issues, too, so it’s nice to have fellow strugglers in a way. There are no other girls at my gym. Just the other night, we were doing a ‘King of the Hill’ type game for positional rolling. This brand-new guy (I’m still new, too, at a four-month white belt level) was having trouble holding me still so he slammed his weight onto me, wrapped his arms around like a hug, and squeezed me to tapping. Then when I got up and walked to the side, he said, “That was actually really hard!” Actually. Because I’m a girl, and I’m small. The only thing that kept me calm was that my coach said he was proud of me. So I completely sympathize with you. Looking forward to reading more!

    • camamyd says :

      Thanks Megan! We do those types of games at my gym too. The first time I did one I was in tears by the end because it was the first time I had experienced real fighting with guys. No one wanted to “lose” to the girl so they slammed me all over. To this day, whenever our instructors tell us to line up against the wall (which is how we start those games), I cringe.

  2. Ann says :

    Awesome post. I really enjoyed the video, and it inspires me to push myself harder (and value to failures more) in open mat,

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