Acute Overtraining:

We know some of us that go way too hard and fizzle. Our training ends, usually injured or otherwise setback in an unsustainable way. We’re easy to identify and our behaviors are remembered long after our names are forgotten. This happens most in the very beginning of training, or during triumphant comebacks after long stretches off the mats in an attempt to “catch up”. For over training, this one is obvious and straightforward. Too much, too hard, too soon. We don’t last, and BJJ becomes that thing we once did, or done in repeating spurts of all-in, all-out.


Remember it’s not necessary to be sore to make improvement, and injury is certainly not required either. It takes more willpower to hold back to last than it does to full blaze forward without considering tomorrow.


If you feel this is you, train with the intention of leaving something in the tank after each session. Better to have a 2nd class with the same strategy than to sit the rest of the week out empty in recovery, or worse, insisting through the rest of the week on fumes towards injury and burnout.


Acute Undertraining:

Others of us go way too easy, usually out of fear of the unknown, and usually with good reason. It’s our first exposure to BJJ and we have hesitation. We’re afraid of getting hurt or embarrassed. Everyone looks dumb in the beginning and will continue to look dumb as we expand our knowledge through constant “failures” in further technical exploration. After abit, we realize looking dumb is admirable, showing bravery in experimentation.


If you feel this is you, get your a** to class, and go from there. Be brave, look dumb, ask questions, find an accountability partner and understand many of us have been there with similar hesitations, but get to class.


Chronic Overtraining:

Lesser known are those of us that go just barely too hard. Our consequences creep on slowly in the form of lingering fatigue and strained relationships outside the academy, which in turn affects our training experience with our partners.

Harder to recognize as it needs time to accumulate, it shows itself as agitation or apathy, longer recovery periods as each day of the pattern adds another straw to our back. A building fatigue and strain, affecting more than grappling ability. Getting sick or rundown. An increasingly shorter fuse at work and home, and a feeling that we’re stagnating on the mats and life.


Harder to identify, chronic overtraining is found in that extra credit roll next morning soreness that makes it’s way into our norm, the weekly class we go to instead of family time, or the lack of presence off the mats because our mind is still in the academy. All are fine in isolation, but compound to a life out of balance, ever slowly suffocating the chances of longevity out of us.


If you feel this is you, it probably is. It’s tricky with the fun, the workout, camaraderie, and the rush of rolling. As much as we love the Jiujitsu life, we should remind ourselves that it still has a cost. Time, attention, and energy are spent at the academy. In a balanced life this strengthens our ability to appreciate our off times, makes us more present and with more energy for the rest of our lives. But out of balance it saps all. The difference between our medicine and our poison is dosage, and we need to be attentive to our dosages. Our challenge is to optimize across several factors for total life balance, raising the tide of all aspects of our lives and those we share it with.


Chronic Undertraining:

This also is less easy to identify than the acute training issues, but yields similar results and shows similar symptoms to chronic overtraining. A feeling of slowed progress, especially when compared to others in a similar training setup with similar attributes and training patterns. Frustrations on the mat spilling over to other areas of our life, and right back to the mats again. As we explain in an earlier blog, showing up in not half the battle. Leadership hears it all the time, a teammate expressing how much they train as much if not more than so and so, or not getting any better, or not getting recognized for it, or some version of these. Almost always it’s due to an accidental overestimation of classes/week, rolls/class, a huge disparity between what they thought they were crushing vs actuality, and we all do this at some point. We might have planned for 4 day/week each week this month but got caught up at work at least once, or that day we were sick. Not our fault, but still already a reduction off the bat of 12.5% missed training days that month. Not a biggie for a month, but chronically over time, this adds up to missed expectations. This applies to rolls within a class, and even movement within a roll. All are acceptable, but we need to be honest with the training we think we’re doing compared to what we wished we were doing, and realistic with how much we actually are. The results of the honest calculations don’t matter, but objective truth and missed expectations do. False assumptions will lead us to false conclusions and makes it harder if we want to adjust our plan.


If you feel this is you, record and adjust. In the same way that a minor adjustment over time can send us astray, a small adjustment in the right direction can compound results over time. But before we do, we should really know where we’re starting from. If we don’t know where we’re starting from we can’t measure our baseline to improve off of. Maybe journal or otherwise track actual training objectives and our history? Once we know our baseline, the changes should be small to be long lasting. Is it as simple as not sitting out the first roll each class?

By nature we seem to be terrible at estimating, especially when blinded by what we wished was true. But we can hedge our bets with active tracking and recording, then adjusting accordingly.


Whether we’re overtraining or undertraining, acutely or chronically, we have a way forward. Where are we now? Wherever we are, it will also change as life changes. But it starts with understanding our habits now, and their results? After understanding, we work to improve for our current season of training. It’s ongoing, but that’s the struggle, and the goal is balance.