Beyond the Mat: Essential Activities for Aspiring High-Level Jiu-Jitsu and MMA Competitors

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) or Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) requires more than just the hours you put in on the mat. While class time is crucial, what you do outside of the dojo is equally important in developing into a high-level competitor. Here are some essential activities and habits to integrate into your daily routine to elevate your game.

1. Strength and Conditioning

Why It Matters:

Strength and conditioning programs are fundamental to enhance your athleticism, prevent injuries, and improve your overall performance in both BJJ and MMA.

What to Do:

• Weight Training: Focus on compound movements like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses to build functional strength.

• Cardio: Include both aerobic exercises (running, cycling) and anaerobic exercises (sprints, HIIT) to improve endurance and explosive power.

• Flexibility and Mobility: Incorporate yoga or specific stretching routines to maintain flexibility and prevent injuries.

2. Nutrition and Hydration

Why It Matters:

Proper nutrition fuels your body for intense training sessions and helps in recovery. Staying hydrated is crucial for optimal performance and health.

What to Do:

• Balanced Diet: Focus on a diet rich in lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.

• Meal Timing: Eat smaller, frequent meals throughout the day to maintain energy levels.

• Hydration: Drink plenty of water throughout the day, and consider electrolyte supplements during intense training periods.

3. Mental Training and Visualization

Why It Matters:

The mental aspect of combat sports is just as important as the physical. Developing mental toughness, focus, and a strategic mindset can give you a significant edge.

What to Do:

• Visualization: Spend time visualizing your techniques, match scenarios, and successful outcomes.

• Mindfulness and Meditation: Practice mindfulness to enhance focus and reduce stress.

• Study the Game: Watch videos of high-level competitors to understand different styles and strategies.

4. Technical Study and Drilling

Why It Matters:

Repetition and consistent practice of techniques help in muscle memory and perfecting your moves.

What to Do:

• Solo Drills: Practice solo drills for movement patterns, such as shrimping and bridging.

• Review Class Notes: Write down key points from your training sessions and review them regularly.

• Supplementary Training: Watch instructional videos and read books on BJJ and MMA to broaden your understanding.

5. Recovery and Rest

Why It Matters:

Your body needs time to heal and adapt to the stresses of training. Overtraining can lead to injuries and burnout.

What to Do:

• Sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night to ensure optimal recovery.

• Active Recovery: Incorporate light activities like walking or swimming to promote blood flow and recovery.

• Massage and Physiotherapy: Regular massages or physiotherapy sessions can help in muscle recovery and injury prevention.

6. Sparring and Competition

Why It Matters:

Experience in live scenarios is crucial for developing timing, reflexes, and the ability to apply techniques under pressure.

What to Do:

• Regular Sparring: Engage in controlled sparring sessions to apply techniques in a live setting.

• Compete Frequently: Participate in competitions to gain experience and test your skills against a variety of opponents.

• Analyze Performance: After each competition, review your performance, identify areas for improvement, and adjust your training accordingly.

7. Community and Support Network

Why It Matters:

Having a supportive community can keep you motivated, provide valuable feedback, and help you stay accountable.

What to Do:

• Training Partners: Find dedicated training partners who push you to improve.

• Coaches and Mentors: Seek guidance from experienced coaches and mentors who can provide personalized advice and strategies.

• Family and Friends: Cultivate a support system outside the gym to help you maintain a balanced and motivated mindset.


Becoming a high-level jiu-jitsu or MMA competitor requires a holistic approach that extends beyond the time spent in class. By integrating these essential activities into your daily routine, you can enhance your physical and mental capabilities, ensure proper recovery, and ultimately achieve your goals in the competitive world of combat sports. Remember, success is built on consistency, discipline, and a relentless pursuit of improvement both on and off the mat.

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