While I ran track in high school and college and have competed in a handful of mountain bike races, when I signed up for my first BJJ tournament I knew it was going to challenge me physically like nothing else.
Because of this I planned a small Peaking Cycle into my training program that can give you some good insight into peaking for a tournament.
Peaking for an event like a BJJ tournament doesn’t have to be overly complicated. My first step was to plan 2 workouts that would let me focus on maximizing my strength and power. 8 weeks out from the tournament I started using the following workouts as the backbone of my program:
Workout A – Strength Focus
- Deadlifts 1 X 5/3/2 Reps – adding weight each set building up to a heavy double
- Double Kettlebell Floor Press 1 X 2/3/5 Reps – using a rep ladder with 32 kg Kbs
- Double Kettlebell Farmers Walk 3 X Max Steps
Workout B – Power Focus
- Banded Swings 3 X 10-15 Reps
- Push Press 3 X 4-6 Reps
For these workouts I would build up the intensity over the course of three weeks and then back off for a week to recover. This gave me two cycles through this plan and would give a a recovery week before the tournament.
These short but intense workouts also gave me the time and energy I needed to log a lot of time on the mats.
Nothing can prepare you for your sport like doing your sport and for me that meant 6-10+ hours a week doing BJJ drills, attending class and rolling. Like my strength training program I would build up to a big week (10+ hours on the mats) and then back off a bit the 4th week, although not as much as I would with my strength training.
All of this time practicing BJJ also acted as my cardio and I didn’t do as much, especially during the weeks that I was rolling a lot. When I did do cardio I was careful that the workouts didn’t drain me too much so that I would be able to train BJJ later – when you are peaking for an event you have, your workouts can’t interfere too much with your specific preparation for your sport.
- Spend 80-90% of your time practicing your sport. This means spending time on the mats drilling, training and rolling. You can’t become a better BJJ competitor in the gym, you have to put in the mat time.
- Focus on maximizing your strength and power in the weeks leading up to the event. I suggest having a workout that focuses on strength and one that focuses on power like the example I gave above. Keep the volume low so you can put max focus into each rep and not burn yourself out for BJJ training.
- Build up to a planned over-reaching week and then back way off 7 days out from the event. I would suggest cutting back to 2 days on the mats and even then keeping the intensity level pretty low. You want to strength train twice that week but you want to cut the volume back there as well, about 40% of what you did the previous week. The idea is to back off enough to let your body recover without backing off so much you lose some BJJ specific fitness and strength.
Oh yeah, and remember to eat well, get plenty of rest and don’t neglect your mobility training as either.
For most BJJ athletes this simple approach will work extremely well in helping you peak for a tournament.
Give it a shot next and you’ll be fit, strong and ready to rock at your next tournament. If you have any questions or have some tips you’ve found helpful for peaking please post a comment below. And if you liked this post please click on of the Like or Share buttons below.
Oh yeah, wondering how I did at my first tournament? While I got schooled pretty good in my first match by someone with a strong wrestling background I did pretty good in my second match, getting a choke from mount. You can check out a video of that match below.
I was able to roll strong in both matches and certainly didn’t feel my fitness or strength were holding me back. In fact, I ended up at the low end of the weight bracket and was rolling against guys who had at least 10 pounds on me so my strength and power helped even the playing field.
All in all I’d say it was a success and I plan on using a similar approach the next time I compete.
Until next time…
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