Barb Whiddon is a Coach, Yoga Teacher, and Soft Tissue Therapist at Elements Fitness and Martial Arts. Below Barb shares her thoughts on how to train smarter, not harder to get the most out of your body.

Sometimes we need to train hard to make good progress and to have a competitive edge. But to get the most out of our training and for the sake of longevity, we need to be smarter than thinking that we must work to our absolute limits at every session.

Whether it’s Brazilian jiu jitsu, martial arts, powerlifting or general fitness, there are times when we need to dial back the intensity or volume of our training. In any training program, intensity and volume are generally inversely correlated, that is, when one variable increases significantly, the other should decrease. Failure to take this principle into account can result in over-training, and over-training almost always results in poor progress and an increase injuries and health issues.

BJJ is life

This doesn’t mean becoming a sloth for weeks or months on end, but rather planning your training schedule around activities such as competitions, work commitments and what your body is telling you.

For example, if you plan to compete regularly, your training cycles should include essential elements such as de-training and rest, which will allow your body, and mind, to recover and make progress easier.

Workload and family commitments can be challenging for most of us. As a rule, have a training schedule that is realistic in terms of both your training goals and other commitments. Take into account the likely outcomes of your chosen training regime and be prepared for the consequences. A sensible approach is more likely to result in success both at home and in the gym.

Massage, yoga, meditation, saunas/spas and taking time out to spend with the family and friends, can all aid in the body’s recovery and all have a well deserved place in a balanced training schedule.

Most importantly, make your training, whatever it is, regular and consistent. Regular training will allow you to make steady progress. Almost like magic.

From experience, you don’t have to be super talented at what you’ve chosen to do, nor do you need to over-train to be any good. Just keep turning up, look after your body, listen to your coach and be fully present mentally at training, and you will see progress.

Quick tips to help you stay in top form throughout the training year:

  • Regularity is the most important element to progression in any form of training
  • Take charge or your recovery and plan rest/recovery cycles, get a regular massage or jump in the sauna
  • Eat a protein meal or protein shake immediately post strenuous workout to aid in the body’s recovery
  • Moderate your consumption of alcohol, sugar, highly processed and prepackaged foods and soft drinks, and get enough sleep
  • Use energy drinks and caffeine in moderation – studies have shown that caffeine can improve performance but overuse leaves you with an energy deficit i.e. a post caffeine slump. Longer-term use causes the adrenal cortex to be over stimulated and results in a chronic stress response by the body.

To find out more about Barb and her practice, visit her website at Lyfevolution.

Original photograph by Greg Westfall.

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