Newer practitioners are always concerned with how often to train Jiu Jitsu. If they come from other mainstream sports like baseball, basketball, or soccer where daily practice is the norm, they typically feel the obligation to train more than their bodies and minds can handle.
Sadly, a new grappler trying to train 5 or 6 days a week is probably a newer grappler that won’t be around in 90 days. The types of neuro-pathways that are required for Jiu Jitsu require a delicate blend.
The athlete must stress the system during training for improvement, but they must also focus on recovery between sessions. Train too much and burn out due to diminishing returns and injuries are imminent. Train too little and growth opportunities are left on the table.
The exact amount of training varies person to person, and has to match their end goals. If your goal is to be a World Champion, you have to recognize that training is a marathon and sustainability of training is MORE important than short term intensity, but your schedule will probably be an accelerated version of what I outline below.
The longer you train Jiu Jitsu, the more you can train. Set your ideal minimum weekly attendance goals and stick to them.
Less Than Six Months Experience
Train Jiu Jitsu 2 days per week. For the first six months, I was still learning the names of positions, what is good or bad in a position, and building some basic coordination. During this time there was only a small portion of the moves that I “learned” that I could really perform live, or even would remember in a year.
One day a week really isn’t enough to retain improvements and each day feels like the first day of class all over again. Starting over repeatedly is a poor way to build confidence in a journey. There have been times where I have only made it once per week, but these were always short term “get me through busy time” schedules.
For me, early on, much more than 2 days per week just meant more material I couldn’t retain, and I didn’t feel my coordination, or knowledge building much. My mind felt “maxed out.”
The more weeks I trained at least twice, the more that new information scaffolded on top of the previous information, the more I could take in without stressing my system. Once my body understood shrimping, re-guarding from side control was easier to learn.
The more tools I added to my toolbox the more cumulative the results. Also, the added “armor” of protective supportive muscles provided the infrastructure to more safely build additional training sessions on.
Six Months To A Year Experience
Train Jiu Jitsu 2 to 3 days per week. I didn’t actually start adding in a 3rd day a week reliably until almost 2 years into my training which I feel was a bit of a missed opportunity.
Looking back I believe if I had started adding in that 3rd day a week sooner, I would have made much faster advancements. Most people seem to be ready for this around the 6 month mark in their journey.
By the time I added in 3 days per week, I was also ready for 4 days per week. Each additional day was leading to additional growth. I missed a chance at boosted improvement during that year and a half where I was training 2 days, and would have benefited from 3.
Everyone’s life is different, and working over 70 hours a week didn’t allow for me to add in that 3rd day. Each of our Jiu Jitsu Journey’s are individually unique and my improvements were optimal for my life.
I recommend the new grappler, adding in a 3rd day per week occasionally during the first 6 months and honestly assessing their results. If the gains from an extra day are marginal, and the strain on “life” excessive, then maybe now isn’t the time. If you feel greater improvements start adding in a 3rd day more regularly.
At Least A Year Of Experience
Train Jiu Jitsu 3 to 5 days per week. Here is where students typically find their magic number for training days and mostly stick to it forever. Competition preparation may have me training 2 a days for 10 days straight, but typically I am training my magic number of days.
- 2 Days per week – Maintains my technique
- 3 days per week –Maintains technique and adds sharpness to my flow between techniques
- 4 days per week – Maintains technique, adds sharpness and builds instincts and automatic responses.
- Sometimes 5 or more days per week improves results, sometimes resting and recovering on these days means I can get greater results in my 4 days.
If I am getting in to train more than 3 days per week I try to ensure one of those days is an open mat. I can further leverage my learning my building depth and connection between my moves. The chance to put it all together is essential for growth.