Amazed by Professor Suskin’s improvements and flexibility the past couple of years? Here is his secret!!
If you’re on this site and reading my blog, then to some level you are enjoying a healthy obsession with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Those are two words you don’t often hear used together, “Healthy” and “Obsession”, but I digress.
In this post I wanted to talk about my training OFF of the mat and how it has affected my training ON the mats.
For years I spent hours in the gym lifting weights and running long distances in the hopes of my Jiu Jitsu somehow discovering the influence of my off the mat training. What I discovered was your body doesn’t partition your training. It doesn’t know that you are lifting weights or running long distances for the single purpose of improving your BJJ. Your body doesn’t take to your workout routine like a High School course schedule. I’m in English for the next hour, now I am in Social Studies, now I’m in Chemistry. Unfortunately, our bodies can’t differentiate between any of it. When I go from BJJ, to Muay Thai, to conditioning, my body just takes it all as one big workout. Our muscles just mindlessly go through the motions you ask them to. However, they do complain…and if really push they don’t just complain, they downright scream!
I have tried so many training regimens, from weights, to marathon running. Biathalons, crossfit, isometric flexibility training, pilates. I’ve tried the Paleo diet, Zone diet, South Beach Diet, Raw Diet. Cleanses, Colonics, Acupuncture, Chiropractors, Deep Tissue Massage, Rolfing, Polarity Work, the flippin Power Band….you name it I tried it!!
So, here is what I have found and hopefully it can save you a lot of money and time!
I have tried a lot of different things, however I have never had as many gains in BJJ as I have in the past 1.5 years. This is because I spend 85% of my fitness time stretching.
Yoga and pilates are amazing…but I have discovered that focused passive stretching will get you much greater gains then your typical “Power Yoga” class. 20% of the stretches at yoga are what actually make you bendy. If you take a typical Vinyasa or power styled class, you probably move through 25-30 poses on each side of your body, so within 1 hour you probably put in about 20 seconds per pose, per side. Remember, most of the people in these classes come to yoga for a workout. You already work your butt off in BJJ class, so you probably don’t need to get much stronger or work up another crazy sweat in a heated room. You want to do something that will give you big gains on the mat. Am I right?
What I suggest is you develop a stretching routine and you hold the poses for up to 3 minutes a side. I was influenced by the stretching Victor “Shaolin” Ribeiro does on Martin Rooney’s site (he is Team Renzo Gracie’s conditioning coach). He takes 5 poses and does each for 3-5 sets of 30 seconds.
Here is a video of his routine: www.youtube.com/watch
(for more on Martin Rooney go here www.trainingforwarriors.com/)
You don’t need to spend extra money on a class, or another DVD, etc…it’s all available online.
If you get yourself a little warmed up you can jump right into this routine everyday and you will discover an incredible gain in your hip mobility in just a few weeks, if you are disciplined enough to do it daily.
I would tell you to add “pigeon pose” and “front lunge”…and if and when you feel more flexible, add “double pigeon”. Do not push too hard…just let gravity do the work for you…it would stink to hurt yourself stretching!
There is a great routine for hip opening that you can watch at www.yogajournal.com, do the passive stretching daily and do this routine a few times a week…its about 45 mins long….spend 15 mins getting warmed up while it downloads.
You can add to it from a plethora of yoga poses, and absolutely, feel free to take yoga classes. But if you want big gains, you have to take the poses that make you bendy and hold them for a few minutes each. Don’t push them, let gravity gently do the work and remember to breathe. Put on your favorite tv show, or a bjj vid online and just start stretching. It’s the equivalent of going to the driving range as opposed to going out and playing golf on the course. The passive stretching will prepare you well for yoga class if that’s your interest. Your bjj will thank you and you will be amazed at your gains in just a few short weeks.