Training for Longevity should be a goal for everyone. What exactly does that mean? In one sentence it means you should have an outlook to train BJJ for life. It's an art that CAN be practiced until you're 100 years old (if you train correctly). Helio Gracie was rolling until his passing in 2009.
We've all heard the 44 year old guy who trains and wants to be able to continue training until he is much older. He's feeling the aches and pains, and is avoiding training with the spaz partners. But shooting for longevity is something I believe every athlete can do regardless of age.
Even if you are a high level athlete who is still in his athletic prime, you need to consider the wear and tear on your body if you want to be training until you're a 100. A serious injury in your youth can stop your training when you get older.
1. Strength & Conditioning Program
All of these tips are super important, but I see a lot of people neglecting or messing this one up big time. Having a practical S&C program that benefits your training is important. You're not trying to be a powerlifter. Your training should be based upon developing & maintaining strength throughout the full range of movement. Too often I see a program that is detrimental to an athlete's training. A S&C program should supplement your training.
A good principle that I borrowed from Steve Maxwell (check out the podcast here) is to incorporate a push & pull (horizontally & vertically), the squat, hip hinge, and hip thrust in your workout. Then work on one mobility exercise a day. Strength training alone is not enough, especially when you start to get older. It's also super important since Brazilian Jiu Jitsu often develops bad posture (hunched, rounded back, etc.) and the rest of the day we're mostly sitting.
A good example of a S&C program that I like is what Gianni Grippo does with Greg Ramirez at the Gun Club Brooklyn. Check it out here. I highly encourage you to start developing your own program. Getting in a one hour session 1-3 times a week (depending on your schedule) is what I shoot for.
This is part of your training program and is one of the key foundations to longevity training. If you're overweight, you're going to be taxing your body and developing illnesses that prevent you from training. Starting with a healthy diet is key to a healthy lifestyle and it can't be a temporary fix. There are a million different fad diets out there but your diet has to be something sustainable that you can do your entire life while still enjoying food.
One simple principle that I follow is to try to get at least one salad in a day. The typical American diet is deficient in fresh fruits & vegetables. When eating my salad, I try to eat fruits & vegetables for each color of the rainbow.
Another principle I follow is to eat clean the majority of the time. This may seem oversimplified but it is not. Most people will eat clean then binge on junk food. The binge is where the real problem is. If I eat healthy the majority of the time, I can afford to eat out with your friends for dinner. Taking it into action, I start with a healthy breakfast. I'll typically blend a protein powder with fruits & vegetables for breakfast. That way I'm starting off the day with a solid meal that has my vitamins & minerals for the day.
I typically don't count my calories or macros but instead focus on getting my main nutrition from whole foods. The definition of whole foods that I use is something that you can pick, pull, or hunt. This ensures that the food is unprocessed and full of nutrients.
When training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu there's a lot of things that I've learned from training for more than a decade. Unless you're training for a competition, try to roll longer rounds (10 minutes or so). This will force you and your partner to roll slower and not be so explosive. Practice your breathing and controlling your heart rate. Rolling longer rounds will prevent injuries and will help your body to recover since aerobic work is something you can perform daily.
Another thing that I've learned to do is drill more and spar less. I still get on average 30 minutes or more of actual rolling a day but I spend a good chunk of time drilling. Not only is it less taxing on your body, but my game has also improved. And on top of that, I can train almost every day if I train like this.
Injuries are a huge part of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. If we can limit injuries, especially serious injuries, we can stay on the mat for our entire life. Along that line of thinking is to tap early and tap often. This is kind of a given and is kind of cliche by now, but it is worth noting.
Something not always mentioned is that if you catch your partner in a move and he isn't tapping, to let go of the submission to prevent injury. Of course tell him in a nice way that he's a dumbass and should have tapped, but don't hurt your training partners. Most of the time I'm doing a catch and hold for joint locks and a controlled squeeze on chokes. Once you educate your training partners, you'll have a safer environment to train.
Hopefully you can take away something from this article. These are the principles that helped me the most in my training. I don't know the answer to everything but I've started to connect the dots on a few things. Another thing is to start training this way today. You're never too young to think about the future. The last thing you want to do is to suffer a serious injury when you're young and by the time you're older you have already given up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
I'd like to hear what principles helped you or if you have your own principles, leave a comment below and let me know!