Overtraining can be a common occurrence for MMA fighters, BJJ practitioners, or any other martial arts athlete. The problem is that many overtrained athletes don’t know how to prevent this syndrome or recover if they find themselves in this harmful state of exhaustion. For over a decade, I struggled with being overtrained on a regular basis and it hindered my performance both on and off the mats. In this article, I am going to show you how to prevent and recover from overtraining.
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Overtraining Facts & Misconceptions
Before I explain some strategies for preventing and recovering from overtraining, I’d like to share the two schools of thought when it comes to the term ‘overtraining’. On one side, you will have the overachievers stating that overtraining is simply a myth and you can never train too much or too hard. And on the contrary, there’s the crowd that believes overtraining is a real condition and they will use this as an excuse to never push their limits or step outside their comfort zones.
The first group of people may not be happy to know this but overtraining is a real condition as explained in this study. However, their high-achieving attitude is a great asset to have as it can help create a disciplined and progressive approach when it comes to striving to reach their goals. There is no set number of repetitions, intensity, or training type that can be used as a guide for each individual athlete as we all have varying physical factors.
The best course of action would be to understand the dangers of overtraining and employ self-awareness through the symptoms of overtraining to understand if you are being too ambitious with your physical training or not ambitious enough.
It’s also important to understand when you are quitting on your physical goals and using the physiological fact of overtraining as an excuse to not train at all. Finding the perfect balance can help you maintain your fitness goals without experiencing the negative side effects of training too hard.
Strategies To Prevent Overtraining
Being aware of the dangers of overtraining can be a great start to understanding the potential downfalls of consistently pushing yourself past your limits. Once you understand that more is not always better, you might want to decide to approach your training regime in a new way.
Combat sports can be especially gruelling to the body and knowing these essential strategies can help you train more frequently without feeling exhausted while training and in other life’s activities. Here are 3 effective strategies for preventing overtraining.
1. Create A Consistent Training Schedule
A common reason why athletes and martial arts practitioners enter a state of overtraining is due to a lack of structure. Having the freedom to train whenever you please can be a great gift to have but it can also become a curse if not utilized properly. Maintain a healthy training schedule and allow for rest days to ensure you are allowing your body to recover on a regular basis to ensure you are not overtraining.
Learning the 4 crucial areas where you need structure as an athlete can be a game-changer in your ability to prevent overtraining as well as improve multiple aspects of your active life.
Nattie Boss, a BJJ brown belt explains…
“As both a lifelong athlete and a clinical dietitian, I’ve learned over the years that one of the most foundational elements that make athletes successful is having structure.”
“Integrating this structure creates space from the constant physical intensity and allows your physical and mental body to recover and heal faster.”
2. Stay In ‘The Flow State’
The flow state has been described in many cultures as a heightened state of awareness and performance. This ancient philosophy has been utilized by many professional MMA fighters and coaches to ensure optimal improvement without raising the risk of getting injured and becoming overtrained. Mastering this innate ability will help you to enjoy your training more reduce stress and exhaustion from overtraining.
3. Use a Foam Roller, Stretch and Get a Massage
Being flexible and having great mobility can be helpful in preventing overtraining. This is effective for breaking up muscle knots and stiff joints allowing for a better range of motion for when it’s time to train. The more physical damage you accumulate through training, the tighter your muscles tend to be. This can become additional physical stress that will accumulate to your body’s overall tolerance and will increase the chances of becoming overtrained.
How To Recover From Overtraining
You pushed past your comfort zone and finished that last hard round of smashing kickboxing pads or left all your effort out in a final attempt to finish a submission in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Whatever the case may be, you would want to know how to apply various methods to help you recover from overtraining syndrome so you can return to living optimally. Here are four effective ways you can recover from overtraining.
1. Stay Active But Lower Intensity
The symptoms of overtraining can cause athletes to feel lethargic. This is a problem because a complete lack of activity will restrict blood blow, which is needed to help transport essential nutrients to your sore muscles and inflamed injuries. A brisk walk or slow and controlled sport-specific warm-ups such as shadow boxing, shrimping, and bridging can help keep the body moving without intense activity that will lead to more physical damage.
2. Recover With Post-Training Sauna Sessions
The sauna can be a relaxing way to recover from overtraining. There are varies reasons why this hot box can help athletes recover from hard training sessions. Similar to light activity, the sauna helps blood circulation. It also enforces the body to create heat shock proteins and HGH (Human Growth Hormone). Both of these substances have shown to aid in recovery. The benefits of sauna use for MMA fighters, athletes, and martial artists should not be ignored.
3. Drink This Golden Soup For Better Recovery
This delicious hot beverage can make a dramatic difference in your recovery times while you are overtrained. This is due to its high amounts of essential proteins and minerals that are easily absorbed and are crucial for physical recovery. Personally, I’ve tried varies recovery foods and drinks but nothing has compared to the powerful recovery aiding abilities of bone broth.
4. Optimize Your Sleep To Recover From Overtraining
It should be no secret that sleep is crucial for recovering from training. It is recommended to receive 7-9 hours of sleep each night to help the body function optimally. On top of duration, some additional sleep aids can help improve the overall quality of rest. Ensuring your room is pitch black can greatly help with your circadian rhythm and allow your body to produce adequate amounts of sleep hormones such as melatonin and human growth hormone.
Keeping your room cool and using blue light blocking glasses can also help improve the quality of sleep. Including a yoga practice can help ease the stress placed onto joints from training and relax you better for rest.
Training at night can harm your recovery abilities. Learning these 5 ways to lower adrenaline and stress hormones can help you sleep better and improve your recovery. I also highly suggest you take the time to go through the 20 simple ways you can become a better martial artist for more effective training tips.