How often should you train jiu jitsu in order to get better?
Brazilian jiu jitsu is hard – there are days when you leave the gym feeling like a jiu jitsu God and days when you leave feel like you’re making no progress at all.
One of the things you wonder when you first start training is how often you should make it to the gym, whats the best schedule for you, and how many times a week is optimal to continue to improve.
There are a lot of factors to consider, but to answer the question how often should you train jiu jitsu, on average you should train jiu jitsu three times a week especially when beginning bjj in order to progress in the sport.
It’s important to develop a training routine of a set number of training days and be sure not to train too little where you are not retaining info and progressing and not too much that you burnout.
According to a recent survey in our gym, three classes a week would enable you to be engaged in what you’re being taught and still have focused, competitive sparring rounds.
Its importaint to understand the law of diminishing returns with your training. At a certain point the amount of weekly training you do will stop to provide benefit and can even do more harm than good.
Rate of Return Based on How Often You Train
Keep in mind that this answer isn’t definitive, but our research shows anything more than 2 is a good starting point for those just beginning bjj and working up to 3 or 4 hard training sessions a week is optimal for most.
If you are going beyond 4, 5, or 6 sessions a week it is integral to modulate your training session intensity by having lighter sessions and more intense sessions.
For me personally, the answer to how often should you train jiu jitsu is 2 days per week of jiu jitsu training and on each of those days I take two classes which leads to 4 classes total of bjj per week.
When beginning bjj, there is a lot of pressure to train as much as possible to try to improve faster. However, this may be a bit counter intuitive.
Yes, mat time is most likely the number one factor in how quickly you improve*, but it is critical to build up to taking more classes weekly and be aware of your training experience.
If you enter your first couple weeks or months of training and go all out by training 3 times a day 5 days a week you will quickly exhaust both yourself and your motivation.
I’ve seen many new gym members train like they are getting ready for a televised super fight only to never see them again after a couple weeks.
Additionally, through each belt rank you’ll see the number students drop off particularly at white and blue belt.
Through figures gathered at my gym below is a chart with estimates of how many students will likely quit bjj entirely at that specific belt:
Luckily, once a student makes it past blue belt the likeliness that they will stop training drops significantly.
One of the biggest factors that determines how long you will continue your bjj journey is how you structure your training and how often you train jiu jitsu.
Furthermore, one of the most important things for beginning bjj and determining this structure is to choose a set number of training days and make it a point not to miss those scheduled days.
Keeping the days a routine has been the key for many for both consistency and continued improvement.
How to improve faster?
Creating a structure for how you learn jiu jitsu both on and off the mat will help you set goals, improve upon weak areas, and ultimately, learn from your mistakes. All of these will lead to your own personal longevity in the sport (see link below for further info)
How many days per week is best?
Below is a breakdown of what you can expect to gain from these types of weekly training schedules. These assume training is done during one single session each day.
These schedules will often depend on your own personal goals and other commitments.
One Day Per Week
Training one day per week likely wouldn’t be enough for you to retain info, learn techniques, and improve in jiu jitsu.
From my personal experience, training only once a week will often leave my cardio severely lacking and my timing off during live sparring. Also I may forget details on new techniques that I am trying to implement in my game.
Simply put, training once per week isn’t likely worth it for many.
You likely won’t gain much if anything at all from the taught techniques and your live sparring will be lacking since your body doesn’t have a chance to become accustomed to it.
Two days per week
At two days per week, you will definitely be retaining info on previously learned techniques more so than only training once per week, but it may be difficult to fully learn and incorporate new techniques into your game.
You need to build up that muscle memory in order to work toward unconscious competence in a specific position or technique.
Three days per week
Training 3 days per week is optimal for someone trying to consistently improve and learn new techniques while still being able to manage and attend to their other commitments.
At 3 days, you should still be excited to show up with your mind active and ready to learn. This is the sweet spot for many who often still find enjoyment in each class.
Four days per week and beyond
At four days per week, you may start to struggle with keeping the weekly schedule for long periods of time. Yes, you will definitely improve and grow in the sport, but you will have to closely monitor your fatigue and may need to rely on pure discipline to make it to certain classes.
Excuses may start creeping in as to why you can’t make it to class, and you may not be looking forward to training as much as when training less days per week.
Going beyond four days per week:
- will be quite difficult to maintain for a long period of time
- fatigue and injury rates are definitely higher.
- choose your training partners carefully and only schedule specific classes during the week as your high intensity classes and others as your low intensity or solely drilling classes.
Its always worth mentioning that you can slowly build up to more classes per week as your body gets more accustomed to bjj.
Working up to three to four days per week is definitely possible and is recommend for optimal learning and improvement.
You may feel pressure to train more often to keep up with others and keep up with your coach’s expectation, but remember jiu jitsu is a marathon, not a sprint*, and you will certainly not get any better if you train 5+ days a week for two months and then quit entirely
What do you do in jiu jitsu?
Jiu jitsu classes may be based on skill level. For example on a bjj gym’s schedule you may see beginner’s classes, all levels classes, and advanced classes.
These types of classes would definitely affect how often you should train jiu jitsu.
This also might change what you do in those specific classes, however, most classes will have a general pattern of the below:
- Warm up
- Positional Sparring
- Live Sparring
There will likely be warm up drills, instruction on a specific technique or two, followed by live positional sparring and/or live sparring rounds, and ending with a cool down period.
Warm up drills are generally jiu jitsu specific movements that will get you active and ready for the rest of the class.
- These may be core movements like shrimping, forward or backward rolls, break-falls, or other movements that will get your body ready for the rest of the class.
- These may be difficult when beginning bjj, but if you put a little bit of practice in you should be able to pick these up in no time.
Drilling comes after warm up drills, the instructor will likely demonstrate a specific move to the class.
- From there, you often pair up with another student and practice the move on each other with little to no resistance.
- This pattern may go on for two or more techniques depending on the class length.
Positional sparring is when you start in a specific jiu jitsu position and have a specific goal in mind.
- These are considered “live” rounds where you and your opponent can use maximum effort to reach such goals. Additionally, this also may or may not involve submissions.
- For example, if during the drilling part of the class they went over turtle escapes, the coach may choose to have positional sparring done where one person starts in bottom turtle with the goal of escaping and the other person on top turtle has the goal to get to the back with hooks or a submission.
Live sparring usually follows next, or if no positional sparring is done during that class live sparring may come directly after drilling.
- These rounds are usually 5-8 minutes long where you are competing with an opponent with the goal of submittng them while they are trying to submit you.
- Within these sparring rounds student can elect to use maximal effort and offer full resistance since this is considered a “live” and life-like scenario.
Cool-downs usually end the class. The coach may elect to guide the class through several cool down movements or stretches.
- These may be stretches to open your hips or other large muscle structures.
- Anecdotally, these movements do help with injury prevention and have helped me personally before leaving the gym.
This is the general structure of a jiu jitsu class. When considering how often you should train there can be different intensities that you may impose on yourself.
For example maybe you are a bit injured from previous classes and elect to only perform the warm up, drilling, and cool down portions of the class and avoid any live positional sparring or live sparring rounds.
On the other hand, perhaps you are getting ready for a competition and elect to only go to advanced classes where live rounds are usually more prevalent.
The intensities of each class will guide you in how often you should train. Even the most skilled bjj athletes likely do not go to 7 advanced classes a week with an emphasis on live sparring.
They may have 2-4 tough days of hard sparring followed by classes based purely around drilling for their other training days.
How long are jiu jitsu classes?
In terms of what to expect for how long a jiu jitsu class is, most bjj classes last 1-2 hours.
Along with the intensity of the class, class length will also definitely be a factor when considering how often you should train a week.
A 2 hour class on takedowns would certainly exhaust more of your energy than a 1 hour beginner’s class. So it is advisable to mix up the types of classes you take and considered the length of each to reach an optimal weekly training schedule.
Is bjj safe?
If you’re wondering, is bjj safe? The short answer is yes it is.
While bjj involves submission techniques, leverages, and sometimes falling body weight, it can be very safe.
This comes down to your training intensity, choosing training partners correctly, and knowing when to take rest days or purely drilling days.
When beginning bjj, It is important to not just burnout and train jiu jitsu daily to the point of exhaustion.
Oftentimes over training and exhaustion can lead to injury and may even keep you from attending other classes the following week.
Developing a training routine is one of the key methods to keeping bjj safe and being able to train jiu jitsu effectively.
You need to learn how many classes a week you can train without going into the point of overtraining.This will likely look different for each individual.
Overall, your mind needs to be actively involved and ready to learn and retain what the instructors are teaching you, and you need to be able to effectively spar with your training partners.
This, again, may mean taking entire rest days and/or doing drilling only days in between hard sparring days or choosing to play a safer game when sparring and electing to avoid standing up and wrestling with your opponents.
How often you should train jiu jitsu encompasses all of these factors, training experience, bjj class length, and class intensity.
The phrase consistency is key may be over used, but it cannot be understated.
It’s integral to always have consistency in mind. Hit your 3-4 days a week of training, don’t over train to the point of injury, and don’t under train and lose the ability to recall and perform techniques.
Finding this balance will no doubt lead to growth and improvement in the sport.
So, how often should you train jiu jitsu?
While this will largely depend on your specific bjj goals and outside life commitments, we surveyed members from my gym and many came to agreement that the optimal weekly schedule for most is 3 days/sessions of hard training per week.
For those just beginning bjj, training 3 days a week is best to get your mind and body used to the sport.
Although this may seem like not many days at all compared to other practitioner’s schedules, you can effectively train at a high intensity all three days and still recover during your non jiu jitsu days and still attend to other daily life requirements.
Working up to training 3 days per week is recommend for every student of bjj when they start.
Starting with 1-2 days per week and then adding more days per week as your body gets accustomed has shown to lead to longevity and injury reduction in the sport which should be listed as the top goals for many.
Training beyond three days per week is definitely possible and doable for many, especially if a competition is coming up in the near future.
It is still advisable to take rest days or light days when possible. You can still learn and improve at jiu jitsu at a lower level of intensity.
You can also learn when off the mat too by using bjj instructionals and home drilling which has been extremely effective in my own personal improvement.
Finding your ideal schedule with this information in mind should be one of your earliest goals of jiu jitsu.
Once you have your days set and your habit to optimize learning when off the mat you will start to improve immediately.
Embrace the grind, thanks for reading, and happy rolling!
To reiterate one last time and answer the question how often should you train jiu jitsu, on average you should train jiu jitsu three times a week especially when beginning bjj in order to progress in the sport.