Extreme Fitness Brighton

Extreme Fitness Brighton

October 30th, 2013 at 5:21 pm

Avoiding O.T.S (Over Training Syndrome) in BJJ Athletes

Preventing Over Training Syndrome (OTS) in BJJ


Here’s the fact- OTS is real. What anyone might tell you otherwise O.T.S is very real and can create long-term problems with your training and your health. I was prompted to write this after several requests about recovery from my own BJJ teammates and several emails received in the last few weeks.


O.T.S is massively prevalent in BJJ mainly due to the fact that proponents of BJJ tend to train far more often than other grappling arts- sometimes a few hours each day. This could be why steroid use and HGH use has increased dramatically in BJJ circles –not particularly for the strength gain- simply put they massively improve recovery.

Athletes in BJJ coming up to competition are far more likely to suffer from O.T.S due to the increased regularity and intensity of training in the lead up before the tapering of training.

So what are the symptoms of O.T.S and how can you avoid them?


-Decreased performance- you may find you are not performing any where near your best

-Drop in hormonal levels of Testosterone, Growth Hormone


-Aches within the joints and muscles- not the feeling of normal stiffness after training but Flu like aches in the muscles and joints

-Irritability and possibly depression

-Increased incidence of infections and illnesses

-Decreased handgrip strength

-Loss of Sexual Desire

-Reduced interest in your Sport

-Increased injuries


So the question is how do you maintain intensity of training in a lead up to competition without suffering OTS? You need to lock down several factors.


Firstly sleep. You must get at least 8-10 hours sleep per night. Without the correct amount of sleep you are almost guaranteed to get OTS. If you are training like an athlete you need to sleep like one and that means more than a regular persons quota. When you sleep hormones such as Growth Hormone (one of your main regeneration hormones) is released in waves- you don’t get enough sleep – you don’t get enough. Same goes for testosterone. Make your excuses and go to bed.

You should also try to get in catnaps of around 20-30 mins during the day if possible, these can be a great top ups.


Secondly you have to make sure your nutrition is tip-top. You can’t expect to train like an athlete and fuel like slob- you need the correct nutrition to create the ideal environment for recovery. This means a clean diet rich in protein, good fats (and this includes cholesterol in moderation), clean carbs and also massively high in micronutrients – your vitamins and minerals. You also need to be very disciplined when it comes to the regularity of your meals at this time. This means eating regularly 6 moderately sized meals a day so you get a stream of nutrition into your body. A good supply of water too is also essential you should always remain hydrated.

With the extra intensity and volume of training you should also schedule in some activities that help bring your level of excitation down. These can include yoga, meditation or if you’re not that way inclined scheduling time for a slow walk in the country or by the beach to balance out the high intensity work with something that will bring you psychologically down. This aspect is often overlooked, but I have found in my own training 20 minutes meditation a day really helps to rebalance my stress levels and improve my energy and recovery.


And now on to the supplements -many people choose not to use supplements for one reason or another- but there is a reason top athletes use them-they do improve recovery especially if your body is under extra training stress.

A good high dose multi-vitamin that has high levels of Vit D, Vit C, Vit E, Magnesium and Zinc is a good choice – I like the Berocca brand as it has fairly high doses of most of these except Vitamin D. Magnesium and Zinc are not only essential for immune function but also testosterone output. Low testosterone as previously mentioned is a marker for OTS and will effect recovery times.

I also recommend supplementing in with High Strength Fish Oil as not only does this have a good dose of Vit D, its had good levels of DHA and EPA.  Plus supplementing in with fish oil has been seen to Blunt cortisol (your stress hormone) output that can be a factor in creating OTS.

I also recommend the substance HMB at a dose of around 3 grams a day split into three doses. HMB is an amino acid metabolite and helps reduce muscle breakdown. I add in 1 gram to each of the 3 protein shakes I consume during the day. I’ve really found personally it helps.

Creatine is a great substance for preventing O.T.S as in many studies has been shown to reduce oxidative stress from hard training. However its use in BJJ is tricky. Standard creatine can increase water retention – which as you can guess isn’t ideal if you are cutting weight for a competition. However there is a form of creatine called creatine ester ethyl that is much more effective and can be run at lower effective doses of 1.5g-3grams per day- the lower dose means that far less water retention is experienced.

Protein supplementation is also beneficial and there are some great products on the market. My own personal choice is CNP’s Pro-Recover after training- its high in Glucose- essential after training to switch your body from a Catabolic (muscle burning) to an Anabolic (muscle repairing) state, and also a whack of fast acting protein to help with the repair. The other CNP product I recommend is Pro-Peptide – a great blended protein with awesome amino profile. It has a mixture of ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ proteins. This is a great one to consume before bed, as the slow proteins will be used over night so that you have a ‘drip’ of nutrition throughout the night.


So you may be saying all this sounds a little OTT on the OTS! Well ask yourself how many people do you know coming up to competition who train really hard suffer OTS symptoms-including yourself- I’m sure it’s quite a few. BJJ players put themselves through the mill with full contact sparring and conditioning that few other athletes have to contend with. It up there being one of the hardest sports on your body around- especially in the lead up to competition. It’s all about creating the ideal environment for recovery. Each thing you leave out or fall short on has an effect on your recovery and ultimately your performance on the mat and competition- Oss!

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