Barbell Logic coach Niki Sims returns to the podcast to discuss her experience balancing strength training with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Niki has been strength training for about 10 years, and started training BJJ about two years ago, seeking a new hobby.
During that time she has kept strength a priority, pulling 430lbs at a meet in 2019. BJJ is a stressful sport that demands a lot of recovery resources, however, so Niki has learned to balance her rolling with strength training.
BJJ is a metabolically intense sport, similar to HIIT style conditioning, but it doesn't have to be all sparring. Niki recommends BJJ athletes limit their sparring and spend plenty of time working on technique at 70-80% intensity. Likewise, she doesn't do any conditioning off the mat, as BJJ practice alone is sufficient to keep her in shape for rolling.
Niki trains BJJ twice per week, and despite being an advanced lifter, Niki strength trains only 3x per week. She takes the weekends off. True rest days are important, she says. BJJ is a hobby, not a profession, so she limits her frequency on the mat to avoid overuse injuries and ensure she has plenty of recovery in between bouts of heavy strength work.
To keep her lifts progressing, Niki trains each lift frequently, pulling three times a week and pressing 4-5 times per week. Squats are particularly taxing, so she typically only squats twice per week. Accessory lifts -- particularly chin-ups -- fill in the gaps of the program.
You can find Niki at Barbell Logic and on Instagram at @vera_nahce.
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