This post provides tips on how to integrate the most practical strength and conditioning program for building useful muscle, for grapplers, into an athlete’s BJJ training routine/schedule.
NMSG is an off-season program, meaning it is not designed to prepare you for competition. It’s designed to be implemented when you don’t have any competitions on the calendar for 2-3 months.
I made NMSG so you can lift 3 times a week, grapple 3 times a week or more, and be sufficiently recovered to maintain that output so you can build useful muscle on to your frame. You might find that you can grapple 5 times a week or more running this program, just understand that it is for the off-season, not for competition preparation.
NMSG IS 3 DAYS PER WEEK
No More Skinny Grappler is a hypertrophy-focused program. This is so the major muscle groups can be hit at least twice a week to stimulate enough growth. Although it’s common for most strength and conditioning programs aimed at performance to be only two days a week, NMSG is three days because it targets muscle growth specifically, and off-season is a smart time to allow such a focus. If this was in-season, it would be a) the wrong focus, and b) take too much time away from the mats.
I designed NMSG so that you would not be in the gym for longer than 60 minutes at a time. Although it’s off-season, it’s still not a smart idea to bury yourself with 2 hours sessions in the weight room.
Once you’ve got you warm-up together and your familiar with the session’s exercise order, you’ll be in and out of the weight room in under 60 minutes. If you’re in there for 90+, you’re doing something wrong.
TRY TO ROLL 3 DAYS PER WEEK
I don’t know about you, but I find it very difficult to progress rolling on the mats for anything less than 3 days per week. I can maintain my jiujitsu skills, but not my fitness, at 2 days per week.
3 days per week I can maintain skills and fitness, and make average progress in perhaps one area over 2-3 months.
4 days a week and I get all previously mentioned, but the progress can either be in one area and notable over 4-6 weeks, or progress in a couple of areas that will become noticeably improved in 2-3 months.
I found 4 days on the mats and 3 days in the weight room to be the sweet spot, with one or two of the days being a double; weights and BJJ, allowing me to have one complete day’s rest in a seven day cycle.
RECOVERY RULES WHAT YOU CAN CONSISTENTLY ACHIEVE
This is the rule that governs what your schedule will really look like – recovery.
If you’re eating as recommended in the NMSG program, you’re getting enough sleep, and turning up to roll and lift well-hydrated and well-fuelled, then you should be recovering just fine. Expect some soreness in week 1, that’s normal. But you shouldn’t feel crippled from DOMS from week-to-week.
The goal for training in general is consistency, and that’s especially true when we’re focusing on developing one specific attribute; building useful muscle. They only way you’re going to be consistent is if you can recover between lifting and rolling. NMSG is set up specifically to allow you to be consistent. Maintaining your rolling output, and pushing yourself on NMSG for 9 weeks will get you the best results.
If you rolling like you’re competing, 6-7 days a week, and trying to push yourself on NMSG, you’re going to struggle to maintain that output for the full 9 weeks.
You can’t push everything, all the time, so my recommendation is that whilst you’re running NMSG, you focus your efforts on pushing yourself in the weight room according to the plan.
TRY TO REGULATE AS YOU GO
You don’t need to measure HRV before you get out of bed, or wear some fancy contraption that tells you how you should be feeling, in order to run NMSG successfully. But you should pay attention to your total output and energy levels across the 9 weeks and regulate accordingly.
What does that mean? It means, if you’re feeling tired, warm up thoroughly, then reassess how you’re feeling.
If you’re feeling fresh, and push more than what’s on the menu, then understand that will likely come at a recovery-cost, and that cost could be negative and affect the next few days of training.
Just be sensible and pay attention to how you’re feeling, post-warm up.
DOCUMENT YOUR PROGRESS
The beauty of running a program like NMSG is that you will be able to learn a lot about how your body responds to training, and you’ll gather lots of useful data if you’re paying attention.
Because the NMSG program is focused on hypertrophy, it makes sense to take a before and after progress photo. It’s also worth tracking your weight. I recommend taking your weight every 4th day, and then taking an average every 12 days.
Filming your lifts is a good idea, too. But to be honest, the progress photo will show the most improvement globally, across the 9 weeks.