Grappling in your 30s and beyond…

When I first started Jiu-Jitsu I was able to train regularly and when I had time I would dedicate it to training, normally training around 4 times a week. Now that i’m about to reach the ripe age of 30, I have started to notice my recovery time has been taken longer.

Enter Nick Albin a.k.a Chewjitsu, Nick wrestled in high school, started BJJ when he was 18 and now he is a BJJ black belt in his 30s. Nick’s tried it all when it comes to recovery and he has some wise words for us grapplers growing up…

Firstly, Can you tell me who you are and where do you come from?

My name is Nick. But everyone who knows me through Brazilian Jiu-jitsu calls me Chewy. I’m from Louisville Kentucky in the United States.

What can you expect to happen when you start to get older?

What can you expect? Well for me all sorts of things changed.

Mainly my ability to recover has became slower. I also find that I can’t simply ignore certain aspects of my life and issues with my body. Like, if something is tight or injured. I have to respect it and address the issue. Rather than just shrug it off. Which I could do when I was 18.

From 18-28 I felt superhuman. Sure, I got sore and had injuries. But for the better part of a decade I trained with no issues. I trained a lot too. Much more than the average practitioner.

Then around 28-29 I started feeling stiff and fatigued after the usual 2-3 a day sessions.

In short, as you get older you have to slow down a bit.

Have you tried any supplements? Have you had any success?

I’ve tried all sorts of supplements. Probably anything you can think of, I’ve tried. I feel like I came of age during the “wild west” era of supplements.

I remember being 18 and taking all sorts of pro hormones and crazy stuff that eventually got yanked off the shelves.

Currently the only thing I take is a probiotic, protein powders and a joint supplement.

Nothing crazy anymore. In my experience. Proper diet and lifestyle goes further.

How do you mentally deal with ageing and how does that effect your roll?

Well currently I’m only 31 so I’m at an age where I’m still young. However my battle worn body has had some serious mileage on it.

It’s kind of sad, ya know? As I said earlier. I look back at my younger days and the frequency and volume of my training. I’m envious of being able to do that kind of volume and feel nothing the next day. It really gets you in touch with your mortality.

My rolling hasn’t been affected at this point though. Mentally I’m still fine when I’m in the thick of the battle.

I’m just very mindful of my rest and I make sure I listen to my body more now. On my off days I’ll do things like more of a Yin style yoga, foam rolling, breathing exercises or get a massage.

If you’re reaching your 30s what can you start doing now?

Here’s some advice I would give to someone at any age whether you’re 30, 20 or 40.

Eat well. Your body is a machine and BJJ is high performance stuff. If you feed that machine bad fuel you’re eventually going to break that machine. You might get away with it for a while, but it will catch up to you.

Take rest days when necessary. I know that people in the United States and I imagine most Western societies tend to have this issue with not making progress. Being intelligent with my rest days has made a huge difference in my physical and mental abilities. It allows me to come back recharged and ready to go when I hit the mats. It also helps prevent injuries.

Learn your muscular imbalances. We all have them. Figure out what those are and address them. I spend no less than 3 days a week now doing corrective stretching, foam rolling, getting massages and doing activation exercises to help fix some of my issues. It’s made a huge difference.

This may be redundant but, all in all. Live an healthy lifestyle that supports you. To me BJJ is not just something you train. It’s something that is a catalyst for mental and physical growth. Part of that growth is living a healthy lifestyle.

How can you approach your training differently?

Drill more, rest more and do more corrective exercises and stretching. I know that for me. This allows me to get more from my rolling and not get too beat up from it. And if I do get beat up I rest enough to recover for the next one.

I hate to say the rest thing over and over again. But your body is a finite resource and once it’s used up. That’s it.

What’s the best way to warm up when you get older? Does it take longer?

One benefit you get from being older is that you have to be smarter. Because I train more intelligently. It doesn’t take me that long to get warmed up. The corrective exercises and stretching help keep me from feeling jacked up all the time.

For me. I do some light dynamic warm ups. Moving in and out of ranges of motion. Then doing movement drills with a partner. Drilling is a much better way to warm up in my opinion. It’s furthering skill and it’s prepping your body for the motions it will have to perform during rolling or fast drilling.

I steer away from long warm ups. Stretching is great for the end after training is over, and if you want to do lots of exercises do that on your own time. During class time I’m trying to move right into the drilling and movements as quick as possible.

Outside of training, what should you do to help yourself recover faster?

Yoga, meditation and corrective stretching/exercises have been helpful. I find that the more consistent I stay with all of that. The better I am on the mat. I don’t feel as stiff after training or the need to spend a long period of time getting warmed up. My body and mind feel more “loose” all the time.

And again, I’ll say it. Live a healthy lifestyle. It makes no sense to push your body and mind to the limits in training and then destroying that with an awful lifestyle. Brazilian Jiu-jitsu requires discipline. Use that discipline you developed on the mats to live the way you know you need to.

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About the author

Richard Presley

A purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Richard is the owner and primary writer of Attack The back. Check out my About Me Page to learn more!

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