Creating Your Best Training Schedule

Creating Your Best Training Schedule

One question I’ve been asked frequently, in one form or another, very often is: “What should my personal training program look like? At Stout PGH we have many types of class offerings including 3 levels of classes each with slightly different formats, our drilling only class formats, competition practices, and open mats. In addition there are often things like weightlifting at Stout or elsewhere and/or striking training that can be a part of someone’s training program. One’s training program can also include video study. This question about a personal training program can take the form of; “How many times per week should I come to class as a beginner?” It can be; “How many open mats vs classes should I do?” Or, It may be a version of; “What should I do outside of the mats to get better at Jujitsu?” There is definitely no one size fits all answer. Everyone has different goals, age, motivations, etc. I do think there are some universal guidelines that I bullet pointed directly below this paragraph. I also want to give some hypothetical case examples that may help people in designing their own schedules. I’ll also give some sample recommendations for different goals and outline my own training schedules. First a few general key points:

If you are on the mats less than 2x per-week it will be difficult to progress.

No type of training other than doing jiu jitsu with other people will help you get significantly better especially at the beginning levels.

Some type of live training is essential.

The attitude you bring to training is very determinant of how much progress you will make. Try to be competitive but with a development mindset. Strive for efficiency in your jiu jitsu. Put effort into moving into correct positions, timing, and transitioning when necessary vs using brute force.

Your training environment and commitment level must match up, at least somewhat, with your real short and medium term goals in jiu jitsu.

It is important to protect your body, avoid injuries, and if they happen take care of them properly including taking rest when needed.

Consistency is usually more effective for improvement (as long as there is effort and intent) than intermittent extreme efforts.

If you are reading this you probably take ownership of your training. Keep doing this! It is YOUR journey. Don’t expect teachers and coaches to carry you the whole way but look at them as guides and helpers.

At Stout I’ve tried to create an environment where people with a wide range of goals and abilities can succeed. This is not the case with many schools either because the purposely don’t want to do this ( think “Danaher Death Squad” ), Or because they aren’t able to do so for a variety of reasons. Danaher is mainly interested in creating world level athletes. For the group who aren’t able, I’m thinking of some local- schools who purport to be competition focused but don’t produce good competitors or have a very large or diverse student base. At Stout PGH we have demonstrated, by objective criteria such as regional and national medals as well as local team dominance, that we can produce good competitors in all age groups, in various rule sets, and also in the sport of MMA . We also have the areas largest student base by a very large margin. My point in mentioning this is to state objective proof that you can get what you want from your training at Stout if you have the right attitude, realistic goals that align with your level of effort commitment, and you follow the right training program for you.

Lets get into some sample case study training schedules based on different goals and life situations.

Beginners Just StartingTo make this case a little more specific lets say that the hypotheical person is 32 yrs-old. The student may want to compete in a local tournament at some point. Their main goals at the outset are to learn a fighting art with secondary benefits to get in shape and meet new friends.

Quick training guide

  • Fundamentals classes 3 x per week for 4-5 months. If other fitness training or sports are done try to do them on off days from martial arts training.
  • Do not watch instructional videos, but do watch occasional competition footage of the best people in the history of the sport (Roger Gracie, Gordon Ryan, Marcelo Garcia, Nicholas Meregali, Lucas Lepri)
  • After the first 4-8 months this student will be eligible for our intermediate level classes. The student should modify his/her training regime in to the following
  • Intermediate level and/or Drilling classes 2x per week
  • One Fundamentals class, if possible, per week
  • At least one open mat per week.

Student has at least a year of trainingThey want to compete in some regional and local tournaments during the year.

Quick Training Guide

  • 2 Intermediate level classes per week
  • At least 2 open mats per week
  • 1 Drilling only class per week
  • 1 private lesson every month or two
  • Study 1-2 instructional, that pertain to a specific topic that will help with an area that you want to improve. For example if you want to learn better open guard with the gi watch Rumolo Barral instructional.
  • Get a few regular training partners that you go to class and open mats with
  • Occasionally Watch (passively) the current top competitors
  • During open meats do at least 2 rounds of drilling of things you are working on from class and instructional videos.
  • Do some training in open mats starting from the feet even if its just to pull guard immediately!
  • Make about 70% of live training with people of similar or lower skill level and similar size.

Student is a 48 year old man with at least 12 month of trainingwho is interested in self defense and generally improving skill but does not have a desire to compete.

Sample Training Schedule

  • 1 Dilling only class per week
  • 2 private lessons per month (or more if finance and time permits)
  • 1 intermediate class per week
  • 1 self Defense class per week
  • 1 open mat per week being selective with partners and starting most rounds in specific positions.
  • This person could also consider getting involved in our striking classes and or MMA techniques classes doing 1-2 classes per week.
  • Consider nutrition, hormone replacement therapy, and/or yoga as a way to increase longevity and mobility.

Student is a purple belt with a 5 or more years of trainingThe person wants to make a run at national level competitions. He/she is late twenties or early thirties.

Sample Training Schedule

  • 2 advanced classes per week
  • At least 3 open mats per week
  • Competition practice if schedule permits
  • Weights or other workout 2x per week
  • Watch both all time greats competing as well as currant top competitions weekly or more.
  • Buy instructional and study them. Practice specific techniques and strategies from them. I highly recommend. Shawn Williams and Gordon Ryan. Others are Nicholas Meregali, Lucas Lepri, Gary Tonon. I also like Mendes Brothers AOJ, and, Roger Gracie streaming platforms. There are many others as well as lots of free content on YouTube and Flo Grappling. There are many others. Ask coaches/instructors for specific recommendations.
  • Focus on developing a few offensive attacks that can be imposed on people of similar skill level.
  • Ask coaches to help with problem that arise and defense.


• • •


These cases don’t cover every one or account for individual differences. Please talk to instructors and coaches about your personal training schedule. Next I’d like to share my own training schedule. I’ll share two, one for ADCC competitions I recently participated in, and another for ordinary training, non-competition cycles.

Warren Competition

  • 7 day per week live training session all without gi if I’m competing without the gi. Some session are more intense than others. Volume time decreases as tournament gets closer. I’ll occasionally take a rest day if I’m injured or very physically overtrained.
  • Drilling 5 day per week 30-60 minutes often as a leadup to live training or second workout of the day.
  • 2 lifting/plyometrics workouts per week under 1 hour total per workout
  • Sauna 2-3x per week
  • 1-2 Cryo or ice bath per week
  • Two sessions a day on the mats 2-3 x per week.
  • Some of my live training is in open mats, some in our competition practices, and, some in private sessions. I also occasionally visit The Mat Factory or go to NYC, Nashville, or Philadelphia during competition cycles to get a different look. Total mat workouts 7-9 per week.

Warren Non-Competition

  • 2 competition practices per week
  • 2 open mats per week
  • 1 circuit with kettlebells or lift per week
  • Non-jiu jitsu workout occasionally or if I can’t get as much jiu jitsu for some reason (striking, hiking, yoga, x-country ski, etc.)
  • 1-2 lighter rolling sessions in addition to above (private lessons or similar)
  • 2- 3 hours of video study per week
  • Sauna 2x per week
  • I usually try to split my training in non-competition times more or less evenly between gi and without gi.

Again there-is no one size fits all. As we go through different phases of life, as we increase in skill, and as our short and medium term goals change our training schedule should also. At our school we believe people can create a successful training schedule that serves their objectives and lifestyle. This is why we have the most class times in the area and the state of PA! It’s also why we have several different class and training formats. Our schools will be with you every step of the way as you grow and change.