How Often Should You Train Judo?

How often should you train judo?

When people decide to take up a new form of exercise or learn a skill, in this case, martial arts, one of the first questions they ask is how often they need to train. People who are interested in learning judo often wonder if they will be able to train often enough for it to be effective. But how often should you train judo to truly learn the art? 

You should train judo two to three times a week to help develop muscle memory. However, your ideal training time varies based on your goals, fitness level, and other life circumstances. Those simply looking for exercise can train once or twice a week, but those looking to compete will need to train judo more often. 

In this article, I’ll go over some recommendations on how much you should train depending on your skill level. Then, we’ll go over how you might decide on a training schedule and touch on the several different factors that will influence your time spent on the mat

The Ideal Judo Training Frequency 

For any Judoka with a recreational, fitness, or self-defense purpose for training, the primary goals are muscle memory and the continued acquisition of new Judo skills. 

The saying “practice makes perfect” is never more true than with sports and self-defense methods. To that end, let’s look at the time commitment generally needed to achieve primary goals. 

Beginners Should Train Judo  About Twice Per Week

As with any new fitness endeavor, it’s best to take things slowly at first. There is a much higher chance of injury when you’re still learning – be it from overdoing it or poor form. 

Here’s the thing: Judo is particularly hard on the body. Not only do you exert yourself from a cardio standpoint, but you’ll also fall into mats and get thrown over your opponent’s shoulders. 

Chances are, you’ll be pretty sore your first few weeks and months of training, so you must be careful not to train too hard. If you’re sore all the time, it will be too easy to give up. With that in mind, training once a week will let you see if the sport is for you before committing too many hours and too much money.

However, only training once a week will lead to slow progress

I would advise starting with once a week for a few weeks, so you can see if it’s for you. After your body has gotten used to being thrown around, you should go twice a week. This frequency will let you learn skills at a faster pace. 

At the same time, your body will get used to this new form of exercise, and your muscle memory will start to kick in.

Train  Judo Two to Three Times per Week for Exercise and Self-Defense

Once your body has gotten used to the kind of exercise involved in Judo practice, you should go twice a week at a minimum, with three training days being recommended. After all, the type of slow progress you get from weekly sessions isn’t ideal in the long run.

In addition to helping with muscle memory and gaining new skills, moving to three training sessions per week will ensure you get the right amount of exercise. 

Judo includes periods of vigorous exercise and uses your body weight as a form of strength training. This means two or three 60 to 90-minute classes each week will be more than enough.

Finally, consider that many experts feel this is the optimal Judo training time for most people. It lets you progress in the sport while not overwhelming your body. 

At the same time, though, if you feel that your body needs a break, always take one. In the end, your “perfect” training regimen is the one that gives you the results you want. Consistency will be essential regardless of your choices.

It would be better to constantly train judo three times per week than trying to go every day and burning yourself out. This will lead to training judo too often followed by periods of no training at all. Consistency is key to learning judo. 

Top Judo Competitors Often Train Daily

Once you decide to compete, your training requirements will likely increase. This is true both in terms of time practicing Judo and with the addition of cross-training

For example, many top Judo players will work on strength training, which uses muscle groups often neglected in Judo. These exercises help build strength and stamina and also allow an athlete to resist injury.

Top Judoka who want to go to the Olympics or other major competitions will spend all day at it. For instance, Danny Williams, a member of past British Olympic teams, indicates that you’ll train several times a day at this level. Of course, this does not mean you will be training at 100 percent intensity every day. But you will be doing some sort of judo training 5-7 days per week and often multiple sessions per day. 

For most people, though, this level of involvement isn’t necessary. If you ask the average Judoka, they’ll tell you that non-professionals shouldn’t do much more than three sessions a week

What to Consider in Your Judo Training Schedule

The training mentioned above is considered the average amount a person should train judo. However, not all competitors train every day, and not all beginners need to start with one day per week.

For example, if you have moved to judo from another high-intensity sport – especially another martial art – you should be able to pick it up quite quickly. In this case, you could safely begin with two or even three sessions per week.

Your judo training schedule will be unique to your needs and goals. While a few athletes would love to go to the Olympics, this goal is uncommon. For most of us, the reason to train Judo is a mixture of fitness and self-defense. 

With that in mind, Judo has several benefits that can influence the amount you train. Let’s take a closer look at what you should consider when creating a judo training schedule. 

Are You Training Judo For Exercise?

First off, Judo is a great way to get some exercise. As you attack your grappling partner and defend yourself from attacks, your heart gets pumping. 

From this standpoint, Judo is like any other kind of aerobic exercise. Over time, your heart will get more efficient at pumping, and you will get more physically fit.

If exercise is your primary goal, even just one training session per week will be beneficial. However, to really see the effects, you should try to train at least twice per week (unless you’re doing other things outside of judo, such as weight lifting or running).

Do You Have the Discipline To Train Judo Often?

Like most other sports, Judo teaches discipline and rules. Martial arts, in particular, carry a risk of injuring yourself or others, and discipline is therefore even more critical. 

Of course, each gym has ways to reduce the risk, such as foam mats. But eventually, much of the responsibility for safe play lies with each individual.

In order to practice judo safely, you need to be able to commit to consistent training – even if that’s only one day per week.

Are You Looking for Self Defense Skills?

Martial arts generally have the attraction of teaching practitioners how to defend themselves from attack. While “attacks” in a gym are voluntary and done in the spirit of sports, this isn’t true on the street. 

People with bad intentions sometimes cause trouble, and street fights are an unfortunate part of modern life. Martial artists should never be the aggressors in these fights, but they have a right to defend themselves. 

Here’s the thing with Judo: it’s the best of both worlds in terms of self-defense and exercise. Judo teaches you how to fall and then get back up again, which means you’re less likely to get injured in a self-defense situation. 

At the same time, you learn to subdue your opponent without severe injury. This achievement is a true win-win in self-defense.

In order to fully understand this level of training, you will need at least two training sessions per week to allow your body the time it needs to become accustomed to quick thinking and how to safely defend itself.

Are You Looking To Train Judo For High-Level Competition?

If you (or your child) want to work towards high-level competitions, then Judo is one of your best options. The United States and many other countries have a national team that goes to the Olympics. 

However, it’s crucial to understand that these athletes dedicate themselves to their sport. Eventually, it becomes their job to always be ready for one competition after another. This means many training sessions per week, if not multiple times per day. 

How to Train Judo More Often But Safely

Like most sports, Judo requires significant physical exertion. As many Judoka will tell you, it’s effortless to feel red in the face and out of breath. This condition indicates that your body is exerting itself on a relatively high level. And like other sports, excessive exertion risks injury. 

It’s important to consider the physical demands that judo places on your body and mind and consider that when making a training schedule. Yes, our bodies adapt, and over time, training should become more manageable. But it’s still vital not to ignore warning signs your body is sending. 

Cardio Fitness Is Critical

Among the benefits of learning Judo is increased cardiovascular fitness. Throwing your sparring partner around, jumping up off the ground, and even getting yourself out from underneath a chokehold takes energy. 

Often, this requires a lot of exertion, even though your opponent is typically in the same weight class. If you can only stand up to a slight amount of exercise, you won’t last long in a class, much less competition.

If you’re a seasoned athlete who keeps a solid fitness routine, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue. But if you’re just getting into sports, you may find the cardio aspect especially grueling.

Since judo is so hands-on, building up your cardio strength away from the mats might be safer. 

Start Slowly and Work Your Way Up

Remember the last time you lifted a heavy object off the floor? How about pulling all the giant weeds out of your garden? In these cases, you needed to push your muscles into a higher level of performance than you need at the office. 

Training Judo is similar to doing heavy house or yard work, and it would be best to build up your strength and endurance over time to decrease the chance of getting injured. While any physical activity carries some risk of injury, performing within your limits is an essential part of risk management. 

“Pushing yourself” must be done within limits, and if your body is aching, sore, or in pain, it’s essential to listen and slow down. 

Building Muscle Memory Is Critical

Whether you want to defend yourself effectively or go to the Olympics, becoming a competent Judoka requires the development of muscle memory

In short, this is the ability to perform a task without thinking about it. Sports, in general, require athletes to know instantly which action will be effective in scoring points during a match. You can develop a strategy ahead of time, but the execution is often a question of muscle memory.

The value of muscle memory is exceptionally high in a martial art or contact sport like Judo. Not only do you need to react to your opponent’s actions in a match, but that reaction must be within the rules. 

For instance, Judo competitions don’t allow you to grab your opponent’s legs until you are on the ground. However, in a different style of grappling, this is quite acceptable.

Let’s look at this from a self-defense perspective: if someone is attacking you aggressively (i.e., not as part of a match), you need to react quickly and decisively. You can either act defensively or move to offense. This decision must be made and followed up on within seconds.

If you don’t have good muscle memory, your reactions in this emergent situation are rarely fast enough. Instead of reacting, you might be stuck trying to remember what your instructor said in class.

If you’ve ever seen a judo competition, you’ll know that things move incredibly quickly. It’s almost like a dance, with each competitor moving in reaction to the other. Without adequate muscle memory in competition, you can lose a match while contemplating your next move, even for just a second.

Bottom Line

In closing, I’ll offer one more thought: unless you want to compete at a high level, Judo should always be fun first. This principle means you are training to enjoy yourself, as well as meet your personal goals.

For most people, training two or three times a week is more than enough. Typical sessions will last 60 to 90 minutes, providing enough time to learn and practice techniques. However, when first starting, you may wish to limit yourself to one session for safety. This way, you can give it a try to see if it’s right for you.

Joshua Paul

Joshua Paul is a BJJ purple belt who lives in Austin, Texas. Joshua loves all forms of grappling and when he is off the mats he is likely spending time with his wife and son.

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