Massive congratulations to Igor on winning a bronze medal at the IBJJF World Championships held in Long Beach California yesterday.
Igor's preparation for this competition was really good. He had his nutrition really dialed in, his strength training was good, and his conditioning was on point. He had a few issues with some injuries from the past but he delt with them really well and to be able to still compete with the best in the world shows how dedicated he is to his preparation and just how good of an athlete he is.
Igor began his preparation at 68kg, 9.2% body fat, with 61.7kg lean mass. He was already in really good shape because he is now much more consistent with his plan year round. In the past he would start preparations at around 16-18% and then get down to 7-9% body fat. It would take a lot longer to prepare and take a bigger toll on his body. He now also holds on to much more muscle mass, his strength is much better, and it doesn't take us very long to get into peak shape.
He had about an 8 weeks prep for this competition and we got him down to 62kg pretty comfortably, whilst maintaining a lot of his muscle mass. His body fat was down to around 7% when he flew out to the US so I am guessing by yesterday he would have been around the 6% mark (one day I will be able to travel with the boys and finish of their prep with them).
The best part about this is that Igor made weight easily and said he felt really good. The last thing you want to do is go into a big competition like this feeling like crap due to a poor weight cut. Unfortunately you see this a lot as he said a lot of guys there were dying to make weight and doing it really badly.
We make sure the boys are at weight well before the weigh in. When Igor flew out he only had 1kg to go and got to weight 2 days before the weigh in. Weigh in for this competition is on the day so you can't use dehydration methods as you don't have time to replenish. My guess is that many of the athletes there still do and why they struggle.
As I mentioned, Igor has had surgery in the past and has some issues we continue to work with from this. His strength training was targeted to help strengthen these key areas along with strength needed for his style and the demands of competition. Speaking with Igor this morning (day after comp), he said he felt really strong on the mat and his grips felt good too. Grip strength is very important in jiujitsu. Maintaining your strength whilst cutting weight is very important. If you don't do this or can't do this then there is no real point cutting weight and you should stay in the weight class you feel the best in. Planning which weight class you will compete in long beforehand is a must. That way you know if your strength levels are up to par and whether or not that division is suitable for you.
Igor supplements his mat work with additional conditioning. Typically these are interval workouts on the rower, bike, or modified strongman type circuits depending on where he trains these sessions and who with. When you get to such a high level it can be hard to get pushed enough by your training partners. Igor trains with all different belt levels and sometimes he may not get challenged all that much because he is so much better than his training partners. This is no disrespect to these guys. Everyone trains as hard as possible and are very valuable to Igor's preparation, it is just that he is so much better than the rest of us and most tend to be blue and purple belts. This is why he supplements his mat work with some extra conditioning.
Now in saying that if Igor has had some really hard rolls he backs off the next day. His strength work volume gets cut down or maybe he just does his remedial work to try and prevent injury and he drops the conditioning. We have a plan but it isn't set in stone. We have to adjust to how he feels. Recovery was of high priority during this preparation.
The nutrition also gets adjusted to match the demands of training and recovery.
A typical day for Igor can be strength training, sparing/hard rolls, coach/work all day, drills/rolls again in the p.m. and on some days extra conditioning fit into his day somewhere. Throw in all your preparation of food, getting your supplements prepared etc. and it is a full on schedule. He isn't a pro athlete, he finds a way to get it done. That is an important lesson everyone can take from it. If you want to be the best at something, you have to do the work and find ways to get it done. It is easy to find excuses. Don't find them. Find solutions.
So as we have spoken about a lot in the past, consistency is the key. Igor's preparation has gotten better and better each year and each comp so that now this is just a normal way of life for him. It didn't happen immediately but by making small changes he now starts preparations where he used to finish them. I think we can all take something away from this and implement in our daily lives.
We are really happy for Igor and proud of what he has achieved. We look forward to sitting down and planning out our next preparation so he can win a world title.