This is a very common question we get and it’s hard to give a one-size-fits-all answer. How often should you practice? How many times a week should you train Judo?
For most people a good Judo routine is 2 to 3 training sessions a week of around 90 to 120 minutes each. However, if you’re looking to compete or to rapidly gain rank, you might add a couple more sessions in. Make sure you know what you are training for to make the best out of your routines.
It’s also worth noting that you’re not wasting your time if you train once a week or less, but it is very hard to do much more than maintain the skills you already have if you don’t get some regular practice in.
What Are You Training For?
Before you start planning your judo training schedule it’s a good idea to be honest with yourself about what you are hoping to achieve. Most of us are not looking to dominate the Olympics or to be the world’s foremost proponent of the sport.
However, if you do want to compete – it’s important to be clear about this when you develop your routine.
Most people are going to want to train judo for self-defense and/or for a sense of community and/or for a form of exercise. So, let’s try to keep that in mind as we look at some basic rules for sport and for life before we examine specific judo training scenarios.
The Basic Rule For How Much Exercise We All Need
If Judo is going to be a part of your overall fitness routine, then it’s useful to know what kind of exercise is required to lead a healthy life.
Exercise is vital to lead a healthy and happy life. It reduces stress, it helps us manage our weight and metabolism, it increases our personal energy, and the benefits go on and on. Harvard Medical School says that regular physical exercise can even improve your memory and thinking skills!
But how much exercise do we need? Most of us lead busy lives and that means we need to balance work, our personal life, sleep, etc. with exercise. We don’t have unlimited time to spend on getting fit.
Well, the good news is that there is a definitive answer to this question. A study published in The Lancet in August 2018 which surveyed 1.2 million Americans over a 3 year period using data from the Center for Disease Control found that 30-60 minutes of exercise 3-5 times a week is the sweet spot.
Do too much exercise and some of the benefits, particularly those for your mental health, start to wane in the same way that doing too little exercise causes issues. However, it is better to do more exercise than necessary rather than doing none.
That means you’ve got a baseline to measure your judo training by, because you know how much exercise is considered to be beneficial to you.
A Basic Rule For Learning And Retention
The more you repeat doing something, the easier it is to remember how to do it. Now, we appreciate this might sound kind of obvious but it’s important to bear this in mind.
What this means is that if you leave too much time between training sessions, you’re going to forget some or all of what you learned in the last session.
This does not matter if you’re just using judo for a workout. It does matter, though, if you’re looking to progress in the sport or even to compete at a local level. You can’t become a better judo practitioner without some semi-regular training – that’s because you’re not wired to do that.
Also, for those thinking of practicing by themselves because they’ve been reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers and want to just get their 10,000 hours over with, don’t.
Those 10,000 hours must be guided practice to have a substantial level of benefit. That means you need an instructor or coach to work with and, ideally, a wide variety of opponents to practice with. This is how you get better at judo and, indeed, any other skill in life.
Training To Get Into Judo
We asked around and there seems to be some consistent opinions within the judo community over the ideal schedule to get into judo.
When you first start, you simply don’t know enough judo to allow for long gaps between training sessions. If you only go once a week, it’s going to be like starting over and over and over again. That’s a great way to kill your enthusiasm for judo and a terrible way to learn.
What is recommended is that for the first 6 months or so, that you train at least twice a week and ideally 3 times a week for about 90 minutes to 2 hours each time.
This is going to mean that in about 6 months, you’ll have a decent grasp of a couple of throws, some controlling positions and some submissions. Importantly, you’ll also be starting to learn what to do if you end up on your back.
If you find something particularly frustrating during this phase of training – don’t be afraid to speak to your instructor and ask them to show you an alternative way to get something done. You’d be amazed at how many different ways you can approach things in judo.
Training For Gentle Progression
If you’re looking for gentle progression in your judo with no real concern for competing or flying through the ranks, then you’re probably going to want to stick to a similar schedule as to when you started.
This is regular enough training that you’re going to be able to learn new skills, maintain older skills and grow in the sport. But it’s not going to see rapid evolution of your skills either.
That’s fine by the way. As we said at the start, not everyone is looking to become a world class practitioner most people are happy with learning to defend themselves, getting a workout and having fun.
Training To Move Up A Rank
Bad news, if you want to start moving up the ranks and start to compete then you’re going to have to step up your training regime. The best judo participants are not casual about their judo, it’s their only sport and they train like professional athletes do.
This means 4-5 training sessions of 90 minutes to 2 hours each week! Yes, as you can imagine this isn’t always practical for many people and that’s cool – you should continue to enjoy judo if this is true for you. But if you want to be the “best of the best” then you’re going to need put in some serious time.
Training For Cardio With Judo
If you’re going to train at judo regularly, we’d recommend that the rest of your exercise regime (if you have one) focuses on cardio training.
That is exercises which pushes up your heart rate and improves your capacity to breathe and increases your stamina. A couple of sessions of cardio a week are the ideal complement to judo training.
Our recommendation is that you get involved in interval training if you want to get the most out of your cardio workouts.
Is There Such A Thing As Too Much Training In Judo?
There is definitely a law of diminishing returns when it comes to any kind of exercise. As we saw at the start, there is a point where you exercise so much that you reduce the benefits to your body of exercising.
If you find yourself practicing judo all day, every day – it might be time to pull back a little. Sports are good and judo is amazing, but you need a life that encompasses more than just a sport. Seek out social opportunities or throw some of your energy into other hobbies or even building a business, instead of spending all your life at judo.
Can You Use These Training Measurements In Other Martial Arts?
Yes, within reason these training guidelines would apply to any martial art though it is worth remembering that judo is somewhat more relaxed than say capoeira which is almost a dance combined with a martial art.
If you are going for a high-intensity martial art, you are going to want to keep your training to 2-4 sessions a week or you may be at higher risk of injury or of “over-exercising”.
How many times a week should you train judo? As you have seen, the vast majority of people will be best served by training 2-3 times a week for around 90-120 minutes at a time. However, those who want to make faster progress or compete may want to add another session or two on top.
Be careful though, don’t go overboard. Your health matters and it is possible to spend too much time training judo and it won’t do you any good.