Tips for a Kickass Comeback



On Saturday I stepped on the mat for the first time in three months. This is by far the longest layoff I had in BJJ career. The layoff was due to a combination of factors: sprained ligament in my knee, surgery to fix my mangled nose, and my son being born six weeks ahead of schedule. Layoffs are never fun, but somehow, I managed to make the most out of mine, and I was pleasantly surprised to feel like I never left.

Here’s what I realized: I felt better about my comeback because I used my downtime to work on other areas of my life and health. In the past, and I think many of us are guilty of this, we look at a layoff (for whatever reason) as an excuse to throw all of our self-development out the window, and we come back to the mats farther behind than we left.

This is my story:

Back in April, I injured the LCL on my right knee while on top side control (of all places). I was pinning my opponent's arm while setting up a baseball bat choke when my opponent went to try to roll me over my leg gave up and a loud pop echoed through the gym. I kept rolling, probably not the best idea, and my knee became stiff as soon as I cooled down. The next day I was limping, but thankfully, I could still use my rower and cycle on my Rogue fan bike.

Hillary was well into her third trimester at this point, so I decided to take some time off, and focus on three things, work on my cardio, rehab my knee, and lose some weight I been putting on.

I wrote a blog about how I have been ignoring aerobic training for the best part of a decade. I felt I didn’t have time, and—like many big guys—I just hated running. So, I did other things, mostly in the anaerobic realm. Spending three months working mostly on aerobic efforts was fascinating. I started with a rower, then added a Rogue Echo Bike, and most recently a Ski erg.

My resting heart rate is consistently under 50 beats per minute. I try to get my workout in the morning, and I feel it helps reign in my ADHD, making me much more focused throughout the day. The variety of machines keeps it interesting, and I feel I am able to recover better. It has become a huge part of my routine. I feel something is missing if I don’t make it to the basement to get some work in. Finally, it has kept me sane during my time without BJJ.

My mobility work has also continued. A few of my favorite drills like the 90/90 were put on hold as they aggravated my knee. I have been putting a lot of work on recovering my range of motion after the LCL sprain and focusing more on upper body drills to clear out my shoulders. Here are the main ones I been working on:

Swimmers


Couch stretch



Shoulder circles 


Straddle



We have been following a keto diet while at home for the better part of two years. However, we would get off diet whenever we traveled, justifying it with the old when are we going to be here again? Let’s eat!

With the new baby and having the chance to be home to enjoy our family, we got back to a strict Keto diet. I realize it’s not for everyone, but the Keto diet combined with cardio and mobility work, my return from my layoff was much less difficult than it could have been.

In our lives, it’s easy to begin drifting away from our best-laid plans. Sometimes we have an excuse—like an injury or a newborn—but the same excuse for why we neglect our diets or our fitness programs can be what we use to get back on track. Feeling banged up? Check in on your mobility routine. Putting on some weight? Take a hard look at that diet.

It could be anything. BJJ will be there waiting for you when you are ready to come back, but try to come back a better version of you. Everything else in your life will be better as a result.

Nelson Puentes

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