Words by Bruno Malfacine
A month before the Championships I’m already on a strict diet in order to reach the required weight for my division.
My diet consists of 6 meals per day. My favorites are breakfast and lunch, as these meals allow me to enjoy and absorb more vital nutrients to support and prepare for my daily workouts. These are the only two meals where I can actually eat a small portion of carbs; at breakfast I have a slice of bread, and at lunch, sweet potato or a serving of brown rice.
One important tip is to use natural thermogenic foods. Thermogenic foods create heat and have the ability to raise your overall body temperature, accelerate the metabolism and increase fat burning. I try to include these foods in my daily meals to help me lose the necessary weight in a controlled and accurate way.
Coffee, for example, is a stimulant rich in caffeine, which helps to reduce fatigue, and to keep me awake and ready for my long training days. Caffeine is one of the more commonly consumed thermogenics.
Another thermogenic ingredient, cinnamon, is also something that I enjoy at breakfast time with banana and oats. The oats are important, as they are rich in fiber, and satisfy my appetite for longer.
Foods high in Omega-3’s also act thermogenically, increasing the basal metabolic rate (meaning the expenditure of energy while resting), in order to help burn calories, eliminate excess fluids and increase the body’s overall energy. Salmon and tuna are great sources of the right Omega-3’s.
For my other meals, fruits are an important part of my diet. I usually enjoy dried fruits like prunes and apricots, along with oilseed fruits such as Brazil Nuts. These are some of my favorite snacks and I always keep some with me in my backpack wherever I go.
This may be obvious to many of you, but it’s worth noting that the closer you get to competition time, the more important it is to avoid carbs as much as possible, in order to assist in making weight.
Most importantly, always remember to drink plenty of water. Simple as that. Many people don’t understand the importance and the benefits of water. It helps the body in eliminating the byproducts of fat, reducing hunger, suppressing appetite, enhancing the immune system, helping to avoid colds and flus, relieving fatigue, and preventing cramps, among many other benefits. I believe that consuming 3 to 4 liters of water per day is an important key to my diet.
These simple tips are what help me get strong for competition. Give them a try!
I try to rest as much I can, or as much as my schedule allows. Resting in general is an extremely important part of our lives, and it keeps us balanced and ready for everything.
My sleep is specifically important for my recovery, I try to go to bed early and get a good night of sleep after a long day of training.
In the final stretch of four weeks prior to competition, I usually stipulate a strict bed time and wake-up time every day. As with my diet, I value my sleep. They are unquestionably connected, and dependant on one other.
I believe that eight hours of sleep is enough for good recovery. Muscle fatigue is a very common result of intense training, and sleep will help to curb it. Melatonin is also something that I would recommend as it helps me to recover from muscle aches when I have a hard time falling asleep.
On the weekends I sleep as much as I can, and I try to take advantage of the free time to catch up on any rest I lacked during the week. Remember, rest is cumulative.
I am currently teaching at Alliance Orlando where I have great athletes helping me with my preparation for competitions and of course I’m always following the guidance of my teacher Fabio Gurgel - we are in constant contact. He is an amazing teacher who continuously helps me to improve my jiu-jitsu.
I have three jiu-jitsu training sessions daily, and they are divided into competition prep, practices and drills.
Drills are extremely important for the technical evolution of an athlete. It is what helps me to adjust my jiu-jitsu and have good positional timing. The competition classes focus on grappling with my students and visitors.
My workouts are led by Hank Poscher, a trainer I’ve been working with since I moved to the United States. He has helped me reach my best shape for competitions. He also helped me manage before, during and after the shoulder surgery I had last year. Today, I feel great and I am ready for new challenges.
I split my workouts with Crossfit sessions twice per week where I work my strength and conditioning. I lift weights in the other two sessions each week. This combination of training really helps my endurance and helps me to become stronger each and every day.
Although my students help me a lot and I try to offer an excellent quality of training for them, before the Worlds I try to hone my focus specifically on competition. I make sure I am present at the camps that takes place before the tournaments. This year I was in Los Angeles with Cobrinha, who is not only a great athlete, but also an excellent teacher. Cobrinha gathers together parts of our great team, Fabio Passos, Laercio Fernandes, Mário Reis and Michael Langhi, among many other top athletes and several world champions, to train together at that time of the year in preparation for the big show.
It turns out that the workouts are quite intense and exhausting.
Nearly 7 hours of various workouts daily, along with dieting is not easy, but I am very aware that this is the life I have chosen. This is the price we pay to stay on top and I do it all with love. But at the end of the day, even when you’re exhausted and your muscles are aching, there is no better feeling than having a clear conscience and an awareness that you are following the right path. There is no shortcut, but rather a long hard road, and I’m confident that it’s all worthwhile.
After a long week of training, I always hang out with other athletes and friends, and most the time they are in the same situation as myself. Even if it’s for few hours, we try to forget about jiu-jitsu and have some fun.
When I’m not too tired I like to take a walk, go to the beach to relax, and watch movies. These things really help me to relieve some of the stresses of training. When I’m at home I like to watch some fights, but either way, whether I’m on or off the mats I’m always learning.
I live jiu-jitsu every day, this is my life. If you haven’t started training yet, I suggest you give it a try now because I’m sure jiu-jitsu will change your life.
Every day I visualize my goals. We prepare months before the big day, because in fact the competition itself begins months before the actual event, right in the gym - a daily struggle with yourself.
When the day comes, it’s time for fun; putting everything you’ve trained into practice and giving your all in order to get the best result. It’s an amazing feeling. Losses will always be a part of the life of any athlete, but the goal is always to be number one.
The Worst thing in the world is to find yourself leading up to the championship event and to have that feeling that you should have trained more for it. Unfortunately, I went through this unpleasant experience when I was younger and did not like it one bit. After that day, I decided I could lose for other reasons but never because of myself.
Every day I prepare my body for competition, and my head is a fundamental piece of this puzzle. I know that I need to give my best, to give 110% of myself in my workouts, and to have the discipline and the dedication that a great champion needs to have. This knowledge makes me a stronger competitor. You must be prepared physically, mentally and spiritually.
I’m always excited and itching to get on the mat, but nerves on the day of the competition are inevitable, and we must learn to control that. We also need to learn to channel adrenaline, which can be a liability, but also a great tool, if used correctly. I feel like adrenaline is a big part of what drives my competition game.
The only way to learn how to channel and control that adrenaline is simply to compete often. Before you know it, that adrenaline will feel normal for you, and you’ll know how to keep your game intact through it. You will probably always feel those butterflies in your stomach and that rush right at the beginning of a competition, but you will know how use it. This mental conditioning has helped me a lot to be the competitor I am today.
It may seem like an assumption, but it’s worth mentioning that you should train as much as you can. Many athletes are out there training once or twice per day, but you need to top that and push the envelope if you want to become a champion.
Pain is part of the life of a champion; if you’re not tired or if your body doesn’t hurt, then there is surely something wrong. Of course, it is necessary to respect the limits of your body, as disregard for those limits is what leads to injuries. So make sure to rest when necessary. But rest assured, all the pain and sacrifice will help you reach the competition well-prepared, confident, and with the right mindset.
Focus every day on your ultimate goal. Visualize yourself at the top of the podium. Watch videos of your opponents, it is important that you study their games. Remember you are going to war, so you have to go with your best weapons. Be ready for anything and everything, and make sure to have fun.
I know that in the end, the grind will be worth it. There is no greater satisfaction than to be able to reach your goals.
Photos by Mike Calimbas