As Luc “Doberman” Rousseau prepares for the ADCC European Trials in Bucharest, Romania, he spoke with our very own Rome Lytton about his current training camp, his belief in intermittent fasting and the importance of a full night’s sleep.
Grappler Mag: Can you give us a short intro or background to yourself?
Luc Rousseau: I would say I started with striking sports like Krav Maga, and it lead me to BJJ and wrestling, and I've been doing BJJ non-stop for 10 to 12 years. For 11 years, I was teaching MMA before starting BJJ with the gi.
GM: Where are you living now?
LR: I’m from France...I was based in Hong Kong, but I'm moving now to China.
GM: Awesome. Now with the ADCC Trials coming up, are you doing any specific or special training?
LR: I don't have the opportunity [to train] with the high-level guys [regularly]. My students in Asia, they're much lighter than me, and they’re all white and blue belts. So what I do is usually just focus on strength. Like maybe three months before the ADCC [event], I just lift weights like heavy, usually a bit of cardio and stuff, just get bigger.
And then I usually fly to Poland, and then I have my camp there for four to six weeks, and that's where I catch up with what I'm missing the whole year [in sparring].
GM: What's it like to train in Poland?
LR: After having trained like everywhere-in Brazil, in Europe and USA, Asia, Australia as well-for me, Poland, especially for no gi, has the best training in the world. I've heard Finland is probably on the same level, too, but I like Poland because it's very cheap, training is hard, and people are very strong. People are like crazy for MMA and BJJ, so every major town has not one, but a lot of good black belts. I think [for] ADCC they qualify three or four guys per [event]. There's no other country except Finland who has this kind of [success].
GM: When training for an ADCC competition, do you do anything specifically to prepare for their ruleset?
LR: What I try to do as a coach now is to make sure that even my beginner trainings are linked to ADCC and not IBJJF rules. So even for me white belts can do heel hooks, nearly everything. We’ve never had any injuries or anything. We also wrestle a lot. I like that every beginner can start standing up...to get used to that [position], so I'm usually used to the ruleset already.
GM: Describe your approach to nutrition and how that plays into your weight cut.
LR: I like to just bulk up and get super strong before ADCC. I like to fight bigger guys, it's a challenge for sure. You feel easily less strong, but people are also slower, they have less cardio. It's the big guys who cut a lot [of weight]. They also have longer limbs, which because I’m long, I don't like to fight very short people. And I really don't like to cut weight. It [takes] a lot of discipline, but I don't feel like doing it anymore. I’d rather just get stronger every year.
GM: With eating and bulking up, do you space your meals out during the day? Or do you save a large meal for after your training?
LR: I do a lot of intermittent fasting. I really believe it raises your whole testosterone growth hormone level by even up to 1,000 percent when you do 16 hours of fasting. So if I really want to get fit and everything, I fast every day.
I train while on an empty stomach. In MMA I had the best results doing that, especially for hard Muay Thai training. With an empty stomach there's nothing toxic [in your system]. Just drink water. Your belly is light. And then after, when your body is starving for food, that's where I usually try to eat a proper meal, especially a lot of proteins. And usually I have only two meals per day, but two big meals. I recover super well when I do that.
The thing is like, for me with fasting, I believe a lot in nature. In nature, usually you're hungry and you gotta hunt. And the more you're starving, the more the body develops that aggression and raises your testosterone, so you have more power as a hunter, right? And then you get your reward when you eat meat, you know, protein and stuff. So I really think that is the best way to gain strength and size. That's also what Sumo do.
GM: Do you look for a certain amount of sleep while in camp?
LR: Yeah, I really, really try to have every night eight hours no matter what. And if I don't I would always take a nap. If I have a short night I have to get a nap. I think on the long term it preserves you from a lot of injuries. I used to train twice a day for so many years. I've been training hard since I'm 16 in every sport, and at 30 I can't say I have any injury or weakness. My whole body is totally fine. I feel better than when I was even 20.
GM: How would you deal with injuries and recovery, even if they don’t happen often?
LR: I'm a guy who for me, it seemed like the fasting process...like there's a lot of acids [and processes] happening where your body cleans all your organs and stuff. I believe the same for your ligaments. When you fast, your pH also changes. It's very good for your joints. If ever I'm sick or I'm feeling weak for a while, I’m probably intoxicated by some food...which will slow your testosterone like crazy, and your immune system. So usually then I would fast for maybe two or three days to clean everything. Within three days you can renew 100 percent of your immune system in your white blood cells, right?
Otherwise, I believe all the natural ways are always the best tools. Ice, [or] very cold shower, I think you can heal more or less everything with that very quick. I don't really go to a doctor, [I haven’t been] for anything for more than 10 or 15 years.
And then I think also, you gotta have no ego like the way you train. You can't expect your joints to do the job for you, don't force [a position]. You rather tap many times until you figure out what's happening, but you shouldn't take pain on joints all the time.
I could talk forever on this, like fasting and this stuff (laughs).
GM: Coming from someone who’s had injuries and recovering, to hear that is really cool and encouraging. One last question: any words of advice for an up-and-coming grappler?
LR: It's important first to get a coach that you believe in. Sometimes you have no choice around you. Identify your body type. What's your personality? If you're a guy with no strength who's tall and skinny, don't try to become the guy who overpowers everybody, it’s not gonna work. Being short, being tall, being big or small, it has advantages for everybody.
And then for sure I believe a lot, at some point technique is technique, but especially in our sport, strength is a big factor. You gotta identify your style of your grappling.