Can Jiu-Jitsu Get You In Shape?

Keeping things Short, yes, Jiu-Jitsu can get your body in shape. And it works wonders, so you can get your gi and rashguard ready and train to hit those fitness goals.

Jiu-Jitsu is excellent for those looking to lose weight and get lean with a workout routine they can also enjoy.

Things might get a bit technical, but you’ll understand precisely how BJJ will get you in shape and what you should expect. Let’s dive in.

Can Jiu-Jitsu Get You A Ripped Body?

Over time, any physical activity will help you get a good-looking body, but Jiu-Jitsu does have the edge over other activities thanks to several factors.

But, if your end game is 4% body fat, Mr. Olympia’s stage-ready ripped BJJ is not the sport for you. Some top-level BJJ athletes have great physiques and six-packs, but this is not the general rule.

As an average BJJ practitioner, most likely, you will get that surfer body aesthetics—lean, strong, and athletic. 

But in. most cases, never super ripped or cut like a fitness model or bodybuilder. Unless you cross-train with some calisthenics or weight lifting, forget about that ripped bodybuilder aesthetics. 

You can look pretty good, just training BJJ. But keep your expectations in check. Also, the sport is not about looking ripped. You can have an eight-pack and get submitted left a right if you don’t acquire the technical knowledge required.

A normal looking BJJ body example

Here’s Gustavo, one of the writers at MMAWhisperer, in a swimming session on recovery day after a week of killer BJJ training

Can Jiu-Jitsu Get You A Ripped Body?

Will he win a Mr. Olympia title or get a Gymshark sponsorship deal? Probably not. But, he looks healthy and in reasonably good shape doing something he’s passionate about. 

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Why And How Will Jiu-Jitsu Get You In Shape?

Jiu Jitsu Medellín Gym - Why And How Will Jiu-Jitsu Get You In Shape?

If you want to add Jiu-Jitsu practice into your routine to achieve that beach body, let us give you a precise look at how it will boost your progress and get you in great shape.

Working Out Multiple Muscle Groups

Those who practice Jiu-Jitsu will not forget how physically taxing it was to get used to all the moves and drills during training the first week or two.

Jiu-Jitsu uses almost if not all muscle groups to achieve its objectives.

The core is taxed every time we do a shrimp or twist and turn when working from the guard.

The legs work the most when holding a triangle. Or when we use them to cut during our knee slices or lift the weight of our opponents during butterfly guard or knee shield sweeps.

And the arms are brutally taxed if you try to rip your opponent’s head off during that guillotine hold. Or when you fight those chokeholds and arm locks with all your might.

One way or the other, BJJ will cause mechanical tension, muscle damage, and metabolic stress to most if not all muscle groups, which, for those that were not aware, are the three mechanisms that the body uses for muscular hypertrophy (muscle growth).

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Doing Jiu-Jitsu Uses The Three-Body Energy Systems

BJJ requires a lot of energy and burns calories, but it also does so differently.

For those who do not know, the body uses three different energy systems, which are used to fuel the muscles according to the demands that the activity requires.

Can Jiu-Jitsu Get You In Shape? 1
  • Anaerobic Alactic (ATP-CP) Energy System
  • Anaerobic Lactic (Glycolytic) Energy System
  • Aerobic Energy System

These systems fuel our muscles depending on the intensity and duration of the activity we perform. They use different kinds of fuel out of the food that we consume every day to do so.

Unlike most disciplines or types of exercises, Jiu-Jitsu practice doesn’t rely on one or two fuel systems.

Jiu-Jitsu uses all the systems, which is a crucial part of how it effectively burns extra calories and uses all the possible sources to reduce weight gain.

We will take a deeper dive into how this part works and how Jiu-Jitsu allows for it a little later in the article.

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A Great Habit That Keeps You Invested

Unlike weight-lifting or countless hours spent in cardio workouts, Jiu-Jitsu practice is constantly changing.

May the change come from training different moves, working at different intensities, or being overall competitive with classmates who improve at different paces. 

If you are training in a good academy, of course, Jiu-Jitsu always has a way to keep you invested in the discipline.

From a psychological standpoint, this works wonders to keep you disciplined. The time you spend in Jiu-Jitsu practice is not only time you spend improving your body, but it is also time you do not spend bored.

The role of Boredom in you bjj goals

Why does being bored matter? Because the human mind needs to keep itself busy. And multiple times, when you are in a comfortable space, the reason will push you towards getting snacks. Like some sweets or salty chips, just kill time and keep your brain busy analyzing what comes from your taste buds.

If you are looking to reduce your calorie intake, you might want to keep yourself as busy as possible, so you have less leisure time to relax with some savory and calorie-dense snacks.

How Much Weight Can You Lose Doing Jiu-Jitsu?

How Much Weight Can You Lose Doing Jiu-Jitsu?

The parameter to know how much weight you can lose is to know just how overweight you are.

The farther away you are from what your body should be at an ideal body-mass index is what gives you a good mark on how much weight you might be able to lose if you start optimizing your nutrition and exercise habits.

You can still lose weight via Jiu-Jitsu training even if you are closer to healthy body weight and fat percentage. But the process will be slower and require more effort, as you have less weight to lose on your path to being in good shape.

How Many Calories Can You Burn During Regular Jiu-Jitsu Practice?

From most available studies on the web for you to look around, the average parameters in an hour of BJJ training suggest that the calories burnt go somewhere between 500 and 900 calories, depending on intensity.

Most of these consider four parts of the class:

  • Stretching (5 Minutes)
  • Calisthenics (10 Minutes)
  • Technique Work (15 Minutes)
  • Rolling (30 Minutes)

If your class lasts longer or you spend more time rolling on a single day, the calorie burn time will likely increase.

This is likely to encourage you to go to the next available open mat to get some of that extra calorie burn.

How Do The Body Energy Systems Boost My Weight Loss With BJJ?

Readers beware. This is where we get somewhat more technical, so take out the pencil and notebook if you feel like you might need to keep this information at hand for later.

So, the thing about energy systems is that each of them works with one different energy source, and we will touch down on what they use and how they do their work.

Anaerobic Alactic (ATP-CP) Energy System

This energy system is the one that works when we do any activity that requires a really high intensity for a short duration.

This system is named anaerobic due to working without any oxygen, as it uses your body’s creatine phosphate stores to function.

Examples of this system at work are high-speed sprints, one-rep powerlifting, and in BJJ, those highly explosive takedowns.

Creatine phosphate is used for quick ATP-regeneration, which means intense fuel consumption.

Anaerobic Lactic (Glycolytic) Energy System

This second energy system is used for bursts of medium to high-intensity activity on a span of 10 to around 90 seconds.

Some examples of this are long-distance races, like 200m or 400m. Or weight-lifting training. In BJJ, bursts of pressure and dominating pressure in the middle of a roll.

This system burns a pretty neat energy source, glucose, also known by many as sugars, and is also a simple form of carbohydrates.

This is important because glucose is used from what you eat daily. The body breaks down your complex carbohydrate reserves to turn them into ready-to-use fuel for middle- to high-intensity activities.

Aerobic Energy System

This system uses Oxygen to keep the body able to function on low to middle-intensity activities that range from over two minutes to a few hours.

This ranges from any sports with repeating shifts, long cyclical activities, and long-duration training.

In Jiu-Jitsu, this system kicks the first minutes of your rolling and will keep you going for the rest of the round.

The fuel utilized here is lipids, which are commonly known as fats, and they produce a lot of energy, which is why the aerobic energy system takes longer to overload and fatigue.

The thing with BJJ is that there are bursts of higher intensity or moments in which you need explosive force.

Then again, the rounds in the competition are usually five minutes for white belts and going up as high as 10 minutes for adult black belts, so it means all three energy systems will be going back and forth in any single round.

Will Jiu-Jitsu Help With Muscle Building?

Jiu-Jitsu may not be the most excellent solution for building muscle, but it can be an efficient way to develop muscle and cause muscular hypertrophy due to the type of training it is.

As we mentioned before, there are three factors to put into consideration. The first is mechanical tension, which will happen most of the time during a roll as you use your strength to dominate your opponent’s position. This will likely cause enough tension to exert fatigue in your muscles.

muscular demage

The second factor, which is muscular damage, does happen right after the first, as the muscles are tense as they fight off the opponent’s strength, they tire out, and the muscular fibers will tear on a micro-scale, which is just what causes pain and exhaustion when you lift weights. 

After a round or two of rolling, you will start to feel tired as your muscles burn through all the energy sources we mentioned before, and well, this is the cause of the third factor, metabolic stress.

metabolic stress

Metabolic stress is why your muscles feel sore after training. The metabolite accumulation never feels too good, but it is necessary to resynthesize more energy and achieve muscular growth.

For those who know what lactic acid is, you either have spent a good time at a weight gym or figured out how your arm feels after fighting off the armbars for maybe one or two rounds too many in a row.

Training with A Barbell vs. Kettlebell For BJJ

This is a fun topic for those who like to cross-train.

If you are looking to implement weight training into your routine, you are likely wondering which kind of weights will be the most comfortable and viable for your BJJ practice.

Keeping things short, we will go with the kettlebells, not because they are a trend, but thanks to their grip.

A barbell has the weights on the sides, making it easy to move around for general exercises, but when it comes to drills that you are adapting from Jiu-Jitsu Moves, there is one thing where the kettlebell grip is just much better.

A kettlebell’s grip allows the weight to stay centered and low due to gravity, allowing your wrist to twist a little bit more freely.

This little detail help with some of the drills that you will likely want to hit outside of the mats to improve your strength.

Can Jiu-Jitsu Get You In Shape? – Final Thoughts 

If you are looking forward to getting into great physical shape by training Jiu-Jitsu, you are on the right path, but this doesn’t mean that it will be easy to get there.

Remember theres more to losing weight than just the activity and exercises you do during your day. How healthy your nutrition is and how disciplined you are is relevant.

Jiu-Jitsu is an excellent method to train. It is exciting and rewarding enough that you can easily make it a regular part of your routine without worrying too much about burning out.

If you find the article helpful, take the time to share it with other people trying to get in better shape.

 If you are on your way to better health and look forward to achieving the beach body you have always wanted, do not let anyone stop you, and be proud of yourself.

Some will talk smack, and those will try to cut your wings, but do not ever let that stop you. Be disciplined and continue on your track, as you will eventually enjoy all the rewards.

Keep Rolling, and keep yourself healthy both physically and mentally. We hope to see you on the mats soon!  

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