Do I Need to Be Fit to Start Jiu-Jitsu?

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Whether you are a new student looking to learn the basics of Jiu-Jitsu or looking to get back in the game after some time, you’ll likely be worried about your fitness. Jiu-Jitsu can be demanding, especially if you’re training on a higher level and you’ll have to have a decent level of fitness to do many techniques properly. 

However, you don’t have to be fit to start Jiu-Jitsu as a beginner since most beginner classes are low intensity. Jiu-Jitsu is like any other martial arts and is meant to develop your fitness levels, improve your body coordination and give you valuable self-defense skills. 

This article will discuss the minimum fitness requirements for starting jiu-jitsu. It will also provide valuable insights on the benefits of Jiu-jitsu for fitness, self-confidence, and self-defense. I’ll also discuss the different levels of fitness required for practicing Jiu-Jitsu on different levels and give you valuable tips to improve your fitness.

So, let’s get started! 

What Are The Minimum Requirements For Starting Jiu-Jitsu? 

There are no minimum physical requirements for starting jiu-jitsu. All you need is a desire to learn, the willingness to cooperate with your peers, and discipline to follow the teacher’s instructions. These “soft skills” are more important for learning any martial arts than having a chiseled body or being fit enough to go several rounds. 

The best jiu-jitsu instructors will encourage you to start jiu-jitsu if you want to get fit. Practicing Jiu-jitsu will help you lose weight, develop strength in your arms, legs, and core and improve your cardiovascular fitness as well. It’s also great for improving your hand-eye coordination, grip, and other body motor skills. 

So, if you are concerned that your fitness or body type doesn’t “fit” the perception of a martial artist, then there’s no need to worry. Jiu-jitsu is for everyone, and good instructors won’t discriminate based on your body type or fitness level. 

What You Do Need to Start Jiu-jitsu

While there are no physical or fitness requirements needed to start jiu-jitsu, many instructors will expect certain things from you before you start. These are things that no instructor will compromise on. They include: 

A Willingness to Learn 

To master any skill, you need to have a willingness to learn. This is unquestionably the number one requirement that determines whether you’ll be successful or not. There’ve been many cases where disabled individuals have reached a professional level in their sport through raw determination and a willingness to learn. 

Remember, the best person in the gym or club isn’t the one who has the most talent. Rather, it’s the one who has the most willingness to improve themselves, learn new techniques, and put in the work needed to become someone significant. 

So, before joining a jiu-jitsu club, ask yourself: “Do I really want to do this?”. You’ll have to have a reason for starting jiu-jitsu. Make sure that reason and motivation are clear before you start. It could be anything from simply wanting to get into shape, a genuine interest in the sport, or even competing professionally. Maybe, you just want to defend yourself against a bully. 

Having a reason that motivates you to learn jiu-jitsu will help you go further than anyone else in the gym. You may be overweight and unfit when you start out, but with a willingness to improve, you’ll develop a chiseled physique in no time! 

The Ability To Follow Instructions 

Just as you have to follow instructions to succeed in school, you’ll need to have the same discipline in jiu-jitsu classes. Jiu-jitsu classes aren’t difficult so long as you follow the workout plan provided by your instructor. 

If your instructor asks you to do a certain workout, don’t show off by doing more than you’re told. While some people may come to the gym with more determination and drive than others, the instructor knows how to channel the determination positively. 

The last thing you want is sore arms from doing more than the specified workout. Not following the instructions to the letter may result in physical harm, injuries, and other negative consequences. 

So, once you’re committed to a jiu-jitsu instructor, trust them to keep you safe and teach you at a pace that you’re comfortable with. 

Ability to Work In Teams

Most people think that martial arts are individual sports and they’re right. When you’re in front of your opponent in a sparring session or fight, you’re on your own. However, you’ll also train as a team most of the time. As such, your instructor will expect that you work with other club members to improve each other’s skills. 

There’s no need to be aggressive and win in every training session. You’ll be practicing technique very lightly most of the time, as the purpose is to learn. If you know someone that just wants to prove they’re better than others or always goes hard in sparring sessions, then jiu-jitsu is probably not for them! 

Focus on working as a team, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll learn. 

How Fit Do I Need to Be Able to Compete in Jiu-jitsu? 

While jiu-jitsu doesn’t require as much cardiovascular fitness as kickboxing or boxing, you’ll need to be reasonably fit before you can start competing. The fitness level required to compete in jiu-jitsu will often depend on your current fitness levels, how long you’ve been doing jiu-jitsu and at what level you’re planning to compete. 

The highest level jiu-jitsu athletes can go several rounds of 20 minutes each! While this may seem too much to handle, remember that you won’t necessarily be competing at this level. It takes years of training to reach a level of fitness where you can compete at a national or international level in jiu-jitsu or any other martial arts, for that matter. 

However, most jiu-jitsu matches last around 5 minutes per round, and the rounds vary according to the competition. If you’re competing in the weekly fights at the gym, your coach will determine how long each match will be, based on your current fitness and skill. 

If you’ve just started jiu-jitsu classes, then there’s no need to stress about fitness. Beginners don’t compete until they’ve spent at least a few months training regularly. Besides, good trainers will never encourage you to compete until they are 100% sure you’re fit enough. 

How Strong Do I Need to Be To Start Jiu-jitsu? 

Just as with fitness, there’s no requirement for how strong you should be to start learning jiu-jitsu. Whether you’re already a fitness freak or you can’t even manage a few pushups, no one will stop you from starting jiu-jitsu classes. 

Strength in jiu-jitsu is defined differently from strength in other sports. For example, a bodybuilder may be the best lifter in the gym but get outmuscled on the mat. Jiu-jitsu requires a strong grip and strength in the arms, legs, and core. 

Most of the exercises you do every day during regular training will gradually help develop your strength over time. Since jiu-jitsu is mostly grappling, you’ll need to do strength exercises that help improve your grappling skills. So, even if you start without much power, you’ll soon be able to hold your own against any opponent with regular training. 

How to Get in Shape for Jiu-jitsu 

When training in jiu-jitsu, you’ll need to improve your core and group strength, amongst other things. Here are some exercises recommended by experts to improve your strength and conditioning for jiu-jitsu: 


There’s no substitute for calisthenics for strength conditioning! Many old-school trainers will live and die by calisthenics and often shun other strength training forms. However, even modern trainers love to use calisthenics for strength training. 

Do lots of pushups, squats, lunges, crunches, and other calisthenic exercises daily for strengthening different muscle groups. 

When doing calisthenics, always aim for consistency. There’s no use in doing 100 pushups one day if you’ve never made it past 50 before. It’s better to slowly build up to 100 by doing 52 one day, 54 the next, and so on. Before you know it, you’ll double your pushups in less than a month! 

Weight Training

Jiu-jitsu is more about strength than stamina, although both go hand in hand. To improve your strength, you can always train with weights. However, never start a weightlifting regime without first consulting your trainer. 

They may advise you on specific lifting exercises to improve your grappling strength. After all, you don’t need a bodybuilder physique to train in jiu-jitsu! 

If you want to start weight training right away, try doing Olympic lifts. Olympic lifting is great for developing both arm and leg strength and won’t make your muscles tight. 

Do More Conditioning 

The best way to get stronger in grappling is by doing more grappling! The same applies to any sport, whether it be karate or football. It’s a simple rule- the more you do something, the better you’ll get at it. 

However, always do your conditioning in front of your instructor, especially if you’re new to jiu-jitsu. Their job is to protect you and ensure that you’re getting better without getting hurt. 

How To Improve Your Stamina For Jiu-jitsu

You can improve your stamina for jiu-jitsu by running a few times a week, doing short sprints, skipping rope, and doing many other cardio exercises. Many experienced and talented jiu-jitsu practitioners fall behind because they don’t work enough on their stamina. 

The last thing you want is an inferior-skilled opponent overpowering you because you don’t have enough stamina to go the full round! 

Here are the most effective ways to improve your stamina for jiu-jitsu:  

Long Runs

Doing long-distance running isn’t perfect for the short rounds you’ll be doing in jiu-jitsu, but it improves your stamina nonetheless. Long-distance running is great for building cardiovascular endurance and should be done at least twice a week. 

Short Sprints 

Doing short interval sprints is the best way to build your endurance and stamina for jiu-jitsu. You can even time your sprints to coincide with the timing of a typical jiu-jitsu round. For example, to build endurance for a 5 minute round, you can do 5 x 1-minute sprints with 30-second rest in between. 

Other Cardio Exercises 

Other cardio workouts like skipping, cycling, and even CrossFit are great for building long-term endurance. These workouts can even be done on rest days or to stay in shape when you’re out of training. 

What If I Have Taken a Break From Training? 

Suppose you’ve taken jiu-jitsu classes before but have taken some time off from training. In that case, it’s only natural to want to improve your fitness before you start again. However, there’s no need for this as your instructor will go lightly with you until your fitness improves. 

Learning martial arts is just like riding a bike or swimming. Once you’ve learned the basics, it becomes part of your motor memory. So, even if you’re starting training after a ten-year layoff, you’ll still remember most of the techniques. 

If you are going to work on your fitness anyways, why not do it in the gym under the watchful eye of your instructor. You’ll stay motivated when you’re training with others, and it’s a great way to get back your lost interest in the sport! 

Being Consistent is The Key To Staying Fit 

Consistency is the only difference between a top-level athlete and a regular “sports enthusiast.” It’s much better to create a manageable routine and stick to it than to go all out one day and be completely exhausted the next. 

Also, always try to train with your instructor or peers at the gym as they’ll give you a reason to train on the days when you don’t feel like it! 

Origin fighter

Origin Fighter is a blog for athletes and fitness enthusiasts to learn about Jiu-Jitsu, MMA, Wrestling, Boxing, Health & Nutrition, Performance and more. Origin Fighter also provides information on how to train smarter with resources such as workout plans and diets tailored for your goals.

About the Author

I am a huge fan of both BJJ and MMA. Jiu-jitsu is my biggest passion, and I’ve been training it for more than 5 years. I have recently been promoted to a purple belt. In this blog, I will be giving you tips on how to improve and how to choose the best BJJ equipment! Learn More