Is Jiu-Jitsu Good For Weight Loss? (Case Studies)

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Whether you’re obese or just want to lose a few pounds, jiu-jitsu is a great way to do so. Jiu-jitsu training involves cardio, strength workouts, calisthenics, and other high-intensity workouts that are great for improving fitness. Best of all, you’ll learn valuable skills and socialize during the process!

Jiu-jitsu training regimes are also great for weight loss since many of the workouts involve high-intensity exercises designed to burn fat. Many people start jiu-jitsu and other martial arts to lose weight and learn valuable skills in the process.

This article will look at how a jiu-jitsu training regime can help with weight loss. It will also give you tips on which workouts are best for fast weight loss and how to integrate them into your training routine. I’ll also highlight a diet plan to help you manage your calorie deficit to keep you energized during your weight loss journey. We’ll dive into a few success stories to motivate you on the difficult journey ahead as a bonus.

So, let’s get into it!

How Does Jiu-Jitsu Help With Weight Loss?

If you’re thinking of starting jiu-jitsu for weight loss, you’ve probably already tried going to the gym, dieting, or other weight-loss activities. Some weight-loss routines are more successful than others, but most don’t last long. For instance, 90% of people quit their gym membership after the first 3 months! So, what makes jiu-jitsu better for weight loss than simple weightlifting or running?

Jiu-jitsu incorporates several weight loss exercises into a single workout, which is why it’s great for weight loss. A typical jiu-jitsu workout will include a stretching session, cardio, strength training, calisthenics, and other high-intensity exercises. Let’s not forget the all-important conditioning and sparring sessions, which test your endurance and stamina and are great for burning calories!

Since jiu-jitsu is for everyone, there’s no need to feel ashamed to join a class with professionals. Your instructor will guide you every step of the way, and many of the workouts will fit your current fitness capacity. As your fitness increases and you lose more weight, the volume intensity of these exercises will also increase.

Which Jiu-Jitsu Exercises are Best For Weight Loss?

All jiu-jitsu workouts will focus on either strength, speed, or conditioning. These workouts will develop skills, improve your muscle and bone strength and get you fit for competition. However, there are many side benefits of jiu-jitsu workouts, and weight loss is one.

All exercises in a typical jiu-jitsu workout regime will help you burn calories. Still, some are more effective for weight loss than others. For example, sparring and endurance training will burn the most calories, followed by strength exercises and technique sessions. However, at the end of a good session, you’ll end up burning off excess calories!

Here are some of the typical exercises you’ll do in a jiu-jitsu session to lose weight:

– Cardio Workouts

Cardio is a staple requirement for any martial arts or sports, for that matter. The typical jiu-jitsu class will have a warmup cardio session consisting of a 10-15 min jog. Some workouts may include short sprints to improve your cardiovascular capacity and stamina.

Old-school trainers may prefer doing longer runs of at least 20-30 minutes, but modern coaches have realized that short sprints are more effective. In my personal experience as a professional martial artist, I would say that sprint sessions are the most difficult- and most effective.

If you want to lose weight fast, nothing beats short interval sprinting. You can do sets of 10x50m or 5x100m initially and then progress as you get fitter. Other jiu-jitsu cardio workouts include skipping rope, jumping jacks, frog jumps, and squat jumps. Some jiu-jitsu cardio sessions are similar to CrossFit workouts and are great for burning calories.

– Strength Training 

Jiu-jitsu requires more strength training than cardio. You’ll need cardio, no doubt, but you’ll also need strong arm, leg, and core muscles. Many jiu-jitsu regimes include strength sessions geared towards developing different muscle groups.

Jiu-jitsu strength training may involve traditional weightlifting exercises and more specific weights such as Olympic lifts, both of which are great for weight loss. Every club has a different approach to weight training, so you’ll have to follow your instructor and go along with the group.

In some classes, you’ll do a short weight session every day, while others may reserve a day for strength training. Both approaches are fine, so long as you’re developing your strength and putting in the effort.

– Calisthenics 

Calisthenics is said to be the base of any martial arts. Whether you’re doing wrestling, jiu-jitsu, boxing, karate, or kickboxing, you’ll have to do a lot of calisthenics.

A typical jiu-jitsu training regime will involve daily callisthenic exercises. Sometimes you’ll do them as a warmup, and sometimes your instructor will make you do them at the session’s end. 

Calisthenic exercises include: 

  • Push-ups
  • Squats
  • Sit-ups/crunches 
  • Pull-ups/ chin-ups 
  • Leg Raises (great for developing your core)
  • Burpees 

These are some of the staple callisthenic exercises, but not the only ones. Every good jiu-jitsu training regime will include these workouts, even if you’re only expected to do a few reps of each. 

Calisthenics has multiple benefits, including stronger muscles, better balance, a leaner physique, and weight loss. If there’s one thing that both old school and modern trainers agree on, it’s the importance of calisthenics. 

– Sparring/Rolling 

Sparring, or rolling as it’s called in jiu-jitsu, involves practicing the techniques you’ve learned with other players. Rolling is the best way to lose weight fast since it combines everything from strength exertion to cardio and even endurance. The typical rolling round may be anywhere between 3-5 minutes, although more experienced players may go on for 15 minutes or more!

If you’re doing jiu-jitsu to lose weight, then rolling is the way to do so. Complete beginners will only spar a month or two after they start, and these will be light sessions. You’ll typically roll with players on the same level as you, but even this can be tough.

It’s no wonder that professional players train for hours every day just to be able to go a few 5-minute rounds in a fight! Apart from weight loss, practicing your skills through Rolling can give you more confidence, improve your cardio, and most of all, motivate you to train harder in the gym.

A good instructor will have you rolling no more than once or twice a week to test your skills without getting injured.

Why Is Jiu-Jitsu Better For Weight Loss?

Jiu-jitsu is better than going to the gym for weight loss as it provides you with self-defense skills, improves your self-confidence, and instills teamwork skills in your character. It’s also much easier to lose weight with jiu-jitsu since there’s more motivation to be consistent.

Suppose you’ve tried a gym membership, running club, or home workouts to lose weight before, with no success. In that case, you’ll know that motivation is the biggest drawback to these methods. So, what makes jiu-jitsu any different for weight loss than going to the gym or dieting?

If you’re wondering why jiu-jitsu is better for long-term weight loss, then consider these facts:

1. Jiu-Jitsu Training is Multidimensional 

If you’ve joined a jogging or cycling club to lose weight, then running or cycling is all you’ll do. Similarly, if you’ve hired a personal trainer to help you build muscle in the gym, then you’ll spend most of your time lifting weights.

Jiu-jitsu is unique in the sense that it involves multiple fitness aspects, from cardio to strength and conditioning and skill development. Jiu-jitsu training helps you with much more than just losing weight since the workouts are more multidimensional.

2. The Group Training Helps You Stay Motivated

Group training in jiu-jitsu will help you stay motivated on your weight-loss journey since most club members form close training groups. Your training partners are like family, and the peer pressure to attend every session is immense. Most people quit their gym memberships because of laziness and inconsistency, but you’ll hardly find people quitting jiu-jitsu.

Sparring or Rolling will also help you stay motivated since you’re competing against people of roughly the same level as you. If you have a little bit of competitive spirit inside you, then you’ll probably train hard the whole week just to beat your sparring partner!

After all, who wants to lose to someone smaller than them week in, week out?

3. Jiu-Jitsu Training Forces You to Eat Healthily

It’s impossible to lose weight without having a healthy diet. The top jiu-jitsu practitioners live like monks and hardly eat processed foods. No need to panic, though! You won’t need to cut out on all processed foods at once, but you’ll still need to eat healthier if you want to complete the workouts. 

You’ll probably start taking the incentive to snack healthy after you do a couple of training sessions. Once you immerse yourself in training, you won’t feel like eating unhealthy foods again! 

If you’re wondering what to eat for better performance in jiu-jitsu, then check out this expert diet advice

4. Jiu-Jitsu Encourages Positive Peer Pressure 

Jiu-jitsu classes are filled with people who are motivated, spirited, and excel at what they do. A typical class may have a few people who are obese, a few people who look as thin as sticks, and a few people with a ripped physique. Jiu-jitsu classes are for everyone, so don’t worry about fitting in.

Once you start training with people who are leaner and fitter than you are, you’ll spend more time with them in other activities as well. Most life coaches will tell you that you become like the company you keep.

It may sound strange, but by simply spending more time with jiu-jitsu professionals, you’ll start getting more motivated, and before you know it, you’ll also have a ripped physique!

How Many Calories Does A Typical Jiu-Jitsu Session Burn?

A typical jiu-jitsu workout will usually burn between 400-600 calories. An entire intensive session of 90 minutes may help you burn up to 1000 calories or more. This includes stretching, warmup, calisthenics, Rolling, technique and a cool-down session.

To put this into perspective, if you run non-stop at a 6-mile pace, you’ll burn around 550 calories an hour. This shows that jiu-jitsu is a great solution for weight loss and can help you maintain a steady calorie deficit. The high-intensity workouts and endurance requirements will also help you burn more fat.

What If I’m Too Fat For Jiu-Jitsu?

There’s no such thing as being too fat, too weak, too unfit, or too light for jiu-jitsu! This sport is for everyone, and the best clubs will welcome you regardless of your physical condition. If you’re obese, jiu-jitsu will help you lose weight faster, so why not start sooner?

The only thing that most masters require you to have is discipline and a willingness to learn. No one is born with a chiseled body, and many of the experienced practitioners you see in top clubs have been living active lifestyles for years. Who knows, maybe someone started in the same position as you?

Success Stories: How 3 People Go Into Shape Through Jiu-Jitsu

“I lost 25 pounds in a single month with jiu-jitsu”- Mark
Mark went from weighing 225 pounds down to 200 in a single month. He credits the workouts for improving his daily calorie deficit. He claims that the most significant advantage of jiu-jitsu training was better willpower, which helps him control his diet.

“I lost 80 pounds in less than 5 months by keeping my diet in check”- Marcelo
Marcelo’s story is interesting. Even though he was doing regular jiu-jitsu training, he gained around 80 pounds in 3 years! The problem was his diet which he then changed. The improved diet and daily training helped him lose 80 pounds in less than 6 months.

“I stopped smoking and lost weight with jiu-jitsu”- Phil
Phil was a smoker and overweight when he started jiu-jitsu classes. The competitive environment gave him an incentive to quit smoking within a month to improve his cardio. It was something that he couldn’t do after 10 years of trying!

These success stories make one thing clear- Jiu-jitsu is not only good for weight loss, but it also has many other benefits, including more confidence, more motivation to live a healthy lifestyle, and may help improve your diet as well.

So, next time you’re in two minds about losing weight, think to yourself: “If they can do it, so can I”!

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