There are so many ways of training your body, with new ones coming out constantly, created by ingenious people trying to get a piece of the pie that is the fitness industry. But martial arts and BJJ, in particular, are time-tested ways that offer much more than just fitness. But still, how good of a workout is BJJ?
BJJ is a great workout and can be more than enough for most people. It works the whole body and energy systems, improving cardio, strength, flexibility, and mobility. It will help you get in shape and burn fat while you learn physical and mental skills applicable to real life.
But let’s leave all the other things aside for now and focus on exactly how good BJJ is as a workout and how training on the mats will affect your fitness level.
BJJ is an excellent full-body workout involving all energy systems in the body and all muscles. The beauty of martial arts is that they aren’t just a way to get fit but offer much more in teaching discipline, practical combat skills, values, and so much more.
Even in the pure fitness sense, Brazilian jiu-jitsu offers more benefits than many other sports solely for health benefits. What makes BJJ so good of a workout is the sheer variety of movements and demands on the body, which develop many qualities.
As much as the term functional training is frowned upon by some professionals, it is an excellent way to describe movements and methods of creating resistance that resembles or mimics real movements you do in sports or day-to-day tasks.
In every typical BJJ class, you will crawl, roll, push, pull, bridge, kneel, and tug, challenging your body and nervous system to adapt to all kinds of movements.
What Does BJJ Do To Your Body
Injuries are inevitable once you start rolling (I am yet to see a person practicing ANY sport for a significant period who hasn’t been injured). Still, the benefits outweigh the negatives by a thousand to one in my eyes.
BJJ gives you a treasure trove of qualities and skills that cross over into all aspects of life, but here we will look at the purely physical benefits. The additional “hidden” benefit to the fitness gains is how interesting and engaging it is to train BJJ.
I also cross-train and do a lot of other activities. Still, nothing is as engaging as martial arts, and doing something you love often means you will continue doing it instead of doing something just because you know you have to.
Working for 90 minutes, including various warm-ups, stretches, drills, and sparring, will get your heart working at various rates. At least half the time is usually spent in “cardio” territory, meaning a relatively low and steady heart rate, which will improve your cardiovascular condition and overall health.
Moving at a much higher pace and level of exertion while rolling will raise your heart rate near the maximum, improve all energy systems, and increase lung capacity and recovery times.
Flexibility and Mobility
Being supple, mobile, and coordinated will help you move and feel better and aid in longevity. Techniques involved in BJJ will move your body in all kinds of directions and planes, improving flexibility and mobility.
And because flexibility and mobility are essential in jiu-jitsu, nearly all classes have some form of stretching and mobility exercise incorporated into the training regimen.
Strength and Endurance
BJJ training will not get you big muscles but will steadily and surely strengthen many muscles. You will see the most significant gains in the forearms and grip strength from the constant gripping and pulling. Even without a single grip strength exercise, your hands will become like pliers in time.
The arms and torso also see a lot of work in BJJ. Attempting chokes, maintaining a position, pummeling, and escaping bad positions like mount all require strength which is gradually developed by practicing the moves.
The sheer variety of drills, exercises, and live sparring in each BJJ session makes it a great full-body workout. While you may need to supplement it with other forms of resistance training if you want the optimal result for both visuals and performance, BJJ is a fantastic way to get in shape and enough of a workout for many people.
Can You Lose Weight With BJJ
Not only can you, but you will lose weight with BJJ if your diet is good. The formula for losing weight is simple: burn more calories than you consume. The intake part of the equations is a profound topic on its own, but BJJ will surely help you with the burning.
People have different caloric variables determined by weight, sex, and age. Then each person may burn a different number of calories per session depending on how intensely he is training or how hot and humid the conditions are.
The average person burns around 500–700 calories per training session, but this may not be what you will burn. Male grapplers are heavier and burn more calories, while women usually burn fewer. Calculating exactly how many calories you burn is nearly impossible, but be sure that if your eating is relatively on point, you will lose weight with BJJ.
Is BJJ Strength or Cardio?
BJJ is cardio and strength training. The muscles in the whole body are under a lot of stress and tension, meaning it develops strength, and it is a form of strength training especially for the needs of the sport. After all, strength training is not only lifting weights.
We’ve already touched on the cardio element of BJJ. Staying at elevated heart rates for nearly 90 minutes and going into different intensities ticks all the boxes for cardio training, so you can expect growth in all physical aspects just by drilling and sparring.
BJJ is a great way to get in shape. Physical exercises, stretching, technical drills, and live sparring are all part of BJJ training and will develop excellent physical attributes. Couple it with a solid diet and a complementary strength training program, and you will be ready for everything on and off the mats.