Will BJJ Get You In Shape

Are you looking for a new hobby that can get you in shape quick, help you drop some extra pounds and even put a bit of muscle on you? In this article we will explore if BJJ is the right sport to help you achieve your fitness goals.

Will BJJ get you in shape? Yes, BJJ will get you in shape. BJJ is a highly intensive anaerobic workout where you can expect to burn 500-700 calories per hour. BJJ will also improve your cardio as your HR max will be tested and help you build muscle as the movements stress particularly your back, legs, abs, arms and shoulders.

Losing Weight

Lets face it as we get older it can be easy to become ill disciplined with diet and exercise. This combined with our metabolism slowing down as we age can result in us stacking on the pounds. A lot of us could benefit from losing a bit of extra weight, our hearts will thank us. Exercise is an effective way to lose weight however it is often boring which can make it hard to give it your all consistently.

What if there was a way to get a highly intensive workout that was fun and addicting? This is where BJJ comes in. BJJ is a great workout. The all body nature of the sport means that it is easy to burn a lot of calories in a quick amount of time. While training BJJ you can expect to burn 500-700 calories per hour, with each BJJ session typically lasting 90 mins you can expect to lose 1000 plus calories every time you hit the mats. Which is great if you are looking for an efficient way to shed the pounds.

There are lots of sports which are highly intensive and result in you burning the same if not more calories than BJJ. Where BJJ has an advantage over other sports and forms of exercises is its addictive nature. BJJ is extremely fun. Many athletes talk about trying BJJ for the first time and becoming addicted, training everyday. It is common to meet BJJ athletes who have been training for 10 plus years and still love being in the gym day after day.

Consistency is such an important part of exercise if your goal is weight loss. If exercise is something you actually love and is a highlight of your day then your weight loss goals are going to be easy to reach. This is why BJJ is such a great tool to shed those extra pounds because not only will it burn a lot of calories but you won’t be able to stop training.

Improving Cardio

To develop your cardio you need to push your heart rate and hold a high heart rate for a prolonged time. To achieve this you require intensity. Many sports lack the intensity for your heart rate to reach the training zone (80% of max HR) where cardio gains are most effectively acquired. BJJ does not suffer from a lack of intensity.

BJJ is a highly intensive workout. After training you will be gasping for air and drenched in sweat. If you want to improve your cardio you need to push yourself to uncomfortable territory. BJJ provides this opportunity in abundance.

A BJJ athlete wore a heart rate monitor while training BJJ. He conducted 7 six minute rounds of sparring (athletes have mock matches against training partners). During the sparring session the athlete was able to maintain a heart rate of over 80% of his max in all of his rounds. His average heart rate was 165 which is approximately 85% of his max. If you are looking for cardio performance improvement this is exactly what you want, 42 minutes of training where you can maintain 80% plus of your max heart rate.

Increased Coordination

A lot of us sit in offices all day and live in big cities. In this environment it is easy to become unathletic and uncoordinated as there is little need to use our physical attributes. However this is an unnatural way to live. Our bodies need to be stimulated and be forced to move and adapt to different situations. Our bodies enjoy moving and solving different physical problems. If you are looking for a way to increase your coordination BJJ may be the answer.

BJJ techniques involve multiple steps. It is not uncommon for a BJJ technique to have 5 plus key details you need to perform for the move to work. Often the technique will completely breakdown and fail if even one step is slightly incorrect. Even though this is the source of much frustration for BJJ athletes when they are learning new techniques it is also a source of enjoyment and a great opportunity to improve their coordination.

Not only are there often multiple physical steps in BJJ techniques but the movements involved are often foreign and difficult to grasp. It can take beginners a number of months before they can perform some of the more challenging movements adequately. Even advanced students can struggle to develop fluidity when performing some movements. BJJ will force you to improve your coordination if you want to execute the techniques.

If you can perform multiple foreign physical movements fluidly combined resulting in the successful execution of a technique while facing resistance you will have developed a high level of coordination superior to the average person.

Building Muscle

Who doesn’t want to add a bit of muscle to their frames. We all would look better with a bit of extra muscle. Building muscle is not an easy thing. The human body does not want to adapt and generate extra muscle growth as this a strenuous process and it is more difficult for the human body to maintain a higher level of muscle (requires more calories and rest). To increase muscle mass you need to shock your body through high intensity exercise. This tricks your body into believing it needs this extra muscle to survive.

BJJ is a great way to build muscle as it is an all body workout. BJJ will develop your arms and shoulders as you are constantly squeezing and pulling on your opponent’s body. It will develop your legs and back as you maintain a strong posture and push off the mat to explode in and out of positions. BJJ will develop your abs as all the movements require high amounts of abdominal control and strength.

Increased Flexibility

Many of us are sitting in chairs all day. This has a terrible effect on our flexibility. The average person has very poor flexibility. This can cause chronic pain, effect your posture, breathing and overall well being. We could all benefit from improving our flexibility. BJJ is a great tool to help you become more flexible.

BJJ has been called involuntary Yoga. You will soon fight your limbs stretched further than you thought they could go whether you like it or not. BJJ is all about controlling your opponent through grabbing and moving your opponent. Your body will be forced to increase its flexibility when your training partner’s start rearranging your limbs.

To perform many BJJ techniques you need to have a certain level of flexibility. Wrapping your legs and arms around your opponent’s body requires more mobility than you need to live your day to day life. Don’t worry if you aren’t flexible now. You will start with basic movements and as your body increases its range of motion you will be able to advance to more complex and challenging techniques.

Here is a great video by Lachlan Giles showing you how to increase your flexibility


How To Optimize BJJ Training To Get In Shape

Here a few tips for you to follow when training BJJ to ensure you reach your fitness goals efficiency and quickly:

  • Train consistently – the more you train the more your body will respond and develop, aim for at least 3 times a week but the more the better, 6 days a week will fast track your results
  • Don’t cheat yourself – BJJ is challenging it can be tempting to take it easy, skip push ups, avoid learning challenging techniques, sit out of sparring after a few rounds, if you want to achieve your goals push yourself
  • Try your best – BJJ can be frustrating, you will fail, you will think about quitting, just try your best, don’t take it close to heart and give it your all
  • Enjoy the process – weight loss, building muscle, increasing athleticism all these things take time, just enjoy the small improvements you make along the way and you will be shocked how much progress you can make within 6 months to a year


BJJ will get you in shape. BJJ will help you lose weight, build muscle, increase flexibility and increase coordination. If you want to maximize your results from BJJ you need to try your best and train hard. Do not cheat on your push ups. Do not give up if you are struggling to learn a new technique. Do not avoid tough training partners during sparring. Good luck with your BJJ training and your fitness goals.

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