There’s a lot of people that want to do BJJ for weight loss, but are unsure whether it helps. In this list I give you 10 reasons why Brazilian jiu jitsu will help you lose weight and build lean muscle.
You are burning calories while you roll (in 2 ways)
One of the reasons why BJJ is so good for weight loss is because you are burning calories while you roll. And the best thing is that BJJ training is both aerobic exercise (a.k.a. cardio), and strength training at the same time (just like cross fit and other kinds of circuit training). This combination makes Brazilian jiu jitsu great for weight loss.
You are using your whole body in BJJ
Another reason why BJJ is good for weight loss is because you are using your whole body when you roll. You are using your legs when you are in guard or when you are passing the guard. You are using your arms when you are in side control or when you are doing a kimura from your back. You are using your core when you are setting up a sweep from your back or when you are passing the guard. What’s great about full body training for weight loss is that you can expend more calories than if you were only training your legs and you had to stop when they got tired.
You can’t quit during sparring
I always find that it’s much harder to push myself than to be pushed by someone else – especially if that someone else is trying to choke me.
I’m fairly self driven and I can usually push myself when I train alone – but it’s still hard sometimes, especially when I’m tired.
I’m always so frustrated when I go running and I think I’m running at my hardest – and then my favorite song comes on and it turns out that I could run even harder.
In Brazilian jiu jitsu I have the exact opposite experience. I’ll be nauseous and think that I’m exhausted – but then somebody almost passes me, and I don’t want to lose and get smashed, and it turns out I still have another scramble in me to try to recover.
And then another one. And then another round. And so forth, and so on. Until I’m far past what I thought I was capable of.
These long and exhausting trainings help you lose weight much quicker than you thought you could. It’s the main reason why doing a martial art like BJJ for weight loss is such a great idea.
BJJ builds muscle, and muscles burn fat
Brazilian jiu-jitsu will help you build muscle mass because you’re constantly pulling people in and pushing people away against full resistance. And building muscle mass is one of the best ways to lose weight because the muscle mass you pack on requires extra energy throughout your day, which leads to extra fat loss that you don’t even need to work for.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu promotes a healthy diet
When you become a Brazilian jiu jitsu athlete you start eating a healthier diet. This is because eating bad foods will make you feel sick during training when you are out of breath and somebody is putting their knee in your belly.
I sometimes used to eat a pack of stroopwafels (I’m Dutch) in the afternoon and I would always get so nauseous during training. I must have done this at least 50 times because I’m a slow learner. But eventually the message that my body was sending me sunk in and I stopped eating stroopwafels, and started focusing on my diet.
BJJ makes you aware of your body fat
You use and move your body in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and this makes you aware of where it is, and where you have some extra body fat.
If you never use your body at all it’s easy to gain weight without noticing. It may take two months before you look in the mirror properly and notice: ‘wow, I got fat’.
As a jiu jitsu athlete you’re always putting your body in all kinds of angles, and if you have surplus body fat you’ll quickly notice that some movements become harder. So you’ll realize this quickly, and be motivated to start working on your fat loss right away.
Jiu jitsu helps you meet healthy people
There’s a lot of research showing that being part of a group of active people helps you stick to a healthy lifestyle. The BJJ community is filled with people that are active, healthy and that focus on a specific diet to increase their BJJ performance (such as the Gracie diet). Being a part of this community can definitely help you with your weight loss goal and to stay in shape in the long run.
BJJ Competitions require weight cuts
You probably won’t do competitions within your first year of BJJ. But if you stick around longer, you’ll probably consider competing at some point.
And when you consider competing, you’ll be confronted with the weight classes. This is because body weight impacts performance in BJJ a lot.
Now, since almost every BJJ athlete is an amateur, you shouldn’t do a weight cut where you dehydrate yourself or anything like that.
But, you don’t want to carry a lot of extra fat around if that’s going to put you in a higher weight class.
Therefore, most people in BJJ always keep one eye on their weight, even when they’re not actively competing. They always want to stay within their weight class – just in case.
The jiu jitsu uniform exposes and motivates you
BJJ clothing is very revealing. Either you wear a gi without a rash guard, in which case your torso is visible every time you lose your belt (which is all the time).
Or, you wear a rashguard, which is extremely tight fitting. So if you’re in great shape the rashguard makes you feel great, but if you’re in bad shape it makes you feel terrible.
You’ll be in this outfit several times per week, year round. And it’s silly, but that’s just very motivating. Just like people that get motivated by the summer to get their ‘beach body’ ready.
BJJ is fun – so it’s easy to keep going
The biggest upside of Brazilian jiu-jitsu compared to for example jogging and fitness is that it’s just a lot more fun.
It’s play fighting – just like what you used to do when you were a kid.
And there are an infinite amount of techniques to learn and you’ll notice that you get better over time. So you’re not only getting in shape, you’re also learning a skill.
You’ll also enjoy the camaraderie, rivalry and friends you make on the mat. And these friends are the main reason that you keep coming back to training which in the long run will help you lose more weight.
Final thoughts on BJJ for weight loss
Brazilian jiu jitsu can be an awesome vehicle for building lean muscle mass, burning calories and achieving fat loss.
But more importantly, Brazilian jiu jitsu is an amazing martial art that will set you on a personal journey. Through hard training, setbacks, and eventually successes, you’ll gain something much more important than weight loss – It will give you a positive mental attitude, confidence and high self esteem.