Is Jiu-Jitsu a Good Workout? (What You NEED to Know)

Is Jiu-Jitsu a Good Workout?

Jiu-Jitsu may be an activity you have only seen or heard of in movies, but it is actually quite popular for many reasons. Jiu-Jitsu is a specific type of martial arts that has existed for thousands of years. It differentiates itself from the typical martial arts because instead of focusing on strikes or kicks, jiu-jitsu is more focused on close contact moves against an opponent. In fact, Jiu-Jitsu requires so much strategy that it is often compared to human chess!

Jiu-Jitsu is an effective aerobic exercise and an all-around great workout. It is shown to increase muscle tone and strength and increase flexibility. Jiu-Jitsu helps build muscles in your arms, torso, and core. Additional benefits of practicing Jiu-Jitsu include learning self-defense, building confidence, and improving mental clarity. Experts say that three times per week is ideal for training.

Now that we have briefly touched on the elements of Jiu-Jitsu that make this activity a great workout. In this article, we will dive deeper into those details. Let’s dig in!

Why is Jiu-Jitsu a Good Workout?

We’ve established that Jiu-Jitsu is a great workout for a few different reasons. It is shown to increase muscle tone and strength, is great for cardiovascular health, and increases flexibility.

It is difficult to pinpoint just how many calories you will burn during a session of Jiu-Jitsu due to the variety of movements performed. However, on average, around 720 calories are burned after performing Jiu-Jitsu for one hour. That’s a great way to reach your fitness goals!

Caloric burn during an activity will vary for each person individually. This is due to a few factors such as height, weight, intensity of activity, gender, etc. Below is a chart that compares the average amount of caloric burn of Jiu-Jitsu to a few other activities, just to give you an idea of just how good of a workout this is!

ActivityCalories Burned
Ice Skating504
Martial Arts (Jiu-Jitsu)720

Is Jiu-Jitsu Good for Cardio?

Jiu-Jitsu is a dynamic workout that involves many different movements including pushing, pulling, and holding. Jiu-Jitsu is about responding to your partner’s movements quickly. These quick movements increase your heart rate, making Jiu-Jitsu an effective aerobic exercise and great for cardio.

Aerobic or cardiovascular exercises are important for maintaining health, as these types of exercises promote heart health. Additionally, this type of activity promotes weight loss.

Is Jiu-Jitsu Good for Building Muscle?

Because of the explosive nature of jiu-jitsu, it is also a great workout for building strength and muscle tone as well as cardiovascular health. Jiu-Jitsu requires the use of multiple body areas for each session. The repeated action of these sessions leads to increased strength over time.

To explain, we’ll go into more detail on which muscle groups are primarily used during Jiu-Jitsu.

1. Arms

Your biceps, triceps, and forearms will play a large part in the muscles used during Jiu-Jitsu. Explosive movements from the arms will engage these muscles. Your arms will be the body part that you notice the muscle definition in first when beginning Jiu-Jitsu.

2. Upper Torso

The upper torso consists of muscles such as the trapezius, deltoid, and pectoral muscles, which you’ll find in your shoulders and chest. Just like your arms, these muscles are involved in creating the power behind the explosive movements that help you react to your opponent’s grips.

3. Core

Core strength is associated with power and balance. Both of these elements are key in the practice of Jiu-Jitsu. The more you train, the stronger your core will become allowing you to escape from an opponent and provide more power to your own moves.

4. Lower Torso

The lower torso is engaged while practicing Jiu-Jitsu because of the footwork that comes into play during a session. Holding your knee or foot in place to gain leverage against your opponent activates your lower abdomen in ways that people may not be aware of before participating in Jiu-Jitsu.

Can I Lose Weight Practicing Jiu-Jitsu?

Losing weight involves the number of calories burned and consumed. With the high number of calories being burned during a session of Jiu-Jitsu, losing weight is very common among those who practice it.

Beginners usually lose about 15-20 pounds in the first six months of doing Jiu-Jitsu. Of course, this number depends on a few different factors such as gender, age, intensity, and diet.

How Many Times a Week Should You Practice Jiu-Jitsu?

As we mentioned before, Jiu-Jitsu is a dynamic, explosive, all-encompassing workout for not only your body but your mind as well. For a beginner, it is best to start off with 2 to 3 sessions per week. Overexerting yourself will hinder your ability to recover and improve moving forward.

Experts say that three times per week for training is the “sweet spot”. This allows you to properly recover and remember what you learned from the last session, which results in rapid improvement.

Benefits of Practicing Jiu-Jitsu

Beyond physical health, there is a multitude of other benefits that come along with practicing Jiu-Jitsu. This activity has been shown to have mental benefits such as confidence and mental clarity. Below are a few of the top benefits to those who practice: 


This is one of the top reasons individuals begin practicing Jiu-Jitsu.

Self-defense is an important skill that could come in handy in a real-life critical situation. The basics of Jiu-Jitsu teach elements of self-defense such as survival techniques and restraining and immobilizing opponents. This is a valuable benefit to anyone.

Build Confidence

With the ability to defend yourself comes self-confidence. Part of the training is learning how to overcome obstacles and weaknesses in order to turn them into strengths. Mastering techniques and levels of skill build confidence.

Mental Clarity

Jiu-Jitsu improves one’s quality of life in many ways. Part of the practice is learning traits to be humble, patient, and act with humility. These properties, coupled with the stress-relieving element of exercising combine to provide mental clarity and peace of mind.

Disadvantages of Practicing Jiu-Jitsu

Jiu-Jitsu, although very beneficial, is not without its disadvantages as well. Just like any activity, it may not be the right fit for everyone. Below is a list of disadvantages of Jiu-Jitsu:

Mastering The Moves

For a person who is used to quickly dominating an activity, Jiu-Jitsu will be an adjustment. For most, it will take about 1 year to learn the basic movements and then 3 years to master them. Earning a black belt takes 8-10 years of practice.

Rate of Injury

Jiu-Jitsu, compared to other martial arts, has a low rate of injury. But, compared to other activities such as running, walking, biking, etc. the rate of injury is much higher due to the nature of the activity.

Real-Life Readiness

While practicing Jiu-Jitsu will give you confidence when it comes to self-defense, it will not fully prepare you. Most practicers will use mixed variations of other martial arts to fully prepare themselves for an attack. For example, Jiu-Jitsu focuses on grappling and getting your opponent to the ground, while other activities focus on striking, punching, and kicking to defend yourself.

Tips to Get Started in Jiu-Jitsu

Starting a new physical activity can seem daunting. On top of learning the proper form and technique, learning the social norms, culture, and dynamics of the sport are important as well.

  • Cut Fingernails and Toenails Short: while this step might not seem like a big deal, it is important to have short nails in order to prevent injury to your opponent. Long nails can cause cuts and scratches while practicing.
  • Take Drilling Seriously: drilling may be the boring and tedious part of doing Jiu-Jitsu but learning and mastering these basics are important to the success of your sparring sessions.
  • Ask Questions: asking questions might seem intimidating during class sessions but making sure you fully understand the lesson is essential to moving up within the levels of Jiu-Jitsu.
  • Be Patient with Progress: it might get discouraging when you feel as though you haven’t made progress in an activity, but don’t sweat this. It can take years to master Jiu-Jitsu. Take it session by session and focus on the small positives and improvements you see within yourself! Most of all, it’s about having fun!

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Exercises

Strength and conditioning are an important part of being successful in Jiu-Jitsu. There are a few movements specifically that you can focus on to best prepare for a session. These exercises target the muscle groups that are used during Jiu-Jitsu.

  1. Pull-Ups: pull-ups work your upper body, including your back, arms, and chest. This comes in handy when you use your arms for explosive Jiu-Jitsu movements. Pull-ups also strengthen your grip, which is especially important for grappling in Jiu-Jitsu.
  2. Dumbbell Press: this exercise will work your chest, as well as your triceps and shoulders. Working the chest is important as it is the power behind your arm movements.
  3. Squats: having a proper squat routine can be very beneficial. Squats give strength to the core, glutes, hips, and calves. Additionally, squats lower the risk of injuring your knees and ankles.
  4. Deadlifts: deadlifts activate your core and strengthen your hip flexors. It’s also proven that deadlifts can reduce the risk of lower back pains.
  5. Burpees: because Jiu-Jitsu is so dynamic, we had to throw a cardio killer into this. Burpees are a power-packed movement that has several benefits when it comes to cardiovascular health. You can count on a stronger heart and lungs after doing a few rounds of these.

Choosing Nutrition Team

Here at Choosing Nutrition, our goal is to help people with making smarter food choices. Whether you're wondering about vegan, keto, paleo, or other diets, we'll help you determine which options fit your nutritional lifestyle. Our staff is composed of registered dieticians, nutritionists, and health-conscious individuals.

Recent Posts