Will BJJ get you in Shape? How good of a workout is BJJ?

Approx Reading Time: 7 minutes
bjj workout

Doing some martial arts are a great way to get in shape. Others not so much. Which one is BJJ?

Will BJJ get you in shape? BJJ will get you in shape eventually but not as fast as other combat sports. Although BJJ is a great workout for the whole body, aerobic sports such as kickboxing or muay thai that focus on your endurance will get you in shape much quicker.

What sport is the best for you also depends on what you mean by getting in shape. If you want to build pure strength and explosiveness wrestling is the best combat sport for that. If you want to lose weight and build lean muscle mass (this is what most people mean by getting in shape) then kickboxing or muay thai will bring you the quickest results.

But there are some reasons why you may want to choose BJJ over those sports which we’ll discuss in a minute. Don’t get me wrong BJJ will also make you lose weight and build some muscle mass. The problem is that it may not be as fast as most people expect. That’s because of several reasons:

  • BJJ it’s mostly anaerobic workout. That means it focuses on building endurance and isometric strength. And building mostly core, grip, and pulling strength in the arms. And that’s not very effective when it comes to weight loss as high pace endurance workouts.
  • BJJ focuses mostly on the ground game. Unlike wrestlers who always start in a standing position, BJJ practitioners almost all the times start sparring on the ground. That is cool – it helps you focus on your skills on the ground but it’s a little lazy. And that’s why wrestlers are generally stronger than BJJ practitioners.

If you want to learn more about why you should choose BJJ regardless of the things I just mentioned and also how to train in order to get in shape as quickly as possible, continue reading.

Why you Should Choose BJJ

BJJ may not be the fastest but it’s one of the most fun ways to lose weight/get in shape. Once you start getting good at it, it becomes addictive. And that makes the task much easier. You may get in shape by doing regular fitness exercises but the hard. But it’s much harder to keep yourself in shape especially if you find those exercises boring. Sooner or later you’ll quit.

That’s one of the reasons sports are a much better way to lose weight/ get in shape in my opinion than regular exercises in the gym.

When doing something you love, you’ll do it regardless of the results you see. That way when doing BJJ, learning and perfecting your technique and tapping people out become your priorities while getting in shape/losing weight became a secondary goal.

I know some people who started BJJ to lose weight but they fell in love with it in the process and still practice in, many years since their main goal is accomplished. BJJ (and combat sports in general) are awesome for people who are struggling to keep themselves motivated while getting in shape.

I know I said I find kickboxing the best martial art when it comes to getting in shape fast but BJJ has some advantages over it. For example, in BJJ you can spar (roll) with whoever you want no matter how good he/she is and not being scared of getting hurt.

BJJ is a very gentle sport and much better people can beat you (make you tap) without even hurting you. As soon as it starts to hurt you just tap and it’s over.

That’s often not the case in kickboxing. It’s a full-contact sport, and often you may get kicked or punched hard while doing sparring. It sucks and some people quit the sport because of this.

Of course, you can start doing fitness kickboxing. Those are kickboxing classes where people don’t spar and they focus more on physical exercises rather than technique. That’s an option for some people but I think it’s a stupid idea because it can still become boring at some point and you’ll learn almost zero skills when it comes to self-defense.

BJJ is the Best Self-defense Sport

BJJ is extremely effective on people who never rolled. That’s why it’s the best sport/martial art for self-defense. So that’s another reason why you should choose it. When it comes to getting in shape there’s nothing better than doing it while learning skills that may actually be very useful to you one day.

How Effective is BJJ for getting in shape?

As I mentioned, I know some people who lost a lot of weight doing BJJ. It won’t make your muscles huge but it’ll help you gain some lean muscle mass.

There was a time when I was doing boxing and BJJ in a same day, 3 times a week. At that time I started to become really lean. My six-pack started showing which happened 2 times in my life (the first time I was super skinny). I am generally in good shape but not so shredded.

I don’t know if it was because of BJJ or boxing or the combination of both but it was working pretty well.

Another cool thing about BJJ is that you workout in a group. There’s no way to be lazy, to rest a little longer than you should or to skip a technique/roll. And we all sometimes skip a set or rest longer when training by our own in the gym

How to Train for BJJ and Get in Shape

BJJ competitors do strength and conditioning workouts 2-3 times a week. So I recommend you do that too in addition to your BJJ training. 1-2 times a week of some free weight exercises such as push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups or some running and weightlifting, if you are in those types of activities, will make you get in shape much quicker.

When it comes to how many times a week you should od BJJ, I think 3 times for someone with a 9-5 job are fine. That way you’ll body will have enough time to recover between the workouts.

Also, the way to train for BJJ is very important too. During training, you don’t have, much control over what you do. The trainer usually tells you exactly which techniques to drill and for how long.

But in the end, when it’s time for sparring (rolling), there are some things you can do to get in shape quicker:

1. Try to start in a standing position from time to time. Ask your partner if he/she is ok with that. Starting in a standing position is requires much more effort – taking your opponent down, defending takedowns and because of it, it’s a much better workout.

2. Try to avoid pulling guard and spending most of the time on your back. Usually, the person who is on top works harder because he is the one who needs to pass the guard and apply pressure. Of course, workout on your defense and submissions of your back but spend most of your time attacking and trying to get a top position. That isn’t just useful for getting in shape faster but also in terms of self-defense.

3. Be explosive and work. The more explosive you are the more energy you spend and the quicker you get in shape. Do that as often as possible but don’t be too aggressive while doing it – make sure you don’t injure or hurt your sparring partner.

Follow those tips when training for BJJ and you’ll get in shape much quicker.


One of the drawbacks of BJJ as a sport for getting in shape is injuries. They happen often and in 90% of the time, they are caused by stupid sparring partners who are too aggressive/inexperienced.

My tips are to avoid rolling with such people and to go to classes where there aren’t many of them. Usually, morning classes are visited by more experienced people while in the evening classes there are a lot of newbies.

That is different for the different academies so I recommend taking a look at which classes people are more experienced and visiting them. More experienced people know how to train without injuring themselves or their sparring partners.

Dimitar Ivanov

Just a hardcore MMA fan and practitioner who wants to share some info with the world.