Do you Build Muscles with Jiu Jitsu

Jiu Jitsu is a martial art and if it is a martial art, it is just reasonable that it contains various exercises and drills aimed to get you stronger. It is obvious that while some people who do Jiu Jitsu is because they want to win competitions, some are for the aesthetic benefits it does to a person’s body. But does Jiu Jitsu really make you lean and build muscles?

Jiu Jitsu helps you build muscles in a balanced way. It has a complete set of drills and exercises while training that will build almost all muscle groups which will increase power and muscle mass. However, the muscle growth benefit it can give can’t be compared to real strength training.

If it can build muscle, what specific muscle groups can it improve? Does it burn fat and make you look ripped? Is it a good cardio workout? There are still some questions that we need to expand this topic so that you will have a better understanding on what can Jiu Jitsu do to our body.

Does Jiu Jitsu Build Muscles?

Jiu Jitsu builds muscles. The muscle growth is regularly seen in people who have no previous strength training. This is because of the various exercises and training the gym focuses on targeting large muscle groups, which can help release growth hormone.

The link between targeting large muscle group has been well documented by science and by muscle builders.

It has been shown that exercise will increase growth hormone and muscles will become bigger.

Growth hormone is an anabolic hormone. In short, it will build or make your body bigger. You can have a boost in growth hormone by doing exercises, especially exercises that targets large muscle groups.

The growth hormone increase in athletes has been well documented in a research article published in Sports Medicine titled: “The Exercise-Induced Growth Hormone Response in Athletes.”

Source: Godfrey, Richard J., et al. “The Exercise-Induced Growth Hormone Response in Athletes.” Sports Medicine, vol. 33, no. 8, 2003, pp. 599–613. Crossref, doi:10.2165/00007256-200333080-00005.

However, Jiu Jitsu can’t be compared to specific muscle training. For example, you can’t compare the muscle growth you can get by doing Jiu Jitsu on your triceps with a training regimen specifically made for triceps.

The big example of this is when body builders try to do Jiu Jitsu, they still need to do strength training on top of Jiu Jitsu to maintain their muscle mass.

If you are looking for a martial art in which there is a balance between muscle growth, then Jiu Jitsu is a good choice.

The meaning of balance in this is that we are talking about the same amount of muscle growth for all including your abs and core, arms and shoulder, and leg muscles.

In short, a full body workout.

Muscles that Jiu Jitsu Build

We are in a sub section of the muscles that Jiu Jitsu can Build. In here, you will see all the muscle groups Jiu Jitsu can build .

This means that if your goal is not having that body builder type of body, the muscle growth Jiu Jitsu can build is enough.

Let us check the muscle groups Jiu Jitsu can build one by one.

1. Abs and Core Muscles

Abs and Core are the key fundamentals in Jiu Jitsu.

While you will see body builders do various types of planks to build their core, in Jiu Jitsu, these muscles are always trained especially when you start rolling.

Rolling in Jiu Jitsu is sparring.

A lot of moves in Jiu Jitsu focuses on your balance, and how you will use your balance to maintain your position.

This strengthens your core muscles including your abs.

That’s why Jiu Jitsu Practitioners always have good flexibility and strength on the mat. Their core muscles are well trained.

2. Arm and Shoulder Muscles

People always focus on core when Jiu Jitsu that they often forget that it is also a good exercise for you arms and shoulders.

You will see Jiu Jitsu practitioners with good musle growth on their arms and shoulders.

This is because Jiu Jitsu uses pull and push techniques in their matches.

Basically, these push and pull techniques makes your arms stronger.

Also, the Joint locks and grapple from Jiu Jitsu will also strengthen these muscles.

3. Leg Muscles

Jiu Jitsu is not famous for leg exercises.

This is because there are martial arts that focus on kicks and strikes so their focus is on their leg muscles.

Because remember that Jiu Jitsu is well balance. It has training in making your lower body stronger because you will need them to force enemies into submission.

Also, shrimp is a good exercise for your lower body especially the hip portion.

You need to strengthen your lower body to increase your balance, which what Jiu Jitsu focuses on when training.

Can you get ripped doing Jiu Jitsu?

You can get ripped while doing Jiu Jitsu. This is because not only it will make your muscles bigger, which will help burn more fat, but also will give you a nice cardio workout. It is normal to see people in Jiu Jitsu running out of breath and this helps burn more fat.

It may simply look running out of breathe, but that is what cardio exercises are all about.

You will always hear gym instructors teaching that you need to tire yourself out till out of breath. That way, you will burn a lot of calories.

That’s exactly what Jiu Jitsu is doing.

If it is your first time in Jiu Jitsu, you will notice running out of breath easily. This is a workout. A cardio workout designed to burn more fat.

Another is your muscle growth.

Over time, you will see good muscle growth within your body.

Bigger muscles mean bigger calorie usage. So you will burn more fat while even resting.

But take note that exercise is just 20% of the equation because to get ripped, diet and frequency of eating is way more important.

What does Jiu Jitsu do to your body?

These are what Jiu Jitsu do to your body:

  1. Improves Strength and Power
  2. Improves Stamina
  3. Improves Flexibility
  4. Improves Balance
  5. Burns Fat

Jiu Jitsu increases the strength of your body, it also increase your stamina because it is needed on rolls and drills. The warm ups and stretches are also there to improve your flexibility. Its core exercises will significantly improve your flexibility and balance. Finally the exercises will burn more fat.

Does Jiu Jitsu improve cardio?

Jiu Jitsu will improve cardio function. This is because their drills and rolls are specifically designed to tire you out and make you run out of breath. These types of workout will improve your cardio function, and why you are feeling that you have a higher heart rate after Jiu Jitsu classes.

Most of us think of running, jogging and walking to improve cardio. Others will do HIIT training.

These are cardio training.

Basically, anything that uses more oxygen than usual and makes your heart pump more is a type of cardio.

As you will see in a Jiu Jitsu class, there will be people running out of breath maybe on the drills or after the rolls.

This means that their heart is working more and it is a form of cardio session.

Remember that cardio is not always about running, anything that involved heart pumping more blood at a faster rate is a cardio exercise.

That is also the reason why Jiu Jitsu Black Belters have a high endurance and stamina. This is because they built their cardio function through years of practicing Jiu Jitsu.

If you are wondering how strong black belters are, you may check out this article where I break down how strong Jiu Jitsu Black Belters are: How strong are Jiu Jitsu Black Belters

Conclusion and Key Takeaway

Jiu Jitsu will definitely build your muscles to a certain extent, plus the amount training you do will also improve your cardio. However, building muscles with Jiu Jitsu has its limit. You will not have that big muscle builder body with Jiu Jitsu alone.

The good thing about Jiu Jitsu is it does not just focus on one muscle and leave the other. It is a well balanced exercise so you will expect growth on all major muscle groups leaving you with a balance ripped body.

The reason for getting ripped is because of the intense cardio exercises involved especially when doing drills and rolls,. Plus, bigger muscles will burn more fat even when resting.

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Welcome to my recommended list of Jiu-Jitsu gear.

In this section, you are going to see my recommended Jiu-Jitsu gears both for beginners and pros.

Grappling Shorts

When getting some grappling shorts, you first need to understand that the thing we are looking for in grappling shorts is the ones that will provide flexibility.

This means that we are not looking at designs but what we are looking for is how comfortable it is and if you can do a full range of motions while wearing the shorts.

If that’s the case, I recommend an IBJJF approved grappling short which has no pockets that can interfere with rolls, and most importantly, allows a full range of motion. This can help you in rolls since you need to have fluid motions to do some maneuvers.

Here is the link for the product: BJJ Shorts

Grappling Spats

Grappling spats are a great alternative to Grappling shorts and are sometimes used in conjunction with Grappling shorts.

The reason for using a Grappling spat is to prevent friction.

Remember that BJJ is focused on rolls, locks, and takedowns. This is prone to friction that can cause injuries such as burns and mat cuts.

In choosing a good pair of grappling spats, you need to take note that it is important that it is also flexible so you can easily do some full-range motions while rolling.

Furthermore, since you will be covering your whole legs with it, it is important for it to absorb some sweat while still being comfortable for the wearer.

If that’s the case, I recommend these Grappling Spats which are very stretchable making them good for fluid motion. Furthermore, it is well made to handle friction which prevents any unwanted injuries.

Lastly, its cloth is breathable which means that it is very comfortable for your skin.

Here is the link for the product: Grappling Spats


Think of a rash guard as the grappling spat for the upper body.

Rashguard helps in preventing friction that can cause injuries such as mat cuts and burns.

When finding one, it is important to find a comfortable rash guard which is breathable. Furthermore, have one that allows a full range of motion.

Thus, I recommend this rash guard which does all of the functions I’ve said: Rashguard

Knee and Elbow Pads

Personally, I am a victim of a knee injury. That’s why I always tell people to use knee and elbow pads when doing some physically intensive activities such as BJJ.

Because of my injuries, I can’t really last long with any sort of long physical activity.

So, while it is often neglected, I believe that Knee and Elbox pads are important.

Good Knee and Elbow pads are supposed to be comfortable while still providing maximum protection to both your elbows and knees.

Thus, I recommend these safety gears:

Ear Protectors

There are lots of cauliflower ear incidents with BJJ practitioners.

Even if this is quite an unpopular safety gear, it is important as we are preventing friction that can come from rolls.

In choosing an ear protector, you do not need to get something that protects you from strikes. Striking is usually not allowed.

So, what’s important is to find something that is very lightweight and protects you from friction.

If that’s the case, then you may opt for this which is really useful and won’t look weird on rolls: Ear Guards

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