Jiu-Jitsu And Muscle Building Explained

I am sure you can imagine that we get asked a lot of questions. Some of those questions spark my interest more than others. To be specific, the question for today’s article is, Does Jiu-Jitsu Build Muscle? While the question is trickier than it may seem, we will give the best answer that we can.

If you have a lot of muscle before doing jiu-jitsu, then, unfortunately, it will not build muscle but can help maintain some of it. On the flip side, if you have no muscle or very little before jiu-jitsu, then yes, jiu-jitsu will help you build a significant amount of muscle. You should add some weight training between jiu-jitsu.

In this article, we are going to take a deep dive into the subject. The article will take a look at whether or not jiu-jitsu will help build strength and muscle. We will also take a look at how jiu-jitsu gets you in shape and a lot more. So, for everything you need to know, I recommend that you keep reading.

Does Jiu-Jitsu Build Muscle?

If you already have a lot of muscle and start doing jiu-jitsu, you should not expect to build much muscle. If you have an average or below-average body and you start doing jiu-jitsu, then yes, you will put on a significant amount of muscle.

It is important to note that the amount of muscle you will put on will not be the same as if you were to go to the gym and lift heavy weights for the same amount of time.

If you already had a lot of muscle coming into jiu-jitsu, then you could actually lose some of that muscle if you do not carry on going to the gym.

That was quite a tricky answer because it is a tricky question. Not all body types are the same. One thing is for sure; jiu-jitsu does help you stay fit. Also, this martial art most definitely works certain muscles, most notably, your core. We will get into that a little bit later but for now, let’s take a look at what muscles you can expect to work at jiu-jitsu.

What Muscles Does Jiu-Jitsu Work?

We will take a look at a list that shows what muscles get worked while doing jiu-jitsu. Before we look at that list, I want you to think about grappling somebody and what muscles will be involved in you throwing that person down. With that said, let’s take a look at what muscles you work at jiu-jitsu starting from the bottom.

  • Legs: This includes your lower and upper legs.
  • Abdominals: There is a lot of rolling in Jiu-Jitsu. Also, you can expect to drop body-fat.
  • Forearms: Pushing and pulling will work your forearms.
  • Biceps: This is due to grappling.
  • Triceps: Again, pushing and pulling.
  • Shoulders: This will be rather minimal.
  • Back: A lot of your grappling will involve using your back and shoulders.

I know, when you first start thinking about it, things might not seem that obvious. However, jiu-jitsu is a grappling sport, and when you grapple, there are a lot of muscles involved in each part of the process. Even if you have been thrown to the ground, the constant rolling will work your abs.

Do You Need To Be Strong For Jiu-Jitsu?

Being strong will definitely help in jiu-jitsu. It is important to note that technique is the most important thing. You could be as strong as an ox but if somebody knows how to counter any of your moves, he will win the fight.

If you are just as skilled as your opponent that is when muscle and strength will come into play. At the same time, if your opponent is more skilled than you, it is likely that your strength will not help you against that opponent.

If you are more skilled than your opponent then you will not need big muscles. Basically, skill and technique are the most important.

Does Jiu-Jitsu Make You Stronger?

Before we start with this, I want to quickly state that strength doesn’t exactly correlate to big muscles, and big muscles don’t exactly correlate to strength.

In martial arts such as jiu-jitsu, core strength is the most important strength you need. These are also the muscles that jiu-jitsu is the most effective at strengthening.

So, just because you do jujitsu does not mean you will be able to go and bench press a phenomenal amount of weight. What it does mean is that you will become stronger than what you were beforehand.

Does Jiu-Jitsu Get You In Shape?

This is a great question and one that I can answer with a positive answer. Jiu-jitsu is extremely effective at helping people drop body fat. So, in terms of helping overweight people lose that weight, Jiu-Jitsu will help you get in shape.

If by getting in shape, you mean fitness, the answer is similar. Jiu-jitsu will increase your fitness quite significantly, I might add. Each training session can be quite cardio intensive.

Something that people tend to overlook is the importance of your state of mind. Jiu-jitsu can help clear your head of any stress that you have accumulated over the week. I know, this isn’t really what we mean by getting in shape, but it does help you stay mentally in shape.

Should You Lift Weights For Jiu-Jitsu?

As we mentioned above, having big muscles and being really strong won’t help you against an opponent better than you at jiu-jitsu. This is because they know how to use techniques to counter what you do and attack you in ways that are hard for you to counter.

However, we also stated that if you are as skilled as your opponent, strength will matter. So, yes, I would say that you should most definitely lift weights for jiu-jitsu.

Should You Lift Weights Before Or After Jiu-Jitsu?

I would say you should always lift weights before jiu-jitsu. I have always been like this. It allows you to build muscle more effectively as you are still fresh.

If you go to jiu-jitsu first, you won’t build muscle as effectively as you would if you go to the gym first. I always say you should stick to giving 70% at lifting weights and then try to give as much as you can at jiu-jitsu.

If you push really hard at both lifting weights and then jiu-jitsu or vice versa, you have a seriously high chance of picking up an injury like a muscle tear or something.

Does Size Matter In Jiu-Jitsu?

Because jiu-jitsu is a grappling sport, it teaches you effective techniques at bringing down opponents. You will learn how to bring down opponents that are taller or shorter than you. At the same time, you will learn how to bring down heavier or lighter opponents than you.

With all of that in mind, it is safe to say that jiu-jitsu is a martial art where size does not matter. The only time that it would matter is if you are as skilled as your opponent. However, I need to repeat something.

In any martial art, the technique is more important than size, strength, height, weight, or anything like that.


At the end of this day, this article can be summarised by saying jiu-jitsu will not help an already muscular person build muscle, but it will help those who need to build muscle. It is also important to remember that martial arts do not rely purely on strength but rather on skill and technique.

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