Does Brazilian jiu jitsu give as good a workout as muay thai
January 15, 2009 7:31 PM   Subscribe

Martial arts filter: Over the course of eight months, muay thai, along with eating right made a phenomenal change for my body. In your experience has Brazilian jiu jitsu, or any grappling-based martial arts done the same?

I ask bc I want to learn to grapple. My only hang up is if I have to get a gym membership to stay in shape, it's not worth it for me. BJJ looks physically taxing, but I wonder whether it builds muscle, and induces a cardio workout like muay thai does. Any thoughts? please share.
posted by helios410 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There is staying in shape and there is getting in better shape. I have done a variety of martial arts including judo, aikido, and kendo and they have not added much muscle to my body. The cardio, flexibility, and coordination training have been great and you can really do great endurance training, but you aren't going to build muscle without resistance training in my experience.

Really, it all depends on what shape you are in now, what shape you want to be in, and how you want to get there. If you mix martial arts with a home workout regime like p90x you can certainly get in phenomenal shape with minimal equipment.
posted by munchingzombie at 7:52 PM on January 15, 2009

BJJ will definitely improve your cardio, but a bit differently from muay thai. It won't build muscle mass, but it will do wonders for your muscular endurance. Some teachers emphasize conditioning more than others, so if you have a choice of schools where you live, you might want to shop around and see how they compare.

It's also fairly common for the same school to offer both muay thai and BJJ, so you might not have to choose between them.
posted by tdismukes at 9:22 PM on January 15, 2009

It's not going to bulk you up unless you eat a whole lot as well.

However, regardless of how much you eat, BJJ and judo (and probably sambo) will make you stronger, if not bigger, mostly in the legs, core, and shoulders, but also in a lot of muscles you didn't know you had.

As for cardio, it is freakin' exhausting stuff, especially if your classes involve a lot of sparring. This builds your anaerobic endurance as as well as your aerobic endurance. Generally, I can only do about 45 minutes of sparring, standing and ground work combined, in a single night. (I need to go to more classes per week at some point to fix this.) This includes breaks. But I see people at the (judo) dojo that spar - often at high intensity - for most of a 1.5 hour span, with 10-15 minutes' worth of breaks.

Power/speed drills will also get your heart heaving.

Wrestlers are renowned for their cardio and work ethic, so they've probably got something even more intensive going.

YMMV, as they say, because gyms vary, but yeah, most likely, your cardio - both kinds - will get better, and you will be stronger, if not bigger.
posted by ignignokt at 9:38 PM on January 15, 2009

Conditioning drills and resistance training is a fundamental part of the BJJ lifestyle. Training for Warriors is an excellent resource for routines that build the explosive strength and endurance you'll need in BJJ.
posted by the cuban at 3:23 AM on January 16, 2009

Nth the advice on sparring and second Training for Warriors. There are a lot of BJJ schools out there that spend a lot of time on technique and not much on drills and sparring. For optimal cardio and strength benefit, you want as much sparring as you can get. IMO a decent school will split instruction and sparring 50/50, plus some open mat time during the week for nothing but sparring.
posted by Shoggoth at 5:48 AM on January 16, 2009

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