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What Muscles Does Jiu-Jitsu Work?

What Muscles Does Jiu-Jitsu Work?

Posted: February 25, 2021

For many people, the main reason they take up Royce Gracie Jiu Jitsu may not be to develop an athletic physique. But, as a form of keeping fit as well as a martial art, Jiu Jitsu does work certain muscles very effectively.


Why is Muscular Strength Important?

Muscular strength enhances your overall health and helps you carry out athletic activity. It enables your body to perform in ways that require power, but without you getting tired.

It helps you maintain your body’s health through burning calories and improving the way your body is made up. Basically, it improves your ratio of muscle to fat.

Building your muscular strength can help your body to develop healthier muscles and bones, and it can improve your posture and relieve back pain.

With increased stability, balance and flexibility, you’re less likely to fall or injure yourself.

Then there’s the connection between physical health and mental wellbeing. Building your muscular strength may also improve your mood and boost your energy levels. It can also help to promote better sleep patterns.

The healthier you become, the more of a sense of accomplishment exercise can give you, and the more confident you start to feel.

Developing muscular strength is a virtuous circle: it makes doing Jiu Jitsu feel more natural, helping you drive yourself to improve. And the more you improve, the more muscular strength you develop.


How Does Jiu Jitsu Build Strength?

Endurance is a key attribute you need for Jiu Jitsu. When you’re on the mat, how tired your body feels can affect how you think, and you need to think fast and decisively. But the more you train, the more endurance your body will develop, helping to improve your performance physically and mentally.

Grip strength is another vital aspect of body strength when practicing Jiu Jitsu. The stronger your grip develops, the easier it is to control your opponent. This can lead to a faster, decisive submission.

Then there is the general body strength and stability that Jiu Jitsu both demands and builds.

How does this strength building apply to different muscle groups and areas of the body.


Core Muscles

Jiu Jitsu works directly on the core muscles. These muscles sit deep within your muscular system, stabilising your spinal column and pelvis.

Normally, when you focus on developing core strength, this focuses on muscles such as your diaphragm, multifidus muscles and transverse abdominis.

In Jiu Jitsu, the core is where most of your strength comes from, and it’s responsible for basic body functions like breathing. Various Jiu Jitsu training exercises focus on your core, to help with things like balance and stability, but also your overall performance.

The more you train in Jiu Jitsu, the stronger your core muscles will become.



Along with your core, your hips are fundamental to your development and improvement in Jiu Jitsu.

The muscles surrounding your hips include gluteals, quadriceps, iliopsoas, hamstring and groin muscles.

All receive a thorough workout as you learn and practice Jiu Jitsu manoeuvres. Executing many of these manoeuvres depends on you moving your hips correctly.


Lower Torso

It may not seem so obvious that Jiu Jitsu would exercise muscles in your lower torso, since, unlike some other martial arts, it involves no kicking techniques.

However, what Jiu Jitsu does is make you conscious of where you are placing your feet and knees. Offensively and defensively, you’ll find yourself performing plenty of movements requiring you to develop leg strength, flexibility and footwork.


Upper Torso

In Royce Gracie Jiu Jitsu, you use your upper torso to gain leverage. Because of this, it develops your biceps, triceps and shoulders.

You’ll find yourself using your biceps and triceps in a wide variety of moves, and you’ll also improve your grip and strengthen your forearms when performing holds and throws.

And when you’re on the floor during a match, your upper body then takes priority, and these muscles must work that much harder, because your leg muscles are limited to what they can contribute.


Whole Body Fitness

Royce Gracie Jiu Jitsu is a whole-body sport and it requires strength. It needs the sort of endurance and commitment that a stronger body can provide.

But at the same time, because this muscle conditioning happens as part of the process of learning Jiu Jitsu, and you might be so focused on learning the discipline and gaining in confidence that you don’t even notice how much stronger you’re becoming.

Fitness and strength-building can become part of a fulfilling and skilful activity that helps train both your mind and your body.


What We Offer

Ellis Academy of Self Defence specialises in Royce Gracie Jiu Jitsu training in Surrey. We teach both adults and children.

And with our virtual training programmes, we can offer martial arts training outside the immediate area.

Our online courses have also meant we can continue to offer martial arts training during lockdown.

For more details about our programmes, and how we can help with fitness, self-defence and self-confidence, please contact us.