BJJ and Bodybuilding: Can They Go Together

BJJ and Bodybuilding: Can They Go Together

1. What are BJJ and Bodybuilding?

BJJ is a grappling combat sport. It focuses on choke holds and submission techniques which are applied to submit your opponent. BJJ takedowns and submission techniques are widely used in Mix Martial Arts.

If applied correctly, BJJ techniques can help a fighter win against a bigger and stronger opponent. BJJ training involves extensive study of the body structure.

Bodybuilding on the other hand focuses on the intense growth of muscles by lifting weights to increase muscle hypertrophy. It is a competitive physical activity that is often adopted for aesthetic reasons and competition. It is a process of building muscles through workouts. It keeps the muscle strong and agile. It focuses more on physical appearance rather than actual muscle strength.

2. Combining BJJ and Bodybuilding

BJJ and bodybuilding both are different sports. BJJ is a combat sport whereas bodybuilding is mainly an aesthetic physical activity. There is a difference in both sports and their purposes. Where one is involved in fighting, the other focuses on gaining body mass for the purposes of pleasure, competition, shape, and attraction.

BJJ focuses on muscle strength whereas bodybuilding sticks to growing muscle hypertrophy. Though having a great difference, both sports can be combined. If an increase in muscle mass is desired, BJJ practitioners can opt for bodybuilding exercises. It does not focus much on muscle strength. Its sole purpose is to gain muscle shape and mass so that the bodybuilders can show off their muscles and abs.

A bodybuilder can do BJJ training while continuing to lift weights and vice versa.

2.1. Training Periods

BJJ and Bodybuilding can be together in the weekly training schedule with BJJ 4-5 times and bodybuilding 1-2 times. Training intervals can vary according to the choice of the practitioner.

Excessive bodybuilding can result in strained muscles which will drastically affect your BJJ game. So it is better to create a balance between the two sports if there is a need to combine the training.

The table given below tells about the exercises which an individual can opt for when balancing the training of BJJ and Bodybuilding.

Bodybuilding BJJ
Barbell Bench Press Strengthening Exercises
Sprints Including Cardio Aerobic Conditioning
High-velocity strength exercises Mobility Exercises
Dumbbell Shoulder Press Rest
Deadlifts Squats

2.2. Lifting Weights

Primarily, weight lifting is the main constituent of bodybuilding. It also helps to improve your BJJ game. Many BJJ fighters add weight lifting/bodybuilding to their BJJ training to become stronger. For a BJJ fighter, being strong is very important.

2.3. Strength Training

It involves those weight lifting exercises which improve the strength and endurance of the fighter. It mainly includes lifting weights which enhances muscle stiffness and enhances the ability to withstand grappling.

Bodybuilding makes your muscles bigger whereas strength training makes your muscles stronger.

Power Lifts

It consists of 3 exercises, the squat, the deadlift, and the bench press. It aids in achieving strength as well as muscle mass. Its main objective is to lift as much weight as a practitioner can.

a) Deadlifts

It is a bodybuilding exercise that helps to train your hip extensors. It not only makes a BJJ fighter and bodybuilder strong but also helps in improving their grip.

b) Bench Press

This exercise is adopted to increase strength and tone the muscles of the arms, chest, and shoulders. It especially works on the triceps.

2.4. Box Squats

Box squats are a bit different from squats. They work on your lower body and strengthen lower body muscles. Bodybuilders practice box squats to increase their lower body mass.

These squats are pretty much easier on the knees. They are even exercised to heal the knees. These squats are very beneficial as they let the BJJ fighter apply submissions and different techniques.

2.5. Pull-ups

It is originally a bodybuilding exercise. But BJJ fighters practice pull-ups to improve their grip strength. BJJ with Gi is all about solid grips so that you can grab your opponent by his Gi and have him under your control.

Pull-ups also work on your pull strength. As we all know BJJ is a submission grappling sport, so to grapple your opponent must have excellent pull strength.

2.6. Grip Strength

  • It is a part of both BJJ and bodybuilding.
  • Grips are extremely important for a BJJ practitioner because submissions are applied only when the fighter has a full and firm grip on his opponent.
  • Whereas in bodybuilding, grip ensures greater body mass.
  • It is because if a bodybuilder has difficulty in gripping different instruments, it will hinder him from proper lifting and his muscle mass will not increase.

To enhance the physical performance of a bodybuilder, grip strength matters a lot. Having great grip strength means that you can pass your body strength from the upper torso to the weight which is to be picked.

2.7. Core Strength

Just like grip strength, core strength is equally important for both sports. The core is a collection of muscles that constitutes the abdominal part of the body. This means core strengthening is the training of the lower torso of the human body.

Even by incorporating bodybuilding exercises such as deadlifts or barbell rowing, BJJ practitioners can make their core stronger.

So from this common perspective of core strength, BJJ and bodybuilding can really go well together.

3. Balancing Bodybuilding for a BJJ Practitioner

As mentioned earlier, both sports can be balanced together if BJJ is practiced 4-5 times a week and bodybuilding 1-2 times a week. Bodybuilding involves lifting heavy weights which is why it is practiced less than BJJ.

Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat Sun
BJJ BJJ Bodybuilding BJJ BJJ Bodybuilding Rest

It is better to divide BJJ and bodybuilding over the week than to do both in a single day. Balancing the sports on alternative days will not cause the individual to get tired easily. It will also prevent muscle straining.

4. Advantages and Disadvantages of Combining BJJ and Bodybuilding

Advantages Disadvantages
Both work on the core strength of the practitioners. BJJ focuses on the strength of muscles and bodybuilding on size. Combining them for a longer period of time will affect your BJJ game.
Both increase the blood flow in the muscles and tendons. BJJ strengthens muscles as one unit whereas bodybuilding focuses on one body part at a time.
Enhance flexibility in the muscles and bones. BJJ being a gentle art is safer than bodybuilding.
Both sports support the individual’s joints. The chances of fatigue are less in BJJ than in bodybuilding.
Both sports are good for the individual’s health. If the individuals are seeking mastery of both sports, they should consult with their trainer or instructor.

5. FAQs

5.1. Isn’t BJJ enough for Building Muscle Mass?

BJJ focuses more on building muscle strength rather than muscle mass. So in most cases, BJJ training is enough for building the required muscle mass.

5.2. Why is there a need to combine BJJ and Bodybuilding?

To gain muscle strength and muscle mass, many individuals mix BJJ and bodybuilding. This combination is good for short-span and short-term goals.

6. Conclusion

BJJ and Bodybuilding both have earned their righteous fame, reverence, and fan following. Where one sport focuses on competition through gaining muscle power and strength, the other is indulged in aesthetic activities. Combining both sports tells us that grip and core strength are very important. It can be said that to gain grip and core strength, combining the two sports is not a bad idea but not in the longer run. After proper research, follow the recommendations of your gym trainer.

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