What Are The Muscles Used in BJJ? (Including the best exercises for BJJ)

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (AKA BJJ) is a combat sport and martial art based on ground fighting and submission holds. BJJ focuses on the primary skill of taking an opponent to the ground, controlling them to gain a dominant position while using various techniques to force them into submission. You might wonder now, what are the muscles used in BJJ?

Generally, the muscles used in BJJ are core muscles, hips, back muscles, and abs muscles because they are the muscles BJJ fighters constantly engage in, forcing their opponents into submission. Specifically, the most used muscles are forearms for gi grapplers and legs for no-gi.

The exception is the muscles of the handgrip, which are inevitably needed to seize and control. These are small but essential for BJJ.

  • For pulling motions, the lats and biceps are essential.
  • For legs: hip adductors, which are muscles moving legs inward, and core strength also matter.

However, it is essential to remember that when you practice BJJ, you will truly engage all the muscles because your body is in constant motion against the opponents.

Read on to find out how BJJ helps you build muscles and the most effective exercises for BJJ practitioners. You might also enjoy reading: Is BJJ Really Hard For Beginners? (Let’s find out the truth!)

What Are The Muscles Used in BJJ
What Are The Muscles Used in BJJ? (Including the best exercises for BJJ) – altinify.com

Table of Contents

What Muscles Do You Use The Most In Jiu-Jitsu?

The followings are the muscles used most In Jiu-Jitsu during grappling and competitions:

1- Jiu-Jitsu Helps Develop endurance

Endurance is one of the most critical attributes you need to develop as a BJJ practitioner. Being tired will affect your strength, your speed, and your technique.

And, the more exhausted your body is, the slower your cognitive thought processes will be. In BJJ, timing and strategy are everything. Delayed responses or reflexes can be detrimental to you during competitions or even grapplings.

Check out this article on starting endurance training for beginners to get started in building endurance the right way.

2- Jiu-Jitsu Helps Develop strength 

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a grappling combat sport with intermittency as its core element. You will mix high, moderate, and low-intensity actions, which require a high level of conditioning to support optimal performance levels for the total match time.

Developing strength, which means having good grip strength, is fundamental for BJJ practitioners. The more powerful your grip, the easier it is to control your opponent, and the better and faster the submission.

There are various ways to strengthen your grip game, including pull-ups, chin-ups, push-ups, rope climbs, dips, or even holding a heavy kettlebell.  

Good grip strength is crucial for better control of your opponent if you want to perform the spider guard efficiently. 

3- Jiu-Jitsu Helps Develop The Legs 

Practicing BJJ will also help you build stronger legs. Developing strength in BJJ means that you will not only tone your legs but will also have stronger legs.

Most drills in BJJ require tremendous leg strength, making it imperative to develop leg strength, flexibility, and footwork.

And, whether you are trying to pull off a half, closed, or de la Riva guard, your legs will pull you out of several difficult and challenging situations. Whenever you work out, ensure you do not neglect your legs.

4- Jiu-Jitsu Helps Develop The Core

Unlike any other martial art, BJJ training strengthens your core muscles. And, during a BJJ fight, the majority of strength needed will come from your core in BJJ. 

A strong core and good hips help you execute fast escapes, stop guard passes, sweep, and develop the explosiveness to power your submission game.

In addition, the core is responsible for your body’s essential functions, including breathing. It also helps you with your overall stability and balance. If you want to improve your performance on the mats, focus on strengthening your core. 

Steady training in BJJ will get you in shape. Several BJJ drills and training exercises, including shrimping, directly work on your core. The more you train in BJJ, the more your core will develop and the more athletic, flexible, and stronger you get. 

5- Jiu-Jitsu Helps Build Lower Torso Muscles

Even though, initially, BJJ was designed for people who lack the physical advantage in fights. Getting stronger will still help improve your jiu-jitsu skills and make you a more competent grappler.

During BJJ, you need to be aware of knee and foot placement. And BJJ drills, including guard, knee mounts, passes, and spins, use the lower torso in different ways and angles.

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a grappling combat sport with the primary goal being the submission of the opponent. Different techniques are allowed in a competition, including chokes, joint locks, immobilizations, and pressures.

Maximum muscle strength and muscle power are essential components for carrying out attacks, counterattacks, and defenses during a match, according to a study

Best Exercises For BJJ Conditioning

The best exercises for BJJ conditioning will vary for each person depending on their BJJ skill level, experience with strength training, and competition goals.  

Here are the best workouts to take your BJJ to the next level. 

1- Olympics Lifts

Olympics lifts are highly technical, and they can appear a little intimidating if you have never tried them before. But Olympics lifting will help you with your grip and get you stronger and more explosive.

More important than anything else, good grips are essentially in BJJ. Even though your core is what lets you bridge, shrimp, and usually be mobile at the bottom of your opponent more than anything else. 

Remember that performing Olympic lifts the wrong way can lead to both frustration and injury. Ensure you learn the proper way of doing Olympics lifts; check out this video for a step-by-step of doing Olympics lifting.

2- Deadlifts 

Deadlifts are among the best exercises for jiu-jitsu because they cover all the muscles that get worked on in Jiu-Jitsu.

In addition, deadlift workouts will help strengthen your legs, particularly the hamstrings, and also your hips, core, posture, and grips.

Deadlifting is one of the best strength workouts for any BJJ practitioner serious about improving their athletic performance. And more importantly, deadlifts strengthen essential muscle groups reducing your chances of injury.

3- Push-up

Push-up workouts are among the most recommended exercises for BJJ students because they can also help you develop a firm grip and forearms.

And any BJJ practitioner should develop a firm grip and forearms since BJJ involves pulling and grabbing. Performing push-up also increases explosive power and upper body strength.

See also: How Many Push-Ups Per Day Do You Need To See Results? (Here’s the answer!)

4- Kettlebell swings

Kettlebell work is excellent for building grip, core, and pulling strength. The kettlebell swing is known as the kind of explosive hip-extension training that transfers well to various movements used in BJJ

It can strengthen the core, hips, and lower back and develop strength and aerobic conditioning depending on how many repetitions you perform.

5- Squats

Squats strengthen your core and legs giving you better balance and impact when going for throws and takedowns during your competitions or grapplings. 

In addition, squats help lower your chances of injuring your ankles and knees. The movement strengthens your bones, tendons, and ligaments around the leg muscles as you exercise.

6- Dips

Dips, particularly weighted dips, are excellent at building your chest or your triceps, depending on your form. 

Dips are a very effective triceps exercise, found in an ACE study issued in 2011

Dips are an upper-body pressing exercise that essentially builds bigger and stronger triceps. In addition, dips will also develop your Bench Press strength. You might also enjoy reading: The Amazing Benefits of Doing Dips Everyday

7- Pull-Ups 

Pullups are an excellent exercise for jiu-jitsu practitioners. Performing pullups will dramatically improve your strength on many levels, including strengthening your back, arm, and shoulder muscles

According to studies, strength training with pull-ups may also improve overall physical health. 

See also: Pull-Ups Vs. Chin-Ups: Which One Should You Choose?

8- Yoga

Yoga teaches you to remain calm even in a stressful situation, which can help you strategize during a BJJ competition.

In addition, yoga will help you manage the flow of oxygen coming into your body by using breathing techniques to manage stress and recover.

As a BJJ practitioner, you will not have a complete training program without including a few yoga sessions to connect your body and mind.

Many large organizations, including the U.S. military and police, are adding yoga to their training. So why wouldn’t you add yoga to your BJJ training?

If you wonder between Yoga and Meditation, Which One Should You Pick? I wrote a whole article that I encourage you to read.

Wrapping Up 

Generally, the most used muscles for BJJ fighters are forearms for gi grapplers and legs for no-gi. However, BJJ is a unique martial art that engages all the muscles because while practicing BJJ, your body is in motion against your opponents. 

In addition, you can include the following exercises to build strength and take your BJJ to the next level. 

  • Olympics lifts
  • Deadlifts
  • Push-up
  • Kettlebell swings
  • Squats
  • Dips
  • Pull-Ups
  • Yoga


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Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (AKA BJJ) is a combat sport and martial art based on ground fighting and submission holds. BJJ focuses on the primary skill of taking an opponent to the ground, controlling them to gain a dominant position while using various techniques to force them into submission. You might wonder now, what are the muscles used in BJJ?