Can Martial Arts Help You Lose Weight?

Martial Artist doing push ups with coach in a boxing ring

Cardiovascular exercise is an important component of any weight loss plan. Martial arts has all of the weight loss routines you may need to shed those excess pounds. Through a variety of different exercises, martial arts has become an increasingly popular form of exercise for those of all generations and demographic backgrounds.

Can martial arts help you lose weight? Yes, martial arts can help you lose weight. Martial arts can often be a complete form of exercise. Sparring, Shadow Boxing, Grappling, and Heavy Bag work – are just some of the routines you will be doing in martial arts training. You’ll experience both cardiovascular and bodyweight resistance which helps you burn calories and trim body fat.

Now, any form of physical activity that increases your heart rate and blood circulation for a concentrated period of time will help you burn extra calories. If you aim to lose weight, martial arts, combined with eating a healthy, balanced diet will help you achieve your health goals efficiently.

Can I Begin Martial Arts if I am not Already In Shape?

Some individuals think that they have to be physically fit before practicing martial arts. It is completely unnecessary to already be physically fit; in fact, usually, this just becomes another excuse to put off training. To provide confidence, you actually do not have to be in the best shape before you can begin this practice. You can begin training as soon as you wish – no matter how old you are or what your current weight is. This is just one of the many reasons this form of exercise appeals to many. 

Just like any other workout plan, progress will vary from one person to another. For some, weight loss is easily attainable while others have to work double-time to achieve the same success. Regardless of the factors mentioned above, you can only achieve your fitness goals, with consistency. If you put your mind to it and maintain a routine of physical fitness, you are sure to achieve your goals.

How Many Calories Can You Burn In Martial Arts Training?

The calories you burn during a martial arts training routine will depend on your current weight as well as the intensity of your routine. However, just to give you an estimate of how many calories you can burn doing 30 minutes of Jujitsu, Karate or Judo routine, read the list below.


  • A person weighing 150 lbs. can burn 350 – 370 calories in 30 minutes.
  • A person weighing 200 lbs. can burn 470 – 475 calories in 30 minutes.
  • A person weighing 250 lbs. can burn 580 – 595 calories in 30 minutes.
  • A person weighing 300 lbs. can burn 710 – 715 calories in 30 minutes.
  • A person weighing 350 lbs. can burn 830 – 840 calories in 30 minutes.
  • A person weighing 400 lbs. can burn 945 – 950 calories in 30 minutes.

These measurements are based on the expected increase in heart rate and cardiovascular activity which is likely to occur from moderate to intense performance with these routines. Again, consistency is the key to achieve your fitness goals.

Why Practice Martial Arts For Weight Loss?

For many years, people have seen martial arts as a way to learn self-defense. But martial arts training actually offers several benefits that you may have never considered before. Some of those benefits are listed below:

  1. Muscle Conditioning. Muscle toning is important to help you improve your athletic performance. In martial arts, you will be taught techniques that will require you to use your muscles effectively. Muscle conditioning is a great way to help you strengthen your muscles. In each training session, you will be doing a lot of warm-ups such as pushups, sit-ups, jumping jacks and all kinds of stretches – which on their own are already burning calories!
  2. Improved Balance And Coordination. To properly execute a kick, for example, you will need to learn balance and coordination. Regular martial arts training will help you achieve this goal.
  3. Flexibility And Agility. Stretching is done to prevent muscle injury. You will be required to do a lot of stretches before, during, and after training in order to properly warm up. This will help you increase your flexibility. By increasing your flexibility, you will be able to more effectively execute kicks and punches necessary to protect yourself and complete martial arts training routines.
  4. Increased Mental Health. Exercise, or any form of physical activity, has been proven to improve your mood and relieve stress. Martial arts has more to offer than just increasing your mood. It gives you an outlet to release all of the built-up frustrations you have encountered in your day-to-day interactions, thus providing a healthy means of stress release and an overall improvement in mental health.
  5. Weight Loss. Martial arts will not only help you learn self-defense but will help you lose weight significantly if practiced routinely. The training involves a lot of physical activity that will effectively burn calories, helping you to shed those unwanted pounds. One pound is equivalent to 3,500 calories. Therefore, to lose one pound in a week, you need to burn 500 calories a day – which is pretty attainable with martial arts training routines. This, combined with a healthy, balanced diet will help you to reach your weight loss goals.
  6. Self-Confidence. Every time you set goals and complete them, your self-confidence can greatly improve. After undergoing the rigorous and demanding training of martial arts, you can be confident that you can overcome whatever obstacles you may be facing down the road. Just the fact that you can now protect yourself from people with bad intentions is enough to make you feel confident!

While those reasons mentioned above are a few of the benefits you will enjoy once you become a martial artist, this is not an exhaustive list. There are many other benefits to instilling regular exercise routines, particularly martial arts, into your life.

What Are The Best Martial Arts Styles For Weight Loss?

Martial arts can be practiced in many different styles. Each style has its own training methods, philosophies, and purpose. Choosing the right one depends on how you would like to benefit from the exercise routine. Many people choose a type of martial arts training that they think can help them achieve great mental discipline while some are more into competitive sports. However, weight loss and fitness are slowly becoming the main reason for many individuals to practice martial arts.

You may have already decided to take the plunge. But figuring out the best martial arts training for you can prove to be a little daunting. If your number one priority when choosing a martial arts training routine is to lose weight, the following five martial arts forms could be beneficial to you.

  1. Judo – Judo mainly focuses on throwing an opponent. It lacks striking, such as punching or kicking, compared to other martial arts types. But if you want more, such as defending yourself without necessarily hurting another person, then Judo is the best type for you. This martial arts type is considered to be a high-impact activity. It will challenge your whole body, especially your core, thus resulting in weight loss targeted at this region of your body.
  2. Muay Thai – Muay Thai or Thai Boxing is also known as the Science of 8 limbs. It’s the national sport of Thailand and incorporates punches, kicks, knee and elbow strikes, the clinch and throws. A Muay Thai training session can be intense. It will generally involve many rounds on the pads and with a partner along with body weight exercises like push-ups, squats, and crunches.
  3. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – Popularly known as BJJ, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu focuses on grappling and ground fighting. This form of self-defense training is designed to help a smaller person to effectively neutralize a single but larger and bulkier assailant. The rigorous training that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu follows is considered to be one of the most effective workout routines to lose weight.
  4. Mixed Martial Arts – Also called MMA, this form of martial arts has no known foundation. However, MMA first came about as a contest to discover the most effective martial arts training. As time went on, combatants were allowed to incorporate several martial arts techniques into the fight. This made MMA a rigorous and demanding form of martial arts training which, when practiced as it stands today, can greatly help you to get in great shape.
  5. Taekwondo or Tae Kwon Do – If you like the thrill of competition, then tae kwon do is the best option for you. It is one of the two types of martial arts included in the Olympic Games. So if you are more on the competitive side, Tae KwonDo will not only give you the physical fitness you need to burn calories and lose weight but will provide an opportunity to compete.
  6. Kung Fu There are several types of Kung Fu, but all include striking opponents efficiently and with force. If you are seeking the opportunity to learn how to take down opponents the way Jacky Chan does, then Kung Fu is for you. This type of martial arts training centers on strikes, kicks, and blocks – combining them to effectively take down an opponent.
  7. Karate – Karate utilizes punches, kicks, elbowing, and throwing as its unique style. The routine is a full-body exercise. Although it has a lot of training variations, karate involves a lot of upper body work – which means that karate is a perfect choice if you are looking to build upper body strength and coordination.
  8. Tai Chi – If you think you may be leading a stressful life, then Tai Chi is the best martial arts training for you. The slow and controlled movements of Tai Chi will help you reduce stress while increasing your strength and flexibility. Studies also suggest that Tai Chi can also improve a person’s quality of sleep. Increased sleep and decreased stress can greatly improve your mental health and overall life satisfaction.

All in all, practicing martial arts is a great way to get physically fit as well as learn amazing self-defense techniques. Additionally, prolonged and consistent training will not only help you lose weight but will allow you to gain tons of friends along the way and develop a positive self-image. 

So what are you waiting for? Forget all those boring hours you’re spending on a treadmill, and, instead, give martial arts a chance. 

Related Questions

Where Can I Practice Martial Arts?

Most cities offer martial arts training centers or gyms. Here, you will find an instructor who can help to train you in the martial arts style of your choice. It is important to inquire with martial arts instructors in your area to understand their particular training style and see if they will be the right instructor for you.

How Does Someone Become a Martial Arts Instructor?

Martial arts instructors practice their style of martial arts for many years prior to becoming instructors. First, they will undergo extensive training in the style of their choice. Then, they will practice and apply for certification to become an instructor. Once they have completed their certification, they will continue their practice as they apply for a position nearest them.