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Learn Jiu-Jitsu. Get Six Pack Abs... Maybe.

(Published April 18, 2022)

Okay, BJJ alone won’t magically give you six pack abs. But if you’re looking to lose a few pounds heading into the summer there are no two ways about it… It all comes down to calories in vs. calories out. And when it comes right down to it, that means two things. 

  1. Eat fewer calories.
  2. And burn more calories.

Or in other words, diet and exercise. 

Now before the keyboard warriors and fitness know-it-alls get all up in arms, allow me to acknowledge all of your arguments up front (or at least a few of them). I understand that:

  • You can’t out exercise a bad diet.
  • The type/quality of food you eat can have a drastic effect on how easy or difficult it is to consistently hit your daily calorie target (aka all calories are not created equal, aka It’s not just about calories in vs. calories out)
  • Some people have lost weight by changing only their diet, without adding an exercise component. 

Yes, yes, you’re very smart.

But dietary debates aside, if you’re really serious about the battle of the bulge, you’re going to want to attack it from both sides. That means exercising. And that’s what I want to talk about today.

In order to simply maintain your current weight, the CDC recommends that you work your way up to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or an equivalent mix of the two each week. 

Strong scientific evidence supposedly shows that physical activity can help you maintain your weight over time. However, the exact amount of physical activity needed to do this is not clear since it varies greatly from person to person. It’s possible that you may need to do more than the equivalent of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week to maintain your weight.

Now I’m not one to read long boring scientific studies. And you can say what you want about the CDC, but my own experience has shown this to work pretty well over the years. If I can stick to 30 minutes of long slow cardio a day, five days a week, it gets me looking and feeling a hell of a lot better. 

If I can ramp those workouts without injuring myself, I can cut down the number of workouts I need per week to around three. Of course this is all assuming I’m eating like an adult, and not like an unsupervised 5 year old locked in a candy store.

Maybe I’ll make an Eat-Like-An-Adult post in the future… but for now let’s keep this one focused on exercise.

Now I don’t know how accurate this is, but if you’re looking for the biggest bang for the buck activity, here’s a breakdown of calories burned per hour according to the MyFitnessPal app on my iPhone.

  • Yoga - 265 calories per hour
  • Jogging - 848 calories per hour
  • BJJ - 1070 calories per hour

Of course none of that matters if you can’t stick to your exercise program. If you burn a million calories per hour, but the activity is so boring that you never do it, then it doesn’t do you much good.

At your average BJJ school, around the last 30 minutes of every class is dedicated to sparring. At 1070 calories per hour, I feel like this qualifies as vigorous according to the CDC’s standards. Come to class three or more times per week and you’ll meet that CDC recommendation of 75 minute pretty easily.

That probably explains why I’ve personally seen folks lose upwards of 20 pounds or more in their first few months while training BJJ three times per week. I’ve even seen some develop six pack abs. Seriously.  It’s not magic. Just math.

There are a lot of people out there who slog it out on the treadmill seven days per week. Some actually enjoy doing it. But I’d bet most don’t. They hate every second of it. They do it because they like the results. 

If you want to live in a nice apartment, you’re gonna have to pay the rent. If you want to live in a nice body, you’re gonna have to exercise.

Fortunately BJJ doesn’t feel like exercise. It feels like a game. Because that’s exactly what it is. It’s just a big, physical game that practitioners love to play. And in my humble opinion, that beats the heck out of a hamster wheel!

And who knows? You maybe you’ll 

If you’re ever in the Oak Harbor area and want to play a game that burns a ton of calories, then feel free to stop by Big Mike’s BJJ and check us out.

Take care, and I hope to see you on the mats!


- Mike


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