Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a great sport with countless mental and physical benefits. It improves cardio and endurance, strength, coordination, and toughens the mind. But does it also give you the looks?
Is it possible to achieve a great physique by doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
Let’s see what you have to do to get the BJJ body of your dreams and find out who has the best BJJ physique.
Top BJJ Athletes’ Physiques
Many professional BJJ athletes have great physiques. If you are into Jiu Jitsu, you have probably seen them before, and they almost look like bodybuilders.
Keep in mind, these are professional athletes. Training is their main focus, and as a casual athlete, you shouldn’t necessarily compare yourself to them. However, it can be motivating to see what is possible.
#1 Gordon Ryan
Gordon “The King” Ryan, who is now known as the greatest No Gi submission grappler of all time, has a great and very muscular physique. He has been criticized by former teammate Nicky Rod for preaching “technique is king” while doing extensive strength training, which made him achieve a great physique.
Check out our separate investigative article on Gordon Ryan’s possible PED use.
#2 Andre Galvao
Andre Galvao is one of the greatest BJJ competitors of all time. On top of that, he has an extremely impressive physique considering he is not a bodybuilder.
Unfortunately, Andre was suspended for one year in 2014 after testing positive for PEDs and subsequently admitted to using Testosterone Replacement Therapy Cream (TRT cream). With this physique, one has to wonder if this was all he used…
#3 Rudolfo Vieria
Rodulfo Vieria is regarded as one of the best heavyweight BJJ competitors of his generation and has a great physique. He is a multiple-time Brazilian Jiu Jitsu World Champion, Abu Dhabi World Pro champion, Pan American and European Champion, and ADCC Submission Grappling World Champion.
#4 Nicky Rod
Nicky Rod has risen to the top of the competitive Jiu Jitsu scene in no time after placing second in the 2019 ADCC Submission Fighting World Championship hen he as just a Blue Belt.
The competitor is known for his athleticism ich is reflected by his physique. He has recently mode a pint to prove that he is a natural athlete and calls himself the Natty-King.
#5 Craig Jones
Craig Jones is a two-time ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship silver medalist among other competitive achievements. He is a former teammate of Gordon Ryan and no runs the B-Team with his teammates Nicky Rod and Nicky Ryan.
Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) and Steroids in BJJ
Unfortunately, PEDs and Steroids are a topic that cannot be avoided when talking about professional athletes in any sport. The same goes for BJJ, especially as their is no testing in most promotions.
However, several popular Jiu Jitsu athletes have recently been suspended by USADA after testing positive for Performance Enhancing Drugs after the IBJJF World No-Gi Championship event in December 2022.
One of the suspended athletes was Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu, a 7-time World No-Gi Champion:
Most top Jiu Jitsu athletes have been accused of steroid and PED use over the years, and some of them even speak openly about it.
What Does the Ideal BJJ Body Look Like?
There is no ideal body for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Every body type has advantages and disadvantages.
Most people strive for a BJJ body that is characterized by a lean, athletic physique with low body fat and well-defined muscles.
What’s even more important is that a BJJ practitioner’s body should be capable of executing the techniques required in BJJ while maintaining optimal health and physical fitness. This means having good cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, and muscular strength. Excessive body weight can be decremental for longevity.
How to Achieve the Perfect BJJ Physique
Unfortunately, doing a few Jiu Jitsu classes per week won’t be sufficient for achieving the physique of your dreams. Here’s what you need to do instead:
1. Strength Training
Performance-oriented strength training is essential for building the optimal BJJ body. It helps to build lean muscle mass and improve muscular endurance.
Compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, rows, military press, and bench press are effective for building overall strength and muscle mass. They are far superior to isolation exercises when it to complementary strength training for combat sports.
With all training efforts, it is important to plan future sessions and keep track of your progress by keeping a journal. You can read all about how to do it and download our free BJJ Journaling Template in our dedicated article.
2. Proper Nutrition
Proper nutrition is essential for building a great BJJ body and one of the most important parts of the puzzle of achieving a great physique.
Eating a balanced diet with sufficient protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats can help fuel your workouts and support muscle growth by providing the necessary nutrients for muscle growth and keeping you ready to train.
3. Cardiovascular Exercise
Cardiovascular exercise is important for improving endurance in BJJ and keeping your heart strong and healthy. Although activities such as running, cycling, and swimming can help improve your cardiovascular fitness and endurance, the best cardio training for Jiu Jitsu is prolonged and intense sparring.
Check out our in-depth article on how to optimize cardio training for BJJ.
4. Mobility and Flexibility
While mobility and flexibility training doesn’t visibly impact a physique at first look, they are crucial for building and maintaining a muscular physique in the long run.
Flexibility is not only essential for executing many BJJ techniques correctly, but it also helps prevent injuries and therefore enables you to train harder and more frequently.
Try to incorporate exercises such as yoga and stretching into your training schedule to help improve your mobility and flexibility, which will benefit your body composition in the long run.
In conclusion, being in shape is important for Jiu Jitsu performance, endurance, and injury prevention.
It really isn’t that hard to achieve a great muscular body. You just have to stick to the basic principles of living a healthy life and keep training consistently.
Achieving a muscular BJJ physique mainly requires a combination of strength training and proper nutrition. By incorporating these components into your training regimen, you can build a strong, lean, and athletic body that is optimized for BJJ.