6 Best Martial Arts for Fitness & Weight Loss (Ranked!)

Did you know that martial arts can be an incredibly effective way to achieve your fitness and weight loss goals?

With a wide range of disciplines to choose from, each offering unique benefits, martial arts provide a dynamic and engaging workout that targets various aspects of physical fitness.

Whether you prefer high-intensity striking martial arts like boxing and kickboxing, full-body grappling martial arts like MMA and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or acrobatic styles like Capoeira, there is a martial art that can help you improve your skills, enhance self-defense abilities, and transform your overall fitness level.

Key Takeaways

  • Boxing, Muay Thai, and Kickboxing are striking martial arts that focus on stamina, movement, and precision, and they burn a significant amount of calories.
  • MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) and Wrestling are grappling martial arts that provide a full-body workout, improve strength and endurance, and enhance self-defense skills.
  • Capoeira, a martial art with acrobatic elements, is a fun and enjoyable way to improve flexibility, acrobatics, and kicking techniques while burning calories.
  • Overall, Boxing, MMA, and Kickboxing are intense striking martial arts that improve cardiovascular fitness, coordination, and balance, while Wrestling and BJJ (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) are ground fighting and submission martial arts that build strength, endurance, and agility.

Striking Martial Arts

There are three highly effective striking martial arts that are excellent for fitness and weight loss: boxing, Muay Thai, and kickboxing.

Boxing is known for its numerous benefits for weight loss and fitness. With the ability to burn up to 700 calories per hour, boxing focuses on stamina, movement, and precision. The three-minute rounds, totaling 36 minutes of fighting, improve cardiovascular endurance and weight loss through footwork and movement-based training.

Muay Thai, on the other hand, burns 500 to 650 calories per hour and emphasizes intensity and variability of striking techniques. Known as the art of eight limbs, Muay Thai develops strong cores, mobility, and flexibility while incorporating sparring for intense workouts and improved fighting ability.

Kickboxing, combining elements of boxing and martial arts kicks, burns 500 to 750 calories per hour and improves cardiovascular fitness, coordination, and balance while building strength and power in the upper and lower body.

Grappling Martial Arts

When it comes to grappling martial arts, there are several disciplines that offer excellent fitness and weight loss benefits. Grappling martial arts focus on close-range combat, utilizing techniques such as throws, takedowns, joint locks, and submissions.

One of the most popular grappling martial arts is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). BJJ emphasizes ground fighting and submission techniques, making it a highly effective self-defense system. Training in BJJ not only improves strength, endurance, and agility, but it also enhances overall fitness and body composition.

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With BJJ, practitioners engage in intense grappling sessions that require constant movement, defending, and attacking. This high level of activity results in a significant calorie burn, making it an ideal choice for those looking to lose weight and improve their fitness level. Additionally, BJJ provides a full-body workout, engaging both the upper and lower body, and requiring stamina and mental focus.

Martial Arts With Acrobatic Elements

One of the martial arts that incorporates acrobatic elements and offers excellent fitness and weight loss benefits is Capoeira, which blends dance and acrobatic maneuvers.

Capoeira is a fun and enjoyable martial art that focuses on flexibility, acrobatics, and kicking techniques. It is less fight-oriented compared to traditional martial arts but is still great for fitness and weight loss.

Capoeira is known for its fluid movements, spins, flips, and high kicks, which require strength, balance, and coordination. These acrobatic elements not only make Capoeira a visually impressive art form but also provide a challenging workout that burns between 500 to 700 calories per hour.

In comparison to traditional martial arts, acrobatic martial arts like Capoeira can offer a unique and dynamic approach to fitness and weight loss.

Overall Fitness and Weight Loss

To achieve overall fitness and weight loss through martial arts, a combination of various disciplines, such as MMA, kickboxing, and boxing, provide a full-body workout that improves strength, endurance, and flexibility. These martial arts not only burn calories but also enhance cardiovascular fitness, coordination, and balance. Boxing, known for its high-intensity striking-based techniques, can burn up to 800 calories per hour and focuses on footwork and mobility. MMA, a combination of different martial arts, offers a full-body workout that improves strength, endurance, and flexibility, burning up to 800 calories per hour. Kickboxing, which combines elements of boxing and martial arts kicks, helps in weight loss and cardiovascular fitness, burning up to 750 calories per hour. Each discipline offers unique benefits, allowing individuals to choose the martial art that best suits their fitness goals and preferences.

Martial Art Calories Burned per Hour Benefits
Boxing 400-800 Cardiovascular endurance, footwork, mobility
MMA 500-800 Full-body workout, strength, endurance, flexibility
Kickboxing 500-750 Weight loss, cardiovascular fitness, coordination, balance

Intense Striking Martial Arts

Continuing the discussion from the previous section, let's explore the top intense striking martial arts for fitness and weight loss. Intense striking martial arts offer numerous benefits for weight loss and overall fitness. With their focus on intensity and variability, these martial arts provide a challenging and dynamic workout that can help you shed pounds and improve your cardiovascular endurance.

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One standout martial art in this category is Muay Thai. Known as the art of eight limbs, Muay Thai incorporates punches, elbows, knees, and kicks, making it a full-body workout that develops strong cores, mobility, and flexibility. Additionally, Muay Thai training often includes sparring, which adds an extra level of intensity to the workouts and helps improve fighting ability.

Boxing is another intense striking martial art that can effectively contribute to weight loss. Boxing rounds, which are three minutes each, totaling 36 minutes of fighting, require constant movement, stamina, and precision. This footwork and movement-based training not only improves cardiovascular endurance but also helps with weight loss.

Ground Fighting and Submission Martial Arts

Ground fighting and submission martial arts offer a comprehensive and challenging workout regimen that focuses on takedowns, grappling, and ground control. These disciplines provide a full-body workout that enhances strength, endurance, and agility while improving overall fitness and body composition.

Here are some key aspects of ground fighting and submission martial arts:

  • Ground fighting techniques:
  • These arts emphasize techniques such as sweeps, reversals, and escapes that allow practitioners to gain control on the ground.
  • Ground fighting techniques require a combination of strength, flexibility, and technique to execute effectively.
  • Submission holds and techniques:
  • These martial arts incorporate various submission holds such as chokes, joint locks, and pressure points to immobilize or submit opponents.
  • Practitioners learn to apply leverage and technique to gain the upper hand and force opponents into submission.

Ground fighting and submission martial arts provide an intense and dynamic workout that not only burns calories but also improves stamina, endurance, and mental focus. The constant engagement and strategic thinking required in these disciplines make them perfect for individuals seeking a challenging and rewarding fitness experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Take to See Results in Terms of Weight Loss and Fitness Improvement When Practicing Striking Martial Arts?

Results timeline for weight loss and fitness improvement in striking martial arts varies based on individual effort and consistency. Benefits include increased stamina, improved cardiovascular endurance, and enhanced precision. Regular practice yields noticeable results within a few weeks to a few months.

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Are There Any Age Restrictions or Limitations for Practicing Grappling Martial Arts?

There are no age restrictions or limitations for practicing grappling martial arts. In fact, these martial arts offer numerous benefits for seniors, such as improved strength, endurance, flexibility, and overall fitness.

Can Martial Arts With Acrobatic Elements Be Beneficial for Individuals With Limited Flexibility or Mobility?

Acrobatic martial arts offer numerous benefits for improving coordination and agility. Individuals with limited flexibility or mobility can still participate by adapting the training to their specific needs, ensuring a fulfilling and effective workout experience.

Is It Necessary to Have Previous Martial Arts Experience Before Starting Intense Striking Martial Arts Training?

Previous martial arts experience is not necessary to start intense striking martial arts training. Beginners can achieve weight loss results and fitness improvements within a reasonable timeline with proper guidance and dedication to training.

How Can Ground Fighting and Submission Martial Arts Help Improve Self-Defense Skills in Real-Life Situations?

Ground fighting and submission martial arts, such as wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, can significantly improve self-defense skills in real-life situations. These disciplines focus on takedowns, grappling, and submission techniques, enhancing strength, endurance, and agility for effective self-defense.


In the world of martial arts, there is something for everyone when it comes to fitness and weight loss.

Whether you prefer the high-intensity strikes of boxing and kickboxing, the full-body workouts of MMA and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or the acrobatic movements of Capoeira, martial arts offer a diverse range of options to help you achieve your goals.

So, lace up your gloves, step onto the mat, or join a Capoeira class, and embark on a fitness journey that is as empowering as it is effective.

Mike Williams
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