How to lose weight with MMA

How to Lose Weight with MMA

If your goal is to improve your fitness or lose weight but exercises like jogging on a treadmill isn’t your thing, perhaps you should consider doing a martial art. Martial arts like Boxing, Kickboxing, or even Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, have the ability to help you lose weight without the typical bore of the standard cardio exercises. Although many people have a preconceived notion that MMA is a dangerous activity, this couldn’t be further from the truth. MMA has it’s dangers just like any other physical activity, but it is actually much safer than things such as heavy weight lifting and sports such as soccer, or football. The MMA Guru is here to help you lose weight with MMA.

What are the Benefits of MMA?

When people think of MMA, they usually think of organizations like the UFC and Bellator that pair two opposites against each other in an octagon to have a fighting competition. However there is also another side of MMA, the non-violent side of MMA. If you’ve thought of participating in a form of martial arts before, then you’ve probably heard of places such as ILoveKickboxing, or your local Gracie gym. These are great places for people who want a high intensity workout, without the typical judgement that traditional weight lifting gyms offer.

Martial arts involve a lot of cardiovascular activity burning an impressive number of 600-2000 calories per day. This type of fat burning is very uncommon and is comparable to a HIIT workout (High Intensity Interval Training), but we’ll talk more about HIIT workouts in MMA later.  This type of calorie burn can be from grappling (wrestling or BJJ), Kickboxing (heavy bag training), or even simply shadow boxing on your own.

Another Benefit of MMA is the self-defense aspect of it, which we will talk about more later on in this article. Not only can MMA help with self-defense, but it can also help with self-confidence, and other psychological issues such as Depression and Anxiety.

Benefits of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

HIIT workouts are a training technique which involves intense bursts of high-intensity exercise, followed by varied periods of low-intensity active rest, or complete rest. HIIT can be a great option for staying in shape when time is an issue, as you can get an amazing fat-burning workout in 20 minutes or less.

This is great because most MMA classes are short but sweet, usually lasting an average of 45 minutes to one hour.

My personal favorite HIIT workouts involve the heavy bag and speed bag. By using these two punching bags in combination, you can improve your boxing speed and power while losing weight. Check out some of my favorite heavy bag workouts and speed bag workouts for examples of how to build your routine.

How many times a week should I train MMA?

This is a great question, and the answer is always going to be different for every single person. Someone who is healthy and in their twenties can typically start doing MMA everyday without a problem. Compared to someone who is in their thirties or forties and need to be more careful when taking on MMA strictly for a healthier life style and a way to lose weight. It is best to start out slow and understand how well your body reacts to the high intensity of an Martial Arts workout.

Don’t be hesitant to tell your instructor that you want to start out slow, they are there to help you.

Which form of martial arts works best for weight loss?

Simply put, there is no right or wrong answer for this question. The best advice to give someone is “try everything”. Don’t be hesitant to trying a Boxing or Muay Thai (Kickboxing) class just because it is more intimidating than yoga or getting on a treadmill. In my experience, once people try something like a cardio kickboxing class, they usually can’t go a day without it. No matter if you’re trying to lose 50-100 pounds by a certain date, or if you’re just trying to live a healthier lifestyle, mixed martial arts is an amazing workout for all body types.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (or BJJ) is another great form of MMA that involves a HIIT style of workout. Bjj promotes the concept that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend themselves or another. Bjj is especially useful against a bigger, stronger or heavier assailant by using proper technique, leverage, and most notably, taking the fight to the ground. Learning proper Bjj technique will allow you to apply joint locks (such as arm-bars) and chokeholds (such as a rear naked choke) to defeat the opponent. The reason why I recommend Bjj, especially to females, is the amazing effect it can have in a self-defense type of situation. Not only will Brazilian Jiu Jitsu allow you to lose weight, but it will also help you out in dangerous situations.

What is the average cost of an MMA gym membership?

This really depends on the type of MMA gym you join. There are some serious MMA gyms that train professional fighters who are in the UFC. There are also other types of gyms that focus solely on weight loss and health. The traditional training style is another thing to consider when choosing an MMA gym, which we’ll talk about later. However, the most common bench-mark for a typical MMA gym is around $100 a month, this may include unlimited classes, or maybe a set rate of classes per week/month that you can participate in.

Which MMA gym is right for me?

It really depends on what you’re looking for in a gym. As we talked about earlier, there are gyms like ILoveKickboxing that emphasize cardio kickboxing, while other gyms such as a Gracie affiliate that will emphasize things such as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (potentially as well as diet aspects, like the Gracie Diet).

Things to consider when joining an MMA gym:

  • Do they offer classes around your work schedule? What is the point of joining a gym that you can’t go to, make sure that your gym has classes that work with your busy schedule.
  • Do they offer children’s classes? If you have kids this is a very important aspect, some gyms will have daycare type of classes specifically for people with children.
  • Is there a set curriculum they follow? *Always try to find a gym that has a set schedule* This is so important when trying to lose weight, you don’t want to join a gym that isn’t consistent.
  • Does the school have diversity? Don’t join a gym that doesn’t have people of all ages, teaching a young male athlete is far easier than teaching a middle aged housewife. A real MMA academy will have people of all ages and body types.
  • Find out if it’s difficult to cancel your membership! This is honestly the biggest thing I worry about when joining a new MMA gym. Always find out how difficult it is to cancel your membership because some gyms require a months notice.

How can I find an MMA gym?

You can simply type in Google “MMA gyms around me” and you’ll have a wide selection of Mixed Martial Arts schools in your area. However, make sure to do your research. The last thing you want to do is join an MMA gym just to find out it’s not what you’re looking for. Look for reviews online and try to find one that matches what you’re looking for.

Most legitimate MMA gyms will allow you to have a trial week to see if you like the gym. Don’t hesitate to give the MMA gym you’re looking to join a phone call to ask about these trial periods.

If you’re having trouble finding an MMA gym in your area, give this free tool: ‘Find MMA Gyms’ a try.

What should I bring to my first MMA class?

Congratulations, you’ve done all the research and have decided to join an MMA gym.

Now, what do you bring to your first MMA class?

  • Basic clothing. Don’t go crazy, just wear a normal set of gym shorts and a comfortable tee-shirt.
  • Water, Lots of it. You’re going to want to be hydrated for the intense workout you’re about to do. Don’t forget to bring enough water so that your workout is a successful one.
  • A towel. This may or may not be necessary. However, if you’re someone who sweats easily you might want to bring a towel just incase.
  • An extra set of clothes. Again, if you’re someone who tends to sweat a lot, an extra set of clothes can be helpful.
  • Mouthpiece. Although this probably isn’t necessary for your first class (or may never be necessary depending on the type of classes you take). However, a mouthpiece is absolutely necessary if you’re doing any type of sparring or rolling.

If you’re still unsure of what to bring to your first class, ask your instructor, they are there to help you.

Don’t forget to keep track of your weight loss

Believe it or not, that extra weight will shred faster than you think. MMA is one of the best workouts when it comes to losing body fat. Make sure to keep track of your weight loss daily, don’t get discouraged if you don’t lose much in the beginning. Not only do you have to remain consistent with your workouts, you should also stay consistent with your healthy eating.

Another great thing about high intensity workouts is that people are motivated to eat cleaner afterwards. You just shredded 1000 calories in 45 minutes, the last thing you want to do is stuff your face with unhealthy fast food. Remain consistent with your healthy eating, and make sure to cut down on the soda and fattening food.


Many people have the misinformed opinion that martial arts schools are full of children hoping to learn how to defend themselves against playground bullies and thugs wanting to learn how to beat people up. Although these type of gyms are available and are great, this common belief couldn’t be further from the truth. Martial arts schools are typically full of people like you and me who want to get healthier, lose weight and make new friends.

The goal of this article is not only to inform you about the benefits that MMA has on weight loss, but it’s also to excite you! I know how beneficial MMA can be for weight loss because it has helped hundreds of my friends lose weight in less than 3 months time. If you’re someone who wants a total body transformation, or even if you just want to stay in shape, MMA is a great way to do all of the above.

Make sure to ask any questions down below, and please continue to follow The MMA Guru for all things Mixed Martial Arts.

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