Martial Arts vs Gym for Weight Loss

Martial Arts vs Gym for Weight Loss

Martial arts and the gym are both effective activities for anyone looking to lose weight, and a combination of both activities makes the result even more amazing.

However, there is an unending debate as to which of these two is best for weight loss.

This confusing debate is what I hope to settle in this article. So let’s get started.

Is Martial Arts Good for Weight Loss

Martial art is good for weight loss since most classes incorporate intense cardio workouts, strength training, flexibility, and mobility workouts which all help to burn calories.

There is no debate about whether the gym can be used as an instrument for weight loss.

This is because the gym has traditionally served as the number-one choice for people looking to stay in shape.

Martial art on the other hand has remained largely overlooked for weight loss purposes and is mainly resorted to by most adults for self-defense purposes.

Well, this really isn’t their fault, after all, martial art is a combat sport, right?

But the weight loss benefit of participating in any martial art style can significantly outweigh that of gym participation!

It helps you burn those fats while having fun at the same time.

Martial arts classes incorporate:

  • Intense cardio workouts
  • Strength training
  • Flexibility and mobility workouts

All these help to burn calories and, thus, help martial artists attain excellent physical shape.

Additionally, martial artists acquire strong discipline and self-consciousness that helps them make better food choices.

We cannot emphasize the importance of diet in the weight loss process.

Interestingly, a healthy and nutritious balanced diet remains an integral part of martial arts training.

This is because for fighters to perform optimally, there is a need to adequately replenish their muscles with micronutrients.

This explains why you see martial artists with shredded physiques, strong core muscles, and low body fat.

Interestingly, martial artists are naturally watchful of what they eat.

The high and low-intensity cardio workouts and the diet discipline involved in martial arts training enable them to lose weight fast.

Martial arts students can increase their muscle mass which helps them become more toned overall.

Kicking and punching require a lot of strength to execute, therefore demanding the muscles in your legs, arms, and core to work hard.

Remember, muscle mass and metabolism are connected, so the more muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolic demands become.

This, therefore, means that you can expect your body to burn more calories, even while your body is resting.

Best Martial Arts for Weight Loss

Almost all martial arts styles are effective for weight loss. However, some styles are more effective for this purpose than others.

According to Way of Martial Arts, the 5 best martial arts for weight loss are Kickboxing/Muay Thai, Jiu-Jitsu, Taekwondo, Boxing, and MMA.

Yoga is also worthy of mentioning even though it is not largely considered a martial art.

Now, in no particular order, here are the best martial arts for weight loss.

Kickboxing/Muay Thai

Kickboxing and Muay Thai are two martial arts with similar training drills.

According to Women’s Health, kickboxing can help to burn up to 582–864 calories/hour.

Kickboxing works your core and upper body without a lot of impact on your legs.

So it’s great if you can’t jump or have pain in the knee while jumping.

Additionally, a study has shown that kickboxing helps to improve strength, cardio, balance, agility, aerobic power, and upper body fitness.

And yeah, it is stress relieving to continue hitting something like bags.

To begin, learn common boxing moves like jabs, uppercuts, crosses, and hooks, and be ready to include squats, ducks, and lunges.

Tip: Learn the handwork before starting the footwork, decreasing rest times between sets.


The “gentle art” of Jiu-Jitsu is another great choice for anyone who prefers the martial art grappling style to striking.

The main principle of this art is to control an opponent through techniques and leverage before using different submissions to end the fight.

It is a grappling martial art style that is ideal for modern-day self-defense situations making it a popular choice both for men and women looking to learn how to defend themselves physically.

One common misconception of this art is that you can’t practice it if you are out of shape.

This is not true because anyone, no matter their gender, age, or body composition, can train in this art.

Jiu-Jitsu has in fact been shown to significantly affect weight loss in practitioners.


Taekwondo is a beneficial form of exercise, so there is no way this art will be absent from this list.

It is my favorite of all.

Taekwondo involves hands and legs techniques with a major emphasis on kicks.

There are lots of continuous movements while upstanding.

The kicking, jumping, and flipping involved in this sport can help burn more calories than an equal time spent on a treadmill.

Taekwondo incorporates jumps and kicks that require some high-intensity training exercises to master.

It is simply a full-body workout.

According to Business Insider, Taekwondo exercise can burn up to 937 calories an hour. That’s a lot!

Apart from fat loss, taekwondo training offers additional benefits which include.

  • Increased strength, toned muscles, and stamina
  • enhanced flexibility and mobility
  • self-discipline, self-esteem, concentration, and confidence

For more on how taekwondo can help you lose weight, see: Does Taekwondo Make You Lose Weight?


Popularly known as the sweet science, boxing is a highly-technical martial art involving punching, footwork, and movement.

It is a martial art that can help you punch those fats away!

According to Evolve Daily, very few activities compare to boxing regarding weight loss since an hour of boxing training can burn up to 800 calories.

That is more of a calorie burn than swimming, running, or weight lifting for the same amount of time.

Boxing has one of the toughest workouts you will ever experience making it another amazing choice for weight loss.

Boxing tests your endurance and cardiovascular strength, having you execute strong, quick movements involving your legs and arms while stabilizing and developing your core.

While many believe that boxing only stimulates your upper body, it also develops your lower body, particularly your thighs and calves due to the amazing footwork drills that must be mastered.

Its footwork is one of the best in the world.

A boxing class typically lasts for one hour, and it consists of different physical conditioning exercises, stretches, bag and mitt work, and sparring.

Boxing is beginner friendly because the initial techniques are simple to learn and become proficient in.

It is one of the easiest martial art to learn.

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)

MMA is one of the best workouts for weight or fat loss. It has an intense cardiovascular activity similar to a HIIT-style workout.

HIIT workouts are bursts of high-intensity exercise which are followed by complete rest or varied periods of low-intensity active rest.

Most MMA classes are short but sweet, resulting in maximum results for weight loss.

MMA also helps to build lean muscle, which helps to boost your metabolism and burn more calories even while you rest.

So if you’re looking for a martial art to help you shed those extra pounds efficiently and effectively, then MMA would be the right choice.

You can burn up to 1,000 calories per hour, meaning your unwanted fat can practically melt away in just a few weeks.

The weight loss benefit of MMA is magical.


As stated earlier, many do not consider yoga to be a martial art but a meditation, stress relief, and relaxation exercise.

While it’s also not commonly seen as a weight loss exercise, it burns a fair amount of calories and offers added health benefits that promote weight loss.

According to WebMD, yoga is one of the best exercises for weight loss.

As estimated by Harvard Health, a 155-pound (70-kg) person burns around 144 calories per 30 minutes of yoga practice.

Another study of 60 obese women found that those who participated in two 90-minute yoga sessions weekly experienced greater reductions in waist circumference than those in the control group — by 1.5 inches (3.8 cm), on average.

The yoga group also experienced improvements in their physical and mental well-being.

Although most gyms offer yoga classes, yoga can be practiced anywhere.

Martial Art vs Gym: Which Is Better for Weight Loss

Martial art is better than the gym for weight loss purposes due to the additional benefits that you stand to gain.

Do not forget that martial art is fun to practice, so you won’t feel under pressure to lose those fats.

Alpha Male, when trying to understand the superiority of gym sessions and martial art classes explained that martial arts allow you to burn way more fat than regular gym sessions.

So, you should try joining a good martial art class as it will surely help.

I am not saying you won’t be able to shed weight at the gym, but martial art helps you achieve the same result faster while teaching you new skills (i.e self-defense) that could potentially save your life!

However, you must know that the best weight loss activity for you is one that you are comfortable with and would enjoy doing.

For example, I could say that martial art is the better option for weight loss, but if you are not the kind that enjoys combat sports then martial art might not be the best choice for you.

You might tire out and then decide to give up even before making any significant progress.

So, since both are excellent weight loss activities, it’s best to simply go for the activity you prefer and find sustainable for you.

Choose one and get to work!


Martial arts can be a really fun and effective full-body workout if correctly practiced with a trained instructor.

So, why don’t you do away with jogging and long walks on a treadmill and learn a new martial arts style instead?

Martial arts practice will not only help you lose weight but will also improve your self-confidence which is also important to help you feel good about yourself.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *