What Is the Best Martial Art for Powerlifters?

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Some martial arts are designed for smaller or weaker practitioners. But some martial artists like to bulk up. So what is the best martial art for powerlifters?

Judo and Wrestling are the best martial arts for powerlifters, as they are grappling sports that allow practitioners to utilize their strength. Explosive powerlifters are better suited for the explosive nature of Wrestling takedowns and Judo throws, and bodybuilders would excel in BJJ.

But it may not be quite that simple!

Although Wrestling and Judo are great, they are not perfect for all powerlifters, especially if you are a smaller one. Let’s have a look at the physical demands of martial arts and how to select the best martial art for your body type.

Do you have to be strong for martial arts?

You do not have to be strong for martial arts, as there are weight classes in martial arts competitions. Additionally, some martial arts such as BJJ are intentionally designed for smaller and/or weaker practitioners.

The weight classes ensure that all fights are evenly matched. However, you have to have some strength to do martial arts because if you are weak and frail, you are likely to get injured.

The only real strength prerequisite if you want to train in martial arts is that you have to be fit enough to cope with the training.

If you are a boomer like me, but you have never done any sports in your life, it might be best to start off with a martial art that’s a little less dynamic, like Tai Chi.

If you are a powerlifter, bodybuilder, or lifelong athlete, you could probably jump straight into the deep end with Wrestling, MMA, and BJJ.

The key is to select a martial art that your body can handle. If you are weak or injured, you should consult a doctor before training. If they give you the green light, then you should consider martial arts like Aikido, Tai Chi, and Kung Fu.

The Chinese martial arts are a great starting point if you are a little frail.

To learn more about Chinese martial arts, check out this recent article on my site. I talk about what the Chinese martial arts are, what makes them different, and whether they are effective in real life.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

If you are stronger, you should challenge yourself with BJJ, MMA, Wrestling, and other sports that require you to have exceptional strength. If you are not already strong, training these martial arts will make you stronger.

Do martial artists lift weights?

Not all martial artists lift weights. The only martial artists that lift weights religiously are people that compete in high-impact martial arts like Wrestling, Boxing, MMA, Muay Thai, and BJJ.

Some martial arts require raw strength, some require flexibility, and some require cardio.

The martial art you train will dictate what kind of physical training you will need to do outside of training.

Although you don’t have to lift weights for martial arts, there are some benefits to lifting weights if you are a martial artist:

  • You are less likely to get injured – Most injuries in martial arts occur because of a pre-existing weakness or overtraining. By lifting weights, you will strengthen the skeletal muscles that support your joints, and this will make you more physically robust.
  • You will perform better – Lifting weights will make you stronger and improve your muscular endurance, allowing you to train harder, for longer, and improve more.
  • Size and strength matter – contrary to common belief, martial arts are not all about technique. If you are strong, you will win more matches, and you will enjoy your training a lot more.

Let’s have a look at what martial arts are good if you are already big and strong.

Are grappling martial arts good for powerlifters?

Grappling martial arts such as Wrestling, Judo, and BJJ are the best martial arts for powerlifters. This is because grappling martial arts allow you to use your size and strength on your opponent at all times. Powerlifters excel in takedowns and explosive movements like guard passing.

When you are grappling, you can grip your opponent and put your body weight on them.

You can’t do this in striking, so if a powerlifter was to pick striking over grappling, they would be wasting their natural talent.

Powerlifters are explosive, making them really good at Judo and Wrestling. Judo and Wrestling are martial arts that require the most explosive strength. A powerlifter would be able to lift and throw their opponents with ease.

There is a huge debate over whether Judo or Wrestling is better for self-defense.

Check out this recent article on my site, where I talk about the pros and cons of Judo and Wrestling and which one you should train if you want to be able to defend yourself.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

If you are a smaller-framed powerlifter and you are quite flexible for your size, you may find that Taekwondo or Karate is great for you. In these martial arts, you will be able to use your strength, explosive power, and flexibility to deliver acrobatic kicks and punches.

You will have tons of fun in Taekwondo!

Are striking martial arts good for powerlifters?

Striking martial arts such as Muay Thai are good for powerlifters, as their explosive power will help them generate power in their punches and kicks. Powerlifters also have strong bodies that will be able to absorb the force of punches and kicks without as much pain.

Kicking a powerlifter is like kicking a tree trunk!

Powerlifters are very well-conditioned to striking, and even though you won’t be able to grip your opponent or pin them down with your body weight, you will be able to use your power to end fights quickly.

Another benefit to striking for powerlifters is that powerlifters have explosive power, which comes from anaerobic respiration.

Anaerobic respiration means without oxygen, and it is how your body produces energy for you to burn when you do highly explosive activities such as sprinting, powerlifting, and throwing combinations in striking.

A powerlifter with high explosive power might not have the endurance required for grappling.

Powerlifters also have thick necks, which means you will be able to absorb the impact of strikes much better than others. A thick neck will make you less susceptible to being knocked out.

What martial art is best for bodybuilders?

Bodybuilders can excel in BJJ, where they can use their body weight and mass when pinning and choking their opponent. Bodybuilders are less explosive than powerlifters, so they won’t find Judo and Wrestling as easy. 

I’ve trained BJJ for a while, and being under the side control of a bodybuilder or having a bodybuilder in my closed guard is not a pleasant experience. Their low center of mass and size make bodybuilders really hard to takedown and really hard to pin.

Bodybuilders have thick necks, making them difficult to choke too.

Martial Art Powerlifter : Considerations of BJJ and Powerlifting(mma)


Powerlifters are very explosive and strong, making them great at Wrestling and Judo, where explosive and dynamic takedowns are the essence of the sport.

Powerlifters are also suited for striking sports such as muay Thai and Boxing, where they can use their explosive power to knock out their opponents very quickly.

You don’t have to be strong to start martial arts. As long as you are not so frail, you are prone to injury. If you train martial arts already, having a good strength and conditioning program can help improve your performance and reduce your risk of injury.

If you are a bulky bodybuilder, you may struggle with martial arts that require flexibility, such as Taekwondo. The best martial art for bodybuilders is BJJ, as you can maximize the use of your mass, weight, and strength.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio: https://www.pexels.com/photo/strong-sportsman-working-out-on-bench-in-modern-gym-3837757/

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