Which Martial Arts exercise will burn the most calories?

Boxing, BJJ and Muay Thai are martial arts that are great to burn calories as a fun and technical exercise.  Getting in shape for summer doesn’t need to be an absolute drag! There are many different martial arts that you can build an awesome body with on your route to a beach bod. Not only is martial arts a more dynamic way of getting fit compared to doing weights at the gym*, it also allows you to develop the important skill of self-defense.

We’re going to break down for you what you can expect to be doing in a martial arts session and the amount of calories you’ll be burning in 3 different combat sports (Boxing, Muay Thai and BJJ)!

  • 1 Boxing

    Workouts for burning calories #1 (Boxing Workouts)

    The ‘sweet science’ has been keeping the majority of those that train in the sport in amazing shape since its inception. Granted, there are examples such as Anthony Ruiz Jr. but they are most certainly in the minority. Lacing up and throwing hands is arguably one of the best workouts to burn calories activating the entire body while strengthening your muscles.  

    Common question

    Do you need to fight to train in boxing?

    boxing is an exercise that can burn the most calories if you're working hard

    It’s a common misconception that every boxing gym will require you to fight for you to join. This is simply not the truth. There are many different boxing gyms with different agendas. While they all aim to make you a better boxer, some exist purely to develop champions while others are aimed at improving the health of the general public. At our boxing gym in Logan you can get in incredible shape without ever needing to fight.

    Calories burned per hour

    You can expect to burn the most amount of calories during your boxing session if you’re exercising hard. The amount you lose is based on multiple factors, one of which is your current body weight. We will be providing examples below of what the average male or female can expect to lose in a 1-hour boxing session.


    Average Male Weight (Australia)86kg


    You can expect to burn around 650+ calories per session.


    Average Female Weight (Australia)71kg


    You can expect to burn around 537+ calories per session


    one of our students

    an example of how many calories a student can burn using boxing as exercise


    What you can expect to do in a standard boxing session?

    • Jumping rope

    Jumping rope is an excellent calorie burner that is the staple cardiovascular warm-up for boxers all around the globe. Not only will it get your heart pumping, it’ll also strengthen your body and improve your agility.

    • Shadow Boxing

    Shadow boxing is a deceptively tiring part of a boxers warm-up. You’ll find that you engage your entire body and notice a real good burn from punching.. nothing.

    • Hitting Pads

    Padwork requires you to work with a partner. They will direct you to throw single shots and combinations in addition to defensive moves. When supporting your partner, you’ll be holding the pads for them (training for pad holding is provided in class).

    Hitting the heavy bag

    A heavy bag gives you the opportunity to practise what you’ve learned during your class on an artificial ‘opponent’. You’ll only get out as much as you put into using a heavy bag. Therefore, make sure to visualise the bag as your opponent, keep your hands up and throw with intent.

    • Sparring (optional extra)

    Sparring is most fun ways to exercise and burn calories as long as you're both in control

    Although not necessary, sparring can be an excellent way to burn even more calories. You’re likely to push your body even further when you have an opponent attempting to land shots on you.


  • 2 Muay Thai

    Workouts for burning calories #2 (Muay Thai Workouts)

    Considered to be one of the most effective martial arts in real life scenarios, Muay Thai workouts are a perfect exercise tool to burn a truckload (if not the most) calories while developing solid weapons for self-defense. Known as ‘art of eight limbs’, the national sport of Thailand will have you incorporating your hands, knees, elbows and kicks. Muay Thai continues to grow in popularity, so whether you just want to get fit or you intend to compete one day, we got you covered!

    Common question

    Can I elbow during sparring?

    muay thai is most commonly known to be an exercise that will burn a truckload of calories

    Firstly, we’d like to reiterate the point that sparring is not an essential part of joining our workouts to burn calories. Now, onto the specific question. You won’t be using elbows during sparring sessions if you decide to spar. We restrict the techniques to punches, kicks, clinching and knees (to the body). You will get the chance to learn and refine your elbow strikes in other ways (i.e. hitting pads, hitting the bag and shadow boxing).

    Calories burned per hour

    As you can imagine, you’re going to move a fair amount in a Muay Thai session. You will find that the session will activate every single part of your body. You will also find that you will burn a shedload of calories. There won’t be a need to sign up to boxercise classes at your local gym when you can learn a real martial art and at the same time burn more calories with us at TFC! Here is what you can expect to burn in a 1-hour session.


    Average Male Weight (Australia)86kg


    You can expect to burn around 677+ calories per session.


    Average Female Weight (Australia) – 71kg


    You can expect to burn around 559+ calories per session


    one of our students

    if you exercise with intensity, you'll burn the most calories during martial arts classes

    What you can expect to do 

    • Jumping Rope

    Pretty much a staple for most combat sports, jumping rope is an excellent way to get ready for the training you’re about to do in your session. It’ll get your heart pumping, improve coordination and get you into a meditative state of ultra-focus.

    • Shadow Boxing

    One of the most underrated ways to exercise to burn calories is to do some shadow boxing

    Although still called “Shadow Boxing” you will be using more than just punches while doing this particular part of your training session. As you’ll be taking part in a Muay Thai class, you’ll be incorporating all 8 weapons into your shadow boxing routine. This will allow you to work through your techniques at your own pace before drilling takes place.

    • Hitting Pads

    Whether it be with your partner or a trainer, each session will provide you with an opportunity to hit pads. Your instructor will have selected beforehand which particular techniques will be the main focus of the lesson, this being what you will be drilling on the pads. You’ll get out just as much as you put in, so make sure to give it your all if that beach bod is important to you!

    • Hitting the heavy bag

    You will string together some combinations and make contact with an opponent when you hit the bag, even though in this case, you opponent is an artificial one. With Muay Thai offering its practitioners so many weapons to make use of, you can really get creative when you hit the bag. Make sure to push yourself until the time is up to get the most out of the bag session. If your goal is to lose weight, then showing up consistently to Muay Thai sessions will get you there. Push yourself in each session and you will also tone your body.

      • Sparring (optional)

    Getting the opportunity to have a ‘simulated’ fight with a teammate provides an excellent opportunity to put the techniques that you’re learning into practise. This is great for burning calories as well as fine-tuning your self-defense skills by working on things like timing and footwork.

  • 3 BJJ

    Workouts for burning calories #3 (BJJ Workouts)

    Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) has fast become one of the most popular ground-based martial arts. When it comes to an exercise that will burn the most calories, BJJ is somewhere at the top of the list. It first gained worldwide recognition when Royce Gracie submitted multiple opponents on Friday 12th November 1993 to win UFC 1. As it’s popularity continues to rise, so does the amount of enquiries we get for students to join our BJJ classes! Fancy burning an incredible amount of calories while getting strong and toning up? BJJ is quickly becoming of the best workouts to burn calories, it might just be the perfect fit for you!


    Common question

    Are strikes allowed in BJJ?

    At no point are you permitted to throw a strike in BJJ. Although there are techniques taught regarding how to defend yourself from being struck while trying to get up, there are no strikes themselves taught. You will learn many different offensive techniques when training in BJJ, there is almost an unlimited amount of chokes and locks to learn. 

    Calories burned per hour

    BJJ is very much a ‘hands-on’ kind of martial art. Due to the nature of the sport taking place the most on the ground, you’ll be burning calories like no other exercise. Unlike the other two combat sports mentioned in this article, the expenditure of energy won’t be caused through throwing strikes but instead by moving your body and grappling with your partner. Below you’ll find an estimate regarding how many calories you’re likely to burn in a 1 hour session.

    Average Male Weight (Australia)86kg

    You can expect to burn around 667+ calories per session.

    Average Female Weight (Australia)71kg

    You can expect to burn around 550+ calories per session

    one of our students

    What you can expect to do 

    • Warm-up

    BJJ warm ups are known to be an effective exercise to burn calories even before the technique part of the class starts

    Due to the nature of BJJ, you’re likely to be moving your body in ways that are uncommon in your daily life. To prevent injury you will begin each session doing a warm-up. These general exercises last for roughly 5 minutes and gets you ready for more BJJ specific practise. 

    • Drills

    Once you’ve broken a bit of a sweat through the warm-up, you’ll soon be ready for drills. These are specific techniques that help you with essential components of practising BJJ. These include moves such as: get up technique (useful for getting back to your feet and protecting your face while in the process and shrimping (used to create space between you and your opponent to allow for better offensive and defensive options to open up). This lasts for roughly 5 minutes.

    • Technique

    Your coach will have picked out a particular technique they want to teach the class on the day of your session. They will demonstrate how the technique is to be executed multiple times in a step-by-step fashion so that you can keep up. Once the class is ready to get started they will be sent off with their partner to begin practising. Don’t worry if you can’t remember all the steps! Do your best and wait for assistance from your coach to help you through the parts you are stuck on.

    • Rolling (i.e. Sparring)

    While there are no strikes when practising BJJ, sparring is an option. This will provide those willing students with an opportunity to put into practise what they have learned that day. It is also an excellent way to begin training the mind for combat in a ‘simulated’’ and safe environment. Calories burned during rolling can range depending on the size of the student, the effort they put in and the resistance they are facing from their opponent.

  • Conclusion

    Getting into shape for summer or simply improving your fitness doesn’t need to be boring. Workouts to burn calories at TFC are fun and allow you to get into amazing shape, learn something new and leave every session with a smile on your face!

    While most of your exercise will be fun, you’ll find that you’ll stat to burn calories doing martial arts immediately. Due to demand, we have beginner classes starting each and every month! Feel free to get in contact for more details.


    Bonus: Avoid burning out when training martial arts by checking out this article we wrote for you!