The Influence Of Different Body Types On BJJ Techniques

Your body type influences how easy or challenging it is to master certain Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) techniques. We all have unique body types, giving us some distinct advantages and disadvantages in BJJ.

Go to any Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament, and you’ll quickly notice how different our bodies can be even though we weigh about the same. One of the keys to excelling at BJJ is optimizing your distinct advantages on the mat. This doesn’t mean you should neglect specific techniques and strategies simply because they are better suited for other body types.


Understanding How Your Body Type Impacts Your BJJ Training

Scientifically speaking, body types can be broken down into three main categories: ectomorphs, mesomorphs, and endomorphs. Let’s examine these distinct body types and explore how they can impact which techniques work best for you.


1) Ectomorphs

Ectomorphs are naturally skinny people who frequently struggle to gain muscle mass. These people often have long, flexible limbs and are generally considered the best body type for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Some of the advantages that BJJ players with this body type enjoy include:

  • Long, lean bodies are generally viewed as optimal for BJJ training. Some notable BJJ players with this body type include BJJ’s co-founder Helio Gracie, Royce Gracie, and Mikey Musumeci.
  • Long, lean bodies are often faster and more agile than stockier builds.
  • The long limbs of ectomorphs are great for securing arm and leg chokes like the anaconda and triangle choke.
  • Long, skinny people often have decent flexibility.
  • The intense cardio workout Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training entails makes it easy for ectomorphs to maintain a healthy weight.

​Some of the disadvantages of having the ectomorph body type as a BJJ player include:

  • Ectomorphs often lack strength and power due to their limited muscle mass. Some ectomorphs can overcome this disadvantage with powerlifting style workouts that focus on lifting heavy weights for four to eight reps.


2) Mesomorph

People with this body type often have large bone structures, low body fat, and decent muscle mass, even if they don’t routinely exercise. Mesomorphs also often have broad shoulders, large chest muscles, and tapered waist.

People with this body type dominate many sports and often have the most aesthetically pleasing physiques. They often excel at activities that require intense bursts of energy, like weightlifting, sprinting, or rugby.

Mesomorphs generally have an easy time building muscle mass and recover quicker than other body types from strenuous activities. Mesomorphs don’t lose fat as quickly as ectomorphs, but they can easily maintain a lean physique with some exercise and dietary changes.

Some of the advantages the mesomorph body type gives BJJ players include:

  • Mesomorphs are naturally athletic and strong, allowing them to overpower opponents when needed.
  • Mesomorphs gain muscle mass easily, making it easier for them to move up weight classes.
  • Mesomorphs have the ideal body type for activities that require short bursts of energy followed by short rest periods, like a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
  • Short, strong limbs are optimal for some techniques, like passing the guard.
  • Mesomorphs often have shorter, stockier builds, which are great for takedowns and throws.

Some drawbacks of having the mesomorph body type include:

  • Mesomorphs have shorter limbs, making it harder for them to lock their arms and legs around opponents to finish techniques.
  • Mesomorphs generally have a more challenging time making weight than ectomorphs.


3) Endomorphs

Endomorphs are naturally bigger people who typically have more fat cells than the other body types. People with this body type have the most difficulty losing weight but can quickly add muscle mass.

Endomorphs often have wide hips, large waists, and curvier bodies. They tend to carry most of their weight in their gut, thighs, and hips.

Some of the benefits that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu players with endomorph body types get to enjoy include:

  • Endomorphs have the most weight to throw around on their opponents.
  • Endomorphs can often overpower their opponents.
  • Having a wider body makes it harder for opponents to lock their arms around endomorphs to complete submissions and other techniques, particularly those with shorter limbs.
  • Endomorphs who train in BJJ and diet are often able to reduce their body fat.

Some of the drawbacks of having the endomorph body type include:

  • Having a higher body fat percentage can hinder flexibility and mobility.
  • Endomorphs often struggle with stamina, but training can overcome it.
  • Endomorphs are often the slowest and least agile body type.


The Best Body Type For Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

While your body type influences which BJJ techniques and strategies are more straightforward for you to master, there’s no such thing as an ideal body type. For example, there’s a misconception that tall, skinny BJJ players often have the most dangerous bottom-guard games, but there are many exceptions, like Leandro Lo, who has dominated many championship tournaments.

Look at the medal platform at any BJJ tournament, and you’ll quickly notice that all three body types on our list are well-represented.

You can master virtually any Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu technique if you drill enough reps and make modifications that suit your body style.

For example, triangle chokes are generally simpler for people with longer limbs to master, but that doesn’t mean those with short, stubby legs can’t have effective triangle chokes. Tiny modifications like angling your body or rolling your opponent over so you end up on top can make it easier to lock your legs.

If your body type prevents you from executing a technique, talk to your instructors or training partners about it, and they’ll probably have some tips for overcoming your physical limitations.


Anyone Can Master Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

While your body type impacts how easy or difficult some BJJ techniques are for you, it doesn’t stop your growth. Figure out your body type and use the information above to your advantage.

First, master the techniques that come easy for you and move on to the more challenging ones. Some techniques might never work for you, regardless of how often you drill them, but understanding how they work will help you defend against them.


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