Bodybuilding vs Martial Arts: Who wins? (see the best!)

January 8, 2024 |

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When most people think of bodybuilding and martial arts, they see two entirely different disciplines. However, there are many parallels between these two activities, including the benefits they offer.

Comparing Big Ramy to Bruce Lee is like comparing a Gorilla to a Praying Mantis.

Both are beautiful and majestic; however, the difference between them is stark.

Bodybuilding is about mass and aesthetics, while martial arts are about self-defense.

To put it simply, bodybuilders are so big you would never want even to fight them. In reality, the fights you want to avoid being with martial artists. Martial artists have the skills to overpower most bodybuilders.

This article will look at the many differences between these two professions, what it means to do either, and who the better athletes are.

Which is Harder: Bodybuilding or Martial Arts?

Clarifying which of these two would be harder is like choosing which ocean is wetter. Since the term “harder” does not exist in science, you can’t. The best you can do is measure the sacrifices you need to make to become the best in either.

On the day of the competition, martial arts would be a lot more dangerous than bodybuilding.

The entire preparation leading up to that day, bodybuilding would be harder every single step of the way.

While training for martial arts can be gruesome and challenging, very few people will ever be able to withstand a bodybuilding prep. The countless hours of cardio, restrictive diet, drug abuse, and bodybuilding are simply a more challenging endeavor.

Which is Better: Bodybuilding or Martial Arts?

There will always be bouts between different sports. Powerlifters vs. Strongmen. F1 vs. Nascar. Crossfitters vs. anyone. It’s completely normal to wonder which of these two would be better.

Based on your genetics and mindset, either could be better for you. It’s your choice to decide which you want to do more often.

martial artists fighting

If you tend to be someone who has great muscularity even without training or abs year-round, bodybuilding might be a great sport for you to pursue. If you like fighting and the idea of outsmarting your fellow human in hand-to-hand combat, then martial arts are for you.

Who will Win: Bodybuilder or Martial Artist?

The biggest current IFBB Pro Bodybuilder is Jamie Christian, standing at 6’5’’ and 300+lbs. Emmanuel Yarbrough was the largest Martial Artist, standing 6’8’’ and 600lbs. With such large athletes on either side, you would naturally assume that the fight would be remarkably close.

In a fight between a bodybuilder and a martial artist, the martial artist would win hands down.

Martial artists are incredibly skilled in using the opponent’s body against them, and since bodybuilders are known to be a bit cumbersome, the fight is hardly fair.

Can Bodybuilders Do Martial Arts?

For some reason, most bodybuilders are interested in fighting one way or another. Perhaps because most bodybuilders did another sport before switching, something like a fight excites them.

Bodybuilders can do martial arts; however, you need to leave the other to make significant progress. Bodybuilding is the art of building as much lean mass as possible, which would potentially make you slower as a martial artist and tire you out enormously.

To make progress in anything in life, you need to identify your goals and work on them relentlessly. Bodybuilding and martial arts are no different.

Does Martial Arts Make You Stronger?

Getting stronger is a very specific thing, as you need to provide the muscle a reason to get stronger. This is why normal people aren’t incredibly strong; their muscles do not have a reason to adapt and grow in size and strength.

Martial arts can make you stronger, to an extent.

To continuedly to get stronger over time, you need to provide a new and novel stimulus to the muscle. This can be in the form of more resistance, time under tension, or even less rest.

Martial arts do not inherently provide a novel stimulus every time you train. After a while, your body will have adapted to everything you’ve thrown at it. It will not grow more muscle or develop more strength because there isn’t a reason to do so.

Who is Stronger: Bodybuilders or Martial Artists?

Strength is classified as the ability to move mass through space from one place to another. Technically, moving mass faster requires more force and would make you stronger.

Bodybuilders are way stronger than martial artists.

Martial artists are incredibly strong, and they are masters at moving mass through space, but mostly through leveraging. On the other hand, bodybuilders have to be super strong to build the amount of muscle needed for their sport.

Some bodybuilders are not as strong as others and rely on volume training. However, most follow a high-intensity and heavyweight training plan.

Is Powerlifting Good for Martial Arts?

Powerlifting is a sport massively different from martial arts. It’s an incredibly stationary sport that works on who can have the biggest total of weight lifted over the three main lifts: squat, bench, and deadlift.

Being stronger would benefit martial artists, so powerlifting could be good.

If you accrue too much mass, which slows down your movements, it will not be good for your fighting. Having a really good deadlift would be incredibly beneficial to martial arts as it requires the whole body and could certainly help you throw your opponent around a lot easier.

Is Weightlifting Good for Martial Arts?

Weightlifting differs greatly from powerlifting but should not be confused with lifting weight.

Lifting weights means training with weights. However, weightlifting refers to Olympic weightlifting, where you need to perform the snatch and power clean.

Weightlifting could be very good for martial arts. As long as you control your diet and don’t pick up too much body mass, being stronger and faster with weight in your hand would always be beneficial.

Can a Martial Artist Beat a Bodybuilder?

Martial artists will come in various sizes ranging from tiny to larger humans, whereas bodybuilders come in one size and one size only – big. This would make any fight not only one-sided but also extremely unfair right? Wrong.

A martial artist would beat a bodybuilder as their entire goal with their sport is to be good at fighting.

There is a good chance the marital artist would also be able to use the bodybuilder’s size against them, as they would also suffer from flexibility issues.

Are Bodybuilders Good at Fighting?

Bodybuilding is the pursuit of building the greatest amount of mass while keeping good lines and flow about your physique. It also includes being in incredible shape, with less than 10% body fat.

Bodybuilders are typically not good at fighting. While most bodybuilders are strong, they are not trained in fighting or combat sports. This means that while they might make a good brute, they will not be very good at fighting.

You also have to remember that just being that big comes with its downsides, such as inflexibility and just being slow. These factors will make a bodybuilder a rather poor fighter.

Which Martial Art is the Best Workout?

Martial arts can be split into four categories: Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Brazilian.

Each category has different fighting styles within, with different skills and training styles. While there is no “best” of anything measurable scientifically, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu seems the hardest to learn. Many have tried to master this martial art, and very few have ever succeeded.

Bodybuilding vs Martial Art Training

As you might expect, the training styles of these two will differ like night and day, so let’s take a look:

Bodybuilding training aims to accrue muscle damage on specific muscles being trained on that day and then for those muscles to recover. Once these muscles are recovered, they will be bigger and stronger than before.

The goal of martial art training is to get better at the sport. This will include fitness, conditioning, and skill training, as they all play a role in a fight.

Martial art training will focus on many more factors contributing to the fighting day.

Bodybuilding can help you build strength and muscle mass quickly. However, it can also be quite repetitive and boring after a while. Martial art training, on the other hand, is often more dynamic and can help improve your coordination and balance.

What is the Best Martial Art for Bodybuilders?

Bodybuilders will go about their goals singlemindedly and will often do anything and everything to reach their goals – that being said, which Martial Art form would help a bodybuilder?

Muay Thai might be the best workout for bodybuilders, not by its ability to build muscle but by the cardio type. It is a high-intensity Cardio, meaning your cardiovascular health will benefit greatly, which is great if you’re 300lbs and probably running some special supplements.

Final Thoughts on Bodybuilder vs Martial Artist

The bodybuilders vs martial artists debate are one that has been around for many years.

Both disciplines have their own benefits and drawbacks, but the bottom line is that both are excellent methods of training. Which one you choose really depends on your individual goals and preferences.

If you’re looking to get strong and muscular, then bodybuilding is the way to go.

But if you want to develop speed, power, and agility, then martial arts is a better choice. Whichever route you decide to take, make sure that you put in the hard work and dedication necessary to achieve success.

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