The Best Sports for Building Muscle

Jul 26, 2022

Man climbing mountain.

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Trying to build muscle can be challenging. While going to the gym and lifting heavy weights can be the traditional strategy, it’s not the right fit for everyone. Sometimes, we’re looking for something more involved and engaging to help us build muscle while also doing something fun. Finding a sport to play can be the perfect way to help you build muscle while also doing something you enjoy doing. Here are some of the best sports for building muscle. 

6. Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) 

MMA has become increasingly popular in recent years. Many people are now realizing just how good of a workout it is. It’s more than just a great workout, though — MMA involves a lot of strategy and technique to beat your opponent. If you’re looking for a sport that will push you to your limits, then MMA could be the sport for you. 

5. Rowing 

Rowing machines are extremely common nowadays, and for good reason — they’re one of the best exercises you can do to build muscle. But you don’t have to spend all of your time on a machine — with a kayak, you can spend real time out on the water, enjoying the scenery, getting some fresh air and building muscle at the same time. 

4. Bouldering 

One of the main reasons people don’t lift weights is because they find it too boring — some people may need something more mentally stimulating than simply lifting something heavy. If this sounds like you, then you may be looking for an activity that allows you to be strategic and forces you to use your brain while also being active. 

Bouldering is a sport that engages you mentally and physically. It’s a form or rock climbing that can be done indoors on artificial rock walls or outside on real cliffs. Spend ten minutes climbing and you’ll be able to engage your arms, core and back all at once. However, you’ll also be trying to pick out the best way forward, finding various handholds and footholds and thinking about how to traverse different areas. 

3. Swimming

Swimming may be the best all-around training sport on this list. It works nearly every part of your body to help you develop muscle and build strength in your body. It’s also low-impact, making it great for those recovering from injuries or those who are elderly. Swimming is easy to start, too — hardly any equipment is needed. Just find a pool or another swimming area and start doing laps. You’ll be surprised how good of a workout it is. 

2. Gymnastics 

One sport that is often overlooked for building muscle is gymnastics. If you’ve ever been to a competition or seen Olympic gymnasts, then you know just how strong, coordinated and agile gymnast need to be. Many events involve holding up your body weight and staying in positions that are integral to building muscle. It’s also a great sport for those who aren’t looking to invest too much money in equipment — you’ll likely be able to find a local gym where you can exercise. 

1. Boxing 

Boxing is known for being a violent and competitive sport. It’s also one of the best workouts you can do to build muscle and get in shape. People forget that simple pad work or shadow boxing is a form of boxing and engages your core unlike any other sport. You’ll be able to tone your arms, build up your endurance and practice great cardio with some weekly boxing sessions. You could join a nearby boxing gym or get your own punching bag to use at your own home. 

What’s the Best Sport for Building Muscle? 

All the sports on the list are great options for building muscle. Much of it will depend on what sports you enjoy doing — you may want to try a couple of sessions of each to see which one will fit you. Then, once you find the right sport you can dive in and start building muscle while doing something you enjoy. 


Jack Shaw is a senior writer at Modded. Jack is an avid enthusiast for keeping up with personal health and enjoying nature. He has over five years of experience writing in the men's lifestyle niche, and has written extensively on topics of fitness, exploring the outdoors and men's interests. His writings have been featured in SportsEd TV, Love Inc., and Offroad Xtreme among many more publications.