Last Updated on March 30, 2023 by Aske
Is there a fun way to shed a couple of pounds, trim belly fat, and improve your overall fitness? Isn’t it always hard work, exhausting diets, and motivational speeches?
There’s no shortage of workout gurus and fitness programs in this world, and maybe you’d rather sweat your way through a game or activity than sign up for a gym membership (that you’ll stop using after a few months).
Badminton for weight loss is one of the top high-intensity workouts you can find that works your entire body through explosive muscles and heavy cardio as you chase shuttles and strike them back at your opponent.
It’s great for anyone looking to burn a fat amount of calories in a relatively short amount of time.
It’s also not a contact sport which means the risk of injuries that could keep you from playing is something you’re more in control of yourself.
Best of all, you’re essentially just hanging out with friends and playing for fun.
People who play LOVE the game for various reasons, no matter their skill level…
Other than being a fun and challenging sport, the game lends itself to serious workouts by default.
Let’s look at the physique that’s typical for a badminton player.
Badminton for weight loss: how fit are badminton players?
If you look at professional badminton players, you quickly notice that they’re all super fit and LEAN.
Viktor Axelsen: He’s 1.94 m (6ft 4in) and 88kg (194 pounds).
Carolina Marin: 1.72m (5ft 6in), 65kg (143 pounds), and PV Sindhu: 1.79m (5ft 9in), 65kg (143 pounds).
Kento Momota: 1.75m (5ft 7in), 68kg (150 pounds).
The lean fitness that seems to be the general theme for every player in the sport is insane.
They’re not the typical “gym body,” but nearly every player seems to develop a lean physique, no matter their body type or genetic predisposition.
When you think about the fitness components that make up the sport, it isn’t hard to imagine why nearly every professional player develops thin and toned bodies.
The majority of the sport submits players to tremendous pace and movement.
Like in this clip.
Of course, this is a display of the highest level. Still, the sport could be described as one big HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout – at least the physical aspect.
And an average badminton match is around 40 minutes of this wonderful fast racket play.
That’s a serious workout!
However, we also need to keep in mind that professional badminton players look like this because they’re top athletes. And like any top athlete, they have vigorous training schedules to optimize performance as much as possible.
Even the professional players who aren’t at the very top of the sport (with the ability to live entirely off their badminton income) still have multiple training sessions every day.
For example, a typical training day for professional doubles pair Greg and Jenny from Badminton Insight is on average four to five hours. EVERY DAY!
In this video, they train with an amateur player to compare the impact of an average training day.
There are a few stark differences:
- The pro player had an average heart rate of 125 bpm compared to the social player whose average heart rate was 155 bpm – after 23 minutes of practice
- A professional badminton player will also have multiple training sessions in one day (on court cardio and technique + off-court weight lifting) – which is not typical for most social players
It’s clear that pros aren’t like social players when it comes to the amount of practice and training they invest every week and their physique obviously reflects that.
This isn’t to say that social players won’t develop a similar lean fitness just because our training isn’t nearly as vigorous as a professional player. I see a lot of social players on the court, with good fitness, at nearly every age group.
But just how fit do we get as social players?
Does playing badminton reduce weight – even if that’s all you do?
Even if you’re only playing badminton a few times a week, it’s not unusual to play for several hours in one session.
For example, I’ll often be at the court for two hours (sometimes longer) every Sunday just for social games. And I’m by no means an outlier.
Players across the badminton community play anywhere from three to eight hours on an average week.
Of course, everyone is different in their ambitions for badminton, so take this with a grain of salt.
The point is that when we consider badminton for weight loss, it’s an important component that a lot of people tend to get addicted to the game and want to spend more time playing each week.
More play time → more workout → more kilos dropping.
On average, we can probably expect that many social players play roughly twice a week, with two-hour sessions each time.
If we convert that into badminton calories, that’s four hours of high-intensity workouts every week.
According to the Badminton World Foundation, an average casual player burns around 475-525 calories per hour.
That’s badminton calories burned without any extra training.
If we assume there are no changes to your diet, that’s around 2,000 calories every week playing a fun game with friends.
According to the Mayo Clinic 3,500 calories is roughly one pound. So if you’re wondering – “how long should I play badminton to lose weight?” – that means you’d be losing a little over half a pound weekly following a basic badminton weight loss journey.
This is, of course, a generic estimate, and your general diet, intensity, and frequency of your badminton practice will all determine how fast you shed weight and get a leaner physique.
In my experience, 2,000 calories a week is even a conservative estimate.
If you start getting into the game, you’ll probably want to practice more often and drill certain techniques and workouts that relate directly to getting better on the court.
Let me give you an example from my personal experience of a very tangible weight loss effect from badminton.
When I look at my typical week, I do some off-court workouts for badminton but my intense workouts only happen playing badminton. In total, everything adds up to somewhere around seven to ten hours a week.
On top of that, I focus little on a specific diet for badminton and eat almost entirely whatever I want. I haven’t gotten heavily invested in any of the “typical diets” because they often feel like huge lifestyle changes. Most of what I do is meal planning to save time and experimenting with different snacks for practice.
Since following this approach (and having a blast playing badminton every weekend), I’ve had to tighten my belt by one extra hole.
Weight loss with badminton is more than counting calories and gallons of sweat
In my experience, losing a few extra pounds and getting fitter has one element that’s far more crucial than creating the perfect workout schedule and counting calories in a spreadsheet.
It’s whether or not I’ll adapt it to my lifestyle.
With everything life throws at you, I find this to be the tricky part.
It might be easy, in theory, to say that burning 7,000 calories in a week equals losing two pounds.
But is it realistic to start there?
One of the big things when it comes to losing weight (or getting fit) no matter what sport or workout you decide on is – “How will you succeed? How will you show up 99% of the time and do what you set out to do?”
I’ve made countless ambitious plans and new year resolutions to work out more, and witnessed how I gradually deviated more and more from those plans.
I’m sure you’ve experienced something similar where you start strong but later lack motivation. It starts feeling like work, you have bad days, or life gets in your way, as it does for all of us.
I’m not trying to beat you down. It’s just one of the things everyone has to deal with, and it’s a guarantee that there will be days when we – “just don’t feel like it.”
However, badminton has a big advantage here.
- It’s fun! 2. You play with friends (accountability).
The first part already gives badminton a special appeal.
I might be wrong, but when it comes to losing weight, I doubt many of us look forward to lifting weights or running on the treadmill.
I know some people say they look forward to their workouts, but it seems that what we actually mean is that we look forward to how we’ll feel after.
It’s the feeling that you put your work in and got things done. It’s not the actual activity itself.
Badminton is different because the game itself pulls you in.
You’re not just going to the gym and checking off a list of exercises.
You’re playing a multi-faceted game that changes with every opponent you face, and you constantly test out new techniques you learn along the way.
Eventually, you’ll love the feeling after practice as well, for similar reasons that people enjoy how the gym makes them feel – except you’ll be more pumped for your “workout” than they’ll ever be.
The second part is accountability.
Accountability is one of the most powerful elements to rely on if you’re planning big life changes like losing weight and getting healthier.
Years back, I used to be extremely inconsistent in my workouts. I’d have a few weeks of workouts where I followed a schedule four to five times a week, then after a while, I’d fall off and start skipping days.
I’d tell myself things like…
- “I’m a little sore today. It’s probably best if I skip.”
- “This week is crazy with work, so I’d rather wind down on the couch.”
- Or simply, “I don’t feel like going.”
This is how “working out” used to be for me.
Certain weeks I’d do a lot, then there’d be a long hiatus, then back at it again. Like a rollercoaster of workouts. No consistency.
Then I discovered something that changed it completely…
By random coincidence, a friend of mine asked if I wanted to join a small workout group that met every morning on weekdays. EARLY morning.
I’d always loved the idea of getting a workout in to get my day started, so I tried it out.
(Secretly, I didn’t think anything would come of it other than having a better time working out with friends once in a while).
The first few days went smoothly like they always do when we ride the initial motivational wave, but then the excuses started creeping up.
“I’ve already made most of the days. Maybe I won’t go tomorrow. I’ll wait and see how I feel.”
But every morning when the alarm went off, even though I wanted to hit snooze, I couldn’t stop thinking about my friends who would be waiting for me and what they’d think if I was a no-show.
I also couldn’t stand the potential embarrassment of them asking “what happened?” if I wasn’t there when I said I would be.
That was so powerful that I DIDN’T skip.
Even on the days when I didn’t feel like going, I still went. All because I was accountable to someone else. I also knew that they might feel the same way I did every morning, and if they still showed up, what was my excuse?!
I’m not saying you should play badminton early in the morning or try to work out every day.
My point is that self-discipline is the hardest when we start a new thing before it’s a habit and part of our routine.
If you’re anything like me, being accountable to someone else means a much bigger chance that you’ll show up on the days when you’re not feeling 100%. Especially in the case of badminton, where someone might depend on you to be able to play.
Badminton automatically has accountability built in whether you play once or twice a week or more often. And it’s a helluva lot more fun than dragging yourself to the gym for a workout – at least I think so.
To a lot of players who lost weight by playing badminton, that’s all they did – spent more time on the court.
It seems that these players lost weight even when playing just a few times every week. They also didn’t have to make other major changes to their lifestyles.
Of course, every person’s body is slightly different, and we don’t know about their diet, the nature of their jobs, daily lives, etc.
What we do know is that badminton is a great workout for burning fat, and no matter your body type or gender, anyone who plays seems to develop a leaner physique – and it quickly develops into a fun community that keeps pulling you back on the court more often.
All there’s left to say is, if you and a few friends pick up the racket this weekend, be careful, you might become addicted.
- Badminton is a highly intensive sport where you’ll easily burn through thousands of calories even as a social player
- Many badminton players tend to develop a lean physique which is most apparent in professional players, but even social players experience that their body starts to take shape in this direction because of the broad range of fitness components that are invested in every game
- It’s also an addictive sport that draws most people in and makes you want to play more often. On top of that, you become part of a small community where you’re automatically accountable to show up for practice since your practice partner(s) will need you to play. This way there’s a much higher chance of getting your “workout” in compared to dragging yourself to the gym – even on those days when you don’t feel like going