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January 12, 2021

4 Fitness Tips for a Better Muay Thai Experience

Genevieve Keller-Milliken

4 Fitness Tips for a Better Muay Thai Experience

When I’m at the gym training, I’m really focusing on two things: my technique and my in-the-moment performance. It’s only after a session that I get a chance to step back and review what I accomplished that day. When we think about how we did in the gym, it’s easy to overlook other things we could be doing outside of class. I’m guilty of saying “I’m getting out late from work, there’s no way I can make class today.” There’s so much that can be done that doesn’t have to directly involve the sport itself. These things will produce marked improvement when you get back into the gym. There are many activities you can do for a better Muay Thai experience. I’ve outlined 4 fitness tips in this post, along with some workouts that anyone can try!  

1. Cardio, Cardio, Cardio  

The bane of any nak muay is knowing how much cardio they need to get ready for a fight. Cardio really is the first thing to add onto your standard gym training. Two types should be explored: interval training and longer endurance work. High intensity interval training in cardio (HIIT) is really going to mimic what happens in the ring in terms of spurts of energy. You’ll be bouncing back and forth from aggressive attacks to defense, so you’ll need to work on maintaining that high energy output for extended periods of time. Longer runs and other sustained cardio training will help with overall endurance, keeping you fit and ready to go. Building up both of these will take some time, but watch the progress you make in your pad work rounds, you’ll find yourself less fatigued!  

Cardio Workout Example:   

1 mile jog at a good pace, 30-40% effort (about a 10 minute mile). 

Sprint/Jog intervals: 20-second sprint – 10-second jog, repeat for 5 minutes.  

5-minute cool-down walk.  

Slowly build up the distance of the warm-up jog, and increase the repetitions of the intervals. 

2. Strength Training  

Take a moment and throw a cross. Which muscles are you activating? Where is your power coming from? Now take those same questions and apply them to the rest of your movements. Examine where you are feeling strongest, and where you think you could use some additional work. Start targeting those specific and supporting muscle groups. Everybody is going to be at different stages, but a good place to start is generally on your legs, core, and shoulders.  

Try this:

Spend 1 minute on each exercise, cycle through as many times as you’d like, but stay focused on the proper technique for each one:  

Air Squats – Pick your variety on these, and focus on form! 

Deficit Push-Ups – Practice slow and controlled push-ups. Keep shoulders activated, maintain a tight core, and don’t drop your hips. The slower you lower, the better.  

Core Workout – Take your pick of core exercises, but vary them each round – Leg lifts to 45 degrees, rower sit-ups, bicycles, heel taps… the list goes on!  

3. Balance  

Balance is key. I used to feel like I was falling over every time I threw a round kick or teep. In my second smoker, my kick was so off-balance, I knocked myself down instead of the opponent! After that, I realized how important it was to keep my core tight, and pay attention to my center of gravity. Maintaining good balance not only helps when your feet are off the floor, but when your opponent tries to sweep or throw you. 

Balance Check 

Practice holding your high-check position, throwing a teep, and back into your check, never dropping your leg back down. Start with 30 seconds, switch legs, and build on your time from there.  

4. Active Rest Day  

I promise, all that hard training will catch up to you, so it’s important to give your body a break. Taking a day off every now and then is incredibly healthy–it allows your muscles and bones to repair and your mind to relax from constantly reacting. And the old adage is true: absence makes the heart grow fonder! I encourage everyone to take an active rest day: stay moving, stay dedicated, and enjoy the moment away from the workout. It’ll be there for you tomorrow!  

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