Beginning Basic Muay Thai boxing Conditioning
Most of my students at my Muay Thai gym will never become professional Thai fighters – And that’s cool, there are many great ways to earn a living. However, one of the main reasons people keep coming back is for the great conditioning they get – a natural part of all combat sports.
Let me explain… Muay Thai fighters need a whole range of physical and technical skills to be successful, i.e.:
- Power (explosiveness)
While no certified instructor can guarantee you win or even success as a fighter, maximizing your Muay Thai experience necessarily means continuous work on your conditioning. In this article, we’ll touch briefly on running and shadowboxing.
Conditioning With Running
What do I mean exactly?
Well, for starters, if you don’t run on a regular basis, it’s time to purchase a good pair of running shoes. Muay Thai fighters must have a strong aerobic conditioning base, and running is the best (and cheapest!) way to get up to speed. Three low impact runs of twenty (20) minutes per week on a high school track or in a neighbourhood park is a good way to start.
As you build up your stamina, consider new running challenges (e.g. hills, natural terrain, stairs, distance goals, intervals, etc.) to keep you motivated. At some point, you will have to incorporate sprints or interval training to improve your anaerobic (high intensity) capacity. Don’t worry, though. Your trainer is in great position to judge your progress and move your training forward…
Conditioning With Shadowboxing
Shadowboxing is the next, natural step for you to improve your Muay Thai conditioning. Don’t be intimidated – all you are doing is practicing techniques on your own time, the best way is in front of a mirror, or maybe while doing your morning jog.
Don’t underestimate the importance of shadowboxing. When done properly, a full session can come close to matching the intensity of a regular Muay Thai training session at the gym. It is also, in my opinion… The best practice to hone your fighting skills and make fast, dramatic improvements in your training. You don’t need to become the next Muhammad Ali or Floyd Mayweather, but consider shadowboxing while jogging. It will give you a way to simultaneously condition your body and work on your Thai boxing techniques.
In a stationary position, you have the option of going beyond strict shadowboxing by practicing combinations of punching, elbowing, kicking, and kneeing. Don’t forget to incorporate our defensive techniques as well!
In the beginning, I recommend trying one skill alone like;
- Round kicking techniques
- Single jabs and double jabs shadow boxing
- Push kick
- and shielding Muay Thai techniques
For a 3-4 minute stretch, taking a one minute break, and then doing a final 3-4 minutes incorporating all your Muay Thai combination techniques.
Ready to double your pleasure? Consider the following six (6) shadow boxing combos when you want to take it to the next level:
A) Jab, cross, right round kick.
B) Catching the jab and return a jab, hook, low round kick.
C) Push kick, switch knee, right elbow.
D) Blocking the round kick and return with a push kick, jab, cross, switch round kick.
E) Double jab, clinch knee, round kick to the head.
F) Lead uppercut elbow, right horizontal elbow, right knee, left elbow.
Muay Thai Conditioning
In Part 2, we’ll consider other Muay Thai-specific conditioning techniques that will further enhance your overall experience…
In combat sports like Muay Thai, it pays to be in top condition at all times. Professional fighters have no choice but to train on a regular basis, perhaps five to six days a week with “two a day” sessions that would put most NFL practices to shame.
Now, my intention is not to scare you off with an overdose of conditioning work. Obviously, beginners and intermediate Muay Thai students will not want the intensity and drilling offered to battle-hardened combatants. Still, there are some basic things that you can incorporate into your daily lives that will definitely make a difference.
In this section, we will focus on two more important conditioning techniques for beginners: Body weight exercises and Abdominal exercises.
A. Body Weight Exercises.
What could be more convenient for a Muay Thai athlete than exercises that require NO dumbbells, NO exercise balls, and NO machines! In fact, many body weight exercises don’t require any equipment at all, although as you advance as an athlete, you are encouraged to introduce items to increase the degree of difficulty.
Here are three (3) of my favorites: https://web.archive.org/web/20170817214900if_/http://www.youtube.com/embed/E3HhUeI27ZA?wmode=opaque&showinfo=0&autoplay=0&controls=1&modestbranding=1&vq=hd720&rel=0
1. Pushups: A classic exercise from high school gym class, the U.S. military, and all points in between. I’ll give you the basic description here, keeping in mind that there are thousands of variations to try out later on.
Muscle Groups Worked: Chest, triceps, shoulders, wrist
Lie on a flat surface face down and place your hands three feet apart while holding your torso up at arms length in the prone position. Then, lower yourself down until your chest almost touches the floor as you inhale. At the lowest position, breathe out and press your upper body back up to the starting position while squeezing your chest. After pausing at the top contracted position, you can lower yourself downward again to continue for as many repetitions as needed.
2. Lunges: Cross-trainers, yoga practitioners and Muay Thai fighters alike swear by this lower body (leg) exercise.
Muscle Groups Worked: Thighs, buttocks, hamstrings.
Stand on flat surface and step forward with one leg and bend down until the front knee is at a ninety degree angle and the back knee nearly touches the surface while keeping the upper body straight. Then, push back with the front leg to the original standing position and repeat the exercise with the alternate leg. Follow a right leg, left leg sequence.
3. Burpees: Arguably, the most versatile bodyweight exercise in the world, incorporating push-ups, plyometrics (jumping), and cardio. Best described as a full body, strength training, and aerobic exercise.
Muscle Groups Worked: Legs, Shoulders, Abdomen.
Standing straight, drop into a squat position with your hands on the ground. Kick your feet back, while keeping your arms extended. Then, immediately return your feet to the original squat position. Jump up and return to the original position.
B. Abdominal Exercises.
1. Sit-Ups: A combat sport classic for working the abdominals and other core muscles.
Muscle Groups Worked: Abdomen, Hip flexors, rectus abdominus, and also work the obliques
- Lie on your back on a flat surface. Keep your feet flat on the floor and hands close to your head and the knees bent.
- Use your abs to curl your upper and lower body off the ground, exhale as you reach the top until only the buttocks remain on the floor.
- Lower your body back to the floor as you inhale.
- Repeat as necessary.
1. Basic Plank: A combat sport classic for working the abdominals and other core muscles.
Muscle Groups Worked: Core muscles (abdominals, shoulders, back).
On a flat surface, lie on your stomach and lift your body by keeping the toes and forearms on the ground. Hold for fifteen (15) seconds to start with. Repeat as necessary.
2. (Lying) Leg Raise: Strength training exercise, especially good for the lower abdomen.
Muscle Groups Worked: Abdomen, Hip Flexors.
- Lie flat on the floor with your legs extended in front of you off the end.
- Place your hands under your glutes with your palms down. This is your starting position.
- Extend your legs outward. With your legs extended and straight with your knees slightly bent but locked, raise your legs until they make a 90-degree angle with the floor.
- Exhale as you perform this portion of the movement and hold the contraction at the top for a second.
- Now, begin inhaling while slowly lowering your legs back to the original position
Putting it all together in a Muay Thai Workout Routine
- 1 10-15 Minutes of Road Work Start with a light jog to get your heart going and to warm up your muscles, stopping occasionally to shadow boxing for 30 sec.
- 2 3 Rounds of ShadowBoxing 3 minutes, 1minute rest. Grab a set of 1-3 lbs dumbbells and shadowbox focusing on proper technique, or practice the ones that need the most work.
- 3 3 Rounds of Pad Work 3 minutes, 1 minute rest. Get a partner that knows how to hold the Thai pads and have them take you through your favorite techniques and combinations, whilst testing your guard and defensive skills.
- 4 3 Rounds of Heavy Bag Training 3 minutes, 1 minute rest. Practice your Muay Thai techniques on the heavy bag, making sure you work not only offense, but also your defense and footwork techniques as well.
- 5 Muay Thai Basic Conditioning Reps x Sets Push-Up 20 x 2
Lunges 24 x 2
Burpees 20 x 2
Sit-ups 50-100 Total
Leg raises 20 x 2
Basic plank 15 seconds x 2
- 6 Cool Down & Stretch 10-15 minutes. Focus on stretching all the major muscle groups; Arms, stomach, back, neck, and legs.
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