Running is Important for Muay Thai Training Cardio
Yolanda Schmidt

Numerous non-fighters ask why we run. Running, cardiovascular training, aerobic and anaerobic, is as important as the technical training for Muaythai.

I aim for the best possible fitness in a fight, to optimize athletic performance. I use running, biking, skipping and bag work in various ways for fitness.

Although in the ring, I do not “run”, our muscles are subjected to prolonged activity. This includes explosive movement such as throwing a kick or punch combination. Our muscles are required to exert short bursts of cardiovascular exercise. It’s about training the heart to recover quickly after those bursts of energy. Thus allowing my muscles to replenish quicker for further muscle contraction.

Fast twitch (strength) and slow twitch (endurance) muscle fibres comprise our muscles. Slow twitch is for endurance activities. Fast twitch for activities that require short powerful movements.

High intensity interval training (HIIT) such as sprints, recruits mostly fast twitch muscle fibres. Similarly this is also the case when you throw a powerful punch in Muaythai. It has the same explosive nature.

While aerobic (with oxygen) system allows for continuous activity over a longer period of time. This utilizes oxygen to support the energy demand. It is important that the aerobic training is sport specific and mimics some of the movements used during athletic performance.

Anaerobic (without oxygen) training increases anaerobic capacity. This enables an athlete to perform at a higher intensity and maintain that intensity over a certain period of time. An athlete therefore increases their lactate tolerance and the size of their fast twitch muscle fibres. Here the rate at which the body is working exceeds the rate of oxygen supply.

Indeed HIIT is not a new phenomenon, it has been around since the 1970’s

Various sports have seen benefits from this type of training. Professor Tabata uses a 2:1 ratio with the Japanese Olympic speed skating team. This uses 20 seconds of intense exercise, with 10 seconds of rest and repeated for 8 cycles.

It has recently been brought to my attention that many people lack education on training the anaerobic system

While completing my sprint session a fellow Muaythai enthusiast commented “Is it really sprints if you’re not dragging the tire behind you?”

Coincidentally 5+4 = 9, however as does 7+2. There is more than one way of doing things and we should have an open mind about methods. You also need to take into consideration your muscle fibre composition.

Sprinting in the form of running is not the only way to train the anaerobic system. Foot work drills, kick drills, bag drills and skipping are among the options. Sprinting to benefit Muaythai can be categorized as maximum effort and heart rate, over a particular period of time, followed by a recovery period.

Again, this is variable, I use a 1:2 ratio and it is periodic, based on my fight dates. Fight week you are looking at 10 seconds of maximum effort with 20 seconds recovery and repeat. The further out from a fight, the longer the maximum effort time frame.

I have a love-hate relationship with sprints but I run because I want to win.

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Yolanda Schmidt
Yolanda Schmidt, from Sydney, NSW is the Australian national champion in Muay Thai. In addition, she is a two-time bronze medalist at IFMA world championships. She is also a teacher at Menai High School in Illawong, NSW. Schmidt is a regular contributor to FIGHTMAG, where she covers women's kickboxing and Muay Thai.

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