Fitness training for Muay Thai needn’t be complicated. You can go a long way toward improving your conditioning with a small number of core exercises.
If you base most of your fitness work around the exercises I’ll discuss today then you’ll cover all of the key aspects of fitness that you need to be a competent Muay Thai practitioner. In the article I’ll cover the main exercises and explain why each should be fundamental to your fitness work.
Regular running should be the cornerstone of your fitness and conditioning work. Fighters across all combat sports will include a significant amount of running in their training programmes, ensuring they maintain a level of stamina that will prevent them from gassing in the latter stages of a fight.
Alongside the fantastic stamina improvements that running offers, it also helps to keep the legs, back and core conditioned and able to resist impact, especially if the running is done on the road.
Running can be varied as well to improve all kinds of stamina and offer a variety of training approaches – you can do HIIT, outright sprinting, hill sprints or steady state cardio.
For fighters, skipping has a number of major benefits – it’s ideal cardio training, first and foremost. Beyond that though, it strengthens and conditions the calf muscles and the Achilles tendon, which has a tendency to snap if it’s asked to do a lot of work that it isn’t used to.
Beyond that, skipping teaches fighters to be light on their feet, making them a lot more mobile and able to change direction very quickly – vital for moments when you need to evade danger or move into range to kick or strike.
There are few training approaches that both improve fitness and teach aspects of fighting so well.
Burpees are the classic conditioning exercise. They are a core exercise for Muay Thai practitioners because they are both all-body and really intense. They can also be varied to make them more challenging.
A burpee works the legs, core, shoulders, arms and cardiovascular system – all of them are fundamental to a Muay Thai fighter. If any one of them are lacking in strength or endurance it can put a fighter in real difficulty in a fight, or potentially cause injury.
For more advanced and fitter fighters, the burpee can be progressed into single leg varieties, weighted varieties (with dumbbells or a barbell).
A simple exercise like the push up has a huge variety of benefits for a Muay Thai practitioner – so much so that it has to feature in a list of core exercises for fighters.
In one single exercise you’ll strengthen the arms, the chest, the core and the shoulders. You’ll provide stability training for the smaller muscles that support the shoulder function and you’ll strengthen the muscles that help generate some force for upper body strikes.
Like burpees, press ups can be adjusted to increase the level of difficulty – you can adjust foot and hand position, change movement patterns and increase range of movement.