Muay Thai is one of the most rewarding martial arts you could choose to learn. Also called the ‘art of eight limbs’, it’s arguably the best striking-based martial arts as its practitioners tend to excel when they test their skills against strikers from other styles.
Muay Thai teaches you how to use your fists, elbows, knees, and shins as devastating weapons that can end a fight in an instant. You are also taught how to defend against these attacks. That gives Muay Thai fighters a significant edge against other strikers since no other purely striking-based martial art uses all these weapons. Mixed martial arts is the only other combat style that allows elbows, knees, shins, and fists as weapons.
As a Muay Thai fighter, your primary focus should be improving your techniques through consistent training. However, you should also take steps to improve your power and strength since that helps your Muay Thai game. Honing Muay Thai techniques alone won’t develop these attributes to their full potential. Sure, training on its own will make you stronger and more explosive eventually, but there are more effective ways to build the muscles used for your techniques like weightlifting.
Fighters sometimes make the mistake of thinking they can develop all the attributes they need to reach their full potential like speed, strength, and cardiovascular endurance simply via training, but that isn’t true. Training will improve all these attributes, but strength and conditioning will take them to their full potential.
Some of the benefits of adding a strength and conditioning program to complement your Muay Thai training include:
- It addresses strength imbalances and improves posture;
- It gets you close to your maximum power and strength potential, making it easier for you to overwhelm opponents physically;
- It gives you more energy for sparring and fights, and
- It improves your ability to execute new techniques.
Exercises to improve your strength and power for Muay Thai
Let’s take a look at some exercises you can perform to make your Muay Thai techniques more powerful and explosive:
1) Side-Lying Clams With Resistance Bands
This exercise targets muscles like your gluteus medius and hip abductors: muscles that are engaged whenever you throw a kick. Targeting these muscles makes your kicks faster and more powerful. Here’s what the exercise looks like:
- Put a resistance band around your legs, right above your knees.
- Lay on a side with your knees at a 45-degree angle. Your hips and legs should be stacked.
- Tighten your abs to stabilize your core.
- While keeping both feet in contact with each other, raise your upper knee as high as you can get it without moving your pelvis or hip. Keep your lower leg on the floor the entire time.
- Pause at the top of the movement for a few seconds before returning your top knee to the starting position. Perform 20 reps on each side to complete a set. Aim for three sets.
2) Lying Lateral Leg Raises With Ankle Weights
The goal of lying lateral leg raises is to bring your legs away from the midline of your body. It helps to build strong hip abductors and outer thighs. It targets the gluteus medius and minimus, which conventional exercises for your legs – like squats – often neglect.
Lateral leg raises help to stabilize your body, improve the range of motion in your hips, and improve your muscle endurance. Here’s how to perform the exercise:
- Lay down on an exercise mat with your right side on the floor. Your body should form a straight line with your feet stacked on each other and your legs extended.
- Place your right arm on the floor under your head or use your elbow to support your head. Extend your left arm. You can rest it on your hip or leg if that feels more comfortable.
- Slowly bring your left leg off the ground. Stop when the muscles in your obliques or lower leg contract.
- Inhale and bring your left leg back down and stack your feet as they were when you started.
- Repeat the movement eight to 12 times and switch sides. Perform two to three sets. You can add ankle weights to make the exercise more challenging.
Pull-ups target the muscles in your back, shoulders and biceps, increasing the power in your punches. You can also use variations of the exercise to focus on specific muscles. For example, you can target your biceps by performing pull-ups with a closer, underhand grip.
Here’s what a standard pull-up looks like:
- Grab onto a pull-up bar, so your legs are elevated from the ground. Your arms should be a little more than shoulder-width apart.
- Pull yourself upwards towards the bar, mainly using your back muscles until your chin is at the same level as the bar.
- Pause for a second and slowly return to the initial position. Your feet should not touch the ground.
- Perform about three sets of eight to 12 reps for a thorough workout.
4) Heavy Bag Training
A heavy bag gives you a great way to improve your techniques while increasing the strength and power behind them. You can add wrist and ankle weights to your heavy bag routine for an effective workout that directly improves your fighting ability.
The key to getting the most out of your training is to imagine the heavy bag is an actual opponent, and keeping your techniques tight. Don’t just stand in front of the bag and start blasting away; instead, use your footwork to move around the bag while landing strikes. You want to make it as close to an actual sparring match as you can. Work on the bag at max intensity for five minutes and take a one-minute break. Repeat at least three times.
Deadlifts are one of the most effective ways to build power and strength. The exercise gives you a full-body workout, but it particularly targets your hips, back, and legs. Deadlifts help build a strong core, improve your posture, and make your mobility inside the ring more efficient. Here’s how to perform the exercise:
- Stand behind a barbell with your legs about shoulder-width apart and grab it with overhand grips. Your hands should be outside your legs about shoulder-width apart.
- With your shins barely touching the bar, pull the bar towards you, rolling it up your body as you straighten out your posture.
- Pause at the top and return to the starting position to complete a rep. Aim for three sets of eight to ten reps to build strength and power.
If you are looking for an effective, structured and comprehensive Muay Thai heavy bag drills training guide, consider Evolve University’s Muay Thai Training Series: Heavy Bag Drills, an in-depth online video Training Series taught by legendary Muay Thai World Champions!
No detail is spared as Evolve MMA’s Muay Thai World Champions break down and demonstrate heavy bag drills they use to sharpen their tools and prepare for fights. Learn how different heavy bag drills can develop specific parts of your game while improving your technique, power, balance, timing, and accuracy.
Covering offensive and defensive heavy bag drills on punches, kicks, elbows, knees and the clinch, this training series will help practitioners of all levels grow their game. The drills taught will complement beginners who are developing their Muay Thai fundamental techniques and also educate them on important Muay Thai fundamental concepts. Advanced practitioners will also benefit from this training series through the various drills explained and demonstrated, allowing them to pick up nuances, fine-tune and improve on their existing game with new drills, and also watch out for common mistakes to avoid.
Packed with 23 chapters of heavy bag drills, 4 hours of on-demand video, Evolve University’s Muay Thai Training Series: Heavy Bag Drills is your ultimate guide to training like a World Champion.
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