If you are a Muay Thai practitioner, prioritizing your overall health and wellness is a key factor in the ability to practice Muay Thai long-term. This includes eating well, sleeping well, and keeping your physical body strong. Muay Thai is an excellent way to give you an incredibly strong and fit body, but supplementing or cross-training your Muay Thai training with a few other types of workouts will definitely benefit your Muay Thai game overall.
Resistance bands are one of the easiest fitness tools to add to your weekly workout routine. They are small, compact, can travel with you, and are an inexpensive tool to throw into your gym bag. They come in a few different types and styles, making a great deal of strength and mobility exercises available right in your pocket. If you’d like to add resistance bands to your gym bag and your routine, check out these ideas.
What Are Resistance Bands?
Resistance bands, sometimes referred to as loop bands, are circular elastic bands. Coming in various thicknesses, when pressure is applied against the band, it creates varying amounts of resistance for your body to work against.
Thicknesses of bands can vary from very thin and light to thick and heavy. Not only can you find resistance bands in a variety of weights, but you can find two distinct types of band lengths. Bands typically come in shorter lengths, measuring approximately 12”/30 cm around, but they also come in longer lengths around 40”/100 cm or so. They also come in single strips (not circular, but a long piece of the same material), but the loops tend to be easier and quicker to throw on and utilize.
Exercises With Resistance Bands
Here are 9 resistance band exercises to develop strength and mobility for all Muay Thai practitioners:
1) Pallof Press
This exercise is an incredible core-builder. It causes an enormous amount of stability throughout your core and shoulders and is a great asset for your Muay Thai game. Here’s how to do it:
- Tie a long band to something stable, like a stair railing, a piece of fitness equipment, or even a mounted wall hook.
- Stand perpendicular to the band while holding the band in your hand closest to the anchor point.
- Extend the band forward, putting tension on the band.
- Stabilize your hand with your opposite hand.
- Placing your hands at the center of your chest, press the band straight out in front of you, ensuring to remain stable and not allowing the band to pull your arms back toward the anchor point. Return your arms smoothly back to your body.
- Complete 3 sets of 10 reps on each side.
2) Squat Walks
This exercise utilizes smaller bands. There are many variations of this movement, all of which are incredible for leg and hip strength. Place the band around your ankles or just above the knee (do not place bands on the knee joint), and try some of these variations:
- Lateral Movements: Create a slight bend in your knee. Step your left foot out laterally, then follow with your right leg. Continue the lateral squat-stop pattern for 10 paces left, then return to the right.
- Zig Zags: Facing forward, step out at a 45-degree angle, and follow with your back foot. Then, take the back foot and step at a 45-degree angle in the other direction. The result is a zig-zag motion down the mat. Repeat moving backward.
- Stationary Side Stepping Squats: Standing in a single spot, step out with your left leg and do a full squat. Return your foot to the center position, then repeat on the right side.
3) Shoulder Mobility & Strength
This is an excellent exercises for your smaller looped bands. If you need a quick and easy exercise to warm up your shoulders effectively before hopping on the mats, try this. Do a set at the start of your Muay Thai training to help keep your shoulders healthy and strong as you train.
- Place the small band around your hands in front of you, setting the loop next to your thumbs.
- Create just enough tension on the band by pulling your hands apart to not allow it to have any slack.
- With your arms extended, draw your hands up and over your head, keeping the same amount of tension on the band the entire time. Return your arms in front of your body. Repeat this exercises 10 times.
4) Rainbows For Mobility
These are another great way to warm up and protect your shoulders before your next Muay Thai class. This option, however, utilizes a long band instead.
- Grab the ends of the bands. You can adjust your hands in or out of the band based on the amount of resistance you need and your current mobility.
- While keeping tension on the band, pull your hands up and over your head in the shape of a rainbow, moving all the way over your head and ending at your lower back. Return using the same rainbow shape back to the front of your body.
5) Glute Bridges
Glute bridges are an excellent way to warm up your glutes and get them to engage properly before stepping onto the mats. Even without a band, glute bridges are one of the best ways to get your glutes working, which will help to protect your knees,too! Here’s how to do glute bridges with the smaller looped bands:
- Loop your band around your legs, just above your knees.
- Lie flat on your back, and plant your feet on the ground with your knees bent up toward the ceiling.
- Press through your heels to elevate your body while keeping tension on the band. Lower yourself back down and repeat.
- Try holding for a few seconds at the top, pressing out at the top to create extra tension, or doing short pulses at the top before lowering back down.
6) Lateral Raises
Lateral raises are excellent for strengthening your back, but they will also hit your core and shoulders, too. For this one, you’ll need to utilize one of the longer resistance bands.
- Standing upright, step your right foot into the band and place it on the floor.
- Grab the band at the other end with your left hand.
- Pull the band across your body and out, making a diagonal line with the band from your foot to hand.
- Maintain good posture throughout the movement, engaging your core to stabilize you as you complete a set of 10 on each side.
7) Bent Over Rows
Another great exercise for strengthening your back and also your biceps is a bent-over row utilizing the long band. This is an easy way to both warm up and strengthen your body for Muay Thai.
- Fold your long band against itself, and loop it under both of your feet, standing about shoulder width apart (each foot will be standing on a doubled-up band, not inside the band).
- Create a slight bend in your knees as you lean your upper body forward a bit.
- Grab the ends of the band with both of your hands, so that between your hands and feet you have created a U-shape.
- Pull the band back towards your hips in a rowing motion, engaging your back and core throughout the movement.
- Try holding for various lengths at your hip before releasing it back down.
8) Kick Outs
This is a simple exercise that will work your legs with some serious burn. As an added benefit, you’ll be on one foot for these exercises, meaning your core will be engaged and your body will also get the benefit of working on stability, which as we know is a key skill in Muay Thai. This one is done with the shorter bands.
- Place the band around your ankles, and stand with your feet just barely putting tension on the band.
- While standing on one leg, kick out the other leg to the side ten times in a row. If you need to set your foot down in between, you can, or you can try to repeat without setting your foot down at all.
- Try doing front kick outs and back kick outs too.
- Rotate between your left and right foot to allow your legs to rest in between – these create quite the burn!
9) Pull Aparts
This last one is a great one for warming your shoulders up before Muay Thai, and also for generating some great mobility for your shoulders and back. Add this one in before your training session to keep your shoulders healthy. This uses the long band.
- Fold the long band on itself.
- Grab the ends with each hand and hold the band upright in front of your chest.
- Slowly and steadily pull the band apart, engaging your back muscles.
- Stretch your arms and the band out until the band is pulled across your chest, hold, and retract it back forward again.
Resistance Band Exercises For Muay Thai
Whether your goal is to build some strength or to improve your mobility for Muay Thai, resistance bands (in both long and short form) are one of the easiest, on-the-go tools for your gym bag. Adding just a couple of shoulder warm-up and strengthening exercises will help keep you on the mats and healthier longer. Be sure to grab some bands for your bag, and add these exercises to your routine.
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