Whether you’ve just started training Muay Thai, or you’re experienced and simply looking to step up your game; training tips are always helpful.
Training Muay Thai is a journey, and there is always more to learn whether you’re a Thai boxing beginner, or a seasoned fighter.
Here are my top Muay Thai training tips to help you break through the next barrier and achieve your training goals.
Hit the gym at least twice a week
There are so many aspects of Thai boxing that you need to work on (fitness, technique, conditioning, strength, to name a few) so you need to train regularly, or there’s no way you will be able to keep up with it all.
Modern life is busy, so this can be tricky, but set yourself at least 2 days in the week where you must train above all other commitments, and cram in more sessions where you can.
Mix in some cardio
Muay Thai demands incredible fitness and stamina levels, so it pays to squeeze in some cardio sessions between your training.
There are lots of ways you can train cardio from jogging, skipping and rowing to HIT workouts and swimming.
Although many Thai boxing enthusiasts will tell you that you must run, it may not be the best approach for you.
Some people get shin splints from running on the pavement, or just find it plain boring.
So pick something that you enjoy, and doesn’t put you at risk of injury.
As long as you go with an activity that gets you out-of-breath and sweating, and keep your sessions above 30 minutes – you will feel the benefits after a month or so.
If you’re pushed for time and space; try these home cardio workouts.
Focus on technique
When training Muay Thai, everybody wants to beat the life out of the pads and whack the heavy bag as hard as they can.
That’s fine, but don’t focus on power over technique.
Good fighters generate the most power with the least amount of effort. That’s how they are able to throw devastating strikes and still last many rounds.
Listen to your coaches intently, and watch the better fighters in your gym – aim to perfect your technique above all else – and power will come with that.
Strengthen your legs
Fighting in any martial art requires a strong pair of legs – particularly Muay Thai.
Kicking obviously engages the leg muscles intensely, but throwing punches and moving around the ring also saps energy from them.
In the latter stages of a fight, a person with weak legs becomes very vulnerable to getting knocked out.
Some good exercises to train legs are:
- Box jumps
- Duck walking
- Kick drills
You can involve weights if you like, but most fighters prefer to practice explosive movements in these exercises to replicate the explosive power needed for kicks.
stretching is an often-overlooked element across all sports, but it delivers big benefits.
Being more limber, flexible, and less prone to muscle injuries than your opponents gives you big advantages.
To give an example of this; if you’re flexible enough to reach your opponent’s head with a kick, but they can only reach your waist with theirs – you’ve got one more attacking option than they do.
You should be stretching to improve your flexibility on an ongoing basis, and you should also stretch after warming up, and after training to prevent muscle strains.
The best way to learn Muay Thai is by speaking to people in your gym or camp, and asking questions.
There are experienced people in every gym, and they have a wealth of knowledge.
If you’re struggling with something, don’t be afraid to ask your coach as they walk past, or pick an appropriate time to ask another person.
And getting to know other people in the gym will generally make training a more fun and social experience for you.
Don’t suffer in silence if you don’t understand something.
Keep your guard up
A strong and persistent guard is essential in Muay Thai.
Dropping your guard leaves your chin exposed to strikes, so you need to keep it up at all times.
But don’t limit your guard to sparring only.
Whether you’re doing pad work, hitting the heavy bag, or shadow boxing – you should always keep your guard up to condition yourself and get yourself in the habit of protecting yourself at all times.
Note: A good pad man should throw occasional jabs and hooks at their partner to ensure their guard is solid.
Your body needs the right fuel when you’re putting it through a high intensity sport like Muay Thai.
Filling your body full of junk food will deprive it of the vitamins and minerals it needs to run and recover.
Get your nutrition in check by eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, and cutting out sweets and fast food.
Before training you should take on a nutritious meal around 2 hours before your session starts, to give your body time to digest it. An ideal meal will consist of a generous helping of carbs for energy (pasta, rice, potatoes), some protein for muscle recovery (fish, meat, eggs) and a portion of veg.
After training, your body will be craving more carbs and protein for recovery, so a post training meal is essential too – perhaps even a whey protein shake.
Take some 1-on-1 sessions
Getting some one-on-one time with an experienced coach is an invaluable experience.
Training in groups is great, but the only issue is that 99% of your mistakes won’t get noticed and corrected.
When you train 1-on-1 with a coach, not only do you get the benefit of their knowledge, but you also get instant feedback on your technique.
Personal training sessions are expensive, so most of us won’t be able to take them regularly. But perhaps book in a couple when you first start to ensure you cover the basics, and then book an occasional session whenever you have the funds to do so.
Rest and recover
When you’re training Muay Thai regularly, your body needs to time to recover and rebuild muscle tissues.
The body does it’s best repair and recovery when you sleep, so try to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night.
Also, try to spread your training evenly throughout the week as much as you can.
Drink plenty of water
Water is needed by the body to maintain a whole host of bodily functions and regulate temperature.
Make sure you drink plenty of water when resting and also take a sports bottle to the gym to sip (when your coach allows drink breaks)
You sweat a lot during training, so it’s vital to replenish those fluids to reduce muscle fatigue and dehydration.
Invest in decent gear
Most gyms will supply the basics, but as you progress in your training you will need to buy some of your own gear – especially for sparring.
So, when buying gear, make sure you do your research and buy from reputable brands. Poor quality gear can hamper your performance, or even lead to injury in the case of protective gear.
I have a number of buying guides for gear with reviews and recommendations here.
Turn up early
Turning up 10 or 20 minutes early to your training sessions has numerous benefits.
You can use the time to warm up, stretch, speak to people, do some bag work, or even just watch other people train.
The best fighters spend a lot of time in the gym, and that’s no coincidence.
Switch partners regularly
Muay Thai requires you to train with a partner quite often.
Whether you’re doing pad work, sparring or drills, you can learn a lot from your partner.
It’s nice when you find a partner you get along with, and it becomes comfortable to train with them all the time… But this is bad for your progression.
To become a better Thai boxer, you must push yourself out of your comfort zone constantly and train with people of different shapes, sizes and abilities – it’s the only way you will learn to adapt to different styles.
If your gym doesn’t already mix partners up, do it yourself by mixing up your training days or telling your long term partner the benefits of training with others – it shouldn’t hurt their feelings 😉
Muay Thai beginner training tips | conclusion
The above tips should give you a good grounding for your Muay Thai training, even if you’re not completely new to the sport.
Muay Thai requires commitment and dedication above all, so set yourself some long term goals and work week by week to achieve them.
Whether you want to compete in the ring, lose some weight, or simply improve your fitness – stay focused and don’t allow minor setbacks to ruin your progress.