Muay Thai is all about being as explosive as possible. There is no need for big muscles. Instead, the aim is for dense fast-twitch muscle to deliver as much power as possible in the shortest amount of time.
This is a circuit I use in my fight camp and can be done by anyone with minimal equipment. It should be done in a circuit fashion – 30 seconds of each exercise where you do as many repetitions as possible. However, the focus should be on being as explosive as possible, rather than aiming for high repetitions. Ten explosive reps is better than 20 slow-paced reps.
You should aim for five rounds (to simulate a muay thai fight). Each exercise is done for 30 seconds and the exercises can be done in any order.
5 x 2-minute rounds (4 exercises per round); 2-minute rest
5 x 2-minute rounds (4 exercises per round); 1-minute rest
5 x 3-minute rounds (6 exercises per round); 1.5 minute rest
Do this workout at least once a week (twice is ideal) and aim to reduce rest time every two weeks.
Stretch the whole body before and after the workout. It utilises the whole body, so it is advised to do this workout on its own – it shouldn’t be done before or after weights.
This works all the right compound muscles to be outwardly explosive. Targets legs, shoulders, core and hips, and teaches the body to work in a co-ordinated fashion, which is vital in any sport. Heavy weight is not needed, just use a weight that you can comfortably shoulder press for 15 reps.
(1). Assume squat, holding dumbbells at shoulders. (2). Lower into squat while simultaneously extending hips and knees to drive out of squat, and push dumbbells overhead. (3). Lower dumbbells to shoulders to return to start position. (4). Return to starting position and aim for as many reps. Repeat for as many reps as possible in 30 seconds.
Focuses on the core, which is essential in any strike. All power is sourced from the core, so it is essential to have a tight core in Muay Thai.
(1). Hold a medicine ball (the non-bouncy type) in your hands at chest level, stand tall and look straight ahead. (2). Raise the ball above your head and stand on your tip toes. (3). Slam the ball as hard as possible in between your legs, keep your back straight and don’t arch your back too much. (4). Pick up ball and repeat for as many reps as possible in 30 seconds.
Power in any punch or kick begins from the ground. So, well-conditioned legs are key to generating power…
(1). Grasp a weight in your hands (dumbbell or kettlebell) and keep it close to your chest for the whole movement. (2). Lower into squat, keep looking straight ahead of you. (3). Explode upwards into a jump whilst keeping the weight at your chest. (4). Land with a slight bend in the legs to take impact off the knees. (5). Stand tall again and repeat for as many reps as possible in 30 seconds.
Focuses on upper-body explosiveness. Beginners start with a wide hand position. Can make variations in hand position and width as time goes on.
(1). Get into a regular press-up position. (2). Lower down and explode up, aiming to propel upper body completely off the floor and clap hands in mid-air. (3). Aim for as many reps as possible in 30 seconds.
The only exercise in the circuit that should be done slowly. Targets the core muscles that are used for stability.
(1). Start by lying down with arms fully extended overhead and legs straight. (2). Keep arms and legs straight and raise yourself off the ground by contracting your core. (3). Aim to touch your toes in the air while keeping legs as straight as possible in a controlled manner. (4). Return to starting position and aim for as many reps as possible in 30 seconds.
The king of back exercises. A strong back means a strong punch. Aim to do these in an explosive manner – pull yourself up explosively, lower yourself slowly. Variance is key here, one week do wide pull ups, the next use a closed grip. Can also switch between overhand and underhand.
(1). Start by hanging with arms outstretched (but not locked) and hands in an overhand grip. (2). Pull yourself up explosively, keeping legs together and core locked tight, until your heads comes above your hands. (3). Lower yourself into the starting position, keeping your body as still as possible. Repeat as many times as you can in 30 seconds.
Aims to boost athletic ability by developing explosive power in the lower body.
(1). Stand tall with chest up, abs and butt on. (2). Initiate descent by pushing hips back and keeping your chest and eyes up. (3). Synchronize arm back swing with hip dip. (4). Explode out of the hole and take off. (5). Allow the arms to lead the direction of the body. (6). Stick the landing in partial squat
Develops explosive power in the legs, and also stability in the core as you are working to balance your body without the use of your arms.
(1). Clasp a dumbbell against your chest; it will stay here throughout the whole movement. Stand tall, facing ahead of you. (2). Lunge forward with your left leg, maintaining a straight back and keeping your chest and eyes up. You want the leg to end at a 90-degree angle. Don’t let your knee bend past your toe (you should be able to see your toes throughout the whole movement). (3). Push off both feet and switch stance in mid-air so that the right foot is now ahead of you bent at a 90 degree angle.