There’s been a fairly long-running debate between marital artists on whether lifting weights is a good or bad thing for us to do. Many nak muays wonder whether weightlifting is beneficial to their Muay Thai at all.
Well, the sports science is in, and lifting weights (in the right way) is definitely going to benefit your performance in Muay Thai.
When I say "the right way," I mean not lifting like a bodybuilder, which is what most people think of when they think of weightlifting. So, we aren’t going to be talking about bicep curls or tricep pushdowns, as those exercises aren’t the best for increasing overall sports performance.
This means that you are going to need to:
For this list, we are going to focus on less traditional weightlifting exercises. This means we aren’t going to be talking about your average deadlift, bench press or weight squat here, as you probably already know that those exercises are beneficial to you. If you didn't know... then, you're welcome!
Let's talk weights!
1 TRAP BAR DEADLIFT
OK, so I know that I literally just said we aren’t going to be talking about your average deadlift, but this is not your average deadlift. The trap bar, also known as a hex bar makes a deadlift variation that is much easier and safer for lifters who don’t have much experience. (If you're reading this and learning a lot, it's safe to say you fall into that category.)
With the handles being at the sides, this means that it becomes easier to keep good posture and form. This position also allows you to load more weight on the bar safely.
Aside from this deadlift variation being a good option for people who don’t have much experience lifting, this deadlift has a ton of benefits to performance in terms of helping to generate force in your legs, even more so than the standard deadlift.
One problem is that it is a somewhat niche piece of equipment, so you might not have access to this bar.
2 FRONT SQUAT
Kind of like with the trap bar deadlift above, I know I said no squats, but once again, this isn’t your average weighted squat.
The front squat, where the bar rests in front of you on your shoulders rather than on your back, is a great way to strengthen your legs and hips, while also promoting good posture.
The front squat forces the person doing it to keep a straight back and good posture, or else the weight will fall over. This not only forces you to train your legs but also your back muscles and your core in order to stabilize yourself and keep good posture.
It’s really easy to lean over while doing a normal back squat so that you can cheat and put more weight on the bar. The front squat builds good posture habits that will benefit you in the Muay Thai ring and in your general life.
3 FARMERS WALK
The farmers walk is an incredibly simple exercise, but it has a ton of benefits for fighters, especially us nak muays.
The farmers walk is just as simple as picking up two equal weights in both hands, keeping your core tight, and walking for a set amount of time or laps.
This might seem fairly easy, and when you start doing them, the first few seconds or laps it will, indeed, feel easy. Where this becomes hard is right after you complete the first third or quarter of your set, where your forearms and hands start burning.
This helps not only build the strength in your forearms and hands, which is very important for the clinch in Muay Thai, but it also helps build strength and endurance in your shoulders and back, especially the trapezius areas.
If you want to add an extra challenge to this, you can drop one of the weights and only hold weight in one hand to make this a suitcase carry. The suitcase carry is basically the same exercise, but since you’re only holding a weight in one hand, it really challenges your core, as you need to strongly brace it so that you don’t bend over or start drifting to the side as you’re walking.
Whatever you do, nak muay... Don't neglect those dusty old weights at the gym or your home. Incorporate them into your Muay Thai workout routine and you will see a massive, positive difference!
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