Top 10 Plyometric Exercises For Muay Thai


By Sean Fagan

Muay Thai fighters rely on fast, explosive movements like hopping, jumping, kicking, pushing, punching and throwing. Since fighting involves these types of explosive, powerful movements, it’s super important for all a nak muay to incorporate plyometrics into their training routines.

Performing plyometric exercises, like the ones listed below, help build explosive strength using natural dynamic movements from bodyweight training, kettle bell movements and other types of exercises. It’s crucial that a fighter develops these fast twitch muscle fibers to perform the intense energy bursts that are needed throughout a fight.

Needless to say, a Muay Thai fighter who trains with plyometrics will have more explosive, powerful strikes as well as better cardio than their opponent.

Plyometrics is the science examining the explosive movement generated by muscle power, with particular application to sport training and performance. Since power is the product of speed + strength, the ability of a fighter to generate force in a short period of time is at the root of developing greater explosive effect. Plyometrics training is designed to develop rapid alterations of eccentric and concentric contractions, while constant resistance is applied to the target muscle or muscle group.

When you improve your vertical jump, you are also improving your explosiveness, speed and agility. This means you’ll be able to jump higher, kick and punch with power and speed, move in and out quickly, explode to throw flying knees, and defend much more efficiently.

Performing plyometric exercises also develops your fast twitch muscles fibers, particularly IIB, as they produce greater peak power and more force at higher velocities. For the Muay Thai fighter it is a super important to develop fast twitch muscles fibers in your body to increase the power and effectiveness of your strikes.

Top 10 Plyometrics Exercises for Muay Thai,  MMA, and Combat Sport Athletes

Plyometric training should be progressive in volume with low reps and sets, but with maximum effort. These movements together do NOT make up a workout but are my top 10 plyometric exercises that all fighters should implement into their overall Muay Thai strength and conditioning training throughout the year.

plyometric pushups for muay thai strength and conditioning workouts

1. Barbell Jump Squats

This is an advanced movement and should be performed after you can do bodyweight jump squats efficiently and you have lower body strength. It’s a great exercise to develop speed and stamina for strikers and kickers.

2. Plyo Push Ups 

Probably the best out of the upper body explosive exercises. Not to mention, when you can get the entire body off the ground then it becomes a full body exercises. You will see improvement in your pushing, punching, and clinching when you incorporate this plyometric exercise.

3. Skipping/Jump Rope

The simplest yet least used plyometric exercises by most athletes (not talking to you Muay Thai fighters and boxers out there, you get it). I can’t understand why fighters don’t warm up with and incorporate skipping into training because it’s such a great fast twitch muscle builder!

4. Tuck Jumps

This explosive movement also helps to develop dynamic power in the legs and overall speed and agility. The tuck jump exercise ranks near the top of the list for developing explosive power using only an athlete’s body weight.

5. Box Jumps 

Great exercise to improve the explosive power in the lower body and glutes. Building these muscles will be key to developing knockout power in your kicks as well as better overall  movement.

6. Explosive Step Ups 

This unilateral explosive movement works each leg separately. Many movements in martial arts start and end with one leg, so training unilaterally (one limb at a time) is crucial.

7. Lateral Jumps – One-Legged Hops 

Lateral plyometric jumps are advanced exercises that can be used to develop power, agility and balance. Lateral movements, both bilateral and unilateral not only improve strength, stability and coordination, they also help reduce the risk of injuries by enhancing balance and proprioception through the whole body.

8. Medicine Ball Throws

Using a weighed medicine ball adds intensity and builds punching strength.
Medicine ball throw and sprawls develop upper body explosiveness along with adding an explosive sprawl to the ground which will also build your cardio. Medicine ball chest passes are also great for developing fast twitch muscles in the upper body, which you will benefit from if you want to throw more powerful punches.

Speaking of powerful punches, the hip rotation is where most of your punching and kicking power is generated so side rotation med ball wall throws are great to help develop explosiveness.

9. Bounding/Long Jumps

This is a great way to develop lower body explosive strength and power. You will need overall lower body strength as well as a good hip thrust to perform long jumps effectively. You’ll also want to make sure you do these right so you do not injure yourself or aggravate your knees and sore shins.

10. Depth Jumps 

In my opinion there isn’t an exercise more effective for increasing lower body explosive power than properly executed depth jumps. This movement puts a huge stimulus on the CNS and can lead to huge improvements in explosiveness. To perform depth jumps correctly make sure when you contact the ground from the drop to avoid hitting your heels. Once you feel the balls of your feet touch, that’s when you should explode back up from the jump. 

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