Strength and conditioning for Muay Thai can be a tricky bitch sometimes.
I don’t know about you, but I get overwhelmed with the amount of choices I have when it comes to strength and conditioning.
Should I use kettlebells?
Or should I focus more on Olympic lifts? What about body weight circuits?
Should I be doing interval sprints or are long distance runs better?
Is Crossfit a good form of strength and conditioning?
What if I did plyometrics?
See what I mean? My brain hurts just thinking about the different forms of exercises and the various ways of structuring a proper strength and conditioning routine for Muay Thai.
Fortunately, there are guys like Don Heatrick who geek-out about this kind of stuff. All of Don’s posts on strength and conditioning for Muay Thai are top quality and always provide me with useful, practical information and exercises to implement into my training.
Since I’m a big fan of his website, I wanted to pick his brain and really dive deep into the strength and conditioning realm. This past weekend I was able to interview Don for the podcast and the amount of knowledge this guy drops is insane.
I was immediately able to start implementing his training methods and recommendations into my own strength and conditioning routine for Muay Thai.
Since I am currently on a hiatus from the ring (I don’t plan on fighting until the 2nd half of 2015), I really wanted to focus on the strength aspect of my training. Talking with Don and listening to his advice gave me the confidence to create my own strength and conditioning routine that you can follow along with throughout the next few months.
Now, since I am away from competition, I am focusing on one main area of my fitness – strength.
As I get closer and closer to stepping back in the ring I will then move to the other phases of power and speed. But for now, the most important thing for me is building up my strength foundation so when I do start to work on more explosive movements (power) and quickness of my strikes (speed) I will get the best results possible since I have a solid strength base.
Below I’ve written out my main 2 strength and conditioning workouts that I am going to be alternating for the next few months. I might change up a few things every now and again, but this is the main routine that I will be following based on Don’s advice and research:
Before starting these workouts there are a few things to consider.
First, I am lucky enough to have a flexible schedule where I can pretty much workout whenever I want for as long as I want. With that being said, I plan on doing 3-4 workouts a week with each workout being around 2 hours or so.
If you don’t have that kind of time then cut out the exercises you feel aren’t 100% necessary or speed up your warm up/cool down so you can get to the main workout sooner (or just pass up on the cardio at the end). Make sure you DO NOT RUSH your warmup (or any aspect of your training) otherwise it can lead to injuries… which would suck.
Secondly, I am going to be implementing Eric Wong’s Hip Flexibility Solution along with all my workouts. I’ve been doing his program on and off for a little while now, but have yet to stay consistent with it. I have relatively tight hips along with lingering knee and lower back pain, so I’m hoping that I get the results that I’m looking for (mainly eliminating my knee and back pain).
Lastly, I will be doing a steady pace form of cardio (around 75% of my maximum heart rate) of either light jogging, elliptical, biking, or rowing machine. This is essentially to help with my endurance so I can train for longer periods of time and it will also help circulate the blood through my body to aid with muscle recovery.
With “strength” being the main focus here, my rep range will be between 3-5. The key is to make sure that the weight is difficult enough where I can barely do 5 reps while keeping good form. Notice that I said “while keeping good form”… that shit is super important to get the most out of your strength and conditioning sessions and more importantly, to avoid injury.
Along with the heavy weights, I’ll be taking a long break between sets of around 3-5 minutes to allow my muscles and body to recover. However, I tend to find myself shadowboxing in front of the mirror between sets so I guess it’s not a complete “break”.
Foam rolling is fucking awesome. I wish I knew about foam rolling earlier on in my career because it’s been such a huge help in helping with not only warming up my body, but also helping with recovery. If you have access to a foam roller, I’d definitely suggest getting one.
Typically I’ll make sure to hit my calves, hamstrings, IT band, quads, hips, glutes, back, and shoulders. This gets the blood flowing throughout those muscles so when I actually start using them they are warmed up and ready to do.
Performing dynamic movements prior to working out or training is a smart move if you want to avoid injuring yourself.
Eric Wong’s flexibility program can be done before or after a workout.
He recommends before in most cases and I tend to follow his advice especially since I want to make sure I don’t skip it after I’m done doing the main portion of my workout. I’ve also noticed that doing this prior to working out gives me more range of motion to work in too, especially for squats.
Strength Phase – Workout #1
Squat – 3 sets / 3-5 reps max
Lunges – 3 sets / 3-5 reps max (each side)
1-Legged Deadlift – 3 sets / 3-5 reps max (each side)
Weighted Pull-ups – 3 sets / 3-5 reps max
1-Arm Chest Press – 3 sets / 3-5 reps max (each side)
Weighted Dips – 3 sets / 3-5 reps max
Rocky Abs – 3 sets / 3-5 reps max
Strength Phase – Workout #2
Pistol Squat – 3 sets / 3-5 reps max
Leg Press – 3 sets / 3-5 reps max
1-Arm Row – 3 sets / 3-5 reps max
Weighted Chin-ups – 3 sets / 3-5 reps max
1-Arm Shoulder Press – 3 sets / 3-5 reps max
1-Arm Pushups – 3 sets / 3-5 reps max
Ab rollout – 3 sets / 3-5 reps max
Alternating The Workouts
If you noticed, all of the strength and conditioning workouts begin with legs, then move to upper body “pull” and upper body “push” exercises. As I continue to do these specific workout routines, I will mix up the order in which I do the exercises to make sure everything is balanced.
For instance, the first week of workouts I’ll do Legs/Pull/Push. The second week will be Pull/Push/Legs. The third will be Push/Legs/Pull. And so on.
One Arm/One Leg Exercises
I was never big into doing these types of workouts until I started reading Don Heatrick’s blog.
He has a number of great posts but one that stuck out to me was the one he wrote on why fighters should exercise on one leg… it really opened my eyes to why I should be focusing on these types of exercises. Read it for yourself so you understand the importance of training on one leg!
Final Thoughts (And A Bodyweight Workout)
I’m stoked to be trying this strength and conditioning routine!
I’ve already gone through a week of it and it feels good to be hitting the weight room with a purpose again.
If you’re on a hiatus from fighting, or just really want to focus on the strength aspect of your training, then definitely give this routine a try and let me know what you think!
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