Last time we studied a few top Muay Thai fighters for their training routines and fighting styles. We saw how their fighting style may vary, but each fighter used similar training routines and rigorous practice of technique to better themselves as fighters. This time we are going to focus on a bit of strength training to add to our training routine. We are going to look at some example exercises used by Buakaw Banchamek, as well as many other fighters, to increase the power of our punches and kicks. The goal of these strength training exercises is to increase our power and stamina for our body as a whole, by using exercises which work multiple muscle groups. Since during a fight, we will need to deliver powerful strikes and also want to sustain that intensity for as long as possible. The first three exercises require the use of a barbell, and we’ll talk about some exercise later that you could do at home or without free weights. So let’s get into it!
Muay Thai The Landmine Twist
Exercise Breakdown: You should start off slowly, with a 10 lb weight for beginners. Set up the equipment by putting a barbell in a landmine holder or in the corner of a room with a towel on the end to prevent slipping. The motion involves standing with your feet apart at roughly shoulder width, with a perpendicular stance to the bar, and rotating the bar in both hands in an arc motion from one side of your body, over your head, to the other side of your body. Keep your arms fully extended throughout the motion. While you perform the exercise, remain in a standing posture and keep the core tight. The goal is to make the largest arc possible with your arms and with as little movement as possible from your core to increase stability and also build rotational strength. Perform the motion in 3 sets of 10 reps.
The Benefits: The exercise strengthens the shoulders, but more so the core by engaging the entirety of the abdomen and also tones the obliques. A strong core is crucial for protecting your spine and lower back, as well as delivering more powerful punches and kicks. This exercise will improve our punching power and also play into kicking power, which both incorporate core stability and rotational strength.
Muay Thai Landmine Reverse Lunge & Knee
Exercise Breakdown: Using the same barbell with an appropriate amount of weight on the end, hold the barbell at your chest with both hands and a stance perpendicular to the bar. Then perform the reverse lunge by putting one foot behind you lunging down and shift the bar into the hand of the side which you are lunging backward (see image below). This will focus the weight to the side of body we are working and increase stability. On the return to standing position, follow the reverse lunge with a knee strike explosively with the same leg. This will build strength for each leg and work your core on both ends of the exercise. Perform the motion in 3 sets of 10 reps.
The Benefits: The lunge is great at targeting the core, glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves. The low lunge position focuses on the glutes and hamstrings, and the knee strike also focuses on additional loading on the glute at the base of the leg, by squeezing at the top of the movement. This will also help with your shield block speed and increase stability.
Muay Thai Landmine Push Press (Single-handed)
Exercise Breakdown: Place your feet in your fighting stance, to train body movement for power punching. To begin, place one end of the barbell in a landmine holder (or in a corner of a room), grip the opposite end of the barbell in one hand holding the bar with your elbow completely bent and the bar just above your shoulder for that arm. Drive the bar explosively away keeping the bar in line with your shoulder to full extension, then lower bar back to the starting position with control, (see image below for breakdown). Repeat as you feel necessary. An alternate exercise for the lead arm and the rear arm, to build both your jab and your rear straight. The landmine push press is great cause it works the obliques, the shoulder, and the triceps building our power and strength for punching. Perform the motion with 3 sets of 10 reps.
Another great means of building strength is running! Running actually works the core, legs, back, and hip muscles all at once, while building our endurance. If we remember from last week, all three fighters started each training session with a run for a warm-up. Not only does it build muscle strength, but it also builds bone strength and density from repetitive pounding against the ground surface. Running will also increase your stamina for training sessions, allowing you to give more intensity to your training throughout the entire class. Long-distance running (8-12 km) with intermittent sprinting is recommended. Adding this to your training routine will build leg muscle and strength, which is essential to all Muay Thai students. With all the standing, shuffling, kicking, and throwing of knees, having strong legs with lots of stamina is crucial to sustaining a good performance during a fight.
To recap, we’ve learned 3 new exercise we can add to our training regimen to not only increase our power and strength, but also increase our muscle endurance to sustain powerful strikes for a longer time period. The Landmine Twist is great for working our core and shoulders, increasing our punching power and protecting our spine and abdomen. The Landmine Reverse Lunge & Knee Strike is good for working our legs and our core, building strength and stability for our kicks and knees. The Landmine Push Press is excellent for building our shoulder and arm strength to pack more power into our punches. Lastly, a great means of building strength and endurance for sustaining our intensity during our training sessions and during our fights is simply running. In the case you don’t have access to a gym, one can use a multitude of whole-body exercises to increase strength and endurance such as pull-ups, burpees, push-ups, squats, planks, and lunges using your own body weight. So next time you wonder why your coach is making you do a circuit of stacking bricks and burpees, it’s not to make you suffer it’s to make you stronger and increase your endurance simultaneously. Muay Thai demands strength from the whole body and today we learned a few exercises that can help us improve our entire body for better performance in the future. Until next time!