Written August 15, 2007
The art of Muay Thai dates back well over two thousand years. The word “Muay” derives from the Sanskrit mavya means “Boxing” and “Thai” comes from the word Tai for the people that created this style of martial art.
Muay Thai is referred to as the “Art of Eight Limbs” or the “Science Of Eight Limbs” because it makes use of both fists, legs, elbows, and knees for striking, thus using eight “points of contact”. Western boxing uses “two points” (both fists), and kickboxing, “four points” (hands and feet) used in other sport-oriented martial arts.
The science of energy systems
While in the ring there are a few energy systems that come in to play, they are “anaerobic” without oxygen and aerobic” with oxygen.
1) ADENOSINE-TRIPHOSPHATE-PHOSPHOCREATINE (ATP-CPR)
It is an anaerobic energy system and is the body’s immediate energy source that transports that chemical energy to our muscular cells and lasts for about 5 seconds. After 5 seconds is then converted to Adenosine-Diphosphate (ADP) which is unusable as a form of energy in the body. To create more ATP for energy the body must then turn to Phosphocreatine (CPR) which another immediate form of energy that can also only last for another 5 seconds or so.
As I’m sure that you all know if you’re on the heavy bag or pads and you start to punch and kick as fast and as hard as you can, for the first few seconds you’ll feel quite explosive. After just 3-10 seconds, some of that explosiveness will subside and you’ll slow down a bit and won’t hit as hard and (or) as fast. That’s ATP-CPR at work.
If activity continues beyond this point, the body must rely on another energy system to produce ATP.
2) GLYCOLIC AND LACTIC-ACID SYSTEM
Glycolysis means the breakdown of glucose. The carbohydrates we eat supply the body with glucose. This energy system comes into play when ATP-CPR runs out. In about 20-45 seconds of sustained activity in this energy system, another decline in energy will be experienced.
The breakdown of glucose then turns into pyruvic acid occurs anaerobically (without oxygen). Pyruvic acid is then converted to lactic acid causing another bout of increase muscular fatigue.
Now since we’re still punching and kicking our lungs out for longer then 3-10 seconds you will move progressively slower. At about 20-45 seconds after your body has run out of ATP-PCR your you slow down even more. Your muscles will begin to burn, your lungs will feel like their on fire and your body will then be forced to drop the pace. You may still have about 1-2 minutes of nonstop work depending on your conditioning. Finally, due to the burning of your lungs and muscles, fatigue has set in and you now have to work at an even slower pace, keep your guard up and move or stop altogether.
Activity beyond this point will force you into another even less powerful energy system.
3) Aerobic System
This is the long duration energy system. This energy system is used throughout the body for producing energy for all metabolic processes. During sub-maximal exercise such as long-distance running, this is the primary energy source.
This system is used to regenerate the ATP that is used for energy in the body. By 5 minutes or less of steady-paced exercise like jogging the aerobic system pretty much runs the show, using fat for fuel.
Now after the bell, you goto your corner and your body will try its best to replenish your ATP-PCR and glycolic stores by turning fat into those energy sub-straights so you can get back to working hard on the bag mitts or your opponent. However for some fighters how aren’t conditioned properly it can be a very slow process.
I feel Muay Thai/Kick Boxing conditioning program should place great emphasis on the first 2 energy systems. When you pay close attention to how many rounds the fight would last, the amount of time in around. That would depend on the organization your fighting for as well as the rest period or the sound of the bell you can find clues on how you should put together your conditioning program.
Let’s take a look at k1. Fights normally are 3 X 3-minute rounds with a 1 minute rest period. So the best option for running would be interval training. It will mimic the work/rest ratios of the fight, the intervals will match the duration of a fight with a 1 minute rest period. Intervals should be kept close to VO2 max, will train the anaerobic lactic acid system as well as provide aerobic benefits. Training in these energy systems will teach the body to adapt to the vigorous demands need for the sport thus producing energy for immediate use at a fast rate.
NOTE: VO2 is the maximum capacity of an individual’s body to transport and utilize oxygen during incremental exercise, which reflects the physical fitness of the individual.
There are many options we can also perform for this type of training, another example is heavy bag work. You could throw continuous combinations against a bag for the amount of time a typical round would last. The lactate threshold is a useful measure for deciding exercise intensity for training and can be increased greatly with training. If the lactic threshold increases it will delay fatigue hence you would be able to work more during the fight.
Work through fatigue and will be stronger when you recover!
NOTE: The lactate threshold is the exercise intensity at which lactic acid starts to accumulate in the bloodstream. This happens when lactate is produced faster than it can be removed. Accurately measuring the lactate threshold may involve taking blood samples during a ramp test where the exercise intensity is progressively increased as well as other methods. – WIKIPEDIA
Statics show the fighter who throws the most strikes generally wins the fight, however, power is also a factor. The ATP-PCr energy system is the powerhouse, this system MUST be trained as well. Training this system will increase your capacity to replenish your ATP-PCr stores which in turn should lengthen the time you can throw power shots.
An example of that would be heavy, fast shots at a bag or pads lasting for no longer than 10 seconds for 10 sets. You can then progress this systematically by adding sets, time and (or) strikes to each round throughout the duration of time you are training the fight.
We now know that we should place most of our emphasis on training the Glycolic and lactic-acid System as well as the ATP-PCR System, however, aerobic energy system training is important.
Endurance training will help your body use oxygen economically by ridding the body of the lactic acid waste by-product hence if you recover fast in between round or during an opponent’s flurry you can go right back to power shots and working with speed.
PROGRAMMING FOR ENERGY SYSTEMS
When programing for energy systems there are a few things to consider. We shouldn’t have one training program for all of your fighters. Some are more aerobically fit than others but they might be slow and lack power. Some have power but lack speed and endurance, others might have speed but no power or endurance. So priorities need to be set for each fighter.
The amount of time we have to train is also a factor. How much time do we have until the fight, how much time throughout the day can the fighter devote to skills training as well as energy systems work and strength training? For the most part, energy systems training and skill training can be intertwined.
The energy system’s work should be cycled. Since the most used system in a fight is the Glycolic and lactic-acid System we shouldn’t drill ourselves into the ground with endless miles of jogging (aerobic system) or nothing but power shots (ATP-PCR system) even though they are factors in the fight and our fighter may lack those capabilities. We can do this through something called periodization.
Periodization is when the time allotted to train for a fight is split up into phases, the phases have different names for each sport but the same rules will apply. This article well will break up our time into three phases.
This program is based on an 8-week training cycle. Some guys and gals who train for upcoming fights have full-time jobs and other responsibilities, we also have to take in to account that time NEEDS to be spent working the bag, pads and sparing. You may have or need more or less time to train for your fight, this is just an example. Also, some fighters may need to focus on strength more than power, speed, and endurance or vise Versa. Like I said this is just an outline, it’s not perfect because it isn’t tailored to any specific person. So take it easy with the hate mail.
1) GPP (General Preparatory Phase)
During this phase, the coach develops the fighters aerobic conditioning I.E. jogging and long less intense intervals. Fight specific aerobic training should also be trained. This phase generally lasts for 1-2 weeks.
During this phase, the coach develops the fighters Glycolic and lactic-acid System using shorter higher intensity interval running as well as the bag, pad, drills, and sparring. During the competition phase, the anaerobic training should shift to emphasize the ATP-PC system while continuing with boxing specific intervals. This phase generally lasts for 2-3 weeks.
During this phase, the coach develops the fighters begin to the ATP-PCR now we focus on power while continuing with fight specific intervals and priming the fighters’ skills. This phase generally lasts for 1-2 weeks.
This time is generally used to iron out some of the kinks your coach may see as well as go over the game plan. It involves very light sparing and pad work. The sessions are shorter than normal and used just to keep the blood flowing as well as keep you sharp. This normally lasts about 1-2 weeks.
Periodizing your conditioning is extremely important when getting ready for a fight. To be at peak performance come fight day we should follow some sort systematic approach towards training.
We shouldn’t head to the gym, do a random workout and expect to come out with a win just because we sweat a bit and got tired. Working out and training are two completely different things. Know the difference! Periodization is extremely important in being at peak performance come fight day, train with a goal in mind.
Stay tuned for part 2 of this series.
TRAIN HARD, TRAIN SMART!!!