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Muay Thai Strength & Conditioning Part 2

Written September 15, 2007


In the last article, we talked about energy systems training and the role it plays during a fight. We also talked about periodization and the phases involved in preparing an effective conditioning program.



In this article, you have laid out a basic strength training program. We will also talk about some of the common concerns and myths of fighters regarding resistance training.



Before we get to the program lets take a look at a couple of training myths





Do you think this guy has no flexibility?


Here is some research that shoots this myth to the ground.


Excerpt published by A.C.S.M
At the American College of Sports Medicine’s 57th Annual Meeting in Baltimore calls that into question. Researchers compared the two techniques’ effect on the flexibility of the same muscle/joint complexes in a five-week intervention. Twenty-five college-age volunteers were randomly assigned to groups performing either resistance training or static stretching. A 12-person control group remained inactive. All were pre-tested on hamstring extension, hip flexion and extension, and shoulder extension flexibility, as well as a peak torque of quadriceps and hamstring muscles. The resistance training and stretching programs focused on the same muscle-joint complexes over similar movements and ranges. Post-tests measured flexibility and strength. The results—which may surprise advocates of stretching to improve flexibility—showed no statistically significant advantage of stretching over resistance training. Resistance training produced greater improvements in flexibility in some cases, while also improving strength.


“The results suggest that carefully constructed, full-range resistance training regimens can improve flexibility as well as—or perhaps better than—typical static stretching regimens,” said James R. Whitehead, Ed.D. FACSM, presenting author of the study.


All this means is if you follow a good, well structured, balanced program and your good!






The idea that resistance training will only make you gain size is FALSE!


When lifting weights over 85 percent of 1 repetition max, the primary stress imposed upon the body is placed on the nervous system, not on the muscles. Therefore, strength will improve by a neurological effect while not increasing the size of the muscles.



NOTE: The amount of weight you can move during a specific movement for a given number of reps is called “repetition max”. In the example above we are using 85 percent of weight, the can be lifted only one time.


Heres a little research to back me up.


A study by Staron et al. (1990) showed that after a 20-week program of heavy resistance training, participants showed decreased body fat with an increase in muscle tissue, however, there was no change in physical size.


So the muscle you build gives tone and shape to your figure as well as stronger bones and will improve your body image and posture. Gaining significant size is a long and somewhat complex process and should be easy to control if you don’t give your body a surplus of calories.


Follow a good program, don’t stuff your face and you’ll get strong as well as stay lean.




These guys can squat hundreds of pounds and rip 100 meters in under 10 seconds.


That’s not slow!


Physics tells us that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Transferring this concept to Muay Thai simply means that the more force we can apply to the ground as we push in a kicking motion, the more force will be returned in the opposite direction in the form of energy to propel your shin towards your opponent.


Since we aim to develop fast powerful movements. This requires a low number of repetitions (2-5) with 75-80% of 1RM. We’ll use this rep range to insure that move that weight as fast as possible without breaking down our lifting technique. We can also develop speed and explosiveness by throwing objects such as light medicine balls even kettlebells and dumbbells.


Again, it’s all neurological. Since we lift moderately heavy weight fast and (or) throw the lightweight as fast as possible you’ve now trained your brain to send the messages to the rest of your body to get things done fast. However, you cant lose sight of the need to develop technique. Technique king as far as the sport as well as the exercise. The strength and power we gained in the weight room will be useless you put the time in on the bag, pads and sparing.


DISCLAIMER: This program is based on an 8-week training cycle, with two or three days a week of strength training. 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 may need more or less time to train for your fight, this is just an example template. 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.




This program would be best split on Monday and Thursday or Tuesday and Friday for 2 days a week. If you have an extra day to train you can do Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday.


Always Remember USE WARM UPSETS. For your work sets, if a lower # of reps is prescribed you can use a heavier load.


STOP 1 rep before your rep speed begins to slow down and (or) your lifting technique starts to look crappy.


Challenge yourself DONT does 12 reps at a weight you could have done 25 reps with. Just increase the weight until you reach the appropriate rep range.


EXAMPLE – If your doing the dumbbell bench press and use two 40lb dumbbells and can bench press them for 13-14 reps and that 14th rep is slow you would use that same weight for the 12 reps prescribed for the 3 working sets.

All movements will be done in a circuit format (back to back), 1a followed by 1b Then 1c. Once the last movement is completed you will rest for the allotted time then repeat till all sets are completed then move on to the next group of movements.







3 sets 8-12 reps.


Rest time for 60 seconds once the reps for each movement per group is completed then continue.


When all settings are completed Rest 2 mins before moving to the next group of exercises


Workout 1


1a) Dumbbell Deadlift


1b) Dumbbell Bench press


1c) Plank (Hold for 30 Secs)


2a) Seated over hand Row


2b) Dumbbell Reverse Lunges


2c) Reverse Hypers




Plate pushes


5 sets 25 yards each set (Use 2 45lb Plates)


Workout 2

1a) Zurcher Squat


1b) Chin-up (palms facing each other)


1c) Hyperextensions


2a) Dumbbell Push Press


2b) Dumbbell Split Squat


2c) Anti rotational Cable or Band presses (with a 1-2 second hold)




Squat Thrust ladder


Do 8 reps then pause for 1 second then 7 reps Pause for 1 second 6 reps, continue this pattern till you reach 1 rep.


You will then go right back up, so you start at 2 reps then pause for 1 second then 3 reps then break for one second then 4 reps then break for one second till you reach 8 reps again.



Strength Phase



Workout 1




Rest no more than 90 seconds between each group of movements. Continue until all sets are completed per group. When all sets are completed Rest 2 mins before moving to the next group of exercises.


5 sets 4 reps


1a) Weighted chin-ups (underhand grip)


1b) Barbell Bench press


3 sets 8 reps


2a) NO hold Dumbbell rows


2b) Floor presses (palm facing each other)


No rest. Do the prescribed reps for A, B and C then go back to A till all sets are completed.


4 sets 12 reps


3a) Ab wheel rollouts


3b) face pulls


3c) Cuban press


Finish with some foam rolling and stretching


Workout 2



5 sets 4 reps


1) trap bar deadlift


3 set 8 reps


2a) dumbbell walking lunges


3 sets 8-10 reps


2b) dumbbell single-leg deadlifts


No rest. Do the prescribed reps for A, B and C then go back to A till all sets are completed.


3 sets 8-10 reps


3a) pull-throughs


3b) overhead rope tri extensions


3c) Hammer curls


Finish with some foam rolling and stretching





Rest no more than 90 seconds between each group of movements. Continue until all sets are completed per group. When all sets are completed Rest 2 mins before moving to the next group of exercises.


Workout 1


6 sets 2 reps


1a)box squat


6 sets 3 reps


1b) box jump/ jump squat


4 sets 3 reps


2a) double dumbbell hang clean+push press


4 sets 3 reps


2b) med ball chest pass


4 sets 25-50 yards ( rest up to 3 mins each set)


3a) heavy sled drags


3b) sprints


Workout 2


6 set 2 reps


1a)barbell deadlift


4 sets 3 reps (each leg)


1b)sprinter leaps


4 sets 5 reps


2a) sled hammer swings


4 sets 3 reps


2b) explosive hand switch inverted rows




5 sets 30-second break after both exercises are completed.


3a) battling ropes 30 seconds


3b) kettlebell swings


Week 8




You have a week before the fight from strength training. This week you’ll also be tapering down with the work that you’re doing with your Muay Thai coach. 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.


Week 9






Understand this program will not make you a better fighter. Resistance training will not help your technique, just compliment it. Put your time in training, live your craft and in the end, you’ll come out with your hand raised!!!

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