The Muay Thai Experience

Interested in Muay Thai?

MTT

You should be! Muay thai is an incredible sport that requires mental and physical fitness, focus, discipline, and a willingness to learn. Muay thai is one of the most respected sports in the world and has been increasing in popularity all over the world.

Muay Thai in North America

Muay Thai is definitely becoming more and more popular in North America. Where once boxing dominated the combat sport landscape, now it is merely part of skyline where MMA and other forms of martial arts dominate. This has led to an increased knowledge base among North Americans, and simply becoming more educated about muay thai has appeared to have resulted in a marked increase in popularity.

There are numerous muay thai gyms across North America, particularly in larger towns and cities. If muay thai is something you are interested in, we highly suggest visiting a local gym and asking for some information or a quick tour. We find that most trainers are thrilled to show their facility to prospective athletes, and they are usually pretty straight up about things.

Lots of people are intimidating to begin a combat sport without previous experience. It’s easy to say that everyone starts somewhere, but muay thai is different than other sports in that there seems to be a much greater sense of community. Moreover, in North America, most people who sign up at a muay thai club or gym usually don’t have any experience.

Additionally, do not worry if you are not in shape, as you will get in shape. Some people think that since they are currently athletes in different sports, that they will become accustomed to a muay thai workout immediately. This is not the case, as it is so completely different from most other sports. Muay thai is very specific, and no matter what your general fitness level is, you will have to become accustomed to the sport-specific techniques before fully participating in an individual workout.

Traveling to Thailand?

Although we haven’t tried this ourselves, we have some very close peers that have experienced training in Thailand for a 6 months to a year, and all have said it’s amazing.

We recognize that simply shipping out to a foreign country and beginning a training program for at least 6 months may not be the most practical route for some, but if it s something that is possible, or you are thinking of traveling south east Asia, then we highly recommend that you at least consider spending some time training in a local muay thai gym. This will offer a true authentic training experience, allowing you to fully immerse yourself within the amazing sport that is muay thai.

Furthermore, these gyms often have a lot of travelers who are doing the same thing, and the gyms are used to this. One may think that by joining a gym you are throwing out the ability to travel, but keep in mind that you will meet lots of traveler at the gym, as well as friendly knowledgeable locals. Many who go this route find that they less like a tourist aimlessly traveling around, and more like a visitor who is accompanied by knowledgeable locals and fellow travelers.

Summary

We realize this may be a stretch for most, but for some this may represent an ideal option for traveling and experiencing a culture in a totally unique way.

Warm-Up for Muay Thai

Our Thoughts on a Proper Warm-Up

MTWEvery muay thai fighter, boxer, MMA fighter, etc, has their own preferred warm up routine. The end goal is common – You are sufficiently prepared to give 100% during your actual workout without fear of preventable injuries. This sounds simple, but depending on history of injuries, training status, and goals, workout routines can actually differ by quite a bit.

Champion Muay Thai Warm Up

For anyone who is interested, we thought we would provide our own warm up structure with brief explanations, in case it can add to or improve anyone’s warm up routine. There are three different aspects to focus on, of which we will break down into specific exercises:

  1. Maintain an elevated heart rate
  2. Perform proper stretching techniques
  3. Incorporate some aspect of coordination into the warm up

Maintain an Elevated Heart Rate

Basically, what we are saying here is “get the blood flowing”. This is arguable the most important part of the warm up, and something most people do a good job with, as it’s not overly complicated. The purpose is actually in the name: Warm Up. During a warm up, you want your muscles to become sufficiently warm in order to properly prepare for stretching. Even without stretching, engaging in activity once already warm can reduce the risk of injury.

In our opinion, it’s best to maintain an elevated heart rate for at least 5-10 minutes before engaging in the actual workout. How high you have your heart rate may vary by individual, the training regime, and many other factors. To make things simply, we often recommend that people work at 75% during a warm up. Nothing to exhaust yourself, but you also want to feel a shift from being at rest to actually performing physical work. A good exercise for this is skipping, as it’s simple, requires minimal equipment, engages the entire body, and can be adjusted to any pace you see fit.

Perform Proper Stretching Techniques

Generally speaking, dynamic stretching is better before training, and static stretching is better after training during the cool down or recovery phase. Most people think of stretching as being an uncomfortable position that you hold for a long period of time, like a sit and reach stretch. This is static stretching, and although there’s nothing wrong with it and it is actually preferred during the cool down, it has been shown to reduce subsequent peak power output by up to 8%, which could be the difference between a knockout and being knocked out!

Therefore, dynamic stretching has become more and more popular for warm ups, as it does not have the same detrimental effect on performance. Classic examples of dynamic stretches include arm circles, leg swings, body rotations, anything where you are performing repetitive movements that also elucidate a stretch.

Coordination

To finish off the warm up, we often suggest to finish by performing some sport-specific exercises at 75% intensity. A classic example in boxing is shadow boxing, something that is also popular in a muay thai warm up. Another exercise could be working on leg strikes or anything else with a kicking motion, where instead of focusing on power you are focusing on range and technique.

There are two main benefits to finishing with the coordination exercises. The first is that it provides an excellent segue into your actual workout. Instead of an apparent contrast between the warm up and the workout, you are gradually easing yourself into the workout, so it sort of blends together instead. Secondly, if you are not properly stretched or feel like something is off in a particular joint or muscle group, the sport-specifc exercises at light intensity may allow you to recognize this before an injury occurs, either allowing you to stretch more, rest more, or seek some sort of care for the injury.

Summary

At the end of the day, the main thing is that you do SOMETHING before your actual workout. If you bear in mind the three main points above, then you are already well on your way. Good luck!