Our Thoughts on a Proper Warm-Up
Every 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:
- Maintain an elevated heart rate
- Perform proper stretching techniques
- 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.
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.
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!