A Muay Thai Miscellany

Cycling for Muay Thai

Low Impact Cardio Conditioning

Wait, what? Cycling for Muay Thai? What have the two sports got to do with each other? Read on and find out.

Lungs of Steel

The other day at the gym after a training session, I hung around for a bit and chatted with one of my instructors, Kru Non. Kru Non has put on a bit of weight over the years but during his prime, the man was a lean, mean machine who had 3 Lumpinee championship titles to his name. The man is still superbly agile and his powerful teeps always send me a mile away. Anyway, a casual chat about cardio training led to me asking about his fighting days where he shared that he was often made to do 9 rounds of pad work. Now, that was on top of running, skipping, bag work, sparring, clinching and all that stuff. To me, that is just amazing. It takes absolute grit, dedication and a set of lungs cast in steel to survive a training routine like that. The stuff that champions are made of.

I too would like to build that kind of capacity for 9 rounds of pad work. Or at least 5 rounds without feeling like I needed to be on life support. I have been trying to work on my cardio conditioning of late and had taken to running on an even more regular basis than before. I’m 39 this year and have never really been athletic my entire life so the increased frequency in running has started to give me creaky knees of late. It has possibly got a little to do with poor running form but I would attribute it more to just wear and tear that comes with age. Nothing too serious but just to not let it deteriorate further, I reduced the frequency to jogging twice a week in the nights with another night reserved for sprint training. For additional precaution, I have also taken to wearing knee guards when I run. But I knew I needed to up the ante to see any apparent improvement.

Enter the stationary bike. Now I never did like cycling, for whatever reason. Maybe it’s the way my balls get uncomfortably pressured on the bicycle seat. Anyway, a relative was moving and she asked if anyone wanted her bike and long story short, it’s now in my home and I have started taking the bike on a daily ride.

Running vs Cycling

Hands down, long-distance running is still the most widely accepted form of cardio conditioning, especially in the world of Muay Thai. Many Thai fighters love it and swear by it. Celebrity fighter, Buakaw, is well-known for his love of running and has taken to organize the “Amazing Thailand Buakaw Country Marathon” earlier this year in his home town of Surin. The thing about running is that it’s not the gentlest of sports for the knees and not all of us are built like the Thai fighters. But it works the calves, the shins, the bones while developing aerobic endurance.

Like I said, I didn’t really have much of a choice so it was either swimming or cycling to supplement my training. As much as I like to swim, having a stationary bike at home conveniently eliminates that option. After a few months of wheels spinning, I have to say, “so far, so good!”


Benefits of (Indoor) Cycling

I can obviously see the fun of outdoor cycling but the only reason I have gotten myself on the bike is to work on my cardio with minimal logistics. There are good reasons why stationary bikes are the ubiquitous cardio equipment in all gyms. Here are a few of its benefits:

Low Impact
This was precisely the main reason I started subscribing to the cult of indoor cycling. Other than swimming, this is the best cardio-conditioning exercise that doesn’t wreck the knee joints of us aging old farts. It’s also leisurely enough a workout with the tv or music switched on while working up a good sweat.

Increase Muscular Endurance
Whether pedaling full-speed or with resistance, cycling can really increase the muscular endurance of muscles groups in the lower limbs. These consist of the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and  the calf muscles, all of which help to develop a stable base for balance and powered-up kicks in Muay Thai. You get what you put in, so the harder you pedal, the more effective it is as a strengthening and conditioning exercise.

Weatherproof
No excuses. Indoor cycling is so damn convenient, there is just no excuse to not put in the daily grind on the bike for some cardio when the equipment is just right in your home. Summer or winter, wet or excessively dry, no climatic conditions can deter you from working out with a stationary bike. Quick warmup and you are ready to go.


Best Indoor Stationary Bike Review

This is a bit of a stretch since I have had only experience with 2 stationary bikes so I can’t tell you what THE best stationary bike option there is among the thousands of models in the market. In my experience, however, they have been excellent workout equipment that I would not hesitate to recommend. I’ll be reviewing both of them here: one of which, I use at home, while the other is the one at my gym. If you have been looking around or plans to get a bike to add to your training routine, here are 2 stationary bike models for your consideration:

Exerpeutic Folding Upright Bike

All the nifty features that you can expect from a stationary bike are all available with this bike model that I use on an almost daily basis. Adjustable tension on the wheel for added resistance, heart rate monitor to check if you are working hard enough, adjustable seat for best ergonomics, folding bike for easy storage and all at a great price, no less. Now, this also happens to be the best-selling stationary bike on Amazon with over 4000 positive reviews. That’s good enough a reason for my relative to get this bike which I’m now enjoying as part of my exercise routine.

The bike is stable enough and doesn’t feel wobbly despite being a folding bike. The seat does get hard after about 30 minutes of pedaling but if you cycle hard enough, clocking 30 minutes is all you need for a really good workout. Besides, the literal butt-hurt seems to goes with every other bike so i don’t think you can help it. The build quality is really excellent and mine has seen over 3 years of usage and showing no signs of letting up. I fully endorse this bike and it looks set to serve me for many more years to come. Highly recommended.

User Feedback
Easy to assemble, takes up minimal space. Nice variety of resistance options. Love it.
– “The bike is nice. The only problem is the bracket that holds a cell phone is too close to my leg.
– “So quiet that I can use this bike while my baby is asleep!! Also, for the price, this is an excellent bike!!!!
Rating: 4.4 Stars (4.4 / 5)

>> Click here to purchase Exerpeutic Folding Bike on Amazon<<


Schwinn Airdyne AD6 Upright Exercise Bike

Can the smarty-pants who came up with this idea of having a fan on a stationary bike please, stand up? Clever little idea to have a fan wheel keep you cool while you work up a sweat. This is a pricier option than standard models but it has some additional features that you wouldn’t usually get with other bikes.

First, the inclusion of movable handlebars offers a full-body workout which is a lovely feature. The build looks real solid and also compact compared to the usual plasticky and bulky bikes. The fan is great and the faster you pedal, the stronger the wind it delivers. This is also a hot-looking piece of machine that looks good enough to be a decorative piece in any designer homes. Assembly takes around an hour based on reviews or you can have someone come in and set it up for you.

Cons: Same issue with the Exerpeutic bike in the form of butt-hurt after approximately 30 minutes of usage. The lack of a heart-rate monitor is a tad disappointing for me too but with I have a FitBit fitness watch so that’s taken care of. Overall, still an awesome piece of exercise machine if it fits your budget.

User Feedback
The AD6 is a great piece of exercise equipment. It is compact good-looking, and effective.
– “The machine is sturdy even when pushing the machine hard during intense workout.
– “ the seat hurts a bit, but from what I’ve gathered, the same holds true to just about every bike seat. You just need to get used to it.
Rating: 4.1 Stars (4.1 / 5)

>> Click here to purcahse Schwinn AD6 Airdyne Bike on Amazon <<


Conclusion

The one thing I can proudly conclude about training Muay Thai is this: it pushes us to become the best version of ourselves. Be it diet, general lifestyle habits, and striving to improve different aspects of performance in Muay Thai, we are always finding ways to achieve the high standards we set for ourselves. No excuses. Find ways to make things happen. Cycling is as good as it gets as a cardio workout so if your knees are yet conditioned for running, working on the stationary bike is a good alternative. Maybe you won’t get to surviving 9 rounds of intensive pad work yet but keep on the daily grind and let’s make it happen. Train hard today so that your future self can thank you.

Chok dee!

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