Professional fighters are some of the most hard working athletes in the world. The full-contact and brutal nature of fight sports are highly motivating factors. If you are ill-prepared for a fight, you are putting yourself in danger of getting seriously hurt in the ring.
Professional Muay Thai fighters in Thailand train twice every day in 3-hour sessions that typically involve running, shadow-boxing, bagwork, padwork, sparring, clinching and end off with body-weight exercises. They do this 6 days a week, fighting every month.
Muay Thai training is comparatively less intense for those who practice Muay Thai recreationally but is still one of the most effective fat-melting workouts. Each session of authentic Muay Thai training works the whole body and easily burns around 600 – 700 calories in an hour (depending on your basal metabolic rate).
With consistent and regular training over a prolonged period of time, this is how Muay Thai changes your body: you become stronger, leaner and tougher through effective calorie-burning and conditioning exercises.
Here’s how and why:
Stronger Body – Strengthening
Muay Thai training involves full-body workouts that focus on strengthening and conditioning to prepare for a fight. Core strength and lower body are important in Muay Thai to generate the knockout punch and kicking power, while upper body strength helps in clinching. An overall strong and well-conditioned body (with good cardiovascular and muscular endurance) is necessary so that you do not gas out during a fight. Standard Muay Thai workouts like bagwork, padwork and bodyweight exercises all help to develop the necessary strength and cardio to build a stronger body.
Leaner Body – Fat Burning
Muay Thai fighting/training is anaerobic in nature, which means it is high intensity and makes one feel fatigue in a short amount of time. High-intensity anaerobic exercises burn more calories than aerobic exercises and hence more fat loss while boosting the metabolism for hours after the workout. Training Muay Thai builds lean muscle while burning fat, lending to a Muay Thai fighter’s body which is lean and toned.
Tougher Body – Conditioning
Another effect of Muay Thai training is hardened shins. The conditioning happens due to day after day of repeatedly kicking the kick pads and heavy bags. This change takes place gradually as your skin and muscles break down and rebuild themselves. After a year of training, you will notice that your shins are noticeably harder especially when you compare to people who don’t train. You can expect some bruises in the beginning of your training but these will become less frequent over time. Just don’t expect to be able to be kicking down trees anytime soon.
Ultimately, there are other factors to consider even with a regular Muay Thai fitness routine. There is a saying that “abs are built in the kitchen”. If you do not pay attention to what you put into your body, it will grow sideways. It is also not only about the quantity of food but also the quality.
Diet plays an important part in how your body looks and feels. If you eat unhealthy food (e.g. fast food, pastry etc.) before training, your performance during training invariably suffers as a result and it will be apparent. Incorporate a well-balanced diet into your lifestyle with proteins, carbs, fats and fiber. You will build muscle quicker and have energy for your training sessions.
Check out: Food to eat before Training Muay Thai
Muay Thai may be a brutal fight sport but these days, the majority of people train to get fitter and healthier rather than to fight. You can train Muay Thai to compete or train to get fit which was my main goal when I started training Thai boxing. Either way, with effort and discipline, Muay Thai training will help you achieve a stronger, leaner and tougher body. It is ideal for men and women, young and old alike. Now let’s go get it.