True story: I was at my usual takeout place for lunch after training one day. As I pondered over the exciting menu, the cashier asked why I was always coming in with a huge-ass bag. I replied that I had just finished training at the gym to which she gave me a weirded out look as she scrutinized over my lean frame. She was probably thinking, “seems like the training isn’t very effective”. I neglected to tell her that it was a Muay Thai gym, not a weights gym.
Why are Muay Thai Fighters Skinny?
Muay Thai fighters are skinny because their training is intense. Professional Muay Thai fighters train twice daily, 6 days a week. They only take a week off after a fight and then it’s back to the same routine.
Each session typically start off with a warm-up run followed by shadow boxing, heavy bag training, 5 rounds of pad work, clinching, sparring and ending with some strengthening exercises.
A session lasts about 2 to 3 hours and burns over 1000 calories or more. In Thailand, the weather is hot and humid which lends to increased calorie loss and fat burning. This is why the majority of Muay Thai fighters are skinny.
Starting Muay Thai as a Skinny Guy
Muay Thai wasn’t developed for any body type in particular. So if you feel apprehensive of starting Muay Thai because you are worried about being that slim guy in a room where you think everyone is fit and muscular, dispose of that thought at once!
I have seen men and women of all shapes and sizes coming and training in my gym and everybody seems to be enjoying it.
One of the common concerns that thin people have about starting Muay Thai is if it will end up making them even thinner. You do burn a lot of calories when you train Muay Thai but the high intensity of the workout never fails to work up a voracious appetite.
I now eat a lot more than I used to before I started training Muay Thai. In fact, whenever I have to skip training for a week or two due to travel, injury or whatever reason, I would drop 4-6 lbs (2-3 kg) in weight from eating less.
Also, if you are worried about not being fit enough, not being strong enough, not being flexible enough, or not being physically coordinated enough, you simply worry too much. Muay Thai will make you fitter, stronger, more flexible and the techniques are simple enough to learn that anyone can do it.
Muay Thai Sparring
Would you be at a disadvantage training Muay Thai as a skinny guy? Mostly, no. However, Muay Thai sparring could be a bit of an issue when you are the smallest guy in the class.
While most of your sparring partners will spar light, there is no escaping getting hit in a few rounds of flying fists and spinning kicks. In a sparring session where everyone is at least 2-3 weight classes above yours, the impact of being hit may be perceived differently since a light punch from a big guy could feel like a tank for the littler one.
I have had a few injuries from sparring but never anything serious enough to douse my enthusiasm for sparring or Muay Thai in general. Sparring is fun and is where you learn the most in terms of improving your game.
The heavyweight sparring partners will often take care to not strike too hard against the light- and featherweights. In general, you don’t have to worry about being knocked out. Get properly geared up, train hard and you will -eventually- be able to hold up against anyone in sparring.
However, if the prospects of getting hurt or injured during sparring worries you, you really don’t have to spar at all. Sparring is a personal choice in most gyms and most definitely not included as part of a beginner’s curriculum.
It is also certainly NOT compulsory. You don’t have to be peer-pressured into sparring and you most likely won’t enjoy the experience if it is something you are not comfortable with. Do it only when you are ready.
Muay Thai Gloves For Skinny Guys
I have found that one of the more common problems for thinner people is finding gloves that wraps firmly around the wrists. Your gloves will shift often while you train and may not provide sufficient support for your wrists.
There are many boxing/Muay Thai gloves designed with an added focus on offering more stability and protection for the wrists. Using these gloves will help to minimize any potential wrist injuries.
For more information on wrist support and gloves review, read these articles on Muay Thai Wrist Support or “Best Muay Thai Gloves for Small Hands”.
How to Gain Weight while Training Muay Thai
It IS possible to gain weight while you train Muay Thai. It works for me. In order to put on weight while training Muay Thai, you need to put effort into planning your diet. You will be burning a lot of calories when you train and you need the right nutrition for your muscles.
You not only have to eat more, you also have to eat enough of the right kind of food. (For more weight gain information, read this article: “How to Gain Weight while Training Muay Thai”)
At the same time, it benefits your weight gain plan to incorporate a strengthening workout outside of your Muay Thai training. Strengthening is what makes you gain muscles, and when you gain muscles, you gain good weight.
Strengthening exercises may include weight lifting, sandbag training and/or bodyweight training. Setting aside 2-3 days per week for strength training will contribute greatly towards your gaining more muscle weight.
I was a scrawny flyweight 110 pounder (5’ 7”) before I started training Muay Thai. I had some physical ailments several years back that made my life somewhat sedentary.
After going through some life difficulties, I decided to take up Muay Thai to be stronger, both physically and mentally.
I have since packed up to 135 pounds of muscles and the rewards of training have been numerous. I feel happier, more positive, healthier and certainly fitter. It has made me more focused in life which has had a positive effect in my work and life.
Never underestimate what you and your body are capable of. If you don’t try, you just won’t realize your full potential or reap the benefits of Muay Thai. Stop thinking. Start doing.