Weight Training For Muay Thai Fighters And Kickboxers 🥊🥇🏋️‍♂️

Traditionally, Muay Thai fighters and Kickboxers tend to shy away from weightlifting. Don’t be that guy. There is one big-time misconception that weightlifting will make your body bulky, hence impacting negatively of your speed.

Thus, Kickboxers and Muay Thai fighters tend to stick to calisthenics for strength development.

Why Should Muay Thai Fighters And Kickboxers Lift Weights?

First things first, as a Muay Thai fighter, your number one goal is to be able to execute every strike with the right technique. You must be sure that your form is on point, and you are at a point where you can apply the different methods correctly.

But after achieving that, you may find that your strikes may not be as explosive as you need.

So, what’s next?

Now, this is the opportune time to supplement your Muay Thai striking techniques with strength and conditioning exercises. This is where weight training comes in.

As a kickboxer and Muay Thai fighter you, having mastered the technique and having all the right gear, then power and speed should be your next focus.

When appropriately done in a focused and smart way, strength training can serve to improve your fight game and your overall fitness. Weightlifting leads to improved endurance, bone density, and power.

So, are you ready now to take your kickboxing and Muay Thai training to the next level?

Building Your Strength Along With Your Endurance

You may find it challenging to go through your entire training session without gassing out. This is because your body is inappropriately conditioned.

In such a case, you need to boost your stamina by running long distances between 8 to 12 kilometers.

You should also do regular sprinting or HIIT to develop your anaerobic capacity. Strength training with barbells and kettlebells (related article) is a great way to develop your exercise economy without gaining too much weight.

Low volume training at 80% of your 1 rep max strengthens your tendons, bones as well as improving your power to weight ratio.

The net result of this is more powerful kicks as a direct result of bone strength and bone density. As you sprint and run, your legs muscles also get build up.

As a kickboxer and a Muay Thai fighter, it is an absolute necessity to have strong legs, as you are most of the time standing, throwing your knees, and kicking.

I’ve been using kettlebells for just under five years and found that training with them as an accessory exercise or active recovery has helped improve my balance and core strength because of the unilateral movements.

You’ll probably find that you’ll need a lighter weight than you usually dumbbell press.

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What Are Some Of The Weight Training Exercises That Will Strengthen And Condition Your Whole Body?

  • Burpees: they aid in developing anaerobic endurance and explosive power. They can help you get in shape while at the same time improving your power and endurance. Burpees strengthen the whole body. Some of the parts they work on are your chest, hamstrings, abs, quads, glutes, and arms. You will become stronger when you do this full-body exercise regularly.  
  • Squats: they help to work out and tone the lower body. They work on the butt, hip, and thigh muscles. There’s no question that more muscular legs improve your base. Ultimately power will come from the ground. To give your body the power it needs, you need to make your legs push off with strength. 
  • Lunges: to improve your balance and coordination, you need to exercise with lunges. They work on your core muscles, glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves. You can also lunge with weight to work on the arm muscles. 
  • Deadlifts: it is an excellent strength-building exercise that helps you build your posterior chain. Including deadlifts in your workouts can help you maximize your performance. 
  • Push-ups: they help in strengthening arms, shoulders, and chest. They also help to condition your upper body for dynamic movements by stabilizing the muscles that surround the rotator cuff joint. 
  • Pull-ups: including pull-ups in your workouts is the secret to a tighter and stronger clinch. With pull-ups, you strengthen your back muscles and improve the strength of your grip. Your grip and back muscles play a big part in better control of your opponent inside the clinch.
  • Planks: doing planks helps you improve your balance and build your core strength. As a kickboxer and a Muay Thai fighter, you need a reliable, stable core. Your core entails a set of muscles that combine your limb’s forces to make one total explosive force and hold your body together. 

Strength and conditioning for kickboxers (Source) and Muay Thai fighters is a no-brainer because it improves performance. Period. (Source).

How Often Should You Strength Train?

Conditioning yourself to compete in kickboxing and Muay Thai fighting is not that easy. It needs a lot of mental and physical toughness. This is necessary so that a Muay Thai fighter and a kickboxer can withstand the innumerable strikes that their opponents unleash on them.

Besides the mental and physical toughness, kickboxers need to be extremely athletic. Muay Thai fighting demands that the practitioner should have a range of qualities such as speed, coordination, balance, visual acuity, and timing.

As a kickboxer and a Muay Thai fighter, you must spend most of your day training so that you can develop all those kinds of skills. Generally, fighters train 2 to 3 times a day, for a period of 2 to 3 hours in every session, and they are expected to train all year-round.

Orion Lee (Source) shares a sample routine for an active fighter which he used to follow while studying abroad.

Let’s dive in.

Wake up anytime from 4 to 4:45 am. 

5 am to 7 am. This was the time for the morning session. It always started with running about three to five miles to kick off the day. This was followed by callisthenic activities such as wind sprints, long jumps, and running up and downstairs. 

7 am to 10 am. This is the time they would take breakfast and rest. 

10 am to12 pm. He says that this was the meat and potatoes session of the day and was always the hardest. It consists of the following activities: 

  • 20 min Jump Rope 
  • 5 to 10 rounds of sparring
  • 3 to 5 rounds shadow boxing (using MMA gloves)
  • Abdominal conditioning 
  • 10 to 15 rounds of heavy bag 
  • Five rounds of Thai pads with a trainer

He adds that each day had some slight differences, with the coaches pushing them to focus on the different areas of the sport. 

12 pm to 5 pm. These evening sessions could either be easy or terrible. They involved performing strength workout. They would do weight training activities such as pull-ups, deadlifts, squats, military presses, bench press, push-ups, and many other various core exercises. 

5 pm to 7 pm. This was the time for evening training. These, as Lee says, mirrored the afternoon workout sessions. They entailed: 

  • 3 to 5 rounds of shadowboxing. 
  • 5 to 30 rounds clinch sparring 
  • 20 min jump rope 
  • 5 to 15 heavy bag and partner technique drills 
  • 3 to 5 round Thai pads 

8 pm to 4 am. As Orion Lee puts it, this was the time for death-like sleep.

Lee adds that they followed this routine for six days in a week for the whole year. He says it was life-changing and amazing, but also brutal at the same time.

He notes that anyone willing to compete in Muay Thai should ask themselves if they can have enough dedication to go through the process until the end. Then he concludes by saying that, though the training can get ruthless at times, its rewards can last for a lifetime. 

From Orion Lees’ interview, you can see that weightlifting training comes once in a day, especially in the afternoon, while the running session kick-starts the day, very early in the morning. 

Now you know the benefits of weight training as a kickboxer and a Muay fighter. But where on earth will you get the money and the time for the gym? This leads us to the last point in this article. 

Weight Training Routine At Home With Kettlebells 

Kettlebells are a great way to save you time and money for a gym membership. They are deceptively heavier than they look, so it’s better to start lighter; try a 12kg or 16kg kettlebell. You can often find good deals on Amazon. They can help you to do weightlifting from home. Here is how you can do it at home: 

Strength workout  

  • One arm renegade row – ten reps per side 
  • Figure 8 uppercut – ten reps per side 
  • Bulgarian split squat –eight reps per side 

For each exercise, perform three sets each for the prescribed reps. 

Conditioning Tabata Circuit 

  • Double KB swings 
  • Push-ups 

Rest for two minutes and then repeat the same eight rounds for the second exercise. The whole circuit should take a total of ten minutes. 

Therefore, weight training is important for you as a Muay Thai fighter and a kickboxer.

Contrary to the misconception that weightlifting leads to a bulky, stiff body resulting in slow and sluggish arm punches, you can reap incredible benefits from getting stronger if you train the right way.

Do Muay Thai fighters lift weights?

Successful Muay Thai fighters will indeed lift weights to increase their strength and power for competition. Kickboxing, sparring, and pad work will get an athlete so far in Muay Thai, but weight training techniques in the form of kettlebells or barbells will add a new element to one’s abilities to cause damage via powerful strikes.

Do kickboxers lift weights?

Kickboxers will be lifting weights in their day-to-day training. This is to ensure they have the right ratio of muscle mass, as well as strength and power to deliver hard punches and kicks in competition.

Whilst lifting weights alone won’t give you incredible power, it will help if you have the striking techniques in your wheel house.

Can you build muscle with Muay Thai?

Most Muay Thai fighters are quite slim in their build and frame, however, it is possible to build muscle with this type of training if you supplement and eat right.

Including the perfect protein shake for Muay Thai training will provide an athlete and fighter with the calories and protein to build muscle alongside their high-intensity training.

How much do Muay Thai fighters train?

Muay Thai fighters will typically train between 5-10 times a week, often twice a day. The types of kickboxing training will vary from high intensity to low intensity and even active recovery days. This will again change in the lead up to fights to allow enough recovery.

For new starts who are keen to learn the art of kickboxing in the form of Muay Thai, it is important to take your time and learn your rhythm before going 3-5 times a week. This could lead to injuries in kickboxing if you do not allow for adequate recovery.

Why are Muay Thai fighters skinny?

Muay Thai fighters are often skinny as the training is high-endurance and requires a high volume of output in the form of kickboxing.

Whilst other sports like MMA have higher weight classes, typically the intensity of throwing so many punches and kicks in fights requires a slimmer build.

Why are Muay Thai fighters so ripped?

Due to the high intensity nature of training in Muay Thai, most athletes benefit from the boost in metabolism post-workout as well as the overall high volume of calories burned during training.

If you’re also training in hot countries like Thailand, the heat and humidity will also create a more optimum fat burning effect, like a sauna.

Does weight lifting help in a fight?

Weight lifting won’t necessarily help in a fight if you have a complete lack of fighting knowledge or technique to back it up. In a like for like weight class, a bodybuilder would not beat an MMA fighter, and even in most cases where there is a bigger bodybuilder, their lack of fight knowledge, endurance, and fighting IQ will lead to their demise.

Learning the art of kickboxing, Mauy Thai, and striking will win fights. There are levels to fighting and bodybuilders or people who just lift weights rarely come out on top.