The following article was submitted to Fight Quality by Darren Mitchell from bestmuaythaiboxing.com.
Pounding the pavement is an essential part of Muay Thai training, and something you need to do consistently if you want to stay fighting fit.
Even a casual trainer should be jogging 2 or 3 times a week, and if you are looking to train competitively, you need to take that up to a minimum of 5 times.
Muay Thai fighters use running to develop their legendary conditioning, so in this article I’m going to take you through some of the approaches used develop some of the best levels of conditioning in world sport.
Road running is considered a bedrock of cardio work for Muay Thai fighters, so they’ll typically run 3-5 miles daily. They’ll add plyometric drills and stretches to this to help improve performance and maintain flexibility.
Muay Thai fighters will put in the roadwork every morning, followed by another hour or so of fight work, then more training throughout the day.
Lessons learned here are that it’s frequency rather than speed or duration that are fundamental to performance. Rather than run 15 miles and require a few days off to recover, the fighters run shorter distances that they can recover from quickly with basic stretches and good nutrition.
Sprints and hill sprints
Sprints are a phenomenal tool to build your anaerobic fitness. A gradient is a small addition to a sprint workout, but the effects are dramatic – depending on the length and incline, you’ll push your heart rate towards its limit during hill sprints.
The extra intensity is a huge calorie burner, helping to strip off fat and build leg strength.
Fighters will generally do 10 sets of 100m sprints once or twice a week. Any more and you risk central nervous system fatigue, so it’s important to limit them. A simple rule is the harder the work, the more recovery time you need.
If you add sprints into your regular running program, you’ll see a marked increase in your running power and speed – something marathon/long-distance runners can inadvertently neglect due to aerobic training.
You’ve probably not heard of wind sprints, but you may be familiar with Fartlek training, which is a similar principle.
In a wind sprint you progress from a walk (or slow jog) up to a sprint and then back down again, repeating the process about 10 times.
It’s high intensity interval training (HIIT) that differs somewhat to conventional sprints in that you never really rest – the rest period is active, so your heart rate doesn’t quite return to baseline.
The benefit here is efficiency – working at such high intensities means the workout can be completed in less than 20 minutes, so if you’re short on time but still want to push yourself and increase your running capacity, it could be perfect.
Ballistic stretching is criticised for increasing injury risk, but done correctly it’s safe and effective.
Ballistic stretching means taking the joints, tendons and muscles past their usual range of motion using ‘bouncing’.
It’s perfect for runners because it increases muscle flexibility and elasticity, particularly in the hamstrings and calf muscles. This helps runners go further and faster and reduces injury risk.
As a word of caution, only do ballistic stretching on muscles that have been warmed up – don’t do it when muscles are cold – that’s when you can cause injury.
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Darren Mitchell is a Muay Thai enthusiast and writer for the BestMuayThai blog. Darren has trained Muay Thai for several years at gyms all over the world alongside some world-renowned fighters and coaches.
The views and opinions in this article are those of the guest author and are not necessarily representative of Fight Quality’s own views. We welcome guest posts from knowledgeable and passionate writers, but have no affiliation with the author or connected companies/products.