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To provide some background: I have been attending training sessions for Muay Thai Fundamentals (Beginners) sporadically for the past 5-10 weeks now. Whilst there has been some observable improvements in my overall fitness levels, I am unsure about the most optimal method in increasing my endurance levels specifically for beginner Muay Thai drills and its respective demands.

I completely understand that this will be dependent on an thorough assessment of my current physical state but generally speaking, I'm of a normal fitness level. I jog and work out as many times as I can during the week (2-4 times, varied workouts) but the workouts that I'm undertaking may not be conducive for coping with the Muay Thai demands in class.

Below, I've detailed specifically some of the immediate endurance concerns relating to the Muay Thai drills in class.


10, 20, 30 kicks

Reaching probably around the middle of this drill, I will become exhausted and my kicks will invariably slow down. I find it difficult to continue to successively kick and I feel as if I've drained myself.

4-count Thai pad drills

Same issue as above - it is consistently the kicks that tired me out rather than the punches. After completing a few 4-counts on the Thai pads, I'm exhausted usually after the last kick.


Questions

  1. What exercise routine(s) could you recommend that might help me with improving my endurance for executing Muay Thai kicks for a longer amount of time?
  2. If I wanted to increase my endurance through executing series of kicks, would purchasing one of those long boxing bags help?

Appreciate any help.

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The only way to improve your fitness and conditioning is to continually push the boundaries - which is what you are doing. Have you improved since you started? –  slugster Feb 25 at 5:40
    
I have improved to some extent. Warm-ups are less tiring and generally, the training isn't as exhausting overall but I feel as if I'm worried that my body will wear out if I push my boundaries or as if it's counter-intuitive to do so as it's draining my body. Honestly, the Muay Thai kicks are the most troubling. –  coeus Feb 25 at 5:46
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Don't worry too much. Your body is just getting used to the idea of doing these strange new exercises. –  Juann Strauss Feb 25 at 9:40
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2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

It's supposed to be hard

All serious training is supposed to remain difficult and challenging. If, as you say, you have improved your ability to get through warm-ups and training in general, then you're improving. You will keep improving the more you train.

Key word: sporadically

Regular training gets you more fit more quickly than irregular training. The closer you get to 4 or more specifically Muay Thai workouts (not jogging or HIIT), the better you will adapt to the demands of class.

Conditioning is largely activity-specific, so don't expect jogging to be that productive for staying fresh through a hard kickboxing class.

Other possible issues

Lots of people who are weak and inflexible have trouble with kicks because the techniques require maximal levels of exertion. If you can't deadlift 1.5x your bodyweight then strength training is called for. If, after a brief warm-up, you can't touch your toes with knees straight then flexibility training is urgently needed. Being strong, flexible, and generally athletic helps with training. Specifically, it makes kicking easier and more fluid instead of awkward and tiring.

This does not mean you should do three or four "varied" non-muay Thai workouts a week and expect to see improvement. Rather, the most productive path is systematic, progressively challenging strength training once or twice a week and regular (daily if possible) stretching.

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+1 Concise response. My main problem is that I study and work full-time so it makes it difficult to maintain a consistent schedule (i.e. "4 or more specifically Muay Thai workouts"). Due to this, is it feasible to do Muay Thai workouts without the aid of a coach at home? –  coeus Feb 25 at 10:17
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@coeus 4+ isn't necessary, it's just the point at which you see rapid progress. The point is to maximize your in-class muay thai workouts. Can you do something at home? Yes, but I'd focus on a progressive strength and mobility program first, and only then supplement with a MT home-drilling workout. –  Dave Liepmann Feb 25 at 11:45
    
Thanks Dave for the insights. Another question since you mentioned flexibility training (I'm aware that I'm trailing off a bit as my original question was about endurance). Would you suggest Yoga as a means for improving mobility and flexibility in the context of supporting my overall endurance level for Muay Thai? Or would this be counterproductive for meeting the demands for Muay Thai? –  coeus Feb 25 at 22:14
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@coeus I've found yoga quite helpful for judo and kickboxing. Longer yoga classes, particularly when you're new to the practice, can take a toll on your recovery demands (which would otherwise be devoted to MT), but if you're inflexible then you need to do something. One option is to develop a short daily morning yoga practice, since flexibility responds best to frequency. –  Dave Liepmann Feb 25 at 22:29
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Cycling is my favourite leg conditioning exercise. Get a bike with clip-in pedals and do incline rides. Get your legs used to doing strenuous exercise for prolonged periods. I would argue that cycling is better exercise than running for martial arts because you're using all of the major leg muscles, not just the shins and calves.

And something that a lot of people miss when thinking about kicking endurance is the set of abdominal muscles. You'll want to get them working too. If I understand correctly, Muay Thai generates kicking power from the abs, so you'll want to work on those too. Regular crunches and sit-ups won't be enough. You'll need to do resistance training. A very simple exercise I've used to great effect on my students was the leg push down. As seen in this video. You may want to vary the exercise by throwing the legs off to one side to target the obliques. And you may also want to grab hold of your partner's legs so that you isolate the abdominal region and relieve the strain on your neck.

The point here is that you want to get your muscles burning, not your lungs. This increases the fast-twitch muscle fiber, giving you more endurance and more speed to boot.

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+1 I appreciate the comment about "fast-twitch muscle fiber". I do really need to work on strength and conditioning. –  coeus Feb 25 at 10:18
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-1 I'd advise against cycling, since as a repetitive partial-range-of-motion exercise it tends to decrease flexibility, particularly in the hamstrings, which is a bad idea for MT. It's also quite strange to say that running only works the shins and calves. But neither running nor bicycling is a proper strength or conditioning exercise for MT. Neither is sport-specific, nor are they effective for general S&C. What's called for is either sport-specific conditioning or a general strength training program. –  Dave Liepmann Feb 25 at 11:52
    
You are certainly welcome to dismiss my advice and I believe that your methods are quite good too but I should point out that I have trained a world champion as well as a number of national champions. All my strength and conditioning advice is backed up by solid research. You will also note that a general strength training program will include endurance training, which brings us right back to cycling (or running, if that's your cup of tea). Also note that I am referring to incline training, not interval training or LSD. –  Juann Strauss Feb 25 at 12:55
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@JuannStrauss World champion in muay Thai? I'd be interested to see any of the research. –  Dave Liepmann Feb 25 at 13:29
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World champion in Taekwondo. I personally only got so far as British Open champion in 1996 and 5th place at the 1998 World championships. For research findings you can look up Dr. Joe De Beer. His work on rehabilitation (and by extension strengthening) is amazing and I have firsthand experience of the results he achieves. I was going to suggest livestrong.com, but it's obviously a bit biased and specialized. And nowhere did I suggest NOT doing flexibility exercises. –  Juann Strauss Feb 26 at 7:43
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