cardio kickboxing workout

Taking on the Art of Eight Limbs: The Best Muay Thai Workout

One of the most effective and popularly practiced martial art in the world, Muay Thai is a practice that easily sets itself apart from the rest of the other branches. With emphasis, mainly on striking, sparring, and competition, it is seen as a physically, deadly practice that is effective not only in the ring but also for self-defense and exercise.

A Muay Thai workout is extremely effective when getting into weight loss or trying to get into shape. Instead of other martial arts which tend to lean a lot towards a combat situation or a theory which is carefully controlled, Muay Thai allows you to focus on your timing through putting you in the actual situation — through sparring and fighting.

Muay Thai workout benefits aren’t only limited to getting to be physically fit or getting in shape for competition, it also helps you develop self-confidence, flexibility, inner peace, and for younger ones, can help develop discipline at a young age all while they’re having fun.

Picking a martial art can be a difficult decision. However, just like the other branches, Muay Thai for beginners will challenge you in ways you’ve never been. Even if you just looking to get a good workout, Muay Thai can be a perfect channel to help you reach all your fitness goals.

Although you might be trying to learn Muay Thai online, finding a trainer or a gym that can help you in your journey will really be the most effective. A trainer and teammates can really help you develop your skills and create a foundation for you no matter if you stick with the gym or go off on your own and do Muay Thai workouts at home, finding Muay Thai training online.

Whatever your decision may be, we’re here to help give you a guide that contains a beginner Muay Thai workout routine that can help you dip your feet into the martial arts and lay out some concepts for you to grasp before you move forward.

Choosing Muay Thai over other Martial Arts

muay thai over other material arts

If you technically haven’t decided which martial arts to pursue, you might still be on the fence about choosing Muay Thai. However, Muay Thai, as we mentioned before really gives you a hands-on experience right from the get-go, so if you really want to get your hands dirty, this martial arts branch might the perfect fit for you. However, it’s not just this reason why you should choose Muay Thai over other martial arts, there are loads of other reasons, too. For example:

Even if you are just learning Muay Thai basics for beginners, Muay Thai still focuses on effective striking, teaching you the skills you need to really have your hands and feet be as deadly as possible.

Why is it so different than other martial arts? Well, Muay Thai actually is translated to the “art of eight limbs”, meaning that it uses all parts of your body to get a good hit in. There is not much restriction when it comes to Muay Thai, so if you’re not really into strict rules, Muay Thai might be perfect for you. In this martial art, you can use knee and elbow hits, you can clinch, and you can throw your opponent to the ground and grapple. This means that when you’re matched with a fighter that practices a different art at the same level, you’ll have the advantage of being able to use all these different attacks that they have not practiced.

Of course, tradition always has a way of evolving. Therefore, the Muay Thai that once began in Thailand has been influenced by Western boxing over the last 20 years. This makes it especially appealing to boxers and those looking to develop a deadly strike with more potential and opportunity.

Back to the Basics

back to the basics

When you’re first starting out or are simply looking to re-hone your skills, going back to the basics won’t be a bad thing. Before you get into your Muay Thai combo drills or look up a resource for a Muay Thai drills pdf you should read through these basic tips to really get a foundation for your beginning moves and skills.

The Way Your Body Moves

One of the hardest things to teach and to learn, for that matter, is how your body moves. Before you head into the more complicated moves, you need to get a stance and a rhythm that is comfortable for you and meets the standards of Muay Thai.

Just like learning a dance, you need to learn where your feet go, hone in on balance, and get into controlling your body. If you don’t focus on this in the beginning, it’ll be tough to change later on in your training.

The Way You Should Guard

Just as important to being able to move around the ring comfortably, you need to have your Muay Thai guard up as second nature. What’s different about Muay Thai is that there are so many different blocks and guards that you can learn. However, simply as a beginner, you just need to be constantly reminded to keep your hands up.

May Thai Basic Techniques

Being able to develop those basic techniques will set you up for a smoother transition into the more advanced skills. This means really focusing on developing skills for basic punches, kicks, knees, and strikes with your elbows. Once you have the basic strikes, like the cross, hook, body kicks, and strikes with your knees and elbows, you can move on to more advanced moves.

Developing these basic moves can be your bread and butter during a match, so don’t overlook the basics.

Getting Into the Workouts

Getting into the workouts

Whether you are training Muay Thai as a way of getting into shape or you are really learning the art form, prepare yourself mentally for one of the hardest workouts of your life! Of course, go at your own pace. You won’t be taking on a fight on your first day, so you should really set your goals early on and strictly focus on them before you get overwhelmed with everything that there is to learn.

A workout consists of not only practicing your punching and kicking forms, you will also be put through Muay Thai conditioning exercises, a Muay Thai bodyweight workout, and so much more. Just for you to get an idea of what you’re getting yourself into, here are a few aspects of training that you’ll get into when training Muay Thai.

Shadowboxing

So you won’t have the distraction of bags, other people, and things that can sway your distraction, shadowboxing allows you to use the training and form-focused techniques you just learned and put them into practice.

When you’re placed in front of a mirror or have a coach watch you, you can focus on learning stance, footwork, and different forms of techniques.

This will be something you’ll sort of be thrown into and it might seem weird at first but just focusing on step after step and finding your rhythm will make it seem more feasible.

Bag Work

Once you’ve learned how to hit, you’ll be given your target — the heavy bag. This is a great tool to use since it is heavy and provides a challenge, yet you can take it on your own time.

When you’re first starting out, you should focus on the techniques you learned, throwing one punch or kick at a time — and getting the form and stance correctly in between.

This is also a great opportunity to be able to build your stamina and provide a way for your shins and knuckles to get used to impact.

Pad Work

Essential to any Muay Thai training, this is where another person is incorporated into your training, helping you. Whether it’s another student or a trainer, you’ll have another person helping you and giving you feed back.

Just like with the heavy bag, focus on your technique and not the power behind each punch. Develop your form first and then you can head to power.

Although you might not have control over who holds the pads, it might be beneficial if a more advanced student or trainer holds them so they can give you essential feedback on your form for learning.

Outside “Road” Work

A Muay Thai conditioning circuit can only give you so much conditioning and endurance. Road work is also referred to that part of training that you might be trying your hardest to avoid — running.

Keeping yourself in shape with good endurance is essential to training Muay Thai. Therefore, once you are in shape, you will feel less tired during the actual martial arts training, allowing you to get more in and focus harder on the actual form rather than just getting some hits in. You can also develop conditioning through skipping rope.

Body Conditioning

Unlike endurance, this part of training is literally getting your body ready to take a hit. Inevitable in Muay Thai, your body will get punched or kicked, so therefore, it is essential to get your body conditioned to taking pain.

Since you are just a beginner, you will focus solely on getting your body stronger, then you can move on to conditioning your body to take a hit and kick.

Partner Drills

This is where you, obviously, work with a partner. Here, you will learn how to block attacks and focus on technique. Since these drills are often done without power in your strikes, you can simply focus on getting in the form and getting it right.

This type of training focuses on working on your reaction time, your timing when striking, and your overall reflexes.

Clinching Drills

Another form of fighting rather than simply just striking and punching is clinching. In this type of training, you are battling your opponent and learning how to gain control of the position. You will be incorporating arm control, sweeps, and utilizing your elbows and knees.

Boxing Sparring

You might be surprised to learn that you will be training Westernized Boxing during your Muay Thai workouts and drills, however, it is one of the basics of a Muay Thai workout. This training will help you improve your striking and make you as deadly as possible. You can also develop an effective form or head movement while on defense.

Muay Thai Sparring

This is what you came here for. Sparring is used during training to be able to put into practice all the Muay Thai training techniques that you just learned. With this style, you’ll quickly learn what is effective and where your mistakes are.

Before you spar, you should have already developed a good enough foundation before you develop bad habits from simply trying to nail in a hit or defending.

Fighting Drills

Once you have developed all the necessary techniques — well, know about them, you might be thrown into a fight. This will test everything you know and your training. If you don’t want to actually fight, you dont have to — it’s just an aspect of a Muay Thai training program that you might encounter down the road.

As I dive right into the Muay Thai workouts for beginners without having you download a Muay Thai workout routine pdf, I want to emphasize that this is just a suggestion. You have to gauge your fitness level before you begin and highly take that into account.

The reason behind the timings: Normally, the fights are generally three-minute periods. Since you are just beginning, we are going to keep the rounds at two minutes. However, feel free as you advance to up the time on your training. Another advanced changing period can be your rest period. Between rounds, you should have about 30 to 45 seconds to keep the workout intense and never let your heart rate fully drop or your muscles cool down, then your body will render less effective.

A perfect Muay Thai workout routine that incorporates almost everything we talked about will include:

1. Road Work (Run): Anywhere from 1-3 miles, wherever you feel comfortable.
2. Road Work (Skipping Rope): 3 Rounds of 2 minutes, vary up your skipping.
3. Shadowboxing: 3 Rounds of 2 minutes.
4. Pad Work or Sparring: You can do both, as long as you limit to 5 rounds of 2 minutes.
5. Bag Work: 3-5 rounds of 2 minutes.
6. Clinch: 3-5 rounds of 2 minutes.
7. Stretch and cool down: 2-10 minutes.

Depending on your fitness level, you can change up the times, but this is a great place to get you started.

Now, let’s jump into the different aspects of a workout and learn why they are important for you to train.

Let’s follow the outline and start with Road Work.

Step 1: Running

If you can, running in a group is best but obviously not 100 percent necessary. This is a great warm-up and you can work on your overall endurance at the same time.

Conditioning is extremely important in Muay Thai. Although you might want to skip over it, it is essential when preparing to fight. When fighting and training, sixty percent of your training will be conditioning and it will be used in a fight. If you can’t last a number of rounds, then all your other technical training is pointless.

Step 2: Skipping Rope

Once you are finished with your run, you use that heat you just warmed up and head into skipping rope.

This type of training is perfect to give you an outlet to work on putting a bounce in your step, which is essential in the ring. You can also strengthen your calves with this routine and warm up fully for your Muay Thai workout.

When you’re skipping rope, you can change up your technique. There are so many different types of skipping that you can do to work on your coordination and focus, as well as agility and endurance. Here is a video helping guide you through the basics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKxZeDFwidA

Step 3: Shadowboxing

shadowboxing

One of the first training you’ll learn, is shadowboxing. This will help you visualize what you want to do and work on your form, concentrating on yourself and nothing else.

When you’re training with shadowboxing, here are a few tips to take into account for every round you’ll do:

First Round, 2 mins

Focus solely on your footwork. Find your rhythm and get in sync with your feet. Occasionally, work in a strike or two.

Second Round, 2 mins

Incorporate that footwork and add in knees and push kicks. Begin to get familiar with striking with the lower body.

Third Round, 2 mins

Incorporate both rounds together and add in defense and punches, also, if you can, throw in elbows.

If you are a visual learner, here is a video with five different drills for shadowboxing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8W0J49PSHY

Step 4: Pad Work

Pad Work

As we mentioned before, it is most helpful if you have a pad-holding partner that knows more than you so they can help with your techniques. Regardless, pad work will help your development of Muay Thai technique, improve your cardio, and increase your fighting endurance.

Here is also another video for some simple pad routines: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skPzx6orBdU

Step 5: Bag Work

When you’re hitting the heavy bag, as you realized, you’re on step five of your workout. That probably means that you’re getting tired. Focusing on your bag work, I suggest that you work on your technique and throwing combinations rather than power.

Here is an example of a great bag work exercise. As we mentioned before, there should be about 3-5 rounds:

First Round, 2 mins

Push kicks. Alternate between using your right and left legs. When the bag comes back in a swing, then you execute your push kick. However, instead of standing and waiting, make sure you are moving around and circling the bag to get the most realistic training out of it.

Second Round, 2 mins

Roundhouse kicks. Instead of alternating this time, Do one minute (or as long as you can) of just one leg before switching to the other. When you’re performing a roundhouse kick, focus on targeting the kick towards a leg height, body hit, and a head shot. Concentrate on your retraction after the kick, power into the kick, and speed of the kick, along with the rotation.

Third Round, 2 mins

Freestyle. For this round, feel free to use what you just learned. Keep it simple but get creative with combinations. Keep in mind that whatever you are practicing here will most likely be what you use in the ring when under pressure, so don’t throw this time away.

As a visual learner, here’s video to help guide you through some basic combinations: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8Zs2wwkmeg

Step 6: Clinch

clinch

Although you might be very well dead at this point, if you’ve made it this far —congratulations! Now it’s time to work on your clinch.

Getting the clinch down can be tedious work but is essential for your fighting game. All the fights that you’ll be in or that you’ll watch will eventually end up in a clinch. Therefore, you need to learn how to gain the control position and learn how to get out of a clinch.

Since you are just starting out, you should focus simply on getting in your technique when you’re clinching. However, if you are feeling great at this point, feel free to put your energy into it and get a real feel of what it will be like in the ring.

Here is a great video showing you the basics of Muay Thai clinching:

Step 6.5: Sparring

sparring

Yes, you read that correctly. Although I didn’t mention sparring in the workout plan, it might be thrown in there from time to time. If you find yourself in a sparring situation, you should be able to turn all the hard work, training with technique, and your conditioning into a proper spar. You will learn a lot about yourself and how far you’ve come simply with sparring.

Step 7: Stretching

stretching

Just like with any sport, stretching and cooling down is necessary after any workout. Particularly in Muay Thai, you will need all the flexibility you can get, so stretching for high kicks is a great aspect to take part in.

After you finished your workout, you need to have a full recovery. That’s why we gave you a long time to do this. You need to stretch and cool down so your muscles can flush the lactic acid out and you won’t be as sore the next day.

Normally, your coach won’t take you through these, so here’s a video on a proper cool down after Muay Thai that you can follow: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsslSF7_m0c

As a beginner, you should be going through this workout around two or three times a week. If you’re coming from a background of zero fitness and trying to train Muay Thai, you might need to ease into it. As always, you should consult your doctor before engaging in this intense workout training.

Don’t forget to pair the Muay Thai training workout with conditioning and running to fully get the most not only out of your body but also out of your training. If you aren’t fit, you won’t have the energy or fitness to be able to go through the training and get the most out of the technique.

Wrapping It Up

Muay Thai isn’t an easy training to undergo, so be mentally prepared to push your body through a workout that you probably have never faced. However, even though the workout is usually a difficult one, it is very rewarding, both mentally and physically. This workout will put your body through the ring, literally.

Combining various techniques and training tools like the heavy bag or pads, you can either work on it with someone like a coach or a teammate or individually, like with shadowboxing even if you don’t have a gym. This makes Muay Thai training virtually possible to be able to do anywhere you are, no matter if you are well-equipped or not.

I hope that this guide has helped give you a beginning module for a Muay Thai training workout program that you can follow or use to get into Muay Thai. I always suggest you consult your doctor before embarking on any type of rigorous, physical training like Muay Thai, and see if you are healthy enough to be able to go through with it.

Also, as always, listen to your body.

Most of you out there won’t be making it to the pros, however, if you are trying — I salute you! However, the main reason I say that is that you should always listen to your body. If you are hurting more than you normally would, take a day off. Don’t push yourself to the point of injury. Although I know that you really want to get your workout in or these Muay Thai workouts might become addicting, it’s a bad idea to push what shouldn’t be pushed. Muay Thai is an intense workout that shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you feel that you are on the verge of an injury or if at the beginning something is simply just too much for you to handle, I suggest that you take a step back.

I hope that you can use Muay Thai to achieve whatever goal you may have — whether it’s fitness related or personally related — and have fun!

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