#1 Making resistance sessions look like Thai boxing sessions
I get it. You love Muay Thai – I do too. But that doesn’t mean that all your training sessions need to look like Muay Thai. In fact, you’ll run into problems if they do.
It’s true that resistance training must be Muay Thai specific to make you a better fighter. But that doesn’t mean you should load up skilled Muay Thai techniques and crank away, or only ever work for two or three minute rounds. Here are a few points for you to consider.
Firstly, loading up the actual skill you want to improve will change the skill. You start forming a different habit. In short, you’ll pollute your technique with altered movement mechanics that aren’t best when fighting using body weight alone.
Secondly, you must build from general movements and exercises to specific ones over your training program. This not only maximises the training effect, converting a better athletic foundation into improved performance, but also avoids overuse injuries and makes you peak for a fight.
Thirdly, strength and conditioning should bring about adaptations that you won’t get from Thai boxing alone, or there’s no point – you’d be better off practicing more Muay Thai! And that means providing a training stimulus that boosts Thai boxing performance without being the same.
Your supplemental training should target maximum strength, explosive power, speed, agility and power-endurance. Your energy systems ‘fitness’ conditioning must build aerobic capacity first and then shift to anaerobic lactic tolerance right before the fight. This requires a spectrum of training methods applied over your program. If all your training looks just like Muay Thai, that isn’t happening!
#2 Varying training-routines too much, or too little
Here I see both ends of the spectrum. Some fighters perform random ‘workouts of the day’, while others are using the same routine for years! Neither will get the most out of your fight engine.
Strength and conditioning coaches plan (periodise) their training into cycles or blocks of training that target specific qualities in a sequence. Each block typically lasts between 2-8 weeks to provide sufficient training stimulus for improved performance.
I find the sweet spot is about 4-weeks for fighters. That’s long enough to make your body adapt, but short enough to turn things around quick enough between fights – there’s no ‘off-season’ in Muay Thai.
Over those 4-weeks I vary the loads or sets, reps, and rest intervals used, but the exercises remain consistent to create sufficient overload. Change things too soon and your body won’t need to adapt (improve) to cope with it, whereas if you stick at it too long you’ll plateau and progress dries up.
#3 Focusing on equipment or exercises rather than training-purpose
It’s easy to get caught up with the latest gym ‘toy’ or interesting exercise you’ve seen on YouTube. I see many fighters chucking in something they deem hard-core or fight-specific into their routines, without understanding what that exercise is doing.
For your training to be successful, every session needs a purpose. Basing your session around equipment or a specific exercise won’t cut it. Every piece of kit is a tool with job to do, use the right tool for the right job.
Equipment manufacturers promote videos of fighters using different pieces of equipment to inspire you to do the same. Not all I’ve seen in these videos is good practice, or even effective. Don’t jump on a bandwagon just because it’s been made fashionable through convincing marketing.