One thing at a time

Kira asked a question…well actually asked the same question a few times…I just didn’t get around to answering it.

Kira said…

Juat reposting a question. . .

I just got back from training Muay Thai in Thailand. If you don’t know, muay thai is like kickboxing, but you can grapple standing up and also use knees and elbows to strike.

A fight is 3min x 5 rounds with 2min rest in between each rounds.

The average fighter in Thailand would fight once or twice a month.

Okay, so my question concerns training (particularly frequency & duration).

A standard training routine for a thai fighter is . . .

two 3-4 hour sessions a day (morning/late afternoon), 6 days a week.

a typical session would be . . .

5-10km run
skipping (1/2 hour)
warm up dynamic/passive stretching (1/2 hour)
bag work (1/2 hour)
pad work (1/2 hour)
sparring or grappling (1/2 hour)
bodywight exercises (1/2 hour)
cooldown (1/2 hour)

Whilst I had a good time over there, I thought their training wasn’t really ideal for the event they’re training for. That being said, ALL the champion fighters have and do train this way.

What are your thoughts on how they do things? Are they training right? Are they succeeding in their sport IN SPITE of their training?

If you were coaching a thai fighter, what would be the basic strategies you would use?

I just realized I’ve asked a shit-tonne of questions. Sorry about that . . . any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated.


I get this question asked of me a lot…not this exact question but a variation of this theme…that is…why do boxers still do miles and miles of road work? Or about successful rugby teams doing 150’s back to back or 400’s etc. Take any sport and you’ll find successful teams and athletes doing stuff that seems counter intuitive based on what we ‘know’ now.

Firstly I’m going to make some generalisations in no particular order just to kick things off before I come back to this later on today.

1. Be careful of research…researchers start off with a premise and it isn’t any surprise when they often come back with results that support their hypothesis. You need to be able to interpret and get from research the ‘take home points’…as a coach don’t get bogged down in the details. I was discussing this with an athlete yesterday…take the post workout window…is it good to get some carbs and protein after training? Yes. Will your muscles explode and atrophy if you don’t get some carbs and protein within 30 minutes of training? No.

2. When looking at research or training programs or advice…you always have to filter it through your field of reference. Once again…I was discussing this with an athlete yesterday…he was quoting a paper he read stating that static stretching reduces maximum power by 30%…is doing static stretching alone the best way to prepare for max effort exercises? No. If I stretch static stretch my pec and tricep prior to my 1RM bench will I lose 30% of my best total? No.

3. Lots of athletes succeed in spite of some of their training methods not because of them. Another athlete was mentioning the fact that some NFL team was doing their entire pre season weight training with kettlebells. Is this the perfect way to prepare for the season? No. Is it the worst? No. Will anyone be able to tell the difference? I doubt it.

4. A lot of training methodologies help psychologically as much as physiologically. Is a boxer running 5 miles in the morning going to be better conditioned for fighting? Perhaps a bit. Will it hurt? Not much. Is it the best way to condition an athlete to fight? I doubt it. If they believe they are better prepared because of it will it help. You bet your arse it will.

I could go on and on…and you guys know I will but I actually have to go to work…more later.


4 thoughts on “One thing at a time

  1. Can I add an extra one? Some people forget what they are training for, others concentrate on it too much. In the more commercial sector you have personal trainers worrying about recruiting clients TVA when they are too fat to get out of bed.

    How many times have you seen someone demonstrating their tennis forehand on a cable machine or with a dumbell?

    People’s actions rarely match their goals a lot of the time due to poor expertise.

  2. Thanks for the info Will.

    That’s helped me a lot.

    I’m a bit of a skeptic about research. It’s not that I’m anti-research (I love snooping around the net, reading the ‘latest’ info), it’s just I don’t tend to believe anything until I’ve actually done it myself.

    And the whole ‘psychological’ thing I’ve been trying to get a grip on for a while—the mind is a weird thing.

    In my last fight I got totally hammered (KO) . . . my prep was good—my cardio, power and technique were good.

    However, just before the fight I got into an argument with my coach and then I had problems with the pre-fight medical (shitty eyesight—long story).

    At any rate, I entered the ring stressed-out and a minute into the fight my cardio had gone, my power had gone, and my technique—ugh!—imagine a drunk monkey getting tazered.

    Anyways, thanks again for comments


  3. Ian, alot could be said about the stupidity around our industry. Really, i’m not that old and i’ve seen the most ridiculous training sessions you can think of. I’m sure Will has seen/heard a lot worse.

    The basics don’t sell as good as pseudo-cutting-edge stuff with fluffy bands and fit balls.

    Sad but true

  4. theres a few things about the way they do things in thailand that people seem to miss…

    the morning and afternoon thing is structured so that kids can come before and after school, serves as a creche at times

    the intensity of the sessions is pretty low, when i tell people i trained 4 hours am and pm every day they freak out… but its really not that hard, their are brief bursts here and there when you do padwork or some sparring but most of the time it is very relaxed, whats hard is the technique work which is usually different from camp to camp and usually vastly different form to what you’ve used at home

    The Thai culture is also very different, they grow up fighting, in most camps you’ll find kids 7 or 8 years old training alongside the adults (and they are FUCKING GOOD), i met a kid who was 9 and had already had 30 fights. the way they train is very relaxed, the way they fight is usually really relaxed as well, very rarely you will see a brawl in a thai ring

    i dont think what they do go against ‘the science’ when you look at the details there isnt much they do that is terribly crazy, even the roadwork is very relaxed, i would see guys kicking a soccer ball while they ran, so its not a 5 mile sprint or anything, everything is very laid back, loads of repition of technique at low intensity, loads of partner drills and brief moments of hard work every now and then, seems pretty simple to me. Most are always in fight shape coz they have to be, some guys need the money so bad they will fight 2 or 3 times a weekend, they cant take 8 weeks to ramp up to a fight, they wouldnt be able to eat. thats not to say the thia way of preparing for a fight is better, they win usually coz they have boatloads more experience and way better technique, thats been honed by training their whole life to fight and being surrounded by it their whole life and it being their livelihood.. in a western world its hard to relate to that and probably silly to even try.

    i think the problem and confusion comes when you try to apply what western athletes are used to doing and they pick the bits of the thai stuff they want to hear or want to do ie: train for long times, multiple times a day every day. the thais would go to sleep between sessions… the westerners would go to the gym and do weights… then wonder why they were burnt out or gassing halfway through the first round

    i could go on about this all day, cant remember my password on the computer but im the usual ben

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