Building Functional Muscle for Muay Thai – part 2
Written by Don Heatrick
Last week's post outlining my hypertrophy (muscle building) phase of training for MuayThai generated a lot of interest, and warranted a follow-up providing extra detail. I'll begin by clarifying the exercises in the programme.
Session A Exercises
a) Front squat — knee dominant lower body
b) Rear foot elevated split squats (Bulgarian split squats) — unilateral knee dominant
a) Incline bench press — horizontal push
b) Dumbbell chest press — horizontal push
a) Pull-ups — vertical pull
b) Dumbbell bent over rows — horizontal pull
Candlesticks — core anti-extension
Session B Exercises
a) Deadlift — lower body hip dominant
b) Single leg suspension squat — unilateral knee dominant
a) Standing over head press behind neck — vertical push
b) Barbell push press — vertical push
a) Barbell bent over row — horizontal pull
b) Suspended rows — horizontal pull
Landmine (Coreplate) twists — core anti-rotation
Each superset pair consists firstly of a strength exercise (5-reps), followed immediately by a hypertrophy finisher (8-reps). This superset is repeated 4-times before moving on to the next pair of exercises.
As far as programming the intensity, I use low, medium, high and high+ (overload) weeks.
- Low weeks use a 9-rep max weight for the 5-rep strength exercise, and a 12-rep max weight for the 8-rep hypertrophy exercise, i.e. 4-reps left in you, or a -4 rep max loading
- Medium weeks use a 7-rep max weight for the 5-rep strength exercise, and a 10-rep max weight for the 8-rep hypertrophy exercise, i.e. 2-reps left in you, or a -2 rep max loading
- High weeks use a 5-rep max weight for the 5-rep strength exercise, and an 8-rep max weight for the 8-rep hypertrophy exercise, i.e. 0-reps left in you, or 0-rep max loading — maximum effort
- High+ weeks use the same loads as the high week (0-rep max), but the maximum number of full form reps are recorded (until technical failure)
The high+ week is an overload week that also tests new strength levels to establish appropriate loading for the following block of training.
When designing individual programmes, I test all the lifts, calculate % of 1-rep max and specify target weights for all exercises of every session. But, when issuing general templates, where fighters find their own weights, it's simpler to work with a target number or reps (e.g. 5-reps) and a weight intensity (e.g. -4 rep max). Therefore in this example, 5-reps completed with a weight you could lift a maximum of 9-times will feel relatively easy (low week), as you should feel like you have 4-reps left in you.
That should fill in a few blanks and give you enough detail to structure your first block of training. Please let me know what you think in the comments below.
If you'd like to know my thoughts behind the exercises I've selected in these two routines, take a look at my Exercise Selection article.
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Don is an ex-pro fighter, Muay Thai and strength & conditioning coach from the UK, with over 25-years experience in combat sports and athletic conditioning. He is passionate about all things that lead to improved fight performance and loves sharing what he's learned (and continues to learn) along the way.
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