Muay Thai & The Law of Accommodation – Part 1

Written by Don Heatrick

When it comes to physical training, most haven’t heard of the law of accommodation, even fewer have considered it’s application to Muay Thai. But this great question came up on the Questions & Answers Forum. Although I’ve briefly touched on it before, it’s a subject that’s of particular relevance to Muay Thai and warrants a closer look.

Why do you train? To get better! But, to bring about positive changes in your athletic state, you must apply an overload or there’s no biological need for your body to change — it can already cope.

“A training adaptation only takes place if the magnitude of the training load is above the habitual level.” ~Zatsiorski, V.M. & Kraemer, W.J. (2006) Science & Practice of Strength Training. Human Kinetics

Anyone who’s trained at a gym in Thailand knows full well the volume and intensity of training that the fighters there can endure. Most visitors literally hit the ground running, attempting to keep up with the training regime of the resident fighters.

The truth is you can’t. You’re not a full-time fighter that’s progressively built up the same intensity and volume over an extended period of time. It’s also true that you don’t need to train as hard or as long as the resident fighters to improve. Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying you can never be as good as the Thais, far from it. Just that by training more scientifically you’ll progress quicker and to the best of your own genetic capability.

There are two ways that you can induce adaptation during the training process. Either increase the training load (intensity and/or volume) while continuing to use the same drill or exercise, or change to a new drill or exercise that the fighter isn’t accustomed to. Bear in mind that when you go to Thailand, it’s likely you’ll be unaccustomed to either the drills or the training load.

If a fighter uses the same drills or exercises at the same training load for an extended period of time, no further adaptation will take place, they’ll no longer improve and performance will plateau. In fact, if this same regime is used for too long, performance will DECREASE — you’ll detrain despite remaining equally active! This decrease in response to a continued stimulus is called accommodation.

The trick is to train at the MINIMUM threshold required to cause an adaptation. Then you have plenty of scope to vary your training to maintain progress. Don’t go all out with training load and drill/exercise variety prematurely, save them for when you need to bust through a plateau. Plan your training to progressively overload and avoid sticking at an accommodated threshold. Your training should never be a string of random workouts. For many reasons this scatter-gun approach won’t help you reach your true athletic potential.

In part 2 I’ll discuss some specific examples of how to avoid accommodation in your Muay Thai and supporting strength and conditioning training.

  • Like what you've read? Would you like to be mentored by Don and join the Pro membership online Muay Thai strength and conditioning program?

    "Get expert strength and conditioning coaching to match your Muay Thai coaching"
    "All the training you need to succeed"

    Learn more >>

  • About Don

    Don Heatrick

    Don Heatrick is owner of Heatrick Strength & Conditioning, is a strength and conditioning coach, Muay Thai coach and former pro Thai boxer from the UK.

    With over 25-years experience in combat sports and athletic conditioning, he’s passionate about all things leading to improved Muay Thai performance.

    And he loves sharing what he's learned (and continues to learn) along the way on his websites and

    More about Don >>



7 thoughts on “Muay Thai & The Law of Accommodation – Part 1

  1. […] accommodation requires some forethought. As discussed in part 1 of this article, it’s important to vary training load (intensity and/or volume) and the exercises or drills […]

  2. […] Now, I know you’re a superfit Thaiboxer, but start small and progressively build up. Resist the urge to go all-out from the first session, instead incrementally up-the-ante creating long-term adaptation that continues way beyond 6-weeks or so. We’re seeking the minimum dose to create the desired training effect so that we don’t prematurely suffer from accommodation. You can read more on this in a previous blog post, Muay Thai & The Law of Accommodation. […]

  3. […] Using strategy and tactics that suit your own personal style makes you harder to deal with. Varying sparring/training partners will allow you to test style combinations and learn how to adjust ‘on the fly’. It will also help you continually progress by avoiding accommodation. […]

  4. […] remember for each new exercise/stimulus you have a corresponding training age. Understand the law of accommodation and the need to apply the minimum stimulus to achieve the desired adaptation for long term gains […]

  5. […] The law of accommodation is a primary reason.  When you train the same identical motor patterns or “solve” the same athletic problems over and over to the point of diminishing returns, you don’t just level out.  You get worse.  YOU. GET. WORSE.  This law is too often explained as fragile psychology, but the athlete’s nervous breakdown or descent into drug abuse is just the side effect of having few tools to overcome new athletic problems in an environment of all-eggs-in-one-basket pressure.  The abusive tennis parent with early burn out/drug addict kid is a cliche for a reason. Children engrained with multiple pathways for neural plasticity solve the athletic problems posed by the law of accommodation effortlessly. Those who lack that plasticity peak quickly and rarely recover. […]

  6. […] you’ll get a detraining effect – even if you maintain the same training intensity and volume (law of accommodation). This is why planned progression is key to the kind of long-term improvement that’ll leave […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *