Following over a months lay off from training due to a persistent illness, I’ve lost a lot of muscle. Stepping back on the scales I’m nearly 5kg lighter. My composition remains good, but I need to get my weight back were it was so I’m competitive in my weight category at 75kg max (day before weigh-in).

My strength has dropped proportionally with the muscle loss, so I need that back too. I simply don’t feel robust enough to ward off injuries from training or competing. My next block of training needs to both build strength and add muscle mass in key areas (that will aid my Thai boxing performance rather than merely slowing me down). I need to focus on strength and functional hypertrophy.

3-weeks in and I’ve added nearly 2kg of muscle in only the places that I need it. No wasted bulk — and I’m beginning to feel sturdier.

I thought I’d share with you an overview of the routine I’m using.


I’ve been supersetting a strength exercise with a higher volume hypertrophy exercise, that is working sets of each exercise back to back without rest. The strength exercise is performed for 5-reps followed by 8-reps of the following hypertrophy exercise. Then taking 2-minutes rest before repeating the next set for a total of 4 work sets.

I’m training 3-times a week in the gym, alternating two session plans three times a week. So in the first week I perform session (A), then session (B), followed by session (A) again on non successive days. In the second week I perform session (B), (A), then session (B) again. The exercises used in the two sessions are as follows.


Front squat x 5-reps
Rear foot elevated split squats (Bulgarian split squats) x 8-reps each leg

Incline bench press x 5-reps
Dumbbell chest press x 8-reps

Pull-ups x 5-reps
Dumbbell bent over rows x 8-reps each side

Candlesticks x 5-reps


Deadlift x 5-reps
Single leg suspension squat x 8-reps each leg

Standing over head press behind neck x 5-reps
Barbell push press x 8-reps

Barbell bent over row x 5-reps
Suspended rows x 8-reps

Coreplate (landmine) twists x 5-reps

 Part 2 of this article elaborates on the routine, complete with videos of the exercises.

Further Resources

Don hypertrophy

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Don Heatrick is a family man from the UK, former mechanical design engineer, European Muay Thai silver medallist, former pro Thai boxer (ranked 4th in UK while aged 40-years), a Muay Thai coach, podcast host, and the go-to expert on Muay Thai performance training with over 25 years of coaching experience.

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