At a seminar I delivered to Thai boxers in Cork, Ireland, there were some very experienced fighters — having invested many years of training both domestically and in Thailand, and amassing a large number of fights internationally. You wouldn’t describe these guys as ‘beginners’… or would you?

A small part of this particular seminar looked at a few fundamental movement patterns used to train strength and conditioning exercises. Some fighters were surprised to find that they struggled to perform simple movements. I remember attempting my first correctly coached  full-depth squat, ‘What the #@%*? I can’t do this right!’ I’m constantly finding movements that I can’t do, and working on them to develop the mobility, stability, strength or coordination that I lack.

The truth is that your body is good at cheating it’s way around movements it can’t do without you knowing. It can reproduce a lookalike movement pattern that doesn’t have the same efficiency, reliability or safety, despite how it may feel – you’ve unconsciously learned to work around a limitation and formed a habit.

It’s a humbling to find an apparently simple movement pattern so challenging, especially when you’re a high performing athlete. At this moment, take a step back and observe your ego in the spotlight. Do you accept that despite your prowess in the ring, that you have some limitations that need addressing? It’s interesting to observe an experienced fighter battling their ego like this… but the best fighters take it for what it is, an opportunity to grow and improve.

The seminar crammed a lot in, and while discussing how to programme supporting strength and conditioning work around Muay Thai training, I explained that although you may have an advanced training age when it comes to Muay Thai, you can simultaneously have a novice training age in strength and conditioning. As an analogy, just because you’ve passed your driving test, you wouldn’t expect to jump straight on a motorbike without having to learn from the beginning.

If you have less than a years experience of resistance training, you’re new to this element of training and you need to craft the fundamentals. Strength and conditioning is a long-term pursuit with gradual progression, start by establishing your foundation. Just like Muay Thai training, there’s a progression from beginner, intermediate to advanced, and the same is true with all disciplines. In fact, every mode of training, even each exercise has an associated training age which will determine which progression/regression is applicable for you as an individual.

So once again, keep that ego in check and work on what’s going to bring you on the quickest — and it’s rarely the most advanced, sexy looking exercise variation that you’ve seen on YouTube.

Further Resources

Don Heatrick

Founder of Heatrick Strength and Conditioning

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.

Don helps ambitious fighters and coaches take their game to the next level by bridging the gap between Strength & Conditioning, Performance Science, and Muay Thai.

Follow Don Heatrick on Instagram:


Unlock Your Muay Thai Potential

with the Optimal Fight Camp Blueprint

Elevate Your Game Through Strategic Strength & Conditioning

Becoming a dominant force in the ring requires more than just sweat and hard work; it demands a precise strategy

Our 12-week fight camp blueprint is your roadmap to superior athleticism and ring dominance, regardless of your current level.

When you adhere to scientifically-proven training principles, you’re setting yourself apart from the rest. It’s not a question of ‘if,’ but ‘when’ you’ll reach your goals.

Navigating this path can be overwhelming, which is why we’ve compiled the ‘Optimal Fight Camp Blueprint’ into a comprehensive PDF guide to simplify your training planning.