“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” ~ Mike Tyson
This is not only true in the ring, the proverbial punch in the mouth can happen at any time to scupper your plans. Among other things injury, illness and work/family commitments can all interrupt your intended plan. Let’s face it, the nature of Muay Thai means you must expect to take knocks. It’ll be rare that you’re not carrying some kind of impact injury. How do you respond? Nothing ever goes 100% to plan, you must adapt, go with the flow. I’m not saying don’t plan ahead, just that you should never expect it all to go to plan.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PLANNING
Muay Thai requires a complex mix of physical abilities, each requiring attention in your training programme. Abilities that need sequencing correctly to avoid conflicting adaptation and must build on each other for peak performance. Without planning your training, you can’t hope to maximise your potential.
However, planning is a continual process, forever updating from the current moment onwards depending on what’s real right now. I have a principle based map of where I want to go, working back from my end goal to the current situation. For me, this overview remains planned but undetailed — I only plan detail for the next 3-8 weeks, followed by an idea of where I want to go next (depending on where I’ve ended up).
Planning training (or periodisation) is a series of nested levels of detail. At the largest overview level you have your whole year (or macro cycle in periodisation speak!), which is typically further broken down into 3 to 8-week sequential blocks of training targeting specific abilities (meso cycles). Each block is then broken down further into weekly segments (micro cycles), which is broken down into days and finally individual training sessions. It’s like zooming in through a fractal pattern.
“With so much to consider, how I you begin to plan training, and what’s the point if you can never stick to it in reality anyway? What should I do ideally?”
You’ve never got an ideal world — there are always time and facility constraints. Ask yourself what do you want to achieve? Make a list. Pick the top 2 aspects that will positively impact your style of fighting (Pareto 80-20 rule) and target these. Create an overview plan to build these qualities, understanding that the foundation abilities of strength and aerobic conditioning are needed before you can produce power and power-endurance.
Then outline a more detailed 3-8 week plan for your next block of training (meso cycle), focusing on your chosen two key aspects. Specify the number of intended strength/power training sessions and energy system conditioning sessions each week. You can then put together a progressive plan for individual sessions.
With a target number of weekly sessions and an outline of intended sessions, you’ve got as much detail as you need to get started. If you wish, you can begin to specify which days you intend to do which session, but don’t get too carried away, as this level of detail is highly likely to get interrupted. The the exact order of your sessions depends on how recovered you are each day (from the combined effect of your other training and life stressors). Recording general feeling, rate of perceived effort (RPE) and/or heart rate variability (HRV) can help you organise your training for maximum effect.
For example, I have no idea how my private coaching clients are going to feel when they come in to train with me that day, I have no control over any factors outside of the gym. I typically have between 30-mins to an hour to train them that day, and there’s a further 23-hours that can mess things up — including sleep, nutrition and other physical activity.
WHEN IT GOES WRONG
‘Resist nothing’ — I’ve borrowed this from a Science & Metaphysics meme, but the following approach is the same one I use for training (and life in general):
When something bad happens, you can
a) resist it with anger, frustration, regret or (insert your non-fun emotion here)
b) accept reality (its already happened!) and move on with your day
This mindset is simple yet very powerful.
The key here is how you move on with the rest of your day. Look for the opportunities made available and/or the lessons learned from the interruption. Pay attention not only to your conscious thoughts but also your gut feeling — that way you’ll get the greatest benefit from that ‘bad happening’. I’ve always found that events initially perceived as bad have always pointed me at something better, more valuable. You just need to look.
Getting punched in the mouth isn’t a bad thing — IF you know how to roll with the punch.
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), and now a podcast host and the go-to expert on Muay Thai performance training with over 25 years of coaching experience.
Don helps committed Thai boxers organise training for accelerated self development & Muay Thai performance.
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