by Don Heatrick
As a Thai boxer, you have many different opportunities to train, some with groups and training-partners, and others by yourself. It’s great working with others, and there’s plenty of benefits to doing so, but grasping your solo sessions and making them count will take you to another level.
I see far too many fighters relying too heavily on training partners, or wasting personal sessions with generic ‘filler’ that simply burns calories but doesn’t make them better. Group sessions, and even most partner sessions, are generic in nature and won’t work on the critical specifics that you need as an individual.
In a seminar, ‘Starting Strength’ coach Andy Baker said, “There’s no such thing as typical, it’s all individual.”, and I encourage you to take this personally. No two fighters need the same training, and it’s up to you to find what you need and to work on it. You can read my article Muay Thai Game Changers: The 80/20 Rule for some more thoughts on this.
Find the premium 20% of training, the game changers, and get stuck into them. Consult coaches and training partners, review your own fight footage, and honestly appraise yourself to write a list. Look for commonalities to find the core 20% that will result in 80% of the improvement, and focus your effort here.
Your top priority (20% of) training will be unique to you, so how can you target this effectively in a group session? You can’t. Group and partner sessions are what they are, and give you other valuable opportunities, but they won’t be personalised.
Quality & Quantity
As a fighter, you need to amass a considerable volume of practice hours — deliberate practice, not just ‘junk hours’ doing any-old-thing. You must work on your game changers. You can read more on this in my article Mastery Begins With Your Intent.
Once you’ve found your game changers, how do you fit in all that uniquely personal, deliberate practice? If used correctly, this is where solo training comes to the fore. Top-level fighters invest far more time training solo, they’re motivated to crack-on by themselves and find opportunities to progress without depending on others.
So where are these premium solo training opportunities?
- Resistance (Strength/Power) Training
- Conditioning (Energy Systems) Training
- Bag Work Training
Don’t waste any of these opportunities for deliberate practice, set goals before going into solo training sessions and craft one or two critical aspects. Leave every session either technically better than when you went in, or having banked the training stimulus that’ll make you better over the longer-term, not just sweaty.
Do you need to work on foundation strength? What about explosive power? Is your mobility or stability letting you down? Are you injured or working to prevent injury? What phase of training are you in, how far are you away from a fight? Dial in what you need, nothing else, and move on to the rest of your training.
Do you have sufficient aerobic capacity and aerobic power? Are you balanced with adequate anaerobic capacity and anaerobic power to suit your fighting style? Again, what phase of training are you in? Balance these aspects as you personally require in your own time.
Bag Work Training
Sean Fagan at Muay Thai Guy has put together a video training series that’ll help you get the best out of your bagwork – a staple Muay Thai training method, but woefully under utilised by the majority of fighters. This is a wasted opportunity, blown with mindless flailing. If you want to exploit this solo training opportunity to the fullest and turn your bagwork into quality, deliberate practice, then take a look at Sean’s Heavy Bag Blueprint.
Bonus — As part of the Heavy Bag Blueprint course bundle, I’ve contributed a highly effective Speed, Power and Strength Training Routine (video) that Thai boxers can conduct with virtually no equipment — only a punch bag, Muay Thai pads and a weight bench or chair.
The routine is highly specific to Muay Thai and will fill many of the gaps in most Thai boxer’s athletic training – and even give those already training effectively for speed, power and strength, with a great way to maintain these qualities, even when training in Thailand with no access to strength and conditioning gym equipment.
When personalising your strength, power, conditioning or bag work training, there’s a ton of training methods and drills you could use, but it’s what you select and how you integrate them that matters. You need to make your own jig-saw from your own pieces, nobody else’s. Get your head around this and be prepared to apply yourself, and you’re onto a winner.
I’ll leave you with a quote from my post, The Importance of Individualisation, “Application and work ethic can overcome poorly applied natural talent. Mindset is a major contributor to all that you do, in fact the most important thing.”
Stop wasting solo training opportunities and move forward on every occasion. It’s all up to you.
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 the go-to expert on Muay Thai performance training with over 25 years of coaching experience.
Don helps ambitious fighters & coaches take their game to the next level by bridging the gap between Strength & Conditioning, Performance Science, and Muay Thai.
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