Testing is motivating. It tells you if you’re good or bad, and if you’re training is making you better.
But testing “better” only means you’re getting better at Muay Thai if the test has carry over, if it’s sport specific enough.
I use a modified Wingate rowing test in my online strength and conditioning programme to measure Thai boxer’s anaerobic power, capacity and fatigue. Can you go hard enough for long enough?
It’s a good test, and uses equipment that most have access to… but I think I’ve found something even better… if you have the kit.
You see, I’ve picked up a very useful tool, and I’m able to measure stuff I couldn’t measure before.
You may have heard of VBT (Velocity Based Training), but I’m using the kit a little differently – or “unconventionally” as Robert Napoli of Beast Technologies tells me!
…In this instance, rather than optimising strength and power training – which of course is highly useful – I’m using VBT to measure energy systems performance, or more specifically anaerobic power endurance, capacity and fatigue.
I want to know not only how powerful you are, but also how relentless!
The Wingate test is traditionally a single all-out 30-second sprint on a cycle ergometer, against a constant braking force that’s dependant on your body weight .
A Wingate test allows the following performance measures to be made:
- Peak Power Output (PPO) – Watts – How explosive are you?
- Relative Peak Power Output (RPP) – Watts/kg – What’s your power to weight ratio?
- Anaerobic Fatigue/ Fatigue Index (AF) – % Decrement – How much do you tire?
- Anaerobic Capacity (AC) – Watts – How much total power do you produce?
In my online programme, I use the rower for this test because I believe most gyms have decent rowers that allow you to record power output; and because the rowing technique uses both upper body and lower body actions, which is more sport specific for Muay Thai compared to a cycle ergometer.
But, using the VBT kit, I can record all the performance measures of the Wingate test from a standing position. And in Muay Thai, we stand up (well, good boxers do anyway)!
Step Back Wingate, Enter Bosco
I’ve opted for the Bosco test, and it’s a doozy!
There’s some good, solid research behind it, but the bit I really love, is it takes specificity to a new level…
…It’s a superior test for Muay Thai because it involves a repeated squat jump – which uses the stretch-shortening cycle (SSC), that is elastic, springing power . And this is more Muay Thai specific than cranking on bike pedals or even yanking on the rower.
And here’s another thing…
Anaerobic power tests are best carried out with loads that express maximum peak power. And peak power for a jump squat is achieved using body weight only… no additional load .
Body weight only? Even more Muay Thai specificity!
But there’s more…
Relative peak power, vertical jump height, and average power is greater when jumping barefoot or with minimalist footwear when compared to footwear with more cushioning soles that dissipate ground reaction forces .
Barefoot testing is best? Well that’s just Muay Thai specificity to the max! …Please excuse me, this stuff makes me lose it like a nerd at a Comic Con…
Let’s Get Testing
Here’s how I conduct my simple Bosco power endurance test.
- Participants were fitted with a VBT device either mounted on their wrist or ideally on a torso vest (I’ve found the count is more reliable).
- Participants were instructed to perform continuous rapid jumps of maximum effort for the entire 60-second duration of the test
- Participants were instructed to lower to approximately 90-degrees of knee flexion during the transition from one jump to the next
- Participants were placed in the knee-flexed position prior to testing to familiarise them with the squat-depth required
- During the test, an investigator watched the knee angle and instructed the athlete to increase or decrease the depth of knee flexion as the test effort proceeded
- Participants were required to keep their hands on their waists throughout the test to minimise contribution of the upper body to the test performance
- Verbal encouragement was provided by the investigator
- The 60-second duration for the Bosco test was chosen because the total ground contact time was approximately 30 seconds, roughly the duration of muscle tension in the Wingate test.
And here are some results for you…
Pretty isn’t it?
…For the data weirdos like me, it’s as nice to look at as Saenchai’s cartwheel kick.
But let’s look at what it means. Researchers have found various athletes perform like this in this test:
Mean values for male mechanical jumping power (W.kg-1) by sport 
So that’s how much juice they all have, but when it comes to fatigue, here’s what’s been reported…
Female 400m runners demonstrated a linear decline in power over the Bosco 60-second repeated jump test, from 20.5 to 12 Watts/kg . That’s a linear decline of 41% with an average power output of 16.3 Watts/kg.
Another study using male professional soccer players measured a linear decline in power over the same Bosco 60-second repeated jump test from 24.2 to 14.9 Watts/kg . That’s a drop of 38% with an average power output of 19.6 Watts/kg.
Yet another study measured 60-second Bosco jumps of recreational male college students and measured a drop from 22.3 to 12.9 Watts/kg. That’s an average of 17.6 Watts/kg and a 41% decline.
Bosco’s own study looked at the mean power output of male volleyball players, and they fatigued from 26.7 to 16.7 Watts/kg in 60-seconds. That’s a mean output of 21.7 W/kg and a decline of just 37.5% .
This study also noted that male basketball players dropped from mean power output of 24.7 to 14.9 Watts/kg in 60-seconds. That’s a 19.8 Watts/kg mean output and a 39.7% decline.
A study using male and female college athletes to compare Wingate and Bosco anaerobic tests, found that in the 60-second Bosco test :
Males averaged 17.8 Watts/kg, peaked at 23.7 Watts/kg, and decreased from 22.9 to 11.1 Watts/kg, a decline of 51%.
Females averaged 12.2 Watts/kg, peaked at 19.2 Watts/kg, and decreased from 18.8 to 7.7 Watts/kg, a decline of 59%.
It appears that there may be a gender difference, not only with respect to power output, but also when it comes to fatigue or percentage decline. Females appear to fatigue about 8% more than males over 60-seconds .
What About Muay Thai?
Yeh, yeh – all very good – but what about Thai boxers? How should they measure up? Well, based on my own testing and research, here’s what I’m looking for from Thai boxers:
- 60-sec Mean Power: >19 Watts/kg
- 60-sec Mean Power Decrement: <20%
And that graph above scores like this…
- 60-sec Mean Power: 24 Watts/kg (that’s above 19 Watts/kg and a thumbs up)
- 60-sec Mean Power Decrement: 17.3% (nice one… below 20%, again thumbs up)
This info gives you a good idea if you’re powerful enough, and if you can sustain that power for long enough. Either way, it helps inform your training programme to target stuff you need to work on.
I’m currently using one of these sensors to monitor one of my sponsored fighters, Joe Le Maire, while he’s out training in Thailand full time for a year at Sumalee Gym in Phuket. It’s proving very useful when I can’t have eyes on him myself in person!
I’ve also been asked by the team at the YOKKAO Training Centre in Bangkok to structure training for Manachai YOKKAO Saenchai Gym… and I’ll be testing him extensively when I fly out in December. VBT will feature heavily among other testing, to make sure I can target his training just where it’s needed.
And I’ve got some other really useful Muay Thai specific testing and training methods that I’ve been experimenting with using this velocity based training kit. Watch this space…
 H. Jaafar, M. Rouis, E. Attiogbé, H. Vandewalle, and T. Driss, “A Comparative Study Between the Wingate and Force – Velocity Anaerobic Cycling Tests : Effect of Physical Fitness,” Int. J. Sports Physiol. Perform., pp. 48–54, 2016.
 W. Sands, J. R. McNeal, M. T. Ochi, T. L. Urbanek, M. Jemni, and M. H. Stone, “Comparison Of The Wingate And Bosco Anaerobic Tests,” J. Strength Cond. Res., vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 810–815, 2004.
 P. Cormie, G. O. Mccaulley, N. T. Triplett, and J. M. Mcbride, “Optimal Loading for Maximal Power Output during Lower-Body Resistance Exercises,” Med. Sci. Sport. Exerc., vol. 39, no. 2, pp. 340–349, 2007.
 J. LaPorta, L. Brown, J. Coburn, A. Galpin, J. Tufano, V. Cazas, and J. Tan, “Effects of Different Footwear on Vertical Jump and Landing Parameters,” J. Strength Cond. Res., vol. 27, no. 3, pp. 733–737, 2013.
 C. Bosco, P. Luhtanen, and P. V Komi, “A simple method for measurement of mechanical power in jumping,” Eur. J. Appl. Physiol. Occup. Physiol., vol. 50, pp. 273–282, 1983.
 D. T. Kirkendall and G. M. Street, “Mechanical jumping power in athletes.,” Br. J. Sports Med., vol. 20, no. 4, pp. 163–164, 1986.
 U. Szmatlan-Gabryś, A. Stanula, T. Gabryś, M. Ozimek, and L. Stanisz, “Applying the Kinematic Parameters from the Bosco Jump Test to Evaluate the Athlete’s Preparadness and to Select Training Parameters,” Life Sci. J., vol. 11, no. 5, pp. 383–388, 2014.
 C. Bosco, J. Tihanyi, L. Rivalta, G. Parlato, C. Tranquilli, G. Pulvirenti, C. Foti, M. Viru, and A. Viru, “Hormonal Responses in Strenuous Jumping Effort Bosco,” Jpn. J. Physiol., vol. 46, pp. 93–98, 1996.
Don Heatrick, owner of Heatrick Strength & Conditioning, is a renowned Level 4 Strength and Conditioning coach, Muay Thai coach and former pro Thai boxer from the UK.
HERE TO…Help ambitious fighters & coaches take their game to the next level by bridging the gap between Strength & Conditioning, Performance Science, and Muay Thai