MuayThai Strength and Conditioning Q&A Episode 1: Core Exercises For Fighters
Featuring Manachai, Erhan and Yodchai, filmed at the Yokkao Training Centre in Bangkok.

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Video Transcript:

I get asked two kinds of questions when it comes to training the core:

Firstly, do you need to use supplemental training for the core if you’re otherwise using functional training (for the whole body) that is going to contribute through the core as well?

And secondly, how do you bulk up and make your abs look bigger?

Erm… Let’s get into this…

So firstly, more about the appearance of your abs – so, bulking up, hypertrophy, all that kind of stuff… getting the segmented abs.

As a fighter, it’s not really something you should be worried about. Train for function… and you’ll get the look that you want

The main thing is that you get your body fat level down so you can actually see your abs.

That’s the first step.

And when it comes to function training for the core…

It’s true that everything that you do will work on stabilising the core, so contributes to that.

And there’s an article on my website, about the serape effect as well – that diagonal bracing that goes on as you’re stabilising the core and how that relates to performance.

So those big, functional, ab-stabilisers like squats, like deadlifts, like overhead presses… They’re all really going to help you develop your core.

So fighters train for function, leave the bodybuilding for those that don’t want to move so well!

And it’s core strength that we’re after, not appearance. The appearance will follow function.

Continually curling and flexing the spine isn’t good for it – check out Dr Stuart McGill’s work on this and you’ll change your mind on doing lots of crunches!

So for example, I haven’t done a sit up or crunch in years… It’s just been functional training in the gym, and Muay Thai, that’s it…

And… as you can see… I’ve got abs…

And it’s mainly down to what you do in the kitchen rather than what you do out in the gym.

Bulking isn’t the answer.

So when it comes to training the core in the gym, I like the unilateral work to do that. Like I mentioned, the serape effect that cross-bracing… that’s going to give you a good training effect.

And punching and kicking is core training too, don’t forget that. You’re getting lots of that all the time!

And when it comes to strength training in the gym, I like the ab roll-outs, the candlesticks (or dragon flags), whatever you want to call them… landmine twists, and stir the pot… those kinds of things.

All of those exercises are going to build real-world functional strength that you’ll actually be able to use. And it’s not just about the appearance.

And for developing core power… I like medicine ball throws in all the directions.

So long story short… Yes! I do target the core specifically. And I do target for strength and power.

And I don’t do lots of repetitions of flexion/extension movements. And I’m certainly not interested in bulking-up the core for a fighter.

Get the body fat down… then you’re in the right place.

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.

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