Muay Thai specificity is a term that’s largely misunderstood, and therefore misused. In this video I set about explaining how all three main elements of your training; strength and power, cardio conditioning, and Muay Thai training itself, have a range of activities from general to specific.

Once you understand this, you can begin to structure your training to have a much better training effect through a more efficient “transfer of training” which I discussed in the last video. But another massive bonus of using Muay Thai specificity correctly, is a reduction in overuse injuries.


Featuring Manachai, Erhan and Liam Harrison

“…Consider that even your Muay Thai training has a spread from general to specific.”

This video continues on from the last one… if you haven’t seen it, go and catch up now…


Each one of those key elements in your programme, whether it’s strength and power training, cardio conditioning training, or Muay Thai training – use various practices that range from general to Muay Thai specific.

If we start with your cardio conditioning training (that’s your energy systems training), here our general training predominantly targets aerobic capacity, using a higher volume of extensive interval work. So that’s a lower intensity, for a longer duration.

We move along that continuum through aerobic power, onto anaerobic power and anaerobic capacity. At the specific end of the scale, we predominantly use intensive intervals. So that’s shorter, but at a very high intensity.

And for your cardio conditioning we also move from a more general focus on central, cardio vascular adaptation, onto more of a local muscular endurance specific focus.

Meanwhile, our strength and power training moves from more of a heavy bilateral strength emphasis using both limbs, to a more unilateral speed and power emphasis using single arms and legs. And I’ve already spoken more about that in previous videos.

But now consider that even your Muay Thai training has spread from general to specific as well!

General training uses punch bags, and becomes more specific using pad rounds, sparring, and ultimately the fight itself.

Everything is on this specificity continuum.

…I had to practice saying that. ;)

Even the rounds you use on either the punch bag, or the pads or in sparring, range from longer, slower paced (general) rounds, to shorter, faster (more specific) rounds.

And drills range from practicing single shots, to combinations.

And pad combos are either predefined, or more reactive… and pad holders can start hitting you back. You can even begin simulating elements of the style of your upcoming fighter too.

Keeping this simple, you can see how this all pans out.

Further from a fight, your work should be more general, building up those athletic qualities with progressive overload. And this also gives your body a chance to recover from all the specific work you did leading up to your last fight. And gives you a chance to reduce the likelihood of those overuse injuries.

But at this general stage, this doesn’t mean that ALL your training needs to be general, just that a larger proportion of it is.

And then you shift to a more specific emphasis as you progress towards your next fight. You select exercises and methods that convert the athletic qualities that you’ve just overloaded and built using less specific training, and convert that into Muay Thai specific qualities that you can unleash on your opponent in your next fight.

So every aspect of your training is programmed for transfer of training, just like I said in my last video.

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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