by Don Heatrick

When do you need more work on a particular aspect in your training?

When do you have enough?

What’s the most important aspect to focus on right now?

When do you shift your focus onto something else?


The questions are endless… 

And meaningful answers require deeper insight of both the individual person in question and their daily environment/circumstances.

As you’ll realise from my previous post discussing elite Thais’ legs becoming too sore to kick from doing a 5 minute shuttle run…

Accurate amounts of progression is paramount to getting the best results.

A generic prescription of, “Just do exercise/method x, for y number of times, z times per week, etc.” is next to useless for the vast majority of fighters that it’s shared with.

Where are YOU starting from?

Is that prescription more, or less, than you are used to doing? How much more or less?

The scaling of the training needs to meet the fighter where they’re at, and then lead them on…

The secret is using a minimal dose. The least amount of work required to get the benefit.

Bryan Popejoy, world renowned coach of One Championship superstars Janet Todd and Jackie Buntan, explained in our podcast together that he uses this approach too.

This is a very powerful concept for both fighters and coaches to truly grasp.

It’s like Super Mario climbing a staircase and collecting coins on the way.

There’s a coin on every step, and each coin is a performance improvement to us…

But here’s the cinch – there’s only a single staircase in this game, and you can’t head back down once you’ve taken a step up (unless you want to give up all your coins and start over).

The objective of the game is to collect the most coins (improve performance), NOT to reach the top of the staircase.

If you forget this, you’ll want to jump steps to reach the top of the staircase quicker…

But, in doing so you’ll miss out on the coins on the steps you jumped… You’re losing the game!

Once you hit the top of the staircase, the game is complete and your score is tallied.

For a fighter, at the top of the staircase you’ll find you’ve run out of available training time that you can commit to your training, or you’ve hit an overuse injury.

But as capable, enthusiastic fighters, we so want to jump up those steps!

However, just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should.

As a coach, it’s my job to determine what that next step must be, to “collect a coin” and give you the performance gain we both want.

If I’m lazy, and have you jump 3 steps to achieve it, then I’ve ultimately cost you your long-term performance potential

You’re going to run out of stairs (and coins) sooner…

And that’s the dilemma facing fighters training both in Thailand and those in the West.

However, the fighters with the absolute best athletic performance are getting this right.

So how can you get this right?!

If you’re familiar with my Optimal Fight Camp Blueprint, you’ll already know the overarching training structure and principles that make for the best fight performance…

So I’m not going to go into that here. If you missed the Blueprint, click here, I’ll send a copy to you.

Right now, I’ll focus on the Law of Accommodation – that I also mentioned in the previous email: How do Thais train so much?

In that email, I explained how those training in Thailand tend to be adapted, and not adaptable…

And how if you’re no longer adapting, this means you’ve plateaued, you’re stagnating, you’ve reached a glass ceiling.

You’ve not yet reached the best you can be, but you can’t seem to improve any further.

Sport scientists would describe your body as having “accommodated” the typical training stress that you experience on a regular basis…

It’s stopped bothering to adapt (improve athletic performance), because it already has the ability to tolerate it. Your body is bored… and you may feel like that too!

In order to trigger your body into bothering to respond again, you need to change things up (find the next “minimal dose” or step with a “coin”).

To do that, you must understand which type of athletic quality you’re looking for?

Mobility? Movement? Strength? Power? Speed? Endurance?

And you must know the amount of training quantity and/or intensity you need to only just exceed the habitual level that your body is currently bored with…

Then boom! You’re off to the races again.

But when should you change things up again?

Well not too soon!

If you switch too early, you won’t have gained all the momentum from your training that you could have…

You’ll be leaving extra performance on the table.

I recommend between 4 to 8 weeks is the sweet spot for a training block (a block of training that focuses on building 1 or 2 athletic qualities, while maintaining the rest)…

And, progressing through your training blocks in the following order, before repeating the cycle/phase again, will convert to the best fight performance and long-term gains:

  1. Mobility & Movement
  2. Functional Strength
  3. Explosive Power
  4. Maximum Speed

Again, LOADS on all that in the Optimal Fight Camp Blueprint if you need a reminder on that. Click here if you want me to send you a copy.

By incrementally stacking your gains like this – shifting gears when you’ve topped out your existing one – you’ll continue to make progress where before you’ll have simply stalled.

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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