by Don Heatrick

Riddle me this…

What becomes more difficult the better you get?

…Have you got it?

I’ll tell you where I’m going with this, my answer is…


But this is much more than just a riddle…

If you want to become the best you can be, we must unpack this so we can properly exploit it.

I’ve previously spoken before about “newbie gains”, and the fact that initially the learning curve is steep, with improvements coming literally every training session.

This is true both of the technical/tactical side of Muay Thai, and the physiological improvements as your body adapts to become more efficient at the demands you’re placing on it.

But that steep climb in improvement levels-off the more you practice and train.

You need to invest increasingly more time to achieve anywhere near the same level of improvement.

And this is where the initial buzz starts to transition into more of a grind, and your motivation to train or compete in Muay Thai is tested…

Has your curiosity turned into a passion yet?

If it hasn’t, you’ll likely give up.

Passion is the key. It’s the only way you can push past the inevitable “sucky” parts of the process, where it gets so hard that you want to quit…

And most people will.

To stay with it, your reasons for training must be aligned to your core values and beliefs.

And Muay Thai is a personal journey.

You may not want to compete, training does it for you.

Or, you may feel that competition is the only way you can take yourself to the next level and continue to improve, otherwise, you’re stuck.

What’s key, is this is unique to you.

But there comes a point you’ll feel you need a bigger challenge.

Because improvement comes from finding flow.

Flow state is that sense of mind and body effortlessly functioning together in super sharp focus, no distractions…

Time feels like it slows, your spider senses are tingling, anticipating everything that’s happening. You’re “in the zone”!

When you’re in flow, you’re capable of your absolute best without it feeling like a huge effort at all.

You’ll certainly have felt this feeling before in training, when the conditions where right.

When in flow, the neurochemical reward is huge. You literally feel a high!

It’ll drive you to do this again, however tough it was to get there, just to feel this way again.

But here’s the thing…

In order to reach this same point of flow again next time, you’ll need to challenge yourself even more.

Because flow is also the point at which you improve the most too. It’ll fast track your growth.

But here’s the next riddle…

Flow only comes when you push yourself a little beyond what you’re cable of.

And finding flow changes you. You level up.

So it’s something you must continually scale up and chase!

To hit this, you must understand there’s a challenge/skill ratio.

If the level of the challenge is too low compared to your ability, then you’ll not hit flow, you’ll become bored.

But if the challenge is too high you become anxious and drop out of flow too.

Researchers suggest that optimal flow happens when the challenge is about 4% greater than your current level of ability or skill in that task.

That’s the flow sweet spot.

So we return to our riddle of improvement…

To fast track your progress you must continually, incrementally push yourself just a little further than is comfortable – build greater ability.

But, as you build your ability levels, it becomes increasingly harder to push beyond them.

This is true both physiologically and psychologically.

However, it’s a rush finding your limits, and discovering ways to move beyond them.

Keep exploring. And above all, testing yourself just beyond your ability level.

It’s where the magic happens.

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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