Most likely, if you ask your Muay Thai trainer what fitness training you should do outside of your Muay Thai sessions, you’re told to simply run a number of times a week, and maybe do a little weight training if you want to

It’s largely down to you. And aside from “do more” when you have a fight coming up, there’s little guidance and rarely any structure. And this is a problem for the majority of Muay Thai trainers.

It’s leaving students with only a basic athletic foundation and no hope of levelling up over time, let alone peaking performance for a fight if the student competes. So why does this happen?

It’s largely because those traditional Golden Era Muay Thai methods are still aspirational to most coaches, even if things should have moved on and improved…

by Don Heatrick
@donheatrick

About Your Muay Thai Trainer

To truly level up, the best of traditional training should remain, while the less effective or wasteful work should be improved or cut completely.

It’s also likely the your trainer only ever received outdated training advice themselves – training practices are typically passed down from generation to generation without question… Especially in Thailand.

Not to mention, there’s a pressure on coaches to be seen to offer authentic Muay Thai training to their students. And having run my own Muay Thai gym, I respect that reputation is important, and it’s incredibly challenging to maintain a viable Muay Thai gym business.

But at the same time, sport science is constantly evolving, and it’s important to be aware of new developments and incorporate them into our training where appropriate to gain significant performance advantages and longevity in the sport.

Right now, only the most innovative/early adopting Muay Thai coaches are currently exploiting this advantage and passing it on to their students. The vast majority of coaches lack the facilities and the knowledge of how to use that kit…

It’s not surprising. There’s a SIGNIFICANT investment needed in both equipment and education to pull it off.

And giving up rented floor space to expensive metal work, especially when you don’t know how to best use it, is a huge barrier…

It’s easier just to play it safe, mat out the floor space and have students partner up for bagwork, padwork, or sparring

And maybe just claim to be an “authentic” Muay Thai gym, and dissuade students from believing sports science plays any part in Muay Thai performance – just saying ;)

This used to work. But then the internet happened, and influences beyond your coach entered your social sphere. “Helpful” folks like me, started publicly explaining how to make Muay Thai athletes even better, and sharing training methods that differed to the traditional Golden Era mantras.

Research has shown that a lack of proper periodisation, recovery strategies, and injury prevention techniques can lead to decreased performance, increased risk of injury, and decreased recovery.

Meanwhile, Muay Thai competition has truly gone international with promotions like ONE FC, Rajadamnern World Series, Fairtex Fight Promotion, and ONE Lumpinee all showcasing fighters outside of Thailand too…

And these successful international fighters routinely share training on social media that feature non-traditional, more scientific methods too.

All while the average education level of those training in Muay Thai continues to shift upwards – the number of people with Ph.D’s working with me online is growing all the time!

Muay Thai trainers are up against it

Well-informed, inquisitive students keep coming…

And while trainers have whole classes to look after, they experience more students demanding personalised programming that only suits them (not the group) and specifically addresses their own weekly schedule and fight dates.

Unreasonable expectations?

There’s a way to upgrade the service provided to students and fighters that doesn’t undermine your Muay Thai trainer if you’re a student, or undermine you if you’re a trainer.

Professional sports have specialist support teams with experts in their respective fields; technical and tactical sports skills, physio, massage, strength and conditioning, nutrition, etc.

A professional approach to supporting Muay Thai practitioners should also tap into specialisations, allowing each coach to do what they do best while working as a collaborative team for the best of the athlete.

This removes the burden of keeping up to date with advances in all the prospective fields, or providing all the facilities and equipment – students can conduct supporting sessions under the guidance of the specialist in suitably equipped facilities.

Building a trusted coaching team, with a good understanding of both the demands of the sport (Muay Thai) and the individual athlete (you) will accelerate your progress and keep you in the game longer.

As a student, understand the demands on your coach and take responsibility for your own training individualisation outside of your classes.

Don’t expect your Muay Thai trainer to have all the answers to the human performance puzzle. That’s not fair. They’re technical and tactical Muay Thai skills coaches with a whole team of students to look after.

By doing your bit, you can help your Muay Thai trainer be the best they can be at doing their bit.

If you’re a student or fighter looking for supplemental training to enhance your Muay Thai performance, or you’re a Muay Thai trainer looking for professional development in this area to support your Muay Thai skills specialisation…

I’d love to become a trusted part of your support team.

There are well over 360 articles, videos and guides on my website to help you out.

Go ahead and get started there, and feel free to reach out if you’d like more direct support. I’d love to work with you.

Every so often, an opportunity emerges that can redefine how we train, fight, and thrive.

Today marks one such epic day! The coveted Heavy Hitters Barebones program is swinging its doors open – a golden chance that surfaces just twice a year.

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If you purchased either the S&C Accelerator or Minimum Equipment Program (or both) in the past, here’s the deal:

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Why does this matter for every western Muay Thai enthusiast, fighter, or coach?

Why Heavy Hitters is Different:

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If tales of triumph intrigue you, delve deeper into Jonathan Lane’s saga – from grappling with an ACL recovery amid fatherhood to clinching the MTA NSW State Title. His secret weapon? The Heavy Hitters program.

Seize your golden chance to level up your Muay Thai journey. Remember, the doors to Heavy Hitters Barebones will shut on midnight 31st May and won’t swing open again until November 2024…

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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.

Follow Don Heatrick on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/donheatrick/

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