The world of Muay Thai is changing. And athletic performance matters more than ever.

Gone are the days when Thai fighters had a monopoly on the sport. Today, Western fighters are using sports science and professional training methods to close the gap on their Thai counterparts.

If you’re a Muay Thai fighter or a coach who wants to stay ahead of the curve, then you need to check out this episode. In it, we explore the latest trends in Muay Thai training and how you can use them to improve your own, or your fighter’s performance.

We cover everything from sports science to skill training to the changing landscape of Muay Thai professionalism. By the end of this episode, you’ll have a better understanding of what a Muay Thai professional really is and what it takes to be a world-class athlete.

So what are you waiting for? Check out this latest episode now!

by Don Heatrick

Professional, Athletic Performance in the Muay Thai Landscape

We’re witnessing a tangible shift in the world of Muay Thai. A transformation of farang or Western fighters from mere hobbyists into the realm of elite professionals.

Professionalism is the driving force behind this revolution. As fight purses swell, luring an ever-growing pool of talent, and financial backing enables top-tier fighters to access superior training and support, the tides are turning. Western contenders are toppling Thai champions and seizing the most coveted titles in the sport.

The evolution of the fiercely competitive Muay Thai landscape and the newfound ability of Western fighters to rival their Thai counterparts are no accidents.

Join me in a future episode as we delve into the many factors that have shaped this landscape. But for now, our focus is on the impact this paradigm shift has on fighter training

In this episode, I invite you to embrace my personal mantra: “Respect the traditional, embrace the new.”

Through this powerful lens, we’ll not only unravel the secrets to climbing to the pinnacle of this game and remaining there, but how the apex of Muay Thai excellence will be redefined too.

Although in the late 1970s, Japanese kickboxing influences found their way to the Muay Thai scene through Dutch kickboxers, traditional Thai training methods have reigned supreme, especially as the sport gained traction in the West during the 1980s Golden Era.

My own journey in Muay Thai began in the mid-90s, and until around 2010, training methods remained largely unchanged. Progress was slow due to the traditional Thai culture and limited exposure to alternative viewpoints. While Thais excelled in technical and tactical skills, their athletic development was often lacking, and this side of traditional training has barely evolved.

Muay Thai in mid 1990's when skill was predominate focus and athletic performance wasn't

Think of traditional Thai training as producing highly skilled race car drivers, but not spending enough time fine-tuning and maintaining the race car itself.

When it comes to technical and tactical skill training, influences from outside Thailand won’t make a significant impact. However, when it comes to boosting athletic development, there’s a lot that can be brought to the table.

Borrowing proven methods from well-funded sports that have a history of employing sports science to enhance competitive performance, is one reason we’re witnessing western fighters narrow the gap in Muay Thai. The influx of influences pouring into the mix is of exceptional quality and diverse in nature.

The key lies in filtering this wealth of knowledge through the lens of Muay Thai. It requires a deep understanding of both sports science and the intricacies of Muay Thai itself. We’re in an exhilarating era where these worlds collide and exciting breakthroughs await.

Balancing Both Skill And Athletic Performance

This is something that truly ignites my passion. It’s time for Muay Thai fighters to not only dominate in technical striking but also possess world-class athletic performance to match—an area that has often been overlooked.

But here’s the harsh reality: skill alone is no longer enough to secure victory. When two fighters possess equal technical abilities, it’s the one with superior athleticism who comes out on top. Picture it this way: if two race drivers are equally skilled, the one with the highest-performing race car takes the checkered flag.

Muay Thai Athletic Performance Trend

I’ve been preaching this message for over a decade, but it’s only now that the competitive landscape is shifting enough to recognise the significance of investing focused training time in athletic performance. But many others are starting to see it too. And here’s the exciting part: I’ve noticed another change that will skyrocket Muay Thai’s athletic development at an exponential rate!

We’ve reached a tipping point where there’s a critical mass of fighters and coaches adopting a professional attitude. This shift will propel us forward like never before. It’s time to seize the moment, embrace the pro mindset, and elevate Muay Thai to unprecedented levels of athletic excellence.

Athletic Performance Marginal Gains – James Clear 1% better

When I started sharing ideas and athletic performance programs for Muay Thai fighters, the interest primarily came from the fighters themselves.

In my mission to elevate the level of Muay Thai performance, each fighter who joined our team was like a husky pulling the weight of athletic performance up a slope. We were making progress, but let’s face it, a fighter’s influence alone isn’t as powerful as that of the coaches.

As I’ve discussed in a previous episode, the majority of coaches were still stuck in their ways, holding onto the traditional training methods of the Golden Era. It was understandable, but it limited their willingness to explore alternatives.

Now, here’s the exciting part. I believe the Muay Thai community outside of Thailand has entered a new stage on the innovation curve. Once, the concept of scientific athletic performance training only resonated with the most forward-thinking, “innovative” fighters and coaches. But now, we’ve reached the “early adoption” stage, according to Rogers’ Adopter Categorisations. More coaches are recognising the advantages that can catapult their fighters to success on the global stage.

I’m receiving an increasing number of inquiries from coaches, and their impact is more like an elephant pushing Muay Thai performance up to new heights.

Rogers' Innovation Curve and effect on Muay Thai athletic performance

A professional attitude means leaving no stone unturned, eliminating wasted effort, and investing in practices that not only yield short-term benefits (like in the next fight) but, crucially, elevate fighters to a whole new level in the long run.

Athletic Performance - professionals leave no stone unturned

In my eyes, Muay Thai reigns supreme as the ultimate striking sport. I’ve been privileged to witness its global evolution virtually from the very beginning.

And the anticipation of the jaw-dropping displays of skill and power that fighters will unleash upon the world, once they fine-tune their engines to demonstrate their true greatness, is truly exhilarating!

Here are the key points from this week’s video resource…

  • 00:00 – Intro
  • 00:51 – Brief timeline of Western Muay Thai
  • 01:32 – Muay Thai skill training and Muay Thai performance training
  • 02:44 – Muay Thai Athletic Performance Trend
  • 05:02 – A professional leaves no stone unturned

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.

Heavy Hitters Barebones

Doors Remain Open For…


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

Email me with your login username (email address), and I’ll send you a coupon code to take that amount off of your Heavy Hitters purchase. Commitment has its rewards!

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

Why Heavy Hitters is Different:

  • Streamlined Efficiency: The life of a Muay Thai enthusiast, coach, or fighter, especially in the West, is brimming with demands. Heavy Hitters understands that. No need for endless hours. You need potent, impactful hours. This program is your answer.

  • Real-world Results: From enthusiasts in Australia to champions in the USA, the feedback is unanimous – Heavy Hitters changes the game. Take it from Paul Banasiak:

     “From broke and broken to moving and competing better than ever. Since working with Don 3 years ago, I haven’t had a single major issue. Don gave me the confidence that has translated itself into three straight knockout wins and a WBC title.”

  • Holistic Training: It’s not merely about more power in your punches or lasting longer. It’s about cultivating a body that’s nimble, powerful, and resistant to injuries.

  • Be Part of Something Greater: Beyond the program lies a fraternity, a global assembly of like-minded souls, all driven by the singular passion to redefine their Muay Thai boundaries.

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…

But here’s the silver lining – even if you’re not geared up to start immediately, you can reserve your spot in this cohort and start your training whenever you’re ready.

Discover Everything About Heavy Hitters Here!

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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The Science of Building Champions video series
The science of building a Muay Thai champion’s strength & conditioning, which results in…
  • Fastest possible short-term progress
  • Maximum long-term progress
  • More efficient movement patterns
  • Better technique
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  • The Optimum 12-Week Fight Camp