This is usually out of over-attachment to “tradition”, or simple lack of knowledge. They’ll often say “Thai fighters are the best Muay Thai fighters in the world, and if it works for them, it’ll work for us too.”
Unfortunately, that’s usually not the case.
Thai fighters tend to start young, and have more years to make progress using inefficient training methods
Thai fighters tend to start at a much younger age, and it’s only after 8-10+ years of training that they’re able to reach those levels using inefficient methods.
On the other hand, most westerners start at a much later age, and don’t have the capacity to train full-time like Thai fighters do because they have jobs, school, or family commitments to take care of.
Secondly, opinions about the effectiveness of “Thai-style” training is largely skewed by “survivorship bias” – the “best Thai fighters” who make it to the top of the sport are the tiny minority of fighters who were able to reach the top, despite using inefficient training methods.
And we become blind to everyone else – the thousands of fighters using the same inefficient methods, but aren’t as lucky and never make it to the top of the sport.
In truth, the vast majority (tens of thousands) of fighters who resort to traditional “Thai-style” training never even get close to competing at a high level in the sport.
If you’ve ever been to Thailand, you know the vast majority of Thai fighters are only in it to make money and fight at local stadiums in the countryside, with no intention of reaching the top.
They do what they’re told, without ever considering if there’s a better way, because that’s the culture in Thailand.
Most only every fight lower-level competition in local stadiums or in the countryside to make money for their families, until they find a better way to make money, or get injured and can’t compete anymore.
Yet many coaches and fighters still live in the fantasy that doing things “Thai style” – running, skipping, push-ups, and pull-ups – is all the “Strength & Conditioning” that’s needed to grow as a fighter and reach the top of the sport.
Somehow they’ve missed the fact that today’s top teams and fighters in Thailand are adopting modern Strength & Conditioning to get a leg up on everyone else that’s still behind the times!
You don’t have to be an expert to see that after the initial phase of “newbie gains”, there’s a limit to how many more push-ups, sit-ups, and burpees you can add on until you hit a glass ceiling in your growth as a fighter.
Westerners might make a bit of money fighting, but do it mostly for the love of the sport
Muay Thai is currently a “passion sport”, not a “money sport”. Most people in Muay Thai are in it for the love of the sport – not because it makes good money.
And as a professional Strength & Conditioning coach, it’s much more lucrative to focus on training athletes who compete in “money sports”, because they’re capable of paying MUCH more for top-level training.
It’s a better ROI (return-on-investment) as far as a career in Sports & Performance Science goes, and very few coaches & trainers are fully dedicated to the sport of Muay Thai.
Because of this, Muay Thai fighters are mostly left to figure things out for themselves – often resorting to whatever they can find on the internet – which usually results in a less-than-optimal regimen of Strength training and “cardio” (usually long runs and HIIT).
While this does create some athletic development in the right direction, it usually results in an overall imbalanced profile of athletic qualities.
The adaptations made aren’t exactly in the right form or ratios that are optimal for Muay Thai, and after a few years fighters tend to:
The sad reality is that despite their best efforts, a lot of fighters will never become as great as they aim to be, because no one ever told them…