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The Ax Forum
Muay Thai & Kickboxing Forum Mixed Martial Arts Forum Boxing Forum Fight Training Forum Off Topic Forum
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Posted: 2011-01-24 21:16:22
what are some of the best strength exercises for thai boxers? ive never been much into lifting weights and have always done more body weight exercises like chin up, push up, sit up, etc.

obviously not heavy lifting, but im interested in hearing some good ideas for a strength routine for a nak muay

Posted: 2011-01-25 07:21:57

handstand push-ups are good and you can do them a handstand against the wall, then push your weight up and down using your arms, dont let your head touch the floor!
you would need to see how easy/difficult you find it then decide on how many reps etc and build them up.

kettlebells too!
Marco S
Posted: 2011-01-25 09:51:12
high weight low rep for heavy compound lifts - you won't gain much weight, but will get a lot stronger.

Focus on deadlift, squats, bench, incline press etc - the compound lifts.

Other exercises that promote "wiry" strength as such, in the gym: cable pulls, kettle bell swings, all the dynamic exercise variations.

Here you can do higher rep and promote strength/power gain again, without weight gain.

There's some good vid's on youtube done by a guy in amsterdam.

He works with Melvin Manhoef, Paul daley, ronnie mann, alot of the mma fighters who's style is mainly based on stand up fighting.

He goes through all the various exercises and routines, well worth a look.
Posted: 2011-01-31 13:33:34
If you could get a link for that, that would be ace :)

been interested in this myself and really like your post marco, well helpful.

Will try it out when im not dying of manflu haha
Marco S
Posted: 2011-01-31 15:36:05

There's a couple of links that show some good kettle bell routines.

There's several other good links in the suggestions bar as well for different plyo-metric routines.

I forgot to mention, the most obvious and effective exercises for developing explosive power and athleticism are the snatch and clean and jerk - the olympic lifts.
Plenty of youtube vids if you search them.

I think, and it's just my opinion, that the most important thing in developing a good strength routine for yourself, is understanding your body type, and the type of exercises from which it will benefit most.

For me, being sort of a wiry frame, I don't really have the strength endurance to do very high reps, so I benefit from very low rep and as high weight as I can take, but mostly dynamic orientated exercises.

There's a guy at my gym though, for example, and he's very stocky, built just like Melvin Manhoef - he can do very heavy weights at perhaps 10-15 reps a set.
I've never seen him do a dynamic exercise.

Again, just my opinion, but depending on your body type, some routines and exercises will be of far greater benefit than others, and it's just a matter of understanding your body and the corresponding routines.

If you want to get more in depth on the subject, there's a very good strength and conditioning forums on


Alot of guys post there that are very well versed in the area and very helpful.
Marco S
Posted: 2011-02-22 07:12:50
Just one more thing that might help when determining the best routine for yourself.

A lower weight (but still challenging) done at higher reps, promotes muscle/weight gain.
This is a case of where you "pump" the muscle, in a sense.

A medium weight, done at 6-8 reps, promotes some weight gain, but good power improvement as well.

High weight, at low reps, promotes almost strictly power gain.

It's just something I've come across recently as being beneficial to know.

I've been trying to keep my weight (body weight) up, but increasing the weight being lifted and thus decreasing the volume, meant a loss of body weight - despite my feeling a lot stronger.

I find when I focus on lower weights and high rep for most of the exercises: overhead press, incline press, squats, snatches, clean and jerks etc.

But for the compound lifts, the deadlift, and the bench press, to do triangle sets, starting at lower weight, but working up to high weight low rep - I find I can maintain bodyweight and see a good improvement in power gain also.

I started doing the deadlift at I think 80 or 90 kilo's.
Now i'm at 140 (low reps)

Started bench at 70 kilos, now at 100 (again, low reps)
Mark L.
Posted: 2011-02-22 09:36:35
Yeah I was doing 2-4 reps with olympic lifting with the understanding that I wouldn't gain weight - I didn't...

Stimulates nervous system and fatigues big time but not the same muscle growth while still gaining strength and power..

Conceptually I agree, my understanding from my studies and the literature is that and that has also been my experience.

-depending on body function and time to learn the technique for olympic etc plays a part - I think you can get loads of use from sleds, tires, ropes, kettle bells, kegs etc
Marco S
Posted: 2011-02-22 10:05:34
"Stimulates nervous system and fatigues big time but not the same muscle growth while still gaining strength and power.."

That's actually another good point.

One thing that I did encounter, particularly with the high weight exercises is, what I believe is called, "Central Nervous System Fatigue", or CNS fatigue.

I think it's basically where one overloads their body, and their CNS cannot cope with it.

I have read on other strength and conditioning forums, that guys who aim to lift their max, or one rep max (1RM), every session, oftentimes, have to take a day off in between sessions to allow their CNS to build back up.

It's just something to watch out for.

Now, I'm trying to mix it up with the triangle sets, and lower weight higher rep for more visible results, but sometimes, I can actually feel the fatigue coming on.

I feel like I could push through it, but I know I'll be exhausted the following day, so I find the best thing is to just lesson the weight or change to a less taxing exercise, when that "fatigue" type of feeling begins to set in.


Mark, do you think sleds and KB's etc are more beneficial, in their own right, to the olympic lifts, or more of a substitute, based on, as you said, time to learn the technique etc?
Mark L.
Posted: 2011-02-22 18:22:41
not sure

I think in the perfect world olympic lifts have a top spot...

But I can't say that I know the other stuff would be secondary...
Might be just as good - I don't know loads about them - done a little and talking with trainers that I think know what they are talking about... When i trained for last few fights I was doing olympic lifting...

I think however that they would prob be used differently...

Both possibly being ideal... the sleds etc turned into a circuit for conditioning, as opposed to running...

While still doing some low low rep lifting...


Pushong through fatigue - this is purely mental training and may have a place - occasionally - if you do it always you are always depleteing the body - breaking it down - going catabolic...

Its not what you can do but what you can recover from...

I spent 3 yrs rehabbing - essentially from over training... Hard hard, long long lesson...

For about a yr i could do little more than shadow a couple rounds - it boke me more than once...

The body isn't magic - you have energy stores and it is very wise to balance them...

Push through and push through and you will use up all reserves too... You want the reserves in the ring - not used up daily in training in my opinion and experience...

Time and place to test mental and go all out till you puke and more may have a place... but when do fighters ever work on technique?? its always conditioning... always...

Any other sport at a high level has skill days and conditioning days I think pretty much...

Maybe I'm on crack lol :)
Posted: 2011-02-23 00:50:33
Hello this is my first post, as i've only been training since late summer....

I've always been a fit lad, but i followed some advice i read on here and changed my strength training to pull-ups, press-ups, rope pulls, dips, instead of normal resistance machines.

In just two weeks of training i've really noticed a difference in strength and shape.
Posted: 2011-02-24 17:36:00
what about strongman type walk,battling ropes pushing prowler tyre flipping stuff like that is it to muscle bound for thai boxing.
Mark L.
Posted: 2011-02-25 16:19:42
Great I think - but how much and when is key and I don't know all the ins and outs on that..

Posted: 2011-02-27 03:09:12
I apply Pavel's philosophy of 'grease the groove' with my kickboxing weights/exercises. Essentially just bust out the reps that you can do without struggling on a daily basis, and things just grow in strength from there with constant practice (i.e. don't push yourself to rep failure).

I apply this philosophy to my push ups, chins, an daily neck and shoulder exercises over here in Thailand (too few weights over here to have the luxury of deadlifts :p). It makes working out far more enjoyable too when you're not trying to kill yourself every session :)

Back home I had a kettlebell and would just do a daily 15 minute routine. Was all I needed.

Here's a PDF of it if you're interested to give it a read:
Mark L.
Posted: 2011-03-03 18:06:55
Sounds like that has merit to me - depending on time, availability, knowledge, equipment and money I think for many that would be a great way to train.
Marco S
Posted: 2011-03-04 14:19:33

There's a little piece that details some routines that seem to be effective for different body types, with the aim being muscle hypertrophy.

Mark L.
Posted: 2011-02-22 09:36:35
Yeah I was doing 2-4 reps with olympic lifting with the understanding that I wouldn't gain weight - I didn't...

Stimulates nervous system and fatigues big time but NOT THE SAME MUSCLE GROWTH while still gaining strength and power..

As regards the inclusion of olympic lifting or that more explosive type of lifting into the routine, since I began about four weeks ago, I haven't actually gained any weight - still 81kgs - but people in the gym keep telling me that I'm getting huge.

I think it's related to the development of fast twitch fibers in the muscle, with the explosive lifting (snatches, clean and jerks, chins, push ups, and I include squats in this also), as oppose to straight muscle hypertrophy, as with repetition/power lifting (bench, deadlift etc).

I've found it very useful, recently, to split sessions up - that is, focus on the power lifting only, in one session, for weight gain, then the following day, only explosive lifting, for strength more relative to kickboxing/grappling etc - as they seem to work different parts of the muscle - I'm not really noticing any fatigue at all really.

Having said all that, I still refer back to the fact that I think, and many believe, that different routines work differently for the various body types.

After experimentation with pretty much everything, I think I've got a pretty good routine for myself, finally.

Watching this video, it's clear again, that different body types respond to different routines and exercises.
Mark L.
Posted: 2011-03-05 10:18:32
Polequin uses Aruvedic body types to determine exercise programs.. I think there is one type he doesn't care to work with or maybe just doesn't period.
Marco S
Posted: 2011-05-01 13:25:52
Just as a thought for debate maybe, strength and conditioning seems to be something that is oftentimes fairly overlooked in thai boxing/kickboxing.

Certainly, I overlooked it myself, until I fortunately got the opportunity to train for a time, in a gym that had a stronger focus on this, and felt how dominant the stronger fighters were.

In mma, there seems to be more of a focus - as wrestling, an mma base, after learning the base techniques, has huge roots in pure athleticism - when technical abilities are fairly even, 9/10 times, the stronger guy will win.

Of course, there will always be, and I guess should be, a higher priority placed on technique, but given the potential for athletic development that so many guys have, the actual focus in terms of their overall routine, it seems to be quite limited?

Hope I'm not making any brash or "know-it-all" type of statements, but looking at guys that for sure, are well versed technically, and also have developed well athletically, they seem to have such a huge advantage.

Simply, I guess, because that athleticism lends itself to one have the ability to impose themselves so much for effectively.

Again, not to make any brash statements, but the typical approach towards S and C in allot of gyms seems to be, "do your push ups, sit ups, and a few chin ups, and that'll do you".

Which really, leaves that potential of athleticism, quite unexploited.

Looking at fighters,
in mma, Jon Jones,
kickboxing, Melvin Manhoef,
ground fighting, Paulo Filho,

just to name a very limited few, their strong athletic base is really what gives them a very certain edge and has allowed them to become so dominant in their respective disciplines.

Should thai boxing gyms put more of a focus on more thorough and in depth conditioning routines?

Or is that something that should simply be left up to the fighter themselves, when they reach a point where they feel they want to take their training up a notch?

sorry for the excessively long post!
Marco S
Posted: 2011-05-01 13:34:00
Oh yeah, just to add to that, something that's probably a little ironic and funny..

Where I used to train, every so often a random guy might come into the gym.

I guess it was more noticeable there, as the athletic focus in that gym was very low, where-as the technical standard was quite high.

Anyways, you'd get some beefy guy, not necessarily a heavyweight, but just a guy that you know hit's the gym regularly.

Everything about him says, "I go to the gym and lift weights and get pumped, so I can look good and get with girls".

And oftentimes, despite this seemingly shallow motive, he's the very type that could give the rest of us such a hard time in the ring, cause of his ability to impose himself - because of his strength.

We might train 5 times a week, hitting pads, sparring, clinching, doing our sit ups and push ups - but some guy who pumps iron a couple times a week to look good, was giving everyone so much trouble - or certainly something to think about.

again, I think it's just a an indicator of how something, seemingly so small, can be so easily overlooked, whilst it's inclusion can advance a fighter almost exponentially.
Posted: 2011-05-03 17:36:00
too much strength training is detrimental in thai, of course you want to be strong but thai boxers also need to be lean and its a very fine balance.
they need to do some of course but power and strength are different things, thai boxers need power in their shots and kicks and they need intrinsic strength in the clinch, which really comes from lots and lots of clinching, but of course there are other exercises that can increase this.
mma guys can afford to be a bit bulkier in the upper body and will probably incorperate more specific strength training than than thai boxers.
again of course, it depends on the person. someone who walks around at 3kg above their fight weight can probably do a lot more strength training than someone who has a lot of weight to go before fight weight. its a balancing act when it comes to strength training, it does increase muscle mass which weighs more. the weight brackets in mma are totally different with wide margins, thai boxers are matched at a specific weight.
having said that, some strength training is a must, but it is something that has to be monitered closely.
Marco S
Posted: 2011-05-04 11:01:42
"too much strength training is detrimental in thai"

See, (just to clarify, this is absolutely just my own opinion), this is sort of the mind set that I was referring to.

An athletic sport that doesn't lend itself to it's participants becoming athletic?

It really does seem to be the general mentality as well.

The focus is on cutting weight, making the lowest weight possible.

Of course, just plain bulking up isn't going to be beneficial.
But the point is, bulking to some degree, and then transferring that strength to "useful" strength, that which can be used in thai boxing, will - in my opinion - be of massive benefit to those who do it.

And also, strong explosive fighters, the fights are almost always that much more exciting to watch.

I believe we see a greater degree of athleticism in mma, as in UFC or whatever, because, to reach that level, an overall greater level of dedication is required - and with that comes the dedication to put in that gym work/weightlifting/athletic training.

(Even still, we're seeing - not even necessarily the most technically proficient guys prevailing - but simply the most athletic.)

Either that or it's a generally misconception that, as above, people really believe "excess" strength in thai boxing is detrimental - or there's an unwillingness to compromise pad training/sparring/clinching etc, in favor or the occasional weight lifting session.

"the weight brackets in mma are totally different with wide margins, thai boxers are matched at a specific weight."

For sure I think this is a good point, but again, it comes down to wanting to make a certain weight - there's an unwillingness or maybe even apprehension about bulking up, even slightly?
And for this reason those aforementioned benefits become compromised?

Absolutely willing to concede I might be well of the mark there, but that's just my opinion.
Marco S
Posted: 2011-05-04 11:26:06
"...thai boxers also need to be lean..."

Why do they need to be lean?
Posted: 2011-05-04 15:25:46
Marco i didnt say they shouldnt strength train, i said it was a fine balance for thai boxers and i believe that!

and they need to be lean and generally they are very lean, at the top level anyway, that doesnt mean they are not strong.
by lean, i mean that there is nothing wasted and nothing extra to slow them down. someone coming into a 5 x 3 A-Class thai boxing fight needs to be streamlined and have the right balance of cardio, power, strength, explosiveness etc depending on what rules they are fighting and what areas of the require.

being a bit bulkier in mma, in the upper body especially can help the ground game most of the time but it does slow you down.

i dont disagree with you at all about strength training, i definitely feel that some sort of strength training is needed WHATEVER sport you are competing in, but as i said above, the same strength training cant be used for every sport, its a balancing act and a juggling act to try and see what type of strength training is beneficial to each sport. its all trial and error with your fighters, you try something and see how it works, see how strong they are and what parts of the training and strength training were worked in the ring/cage. and its a person to person thing, each person is different and all their training including strength, needs to be adapted to their body.

The Crippler
Posted: 2011-05-05 19:25:55
The general misconception within combat sports (& prob a lot of sports) is that strength training leads to, or is proportionality related to size (not aimed at you Marianne).
Strength is a lot more that just the size of ones muscles/muscle fibres.
How you gain, gauge and or test an athletes strength are probably the more relevant questions to ask.
While I don't dispute there may be some form of plateau that is reached where increased muscle size is required or received as a bye product of the training programme implemented to increase maximal strength, it is also very true that to be strong in relatively speaking, you do not need to be “big & bulky”. If you look at the maximal lift world records you will find the Strength/Power :Weight ratio is higher at the lower weights.
The Crippler
Posted: 2011-05-05 19:30:46
Whilst not directly related to combat sports, the other major misconception that I come across all the time (although somewhat less now) is that “weight training” slows you down!
Yea, well the that to Mr Bolt, the world fastest man or Colin Jackson who lifted 3-4times a week and could both bench and clean twice his bodyweight & squat 3x his bodyweight! P.s, he weighed around 70kgs and was both lean, VERY fast and very flexible.
Posted: 2011-05-06 04:39:14
but in order to stay that lean, his strength training would have been very closely monitered...its a fine balance, as i said :)
Marco S
Posted: 2011-06-07 04:37:18

good example of excellent athletic development promoting explosive power, without loss (rather, a gain) in speed.

chris podesta
Posted: 2011-06-10 16:06:32
with a little help from steroids and growth hormone....(above)
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