Muay Thai training can have a profound impact on your physical fitness. It is a highly explosive and dynamic striking art that requires and develops athletic ability. The training regimen can consist of exercises such as running, pad work, heavy bag work, sparring, shadowboxing, and partner drills. It is a martial art that is great for self-defence as well as in-ring competition, making it a good fit for anyone looking to try a martial art.
Today, Evolve Daily shares 5 positive physical effects of Muay Thai training.
1) More Energy
Muay Thai training is largely cardio-based. There is a mixture of low and high-intensity cardio in most training programs, which develops both your aerobic and anaerobic ability. Classes can include hundreds of kicks and punches thrown. During the beginning weeks of training, your body will start releasing more endorphins, along with activating other hormones. These hormones will give you more energy, raise your metabolism, and improve your mental clarity. The longer you consistently train, the more your body will adapt. Within a couple of months, your level of fitness will have increased to the point where everyday life feels easy.
As an added benefit, the same hormones activated through training can help combat depression, anxiety, or brain fog.
2) Weight Loss
A Muay Thai training program is one of the best ways to lose weight. The sheer amount of physical activity involved helps to keep you in a caloric deficit, one of the most important aspects of weight loss. An hour of Muay Thai class can burn between 500 – 1000 calories, making it a highly efficient way of maximising your time. You would need to double or triple the time spent exercising to burn an equal amount of calories if you did something else, such as jogging.
Many Muay Thai gyms also incorporate calisthenics and plyometric exercises. Calisthenics exercises are essentially bodyweight exercises, like push-ups and squats. Plyometric exercises are bodyweight exercises with an explosive execution. For example, a plyometric variation of a push-up is the clapping push-up. An explosive push is needed to get your body high enough to clap and catch yourself before hitting the ground. These bodyweight exercises burn a lot of calories and ingrain balance into your muscles.
In addition, because of Muay Thai’s explosive striking, your metabolism will be elevated for about 6 hours after your class ends. This is a similar effect to high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and when combined with low-intensity training, such as shadowboxing or technical sparring, it’s hard not to lose excess weight! One thing to keep in mind is that you will be building muscle as you lose weight, so the number on the scale may not reflect your true progress!
3) Reduce Negative Effects Of Ageing
Exercise is well known to help prevent and stave off dementia, as well as other cognitive impairments associated with ageing. Adding the complexities of Muay Thai as a martial art only amplifies this effect. Similar to solving puzzles, the complexities of Muay Thai can help prevent cognitive decline and improve your mental acuity.
In addition, your sense of balance is greatly reinforced through your Muay Thai training. All of the repetition of kicking, while supporting your body weight with only one leg, takes your balance to a level beyond that of an average person. The repetitions of different strikes, often on a heavy bag or pads, increase your bone density, lowering the risk of you breaking a bone even if you do fall. This is thanks to Wolff’s Law, which asserts that bones will adapt to the pressures they are placed under. This means that the earlier you start training, the denser your bones have the potential to become.
4) Improves Immune System
Now more than ever, it is important to prioritise health and prevent yourself from catching anything. The current pandemic has highlighted the importance of maintaining your physical fitness. Moderate exercise is linked to improved lung health and function, as well as decreasing overall inflammation within our body. Many people who engage in regular Muay Thai training were able to stay healthy due to the robust immune system training promotes. Our busy, sedentary lifestyles make it easy to stay out of shape, at the daily cost of our health. A Muay Thai class may be the perfect fit for someone that does not have much free time but is looking to be more health-conscious.
5) Improves Quality Of Life
Many people in the modern world live a highly sedentary lifestyle. It’s common for people to sit all day, from 9 am until 5 pm. They also were sitting on the commute to work and back home. All of this sitting has led to an epidemic of back/neck pain, as well as carpal tunnel and tendonitis. Kyphotic posture is all too common and often leads to injury later in life from the accumulated damage. Sitting for too long also causes your hamstrings and hip flexors to shorten, increasing the likelihood of injury when you do move around.
Consistent Muay Thai training gives your body resistance to all this pulling that sitting causes. Think of your muscles as rubber bands. When you sit all day, some of those get pulled out of place, or too tight. Muay Thai, and physical activity in general, is like a reset button for those rubber bands. This lets you stop accumulating tension and pain day after day. Without some kind of way to reset, chronic pain is not a question of if, but when.
This article, "5 Positive Physical Effects Of Muay Thai Training", originally appeared on Evolve MMA, Asia’s No. 1 martial arts organisation.