Muay Thai is the type of martial arts that helps you reach your fitness goals in record time. The sport eliminates the predictability of more conventional diet and exercise regimens. Does that mean that Muay Thai is magic? Not really, or the inventors of this martial art would be earning a fortune from bottling and selling the formula.
It all comes down to consistency, effort, and exciting full-body workouts that leave you craving for more. That’s right: There is a type of fitness journey that leaves you counting down the hours to your next session. Here’s how it works:
Introducing Muay Thai
Muay Thai loosely translates into “Thai boxing,” but there’s a more accurate term for this martial art. “The Art of Eight Limbs” is a far more fitting description for the discipline. The name comes from the sport’s use of eight points of contact to strike out at an opponent. These eight points are the hands, elbows, knees, and shins, otherwise known as the eight limbs.
Muay Thai is pretty ancient as martial arts go, coming into the Thai mainstream as early as the 13th century. Eight centuries later, this martial art became the national sport of Thailand, which says a lot about its staying power.
The modern version of Muay Thai borrows a lot from the rules-based structure of British boxing.
Muay Thai incorporates the following techniques:
These moves fall under three categories: Attack, defence, and counter-attack. By learning, practicing, and perfecting the moves, you gain strength in your core and lower body. In time, you learn to combine individual moves into techniques that can give you an advantage over your opponent. These techniques also lend themselves to real-world self-defence. Here’s how Muay Thai helps to deliver your fitness goals:
1) You work every muscle group in the body
Muay Thai allows you to work every muscle group in the body. Perfecting different punches, elbow strikes, and clinches allows you to work your shoulders, chest, and core muscles. Practicing your kicks, knee strikes, and blocks works your core, lower back, and the entirety of your lower body.
All this is in addition to your cardio warm-up that precedes your actual training session. Your instructor will ask you to get your blood pumping by skipping or jogging. They may also guide you through some strength-training exercises. You will then proceed to practice your techniques with a punching bag, pads, or sparring partner.
2) Muay Thai involves plenty of anaerobic exercises
A good fitness routine allows you to enjoy an after-burn in the hours following your workout. A good fitness regimen will involve stretches of all-out high-intensity exercise that leaves your muscles with an oxygen debt, to put it a different way. Muay Thai consistently delivers on this count.
Between cardio warm-ups, strength exercises, practice, and sparring, your typical Muay Thai session will leave your muscles gasping for air. Different muscle groups in your body will continue to burn calories as they metabolise the lactic acid buildup that results from your all-out Muay Thai session.
Leaving the gym with an oxygen debt in different muscle groups helps with weight loss.
3) Learning Muay Thai is anything but boring
It could be the intense workout that pushes you past your limits or the fulfilment of perfecting a challenging move. The excitement of a sparring session could leave you working out ways to get the better of your opponent next time. Whatever it is, the thing that draws you into Muay Thai will keep you coming back for more. This is yet another secret ingredient in the success of Muay Thai as a fitness journey.
Consistency or the lack thereof will make or break your weight loss journey. Many people fall off their weight loss wagon because they run out of motivation at some point. Their fitness journey turns into an outright struggle to achieve their weight loss goals. This loss of motivation comes down to an uninspiring and predictable routine.
Muay Thai prevents this loss of consistency and motivation by cultivating focus, discipline, and a sense of excitement. This goes a long way towards getting you to your fitness goals.
4) Muay Thai shifts your focus from counting the pounds to counting the hours
There’s no feeling like winning your first sparring session or executing a sequence of moves in perfect form. Muay Thai presents you with many such inspiring moments, which is the reason why you’ll show up for every one of your sessions. It will take a better reason than “I just don’t feel like it” to miss a Muay Thai lesson. If anything, you’ll be counting the hours until your next training session.
Between your all-out resistance exercises and your progress, numbers will be the last thing on your mind. You will rightly focus on improving your technique rather than how many pounds you need to shed. This takes undue pressure from your fitness journey, leaving you with enough mental bandwidth to enjoy the process.
The best part is that one day, you’ll notice that your clothes are a bit loose at the waist. Jumping on a scale will confirm the good news.
5) You’ll put in the work, but it will feel strangely effortless
Your typical Muay Thai training session will leave you gasping for breath, even as you look forward to your next workout. The right instructor will motivate you to reach and surpass your limits without putting you off the sport.
Expect to experience a sense of pride and achievement as you speed past your weight loss goals. You’ll be surprised at how easily you put in the time and energy to reach your goals.
Community, discipline, and fitness, all in one sport
Muay Thai improves the physical, mental, and social aspects of your life. It sounds like a bold claim, except that it’s true. Find out for yourself by attending one of our complimentary introductory Muay Thai classes. It’s the most important step you can take towards reaching your fitness goals.
This article, "Why Muay Thai Should Be Your Go-To Exercise For Weight Loss", originally appeared on Evolve MMA, Asia’s No. 1 martial arts organisation.