If you’re reading this you’re probably interested in training in Muay Thai, which means you’re about to begin a challenging but incredibly exciting stage of your life. Being a beginner in any martial art is a tough place to be, and nowhere is the learning curve more pronounced than in this 18th Century Thai physical artform.
Beginners in most sports often like to launch themselves in without much in the way of learning and preparation. While this is perfectly fine, and a testament to great positive motivation that will serve you well throughout training, there are some tips passed down from Muay Thai experts on what beginners should bear in mind during the beginning of their training.
Train Smart, Not Hard
When you’re starting off you may be inclined to push yourself to be as strong and fast as possible straight away, because that’s what wins fights. This might be the case, but what you’re missing when you watch expert Muay Thai boxers is the thousands of hours of training they put into getting to where they are now.
“Most of that training, says Niamh Keane, a sports writer at 1Day2Write and Write My X, “is not about strength and speed, but about form. Beginners in Muay Thai should focus on how you throw a punch over how hard or fast you hit. If you don’t you’re far more likely to injure yourself early on. Once you know exactly how to weight yourself, how to make contact in the right place and with the right part of your fist, then you can build up pace and strength.”
Also, when it comes to general fitness, there’s no need to whittle away your energy on the punching bag every day. Cardio is your best friend when it comes to regular training. Build up your stamina and core strength by cardio exercise like jogging, swimming and cycling to avoid wearing out your wrists early on.
Kit Yourself Out
Your body may be the most important part of the equation in Muay Thai, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore your equipment. Butros Gali, a lifestyle blogger at Britstudent and Nextcoursework, says “First of all, whether you’re training or fighting, wrap your hands every time. Your hands will be especially vulnerable to injury when you first start out, so give yourself the best protection against sprains with hand-wraps.”
Once you’ve wrapped your hands, make sure you use the right gloves. Your gym may be able to loan you gloves to begin with, but if you’re serious about Muay Thai you may want to invest in a pair of your own that fit you comfortably. Naturally, Thai brands like Twins, Top King and Fairtex are the most reliable.
Treat Yourself Well
What you do in training is supported by how you live your life outside of the gym. It’s no use spending hours throwing punches and doing cardio if you go home to drink beer and eat pizza every night. Like any sport, keeping a balanced and healthy diet will give you the energy you need to train well. Some experts recommend eating carbohydrates a couple of hours before training to give yourself an energy boost in the gym. Also, it should go without saying that drinking lots of water is hugely important, both in your daily life and during training.
Once you’re done training for the day, make sure you give yourself time to rest. If you push yourself too hard you’re asking for a training injury, which will put you out of action far longer than if you just take a day to rest. If you really can’t do with skipping a day, alternate your training — upper body one day, lower body the next — to allow your muscles time to recover. Muscles only grow when they’re resting, so relaxing and getting a good night’s sleep is actually making you stronger.
Ask For Help
Remember: you’re a beginner, and there’s no shame in asking for help. Whether it’s from personal trainers, experts or fellow boxers at your gym, asking for advice on form or training techniques is a great way to learn and make new friends at the same time. Muay Thai is more than just a sport, it’s a community as well!
Michael Dehoyos is a content marketer and editor at PhD Kingdom and Academic Brits. He assists companies in developing their marketing strategies, and he practices various martial arts in his spare time. He also contributes to numerous sites and publications, including Coursework Help service.