THREE Exercises That Test Limits

No One Ever Said Greatness Comes Easy!

Fighters are known to put their bodies through rigorous routines and unforgiving punishment. The reason why they do this is to prepare and condition their bodies for competition.

A traditional Thai boxer will usually work out twice a day.

The first workout, which is usually in the morning, will start with a four to six mile run, some shadow boxing, followed by some pad work, and end with the heavy bag and/or sparring. This first work out will be about two to three hours long.

The second workout, usually in the afternoon, will begin with 15-30 minute jump rope, some shadow boxing, pad work, heavy bag work and sparring. This workout will also last about 2-3 hours.

In total, a traditional Nak Muay will train about six hours a day. This doesn’t leave much time for strength and endurance training.

Yes — running, hitting the pads and sparring will promote strength and endurance for competition, but they each have limitations. They won’t prepare a fighter for the unpredictable.

The top three cross-training exercises every fighter should add to their repertoire are: the burpee, the thruster and the sprint.

#1: The Burpee


The burpee consists of squatting down to the ground and placing both hands on the floor. The feet are kicked out to the rear, followed by a push-up before coming back up to the starting position and jumping three to four inches off the floor.

From the triceps all the way down to the calves, the burpee  is a total body exercise that uses the major muscle groups in the body.

It is also a cardio enhancer that will incinerate body fat (and leave exercisers gasping for air).


#2: The Thruster


The thruster is another exercise that uses major muscle groups.

The thruster is performed with a barbell or a pair of dumbbells/kettlebells. Hold the weights beneath the chin, the exerciser squats down and presses the weights overhead upon reaching the starting position.

To put it simply, the thruster is a squat combined with a military press. Like the burpee, the thruster engages your body from head to toe and tones major muscle groups.


#3: The Sprint

This exercise consists of running as fast as one can for a short distance, perhaps 200-400 meters, followed by a short recovery.

The sprint activates every fast-twitch muscle fiber in the body. Again, this is a great way to cut weight, cut your workout time and build explosive power.

For the ultimate athlete, incorporate a sprint into an exercise circuit. Check out Sean “Muay Thai Guy” Fagan’s intensely challenging circuit here:

Cross-training is the best way to prepare the body for fighting. Cross-training will keep the body guessing and, if done properly, will give strength, endurance, explosiveness and agility. This, all while shortening your workout which in turn will extend your recovery and career.

Done properly, these explosive compound workouts — the burpee, the thruster and the sprint will add strength, endurance, power and explosiveness to any fighter. They can also reduce the amount of time spent working out at the gym because they are high-intensity exercises that should be performed for shorter periods.

Stay safe and remember to push your limits, not ignore them!

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Pierre Smith
Pierre started his journey in martial arts after witnessing Bruce Lee on the silver screen. He began training Tae Kwon Do, earning a brown belt by his 18th birthday. He took up Muay Thai in 2000, training under Kru Nestor Marte in New York City. Pierre eventually moved to South Florida and trained at American Top Team under Christian Toleque and the late Howard Davis Jr. Pierre finally made the leap to Bangkok in 2007, having about a dozen fights. Today, Pierre Smith teaches Muay Thai and strength and conditioning out of his home gym. He also has a podcast called Catching Wreck which is available on Soundcloud, iTunes and Google Play. Pierre can be reached at

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