Ab conditioning isn’t just meant to pretty up your midsection – it toughens your core strength and allows you to launch deadlier, faster, stronger strikes. . .
HOW A SIX-PACK MAKES YOU A BETTER NAK MUAY
Some sort of exercise that includes working the abs is part of almost any exercise program, even more so if your aim is to train Muay Thai. No respectable, proper Muay Thai gym will ignore ab conditioning.
Many are misguided to think that this type of exercise will help them get a six-pack. This is great and all, but the real reason we do so many sit ups and planks is because we want to get those muscles stronger, not prettier.
That’s a no-brainer, huh? After all, what muscles don’t you want stronger for Muay Thai? Arguably, if you had to pick just one area to focus on as part of your conditioning routine, it should be your abdominal muscles.
Here are my thoughts on why strong abs lead to strong Muay Thai.
BUILDING CORE STRENGTH STABILIZES YOU
You may or may not have heard this sage advice before: if you want to improve your balance, work on your core strength.
Your core is your entire midsection – front, sides and back. The core is what holds you upright and stabilizes your body. If you had poor core strength, your body would wiggle and twist about as if you were on a single leg. (Sound familiar? Flashbacks to your first Muay Thai, perhaps?)
Increasing your core strength means that you will feel less like you’re about to fall over every time you move, which is extremely relevant when considering the next point:
DRIVE STRIKES WITH MOMENTUM
Once you have achieved better balance, you will be able to transfer your core strength into… well, everything.
Most, if not all, movements in Muay Thai emphasize the hips. Why? The hips help you drive the movement and increase torque. This is why turning your hips over produces a much more powerful kick.
While there is a bit of flexibility involved, a lot of it still boils down to – you guessed it – core strength. Some of the core’s deeper muscles lie in and around the hips. The core helps to transfer force with each movement, meaning that you will be able to kick and puncher harder.
RIGHT IN THE BREAD BASKET
Have you ever been kneed in the stomach? Or maybe eaten a teep or two to the gut during sparring? If caught off-guard, those can push all the wind out of you, making you extremely tired. You may even have to stop for a few seconds to catch your breath.
To those that have poor core strength, eating shots to the mid section hurt way more than they should – and they sap your strength. With a stronger core, those shots won’t reach “as deep” as they do, meaning a simple flex will usually be enough to protect the softer parts within you.
In fights, people have been stopped from getting punched or kneed in the abdomen, so this is no token matter.
WAYS TO IMPROVE CORE STRENGTH
One of the simplest ways to work on your core strength is to do planks – you only need your body and a timer (cellphone will do). The key is to make sure your body is in a straight line, including your hips and neck.
Something as easy as making sure you’re sitting upright instead of slouching can help as well. This is especially helpful for students or people with office jobs.
- Plant-based fighter, foodie, and aspiring physical therapist. Angela is currently living in Bangkok and training full time.