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How to train muay Thai at home

How to Train Muay Thai at Home

Posted by: Aaron Jahn in Muay Thai Blog, Training 11 March, 2015 2 Comments 36,286 Views
For anyone who wants to become a Thai boxer, training at a gym is always the best option. Having a trainer to coach you, correct mistakes, give advice and guide you through your training is extremely important during the early stages. However, not everybody has a muay Thai gym in their area, or may not be able to afford the training costs so training muay Thai at home is the next best thing. It’s better than no training at all, right?

This post outlines the types of training you can do with some friends or on your own. With friends is always better. You”ll need a large room or a garage to train in. Failing that, any large space will do.


Training Muay Thai at Home – With a Purpose
Every type of training has a specific learning outcome. Training with a purpose is essential. Many inexperienced students (and coaches) think they have to be simulating a real fight every time they train, but that’s just macho rubbish and only holds them back from actually improving.

Essentially, boxers need to focus on one or two skills/attributes when training in a specific way – not all of them at once. For example, any type of technique training cannot be optimal if it is combined with fast-paced power work as muscle fatigue will compromise the ability to perform the technique correctly. Therefore, if a boxer wants to improve technique, it should be drilled at a self-paced low-intensity.

Here are some of the different ways Thai boxers train to become better at what they do.


Shadow Boxing
Take up your muay Thai stance and move around in a controlled manner, as if you had an opponent in front of you. Begin adding some strikes – punches, kicks, elbows and knees, and don’t forget about your blocks and evasive maneuvers. Use linear, lateral, circular footwork, and use head movement. A focus on good technique should be emphasised throughout, so the techniques shouldn’t be rushed. If you have a mirror to check your technique, use it.

Shadow work is the foundation on which to build all the other types of muay Thai training. It improves and maintains the technique of a boxer – no matter what level he/she has fought at. Every technique should be drilled in shadow work before moving on to other types of training.

Equipment – None


Technique drills
Ask a partner to throw a strike/combination of strikes at you. Have a specific way of blocking or countering the attack and think about what the advantages and disadvantages of that method are and look for other ways of dealing with the same situation. There are a lot of different ways of doing the same thing in muay Thai, and only rarely is there a technique which I condemn and advise my students against using. But it’s important to know why you’re doing it a particular way. Again, a focus should be placed on good technique, rather than strength/power or conditioning. Here are a few muay Thai techniques to get you started.

This type of technique drilling is essential before the boxer can put those skills into practice in a sparring session.

Equipment – Hand wraps, boxing gloves, shin guards.


Bag Work
“But Aaron, I don’t have a f**king bag”. Watch this video on how to make your own tyre bag.

Strike the heavy bag using a variety of weapons while maintaining good footwork, control and balance. Controlling the bag is key; use the swing of the bag to time your strikes – when the bag swing towards you, strike. When the bag is moving away or to the sides, that’s when you need to re-adjust your stance, change your angle or move forwards or backwards. Work on something specific for a round or two and then move on to something else. Maybe you’ll work on the inside using body punches, knees and elbows, and then switch it up to outside fighting to utilise some knees and kicks.

Bag work allows the boxer to strike for power development as there is no need to hold back like in technique or sparring work. It is also a great tool for learning efficient distance and timing of strikes due to the movement of the bag. Bags can be utilised for technique work too by toning down the power and focusing on good basics.

“If you can’t control a bag, you can’t control another fighter.”

Equipment: Heavy bag, hand wraps and boxing gloves.


The idea of sparring is to closely simulate a real fight without injuring yourself or your partner. Here’s a post I wrote on 5 Different Types of Muay Thai Sparring to give you a better understanding of sparring, and here’s how NOT to spar.

Closely simulating a fight in a controlled manner while wearing protection teaches the boxer how to react to different moments in a fight. This is where a lot of your other training can be put into practice in a controlled environment. The main aim is to learn from each other.

Equipment: Equipment needed: hand wraps, boxing gloves, shin guards, mouth piece.


Thai Pad Work
A partner kits up and holds the Thai pads in different positions for the boxer to strike. It is important that the pad man throws strikes at the boxer to get a reaction i.e. a block/counter/evasive maneuver – and not just allow the boxer to charge forward and attack. Holding the pads is an art in itself and isn’t something that is mastered quickly.

Encourages the boxer to react to the commands and movements of his trainer while developing power and conditioning.

Equipment: Muay Thai pads, belly pad, shin guards (trainer) | hand wraps and boxing gloves (boxer).


Focus mitt training
The trainer holds focus mitts for punching combinations. The emphasis should be placed more on speed during this type of training as the mitt holder has less equipment and more mobile. Strikes thrown by the trainer should be aimed at the head and body, and should encourage the boxer to vary the head movement and fire back counters.

Punching combos are trained much more efficiently when using focus mitts rather than Thai pads. Thai pads are big and heavy so drills are quite limited. Focus mitts allow the boxer to work on hand speed and quick head movement.

Equipment: Focus mitts, hand wraps, boxing gloves.


Clinching sparring
Clinch with a partner while staying relaxed and controlling the power of your knees. In the beginning, concentrate on foot placement and arm positioning – you can place a knee strike once you’re in a strong position. Try to avoid looking for the sweep, if an opportunity arises – take it. But other than that, your main focus should be on improving your position.

Controlled training which simulates the muay Thai clinch in a real fight without injuring your partner. 

Equipment: None


Organising your training
Each training type needs to be put in the “correct” order to gain maximum effect. In the session structures below, you’ll notice that shadow work comes before all other types of training because there is a large focus on good technique. Sparring should also be trained while relatively fresh; fatigued sparring is kinda pointless as you’ll be too tired to perform the techniques required of you. Clinching can be trained at the end of a session and at the beginning so it’s not always trained in a fatigued state.

These plans are just are just guides, and you can easily plan your sessions to suite you, but remember; any type of training where technique is the main focus needs to be implemented at the beginning of the training session.


Session structure Example 1 (solo training)
Warm up/dynamic stretch

Shadow work 3×5 minute rounds

Bag work 5×5 minute rounds


Session structure Example 2 (training with a partner)
Warm up/dynamic stretch

Shadow work 3×3 minute rounds

Sparring 3×3 minute rounds

Bag work 3×3 minute rounds

Pad work 3×5 minute rounds

Clinching 30 minutes


Session structure Example 3 (training with a partner)
Warm up/dynamic stretch

Shadow work 3×3 minute rounds

Technique drills 3×3 minute rounds

Boxing only sparring 3×3 minute rounds

Pad work 3×5 minute rounds

Clinching 20 minutes


Final Thoughts on Training Muay Thai at Home
#1 Stay safe – don’t attempt something you’re not comfortable with. Take things step by step.

#2 Concentrate on basics – if you’re not ready for pad work or sparring, don’t do them. Drill footwork and technique drills until you feel confident of moving on.

#3 Slow progress is better than no progress at all – OK, so you can’t get to a gym, but keep training hard on your own – you’re still getting better than those people sat on their couch.

#4 Subscribe to Warrior Collective – This channel has tons of muay Thai training tutorials from gyms all over the UK.

#5 Watch fights – You’ll learn a LOT just from watching the best fighters in the world go head to head. Check out my fight analysis posts and create your own.

Have fun…

Aaron is an active muay Thai fighter and coach from the UK. He holds a BSc (hons) degree in Strength & Conditioning and is currently studying a Master’s degree in Food & Nutrition at the University of Ulster. Aaron has fought over 20 times in Thailand and has spent years training at different muay Thai camps all over the country

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