Like most people, when I first started Muay Thai my fitness was so sh*t I could barely make it through the warm up.
After a few months I eventually got use to the burning shoulders, the hot flashes that make you feel either like passing out or throwing up, and the chesty cardio burn….gotta love that.
Once I got to a reasonable level of fitness in training I began thinking about taking my first fight. But the question was…am I fit enough to fight?
Fight fitness was a big concern for me and I know it is for a lot of people who are thinking about fighting.
Knowing your level of fitness isn’t just for first time fighters. Even if your an experienced fighter its important to have key indicators to check if your at peak condition or not.
If you don’t have anything to measure your fitness, it’s like trying to lose weight without a set of scales.
Below are the best ways to determine your fight fitness.
Pad work is the universal fitness test for Muay Thai fighters. If you time the rounds and rest periods the same as your fight — it’s probably the most relative way to test fight fitness for Muay Thai.
Your trainer will definitely be looking at your pad fitness as a part of your ongoing assessment. So the instance where your testing your fight fitness, you must be hitting at least 80% power. If your gassing out before the 4-5th round, that means you probably need to work on your breathing and do more sprint work to increase recovery.
800m sprints are both an anaerobic and aerobic running style which is perfect to test your fight fitness, and to increase recovery. Normally an 800m sprint test is 2 laps of a 400m track, just once. However here is a way you can use the 800m sprint track to test fight fitness.
To test fight fitness, aim to complete one 800m sprint for each round your fight is planned for, with 1 minute intervals. Sprinting like this emulates the anaerobic and aerobic capacity of actual fighting. A good time is to be consistently under 3 minutes for all rounds. This timing is similar to fight rounds and will give you a very good idea of your fight fitness.
RESTING HEART RATE
One of the best ways to test fitness of an athlete, as simple as it may sound- is measuring your resting heart rate. The same test they use to get you doing in physical ED class at school.
If you’re resting heart rate is not 60 or below, you are either really overtrained, or wildly deconditioned. But it’s usually the former, and that’s a sign that you need to figure out how to recover, not add more training volume/stress.
To take your resting heart rate, use your middle and index fingers to count your pulse for 60 seconds. You can take your pulse from your wrists, inside of your elbow, side of your neck, or the top of the foot.
Measure your resting heart rate
I prefer to take my pulse by feeling for it at the wrist (radial artery) or neck (carotid artery) just underneath the jaw. The best time to do this is as soon as you wake up in the morning – before you do anything.
To make reading your heart rate as simple as possible, you can pick up one of these HRT monitors. This one from New Balance also has 24 hour calorie burn algorithm and on demand heart rate touch reading which is pretty cool.
COMPREHENSIVE ALIGNMENT SCREEN
To assess weather an athlete is fit enough to compete, you can get whats called a comprehensive alignment screen. If your a professional fighter who is getting paid I would look into this. This would be a combination of general and specific assessments, consisting of static posture, traditional orthopedic, and functional movement screens.
If alignment is off, poor performance will always follow, as oxygenating tissues is a lot harder under these circumstances.
BODY FAT TEST
Weather your fighting or just want to have fight fitness, something you should keep track of is your body fat percentage. Besides heavy weights, generally this is a good indicator of an athletes condition. What should the body fat % be to measure peak fitness?
Men who are competing should be 6-13% and Women 14-20%. If you are an athlete who is not actively competing but still want to remain fit, a good healthy range for men is 14-20%, and for women 21-24%.
THE TAKE AWAY
Before you consider fighting, ask yourself these 3 questions:
Can you do 5 rounds on the Thai pads at minimum 80% power?
Can you complete 5 x 800m sprints all under 3 minutes?
Is your resting heart rate under 60?
If you ticked all the boxes then as far as fight fitness is concerned your good to go. If not, remember that adding more volume/stress to your training doesn’t always produce better fitness. Working on your recovery should be the focus of Muay Thai athletes.