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The most important muscles for Muay Thai

Updated: May 11, 2022

The most important muscles for Muay Thai

Table of contents:

If you are new to Muay Thai and your just looking to continue with your progress, understanding the most important muscles for Muay Thai is a great way to achieve your desired goals. The most important muscles for Muay Thai are your triceps, shoulders, your leg muscles and your core.

If you've been training Muay Thai for some time you may feel like you've got a good grasp of the technique you need. However you might feel that you haven't quite developed the explosive power that you'd like. Building on the muscles that you need for Muay Thai will help you to develop this explosive power.

Identifying the correct muscle groups to work on is a great way to help you raise your game in Muay Thai. Balance, speed and power are all key attributes in Muay Thai and all can be improved by training the correct muscle groups.

The most important muscles for Muay Thai are your triceps, your quads, your calves and your core. Ensuring that these muscles are trained correctly will help you to elevate your performance in the gym.

Do you need muscles for Muay Thai?

You don't need to be the biggest and most muscle bound guy in the room to be the best at Muay Thai, in fact it's often quite the contrary. Muay Thai is a sport that requires more of endurance and technique than it does brute strength.

Does the above mean that you shouldn't train your muscles in order to improve at Muay Thai? Certainly not, ensuring that you train your muscles correctly, and understand the most important muscles for Muay Thai is key to helping you achieve peak performance.

Muay Thai is also a sport in which you will building muscle during training. Training in the clinch is a great way to help build upper body strength, endurance and muscularity.

What muscles are the most important in fighting?

Triceps and Shoulders

Your shoulders and triceps play a key part in delivering punches with power, speed and velocity. As your throw your punches, your body weight transfers from your base, through to your core and then through your shoulders and triceps to help deliver your fist with maximum impact.

You not only need to ensure that you build strength in your triceps and shoulders, but you also need to build muscle endurance to ensure that your arms don't become tired whilst training. Your arms tiring will result in poor technique, less power in your strikes and and an inability to maintain your guard correctly.

Hips and Leg Muscles

Kicks and knees are a major part of Muay Thai and if landed correctly, they are the highest scoring strikes in a fight.

Building strength in your hips and leg muscles will help you to delivery your kicks and knees faster, and with more power. The key muscles to train in your legs are your quads, glutes and calves.

Core Muscles

Your core muscles play a major part in the function of all your connected body parts, the stronger your core, the stronger your strikes will be and the more explosive your movements.

Every technique that you need in Muay Thai will use your core. A strong core will also help with balance, which is key in Muay Thai to help ensure that your techniques are delivered correctly, but also to help minimise your own risk of injury when training or fighting.

A strong core is also the starting point of a great defense, with kicks, knees and body punches the abdomen can take a bit of a beating in Muay Thai. Ensuring you have strong core muscles will build your resistance to body shots.

Tips on training the main muscle groups for Muay Thai

How to train your triceps and shoulders

There are several ways in which you can train your triceps and shoulders, we've listed some of our favourite exercises below:

Triceps exercises:

  • Diamond Push Ups

  • Dips

  • Overhead triceps extensions with dumbells

  • Close Grip Bench Press

  • Skull Crushers

Shoulder exercises:

  • Push Ups

  • Lateral Raises

  • Barbell Overhead Press

  • Arnold Press

  • Wide-Grip Seated Row

How to train your legs

Understanding the different exercises to train the different muscles in your legs is important, we've put our list of exercises below.

Quads Exercises:

  • Bodyweight Squats

  • Walking Lunges

  • Bulgarian Split Squats

  • Jumping Squats

  • Box Jumps

Calf Exercises:

  • Standing Calf Raises

  • Seated Calf Raises

  • Elevated Calf Raises

  • Jump Rope

  • Single-Leg Calf Raises

Glutes Exercises:

  • Jumping Jacks

  • Kettlebell Swings

  • Step Ups

  • Walking Lunges

  • Banded Glute Bridges

How to train your core

Building strength in your core will not only help your Muay Thai training, but everything you do in life. We've put our list of our favourite core exercises below.

  • Forearm Plank

  • Russian Twists

  • Jackknife

  • Leg Raises

  • Crunches

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should you lift weights if you train Muay Thai?

If your wanting to build muscle and explosive power then we recommend including strength and conditioning sessions in your Muay Thai training routine. This should include 3 sessions per week where your lifting weights.

Does training Muay Thai make you loose muscle?

Due to the high intensity of Muay Thai, during an hours session you can burn over 800 calories. If you haven't fuelled your body correctly with food then this can lead to your body burning muscle for energy.

What supplements should I take for training Muay Thai?

The correct use of supplements in Muay Thai training can be a major bonus. The main supplements we recommend are a high quality whey protein, Creatine, BCAA's and a re-hydration electrolyte supplement.


The most important muscles for Muay Thai training are your triceps, shoulders, legs and your core. Understanding how to train these muscles can help you elevate your performance and take your Muay Thai to the next level.

Striking the balance between building muscle for performance, and becoming too muscly is key within Muay Thai as it is an endurance sport and muscles require your body to work harder and use more oxygen during intensive cardio.

We recommend strength training twice per week along side your regular Muay Thai training schedule, ensuring that you keep your weight low and your reps high in order to build strong, lean muscle rather than bulky muscle.

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