5 Bodyweight Workout Tips From A Muay Thai World Champion

Everyone wants to get fit and get in shape. Today, health and fitness is on everyone’s priority list. But not everyone may know what to do and how to do it.

While it can definitely be a little challenging to do what we need to do to get ourselves healthy and fit without these modern-day accessories, we still have our bodies and we are still physically able to do something with them. Bodyweight exercises are making a rising return to popularity now and it’s time to pay attention.

From martial arts such as Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), or boxing, to very basic movements such as push-ups or crunches, to the more advanced ones such as Bulgarian Split Squats or the Glute Bridge, bodyweight exercises offer a wide range of workouts that target every inch of your body.

Benjamin Kheng training in a Muay Thai class at Evolve MMA gym.

Muay Thai is a full-body workout that can burn up to 1,000 calories in an hour.

But whatever bodyweight exercise you do, there are things to watch out for so that you may get the most out of each rep.

Multiple-time Muay Thai World Champion Nong-O Gaiyanghadao from the Evolve Fight Team is an advocate of bodyweight exercises and loves to mix it in with his martial arts training. He has a few pointers to share with us today so we can learn to maximize our effort.

Today, Evolve Daily shares five bodyweight workout tips from Muay Thai World Champion Nong-O Gaiyanghadao.


1) Pay Attention To Proper Form And Technique

A Muay Thai student throws a kick at the pads during a class.

Like most martial arts, Muay Thai emphasizes technique over brute strength.

Like with all exercises and movements, paying attention to the proper way of performing movements is crucial in maximizing the benefits of each workout.

According to Nong-O, this, in particular, is the most important thing about bodyweight exercises.

“Most of the time, people are too focused on putting in a large number of reps. When the program says to do 10 push-ups, a lot of people try their hardest to get to 10. But in turn, they sacrifice a lot of technique to do so,” says Nong-O.

“I like to tell people that five quality push-ups executed with perfect form and technique are better than 10 sloppy ones. It’s a little cliche but it’s also very true.”

When doing bodyweight exercises, start by paying attention to proper form and technique. It’s the first order of business.


2) Use Single Weight Movements

Amir Khan doing a pull-up at the gym.

Bodyweight exercises like pull-ups are great for building the strength needed for martial arts like Muay Thai, BJJ, and MMA.

Up the degree of difficulty by performing single weight movements on isolated body parts.

If you are doing squats, for example, do a single leg squat instead of a double leg squat. This forces you to put in more effort in stabilizing yourself, thus engaging the target muscle group more while stimulating the core muscles.

“Single weight exercises are much more difficult to do than normal. Challenge yourself by stepping out of the box and doing something out of the ordinary,” says Nong-O.

“It may seem difficult at first, but then your body will eventually adjust and you’ll get stronger.”

Put together various single weight exercises and perform them in a circuit. This keeps things interesting and engaging.


3) Do One-And-A-Half Reps

Two students doing push-ups during a Muay Thai class.

Exercises like push-ups are often incorporated into Muay Thai classes.

The name of the game is making movements harder, not easier. This way, each rep reaps the maximum benefits. In bodyweight exercises, less is more.

To perform a one-and-a-half rep, do one full extension, and then come back up with a half extension. For example, if you were to do push-ups, do one full push-up all the way, then come back and do a half push-up. This counts as one-and-a-half. Do 10 of these, and we guarantee your arms will be wiped out after just one set.

“They’re definitely hard. Even the strongest and fittest individuals will have a difficult time with these. But they’re also extremely satisfying,” says Nong-O.

“Push yourself to the limit and see how far you can go. See how strong you can get. More than the physical pain of such intense workouts, your mind will always be stronger. Power yourself through the pain and you’ll be surprised with what you are capable of.”


4) Don’t Forget To Stretch

It can’t be stressed enough, and many people forget its importance. But stretching is one of the most important parts of working out. Stretching makes sure the muscles are always flexible, strong, and healthy. Because bodyweight exercises require a wide range of motion, stretching is essential.

A student stretching before a Muay Thai class.

It’s important to stretch before a Muay Thai class.

“Stretching is a must. Building muscle and achieving fitness is not enough, you have to enhance flexibility too,” says Nong-O.

“Personally, as an athlete and as a professional Muay Thai fighter, flexibility is one of the most important things for me. And stretching has to be done on a regular basis. Without stretching, muscles will become short and tight, and we don’t want that.”

Make sure you give stretching its proper due in your workouts. Perform them before workouts as part of the warm-up, and after during cool down.


5) Try Martial Arts

“Of course, if you ask me, there is no better bodyweight workout than martial arts training. This is the best type of bodyweight exercise, bar none,” says Nong-O.

“There are so many martial arts you can try. From BJJ and boxing to Muay Thai, each discipline offers a unique approach to physical fitness. And it’s all fun and engaging, which is the best part.”

For a Muay Thai World Champion like Nong-O, training in martial arts is simply the best. He’s trained in martial arts ever since he was a young boy growing up in Thailand.

Years later, Nong-O has become one of the most accomplished Muay Thai fighters in the world.


So if you think bodyweight workouts are for you but are looking to get more than just physical benefits out of your regime, give martial arts a go.

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