One thing many people notice about Muay Thai fighters is the strong, muscular appearance of their calves. Even the most diminutive Muay Thai fighter will have noticeable calves, honed through years of training. Although the art of Muay Thai involves striking from all 8 limbs of one’s body, it is a fighter’s toned legs that set them apart from his other weapons.
Powerful legs mean powerful kicks and punches, giving a Muay Thai fighter the capability to knockout his opponent. A fighter’s knockout power and the speed needed to evade his opponent’s attacks comes from his legs. If you want to fight Muay Thai or are looking to get better in class, strong calf muscles will give you the foundation you need for more strength and explosiveness in actions such as kicking, jumping, throwing punches, kicks, knees, and elbows.
If you’ve been looking to get bigger and stronger calves for Muay Thai, look no further. Here’s a workout to get you started:
1) Skipping rope
An essential part of every warm up for a Muay Thai class, skipping rope not only improves your timing and rhythm, it is also a great way to build calf muscles. Unlike routine weight lifting exercises, skipping rope will engage your calves in various ways, and also work your upper body and core. There are a variety of skipping rope techniques you could try: the basic jump, side to side, and double unders. Regardless of which technique you use, try to lengthen the intervals to get a better calf burn.
Evolve Daily Workout: Do 3 rounds of your choice of skipping rope technique, lengthening the intervals as your progress.
2) Repeat kicks on the heavy bag
The heavy bag is one of the best tools a Muay Thai fighter can use not only to increase power and improve technique, but also to build calf muscles. By throwing kicks with power repeatedly, the resistance from the bag will help build overall anaerobic strength. Before landing your kicking leg on the bag, explode up onto the ball of your standing leg. Don’t forget to maintain your form at all times and swing your arm down as you throw your kick.
Evolve Daily Workout: Do 2 sets of 50 kicks per leg – ensure you maintain your form and power each time you throw a kick.
3) Repeat jumping knees on the heavy bag
One of the deadliest weapons of any Muay Thai fighter, the knee requires you to thrust it upwards as it targets the sides of your opponent’s body and upwards towards the chin. As you jump up and land your knee strike on the bag, remember to stay on the ball of your standing foot, pushing through your toes on the way up and landing on your toes first as you get back into position.
Evolve Daily Workout: Do 2 sets of 50 jumping knees per leg. Just as above, try to maintain your form each time you throw a knee.
When you run, your calves constantly carry your body weight. A combination of fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscles in your calf pushes your whole body weight off your foot, strengthening the muscle in the calf. The faster and longer you run, the action of propelling yourself forward off the balls of your feet strengthens your calf muscles even more.
Evolve Daily Workout: Just like the Muay Thai fighters in Thailand, you should aim to run at least 5 kilometers before every training session.
5) Running stairs
To take your cardio and calf strengthening to the next level, you can add stair running to your workout. Stair running challenges not only your body, but your endurance as well. With each step, your calf muscles work to carry your body weight. By running stairs, you’ll work your entire leg too! As you climb the stairs, make sure that you are keeping your weight on the balls of your feet to get the maximum benefits of this exercise.
Evolve Daily Workout: Perform 10 to 12 sprints on 2-3 flights of stairs, rest for 60 seconds and repeat four to five times.
Remember, if you want to build muscle, you must add these exercises to your workout and perform them at least twice a week. Stay on the balls of your feet as much as possible when you perform them. Doing so will engage the calf muscles more and will develop them a lot faster.
Don’t forget to stretch your calf muscles after working them out to prevent plantar fasciitis – hold each stretch for at least 15 seconds and concentrate on each leg individually for a deeper stretch. If you’re not used to working these muscles, start with one set and perform fewer repetitions to prevent soreness.