How To Develop Powerful & Crushing Low Kicks In Muay Thai

In Muay Thai, there are few techniques that can debilitate a fighter like a solid chopping low kick. It can destabilize an opponent, and disrupt their rhythm and a few accurate and well-executed low kicks can even sap the power from their punches while stopping them from blocking and kicking.

In this article, we are going to give you five steps that you need to follow if you want to develop crushing and powerful low kicks. We’re going to step beyond the basics of how to throw a leg kick and give you the specific points of performance that can turn a good low kick into a great one. Then we’ll give you some finer steps to follow before providing you some pointers on supplementary training you can add to your routine so that, before long, you’ll be chopping your opponent’s legs right out from under them.

So, without any further introduction, here are our five steps to developing powerful and crushing low kicks.


1) Focus On The Key Points Of Performance

The first thing you need to focus on when developing power is good technique. You can improve your strength, speed, and timing as much as you want, but unless you can combine it with excellent technique, many of your gains will go to waste.

When it comes to low kick technique, beginners usually make three power-draining errors which we have listed below:

  • Not Kicking Through: This is a common mistake that beginners make in all kicks, not just when they are chopping their opponent’s leg. If you kick your opponent’s leg and stop rotating as soon as you hit them, you sacrifice a considerable amount of your kick’s power. Instead, imagine that you are kicking through them. Visualize that your shin is an axe, and their leg is a tree trunk that you are trying to chop down. Swing through them by kicking as if you plan on spinning three hundred and sixty degrees on your standing leg if their thigh wasn’t there to stop your rotation.
  • Not Using Their Shin: It is common to see fighters “chopping upwards,” almost as if they are kicking a football when they throw a leg kick. This isn’t necessarily wrong if they are using the fast leg kick to set up a hand combination but doing so sacrifices a considerable amount of power, especially as the kick will connect where the fighter’s calf muscle joins to their shin, rather than the bone itself. To really damage an opponent’s leg, you want to chop down into the kick. This involves lifting your kick to waist height, above the target area, before turning it over so the sharp point of your shin axes down onto the thigh.
  • Not Hopping Off The Centre Line: Like any roundhouse kick, a leg kick is stronger when you step off of your opponent’s center line. Standing with your leg inside of your opponent’s stops you from being able to kick through them with full effect and if you time your kick so that your shin connects as you hop laterally, it will connect with your full body weight behind it whilst also getting you out of range of any punches your opponent might be throwing.


2) Improve Your Accuracy

The thigh is a relatively large target to kick. If you want to maximize the effect your leg kicks have on your opponent, you need to hit it one spot over and over again with the accuracy of a sniper. If you target one spot consistently, your kicks will become more effective with the damage compounding each time your shin connects but, while targeting any particular spot over and over again will improve your chances of stopping your opponent, you want to target the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve if you really want to put them down.

This nerve provides motor and sensory function to the front and side of the thigh, and a few well-placed kicks will deaden your opponent’s leg to the point where they can’t stand, let alone fight. This nerve runs down the exterior of the thigh but is closest to the surface of the leg about two-thirds of the way down from the hip to the knee. So, aim to chop down on the outer quadricep about two hands above the knee to destroy this nerve.


3) Improve Your Timing

Once your technique and accuracy are on point, the next step to developing crushing leg kicks is to work on your timing. That is, you want your leg kick to land when it will do the most damage. Luckily, for leg kicks, this time also happens to be when it is hardest for your opponent to defend.

You want to throw your leg kick so that it lands as your opponent is stepping down onto it and they have weight loaded onto their leg. If they are light on their feet, not only will they have a better chance of blocking, but their leg will also rotate with your shin as it connects which saps considerable power from the strike. If you land your kick when they are standing heavy on their leg, it will stay solid when you boot it, ensuring that their thigh muscles are crushed between the bones of your shin and their femur, maximizing the damage to their leg.

The easiest way to time this is to kick the front leg as they step forward to punch. To throw a strong punch they will need to plant their foot, giving you ample opportunity to chop their leg. Alternatively, if you want to chop the back leg, you need to push them backward so that their back heel is planted on the floor. You can use punches to push their posture back so that their body weight is based on their rear leg, or you can simply push them with your lead hand for the same effect.


4) Improve Your Leg Strength

Now that you have developed all of your core Muay Thai skills, it’s time to supplement them with strength training. Look to develop the specific muscles that you recruit when throwing a chopping low kick. This can include hamstrings, quadriceps, adductors, and your calf muscles. To get the most out of your strength training we recommend working with a qualified strength and conditioning coach who understands the specific demands of Muay Thai but, failing that, you can look to incorporate some of the following exercises into your strength training:


5) Go Ballistic

Ballistic training is a kind of strength and conditioning training where strength marries speed so that you can recruit all of the strength in your muscles and unleash it in one explosive motion. This style of training is highly beneficial for Muay Thai and we’ve explained it in more detail in our article: Top Ballistic Workouts To Strengthen Your Muay Thai Game, but if you want to get right into the best ballistic exercises to develop power in your leg kicks look no further than these 2 exercises. 

  • Lateral Kettlebell swings
  • Single-Legged Lateral Broad Jumps



The secret to developing crushing low kicks is not simply getting stronger legs so you can throw harder kicks. Strength training helps, but it’s more important to make sure that you maximize your technique, accuracy, and timing before looking for a squat rack or a set of kettlebells. Follow the five steps we have listed above, in order, and you’ll be chopping your opponent’s legs out from under them in no time at all.


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