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How to Increase Leg Strength for Explosive Power in Muay Thai

There’s no doubt that your legs are the primary generator for creating power in your striking arsenal. Leg power is one of the most important aspects of combat sports. Generally speaking, the stronger your legs are, the more force you’re able to strike with. The strongest legs deal the deadliest kicks.

Your calves are some of the key players in transferring the power from the ground to your opponent. Two muscles make it up: the soleus and gastrocnemius. These muscles are also important in boxing, as they are responsible for the signature quick footwork, movement, and positional improvements.

Leg power is an essential aspect of Muay Thai

In Muay Thai, your calves are everything. Muay Thai is hours of round kicks, teeps and checks, so training means enduring intense leg work.

If you train Muay Thai or boxing, your legs will adapt. Leg strength and endurance are normal byproducts of training. If you want to add extra power for more powerful strikes, lifting weights is a popular option. The downside to weight training, though, is that it can compromise your speed. Because of these, some opt to increase leg power without weights.

If you’ve ever wondered how to make your leg stronger for more explosive power in kicking, you’ve come to the right place. Here are a few strength and endurance exercises (without weights) you can use for your power building leg workout. Incorporate them into your conditioning routine to maximise the effects and really work up a sweat!

  • 1 Tire Flip

    If you’ve ever been around a cross-fit gym or seen a cross-fit video, you’ve probably seen people flipping truck tires. The Tire Flip is one of the most explosive leg exercises to increase kicking power. It is a great workout that can maximise the functional movement of your legs, glutes, and core. At the same time, it engages your arms and chest, making it a full-body workout.

    It is a dynamic exercise mimicking the kind of physical exertion in combat sports. The instantaneous burst of power used to flip tires over is similar to the explosiveness needed to overwhelm an opponent in Boxing and Muay Thai.

    So, now that we know what the tire flip is good for, how do we actually do it?

  • How to Flip a Tire

    1. With your feet apart wider than your hips, start with your toes against the tire. 
    2. Bend your knees and grip the bottom of the tire with your fingers. 
    3. Keep your back straight and lock your shoulders back, bringing your chest forward.
    4. Brace your core and explode with your legs, glutes and hips to lift the tire up and forward.
    5. If the initial burst isn’t enough to get the tire vertical, use your knee to help bring it up.
    6. Push the tire with your hands to flip it over onto the other side. 
    7. If you’re working in a confined space, walk around to the other side of the tire and flip it back to its original position.

  • 2 Standard Skipping Rope

    There is no substitute for nailing the basics. As long as modern Boxing and Muay Thai gyms have been around, the skipping rope has been a staple exercise. It is one of the essential tools to develop a fighter’s footwork. It’s good for conditioning legs, especially calves.

    A couple of rounds of skipping to warm up the body does wonders for kickstarting the cardiovascular system. It’s good for your hand and feet coordination, and hopping is good for mobility in Boxing and Muay Thai. You can keep your skipping basic or incorporate a bit of fancy footwork. Either way, there’s no denying the effectiveness of its benefits when it comes to movement in the ring.

  • How to perform The Beginners Double Feet Jump

    1. Hold the handles in each hand and keep your elbows close to your side.
    2. Start with the middle of the skipping rope on the ground behind your feet.  
    3. Swing the rope upwards (over your head) then forward, passing your face as it travels towards the ground in front of your feet.  
    4. Once the rope reaches your toes, jump with both feet over the rope. 
    5. Use your hands and forearms to swing the rope back up behind you, continuing its momentum.
    6. Speed it up for a more rigorous workout on the legs and your cardiovascular system.

  • How to perform The Beginners Alternating Hop

    1. Hold the handles in each hand and keep your elbows close to your side.
    2. Start with the middle of the skipping rope on the ground behind your feet.  
    3. Swing the rope upwards, over your head, then forward, passing your face, as it travels towards the ground in front of your feet.  
    4. Once the rope reaches your toes, hop with one foot, keeping the other up and not touching the ground. 
    5. Use your hands and forearms to swing the rope back up behind you, continuing its momentum.
    6. Once it comes back around, hop with the other foot. 
    7. Speed it up for a more rigorous workout on the legs and your cardiovascular system.
    8. For a bigger challenge, bring your knees up to your chest as you hop to really burn those calves.

  • 3 Skip With a Garden Hose

    As mentioned above, if you’re training in Boxing or Muay Thai, you’re already familiar with the skipping rope. It can help you warm up with some cardio, develop coordination in your feet, or get the reps in to condition your feet. Either way, the humble skipping rope is an essential tool in any fighters gym bag.

    But how do we up the ante? If we’re lifting weights and have reached a point where it’s no longer a challenge, the next logical step would be to add more weight. It is possible to apply this logic to skipping as well. It’s not practical to add weights to a skipping rope. However, it is possible to find a heavier skipping rope.

    The standard variety garden hose can be a simple alternative. Use it to add extra resistance to your skipping routine and work your cardio at the same time.

  • How to Skip With a Garden Hose

    1. Make sure your garden hose matches the length of your skipping rope.  
    2. Keep your elbows close to your hips.
    3. Hold each end just like you would with your skipping rope and pass the hose underneath your feet as you jump over.
    4. Slowly build momentum, staying on your toes and activating your calves.

    You should be feeling the burn in your shoulders, forearms, hands, calves and feet.  Your cardiovascular system will also get the added benefit of a heavier skipping tool as it adapts to the new load.

    If you can get your hands on them, specially designed heavy ropes perform the same function.

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