THERE has been a steady rise in popularity over the past 10 years in combat sports and specifically in female participation. You don't have to go pro and jump in the ring or cage to benefit from the training effects of these sports. Training like a fighter is hard work and hard work sees results. Hitting pads and bags as well as learning a new skill is greatly rewarding. At the University of Glasgow’s Muay Thai club, we have around 245 training members and more than 60 per cent of the club are female.

I'm not sure of the exact make-up of the club 10 years ago, but I do know that it had around 60-70 members and I’d say over 80 per cent were male. So what's changed? Personally, I think that the stigma around “fight sports” are finally passing. The rise in popularity parallels celebrities taking to Instagram and Facebook to post records of their own pad workouts and heavy bag sessions.

From movie stars to lingerie models, the internet is packed with videos of females throwing down in the name of fitness. Muay Thai is a passion and love of my own so it's great to see more people and especially more women getting involved. Learning how to “fight” can be empowering as well as stress-reducing.

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If we look at the demands of a sport like Muay Thai, is it easy to see why it produces such large fitness results. The sport is fought over five rounds of three minutes duration, and fighters are given two minutes between each round to recover.

Now, 15 minutes of actual fight time may not seem long but this involves punching, kicking, kneeing, elbowing and stand-up wrestling (clinching). The energy demands are huge. Training involves hitting pads, hitting bags, partner work (including the option of some sparring) running, High-intensity interval (HIIT) training, bodyweight resistance work as well as some weight training. So it's a big mixed bag of training fun.

We run four- and six-week boot camps at our gym that have a great mix of Muay Thai, boxing and strength and conditioning workouts covering all aspects of “fight training” designed to get you in the best shape of your life without getting hit with a single punch. It's always amazing to see how many people come away with a new love for training in combat sports.

The first workout we do involves learning the guard/stance position and how to through a jab-cross.

Stance.

All Muay Thai techniques will begin and end in stance or guard.

1) Starting with your feet under your hips take a step forward with your non-dominant side (left if you are right-handed; right if you are left-handed).

2) Turn your rear foot so your feet now form an L shape.

3) Make two fists and bring your hands up. Your rear hand should be just beside your eye/temple. Your lead hand is in the same position but a little more forward.

4) Balance should be centred between both feet.

Basic Punching Technique

The jab

From stance take a short step forward with your lead foot. At the same time extend your lead arm out turning your fist so the palm faces the floor. Keep your wrist tight. As soon as the punch has reached full extension snap it back to guard.

The cross

From stance take a short step forward with your lead foot. Pushing from the ball of your rear foot, turn your hips and right shoulder to explosively extend your rear arm. As the arm extends, the hand turns towards the floor. Keep your wrist tight. Return to guard as soon as the punch reaches full extension.

A real simple workout using these techniques can be performed on the heavy bag.

For 30 seconds throw the jab – cross as a hard two-punch combination taking five seconds between each combo. Then for 30 seconds throw the jab – cross continuously at the bag, fast but with less power. Repeat this for three minutes and I bet your arms will be feeling the effects.

If you are interested in learning more or giving this style of training a go, then get in touch with us at Everyday Athlete. It's fun and super-effective and we know you will soon be hooked!