Most significant changes to your martial arts game happen over long stretches of dedicated time spent in the gym.
But even then, what you do on the mats is not the only thing you need to be aware of in order to improve. Your habits off the mats are just as important.
With that in mind, here are 10 small changes you can make to your training routine that will bring you the biggest improvements.
#1 Stay Hydrated
Make staying hydrated a priority because having a glass of water directly before hitting the gym will not suffice. While you should drink at least eight glasses a day, take in more on the days you work out.
Training in the hot, humid climate of the Gulf of Thailand has taught ONE Atomweight Muay Thai World Champion Stamp Fairtex a thing or two about staying hydrated.
“You need to drink a lot of water to stay hydrated because you will lose a lot of it during training,” she says.
“It’s also important to drink water to replenish yourself after training, too. This will help your body recover and help with feelings of fatigue.”
#2 Eat Three Hours Before Training
Nourish your body before hitting the gym. If you can sit down for a proper meal, do so approximately three hours before you train. If you could cook your own meal like “Super” Sage Northcutt and Alain “The Panther” Ngalani, even better.
While this is the recommended method, it is not always practical and can seem like an impossible task for some.
If you are pressed for time, a hearty snack will suffice – something like a protein bar. You want to make sure you digest everything before class starts.
If you do not eat, then you will not have as much energy and you will not get the most out of your training session.
#3 Get Enough Sleep
No matter how busy you get, try to get a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night. To do this, limit your caffeine, sugar, and screen time throughout the day.
ONE Super Series standout Superlek Kiatmoo9 considers sleep as an important part of his training regime.
“It is an important element that helps improve training and restores our body, thus making us stronger,” he says. “Adequate rest will increase power, endurance, and help with recovery.”
#4 Drink Electrolytes
For Muay Thai athletes in Thailand, electrolyte packets are their go-to source for potassium. Muay femur stylist Superlek swears by them for his twice-daily training sessions.
“Drinking electrolytes helps the body to relieve fatigue, and feel refreshed and rejuvenated,” he says. “It also helps the body return to normal quickly.”
A lot of people do not get enough potassium in their diets, and when they exercise, it shows. You only need one electrolyte packet per day, the bonus being that they are easy to store in your car, gym bag, or purse.
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#5 Warm-Up Properly
If you can spare an extra 15 minutes, get to class early to warm up. Most classes incorporate their own routine, but for many of us, it just is not enough.
Warming up helps you target certain areas that need attention and care. A proper warm-up also has one other main advantage as ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Champion Nong-O Gaiyanghadao points out.
“It helps stretch out different muscles in the body and prevents injury when training,” he offers.
Warming up on your own will also help you get even more out of class. It does not take much, but that added 15 minutes can make all the difference in the world.
#6 Do Your Cardio Outside Of Class
You will never meet a martial artist who does not run. Some professional athletes even hit the pavement twice a day, six days a week to prepare for competition.
To get the most out of your training, run three times a week for about 30 minutes at a time.
Running boosts your endurance, while at the same time improves your overall cardiovascular health and lets you take your training sessions to the next level.
You will feel like a brand new person in the gym, and your pad sessions will be transformed.
#7 Watch Martial Arts On The ONE Super App
There is no better way to completely immerse yourself in martial arts than by watching it. Just ask Stamp.
“Watching martial arts is about watching different techniques from different athletes,” she says. “You get to see what makes them a good fighter. You can even use those techniques in your training or add them to your arsenal.”
Watching ONE athletes in action shows you firsthand how you can apply the techniques your trainer teaches you in the ring.
#8 Eat A Balanced Diet
Eating a balanced diet is paramount to overall health, and therefore has a direct impact on your time at the gym.
It might seem like a no-brainer, but getting proper nutrition can be a challenge. Different foods have different purposes, as Nong-O points out.
“You’ve got to nourish all parts of your body, from your muscles to your bones,” the Evolve representative explains. “Proper nutrition also helps prevent us from getting sick.”
#9 Take One Day Off Every Week
It does not matter if you are a professional athlete, a gym rat, or just casually working out – we all need a day off. Taking a day off is not just for your physical health, but for your mental health as well.
Since martial arts training gives Superlek a rigorous workout, he sees days off as paramount to his overall exercise habits.
“Muay Thai practice is very intensive because it combines cardio, endurance, and strength training,” he says. “Taking a day off is therefore essential for the muscles to rest. When you return to practice, you’ll do better than before.”
Knowing that, feel free to kick back, relax, and play around with your pet.
#10 Put The Phone Down
Nowadays, most of us have a love-hate relationship with our smartphones.
There are the obvious benefits of taking it with us to the gym like tracking our run, listening to music as we train, timing our rounds, and of course, taking photos and videos.
But to get the most from our training sessions, you are going to need to put some guidelines in place. The best possible scenario is to just leave your phone in your locker.
If that is not an option, try putting it on airplane mode.
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