Breathing during Muay Thai boxing and interval training

Recovery between rounds in a Muay Thai fight

Muay Thai is an interval sport.  At the amateur level there is 2 minutes of work followed by 1 minute of rest and at the professional level there is 3 minutes of work followed by 1 minute of rest.  A true Muay Thai fight is always 5 rounds.  America for what ever reason tends to have 3 round fights but that is mainly due to ignorance of the promoter’s and or athletic commission’s part…

The key to success in an interval training is recovery between the rounds.  In Muay Thai there is a one minute break between rounds.  Below is a chart of me doing 5 hard rounds on a heavy bag.  My average heart rate during the boxing round was 186.2 bpm.  I am able to reduce my heart rate in 1 minute by an average of 52.6 bmp and able to start each round at about 133.6 bpm.  My HR is very consistent during my training due to how I breathe both during the rounds and between them.

5 round Muay Thai Bag Work Heart Rate Chart

Work HR Rest HR HR Drop
Round 1 180 134 46
Round 2 182 131 51
Round 3 191 135 56
Round 4 192 134 58
Round 5 186 134 52
Average 186.2 133.6 52.6

Many very fit fighters “gas out” in the second round.  This is often due not to their conditioning but rather because of poor breathing habits in their training.  I am able to not gas by consciously controlling my breathing during training.  What we do while training is the best we can hope to do while competing!

During the work phase I focus on deep methodical breathing between techniques.  I’ve been told I breath like Darth Vader while doing bag work.  I yell every-time I strike the bag which forces me to exhale.  I exaggerate everything about my breathing.  I know that during a fight I will most likely not thinking about my breathing so I really force myself to do it while training so that it becomes automatic.

During the rest period of my training I focus on relaxing and taking deep slow breaths.  I try to will my heart to slow down and my body to relax.  I breath in through my nose and our through my mouth.

Focusing on breathing also works for increasing performance in other interval based activities.  I teach all of my kickboxing classes in 2-3 minute intervals with 1 minute active rest periods.  Many CrossFit workouts are intervals of work and rest.  Often not because they are written that way but because we need a break!  I believe that all athletes will benefit from focusing in on and training their breathing techniques.

It might sound easy but the entire process takes a lot of concentration.  However, by focusing on my breathing I am able to execute many more techniques per round and recover better between the rounds.

Posted in Competitions, CrossFit, Fitness, Martial Arts