Muay Thai Training in Thailand: The Beginner's Guide

Muay Thai Training in Thailand: The Beginner's Guide

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Muay Thai Training in Thailand: The Beginner’s Guide

Michael Sopon New

Muay Thai or Thai kickboxing is a hard-hitting, fitness-building martial art. It’s not hard to see why someone would want to learn the “art of eight limbs,” especially in its beautiful country of origin, Thailand. But how do you get the most out of Muay Thai training?

You’re in luck. I’ve put together this handy guide based on my own experiences training for many years with excellent gyms all over the country and with advice from personal trainers. It’s filled with tips and tricks on how to get involved in the most efficient, fun, and rewarding way. 

These are all the things I wish I had known going in that would have saved me money, kept me on track, and let me spend more time training and less time recovering.


Muay Thai Training in Thailand: The Beginner’s Guide

1. Setting goals for success
2. Choosing a Muay Thai gym
3. What to expect in Muay Thai training
4. How to train without injury

5. The Muay Thai community


Setting goals for success

Before you begin training, it’s important to identify what you want to get out of it. Setting clear goals for yourself is the key to efficiency. Trainers will often work with you to focus on various aspects directly related to these goals which means you’ll be getting a lot more from the process if you know what you want going in.


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Goal 1: Getting in shape

Many people train for fitness. Muay Thai can help you lose weight, gain muscle, improve posture, and strengthen you throughout. There’s nothing quite like having a dedicated trainer to push you further than you thought possible. It’s not necessary to ever get hit during fitness training (unless you want to try sparring). You also won’t need to spend as much time focusing on combat aspects and hardening your body. If Muay Thai is just one part of a workout regimen for you, you can easily have a conversation with your trainers to focus on whatever aspect you need whether that’s strength or cardio.

Goal 2: Joining a community

Of course, another reason to train is simply to experience an important part of Thai culture and make friends. You can meet all sorts of interesting people in Muay Thai gyms and, in a country like Thailand, this can often lead to plenty of fun adventures in travel, gastronomy, and more.

Goal 3: Becoming a professional fighter

Yet others train to become professional fighters or already are one and intend to improve their techniques. If this is what you’re looking for, you can expect grueling sessions that will take you to the absolute limit. This form of training will condition your body to be able to perform explosively for the duration of a match, harden your elbows, knees, and shins to block and hit forcefully without hurting yourself, and really focus on maximizing your strikes, footwork, and positioning.

Goal 4: Protecting yourself

Some people train for self-defense. Fleeing will always be the most effective strategy to avoid harm, but when fighting is absolutely unavoidable, Muay Thai trainers can work with you to teach you different moves that are effective at multiple ranges. Muay Thai originated from Muay Boran, an early form of Thai boxing which was developed for warfare. More focus can be put into learning how to hit hard and deal damage quickly.

Choosing a Muay Thai gym


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There are many gyms that provide Muay Thai training all over Thailand. Whether you are looking for something serious, the opportunity to train with a famous fighter, or simply a casual group atmosphere you’ll be able to find something that meets your needs.

Cost can vary depending on where and how you want to train. Obviously, a high-tech gym in downtown Bangkok will cost a lot more than an outdoor camp in the country. Generally speaking, you can expect to pay about THB400 – THB1,000 (US$13 – US$32) per group session in Bangkok and about THB200 – THB700 elsewhere in the country.

There are plenty of savings to be had if you’re looking to train for longer as most gyms offer package deals. Some even offer room and board.

Many of the top Muay Thai fighters in Thailand both active and retired have either opened their own gym or train out of a famous one. These places can be unique opportunities to rub shoulders with the greats of the sport. However, not all of these locations are suitable for beginners as some are more focused on training professional fighters.

The majority of the gyms I have trained at myself were all excellent in their own ways. However, here are some of my top choices for beginners:

1. Luktupfah Muay Thai Camp (greater Bangkok)
2. Sinbi Muay Thai (Phuket)
3. Kiatphontip (greater Bangkok)
4. Sitmonchai Gym (Kanchanaburi)
5. Sor Vorapin Gym (Bangkok)
6. Fairtex (Pattaya)
7. Chiang Mai Muay Thai Gym (Chiang Mai)

What to expect in Muay Thai training


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Most gyms will have hand wraps and gloves you can borrow so you only really need some comfortable athletic clothes that will give you some flexibility for kicking. 

A typical group training session will be about two hours with 2–3 trainers. Usually, this is split into warmup, conditioning, one one-on-one time with a trainer, and eventually cool down.

The warmup is often in the form of a light jog or skipping (jump rope). It depends on how much space the gym has access to. In most gyms in the city, there isn’t a convenient location nearby in which to jog so they rely on skipping. Usually, this will be weighted skipping ropes which are far more challenging and can work up a sweat in no time. In addition to jumping for cardio, they’ll target your shoulders and forearms instead of just your wrists. After cardio, you should stretch to make sure you’re limber and won’t pull anything.

Now that you’ve broken a sweat and limbered up, it’s time for conditioning. This is where you improve your overall fitness. Trainers will lead you and the rest of the group through a set of drills like shadow boxing, pushups, pullups, crunches, lifting weights, and hitting the bags.

While the main group focuses on drilling, trainers will pull individuals away for some one-on-one sessions.

At most gyms, you’ll get a fair amount of one-on-one time with trainers whether you’re sparring in the ring or working on your form on the mats. They’ll teach you footwork and balance, how to throw various strikes, and how to block. If you’ve never done martial arts, you’ll probably find yourself easily hitting 2-3 times harder after only a week of training just because you improved your form. Good trainers will push you beyond what you think you’re capable of.

If you want to spar, trainers will have large pads on and encourage you to hit them with everything you’ve got. If you’re only training for fitness they won’t hit back. It’s quite a therapeutic experience. 

Professional training is all this, but three times longer and three times as intense — often in multiple sessions throughout the day. Also, these trainers will hit back during sparring.

How to train without injury


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Muay Thai is a hard-impact sport. Even if you’re just training for fitness, if you aren’t careful, this can put strains on your muscles and joints, damage your knuckles, and leave you sore and bruised. Here are four ways to help avoid that as much as possible.

1. Handwraps

The reason boxers wear gloves is to protect their hands. Our hands and wrists are quite fragile and certainly not designed to hit hard things like skulls. That said, it is very important that you learn how to properly wrap your hands (or have a trainer do it for you) to make sure you’ve cushioned your knuckles and supported your wrist. This will save your hands from getting injured, especially if you plan on training often.

2. Technique first, power second

Technique is very important to learn and practice early on. Throwing good punches, elbows, knees and kicks will help you avoid hurting yourself during training. As you get better, you’ll hit a lot harder and it becomes that much more important. Trainers will also get you to practice hardening your impact points over time in a process known as conditioning, which will help a great deal in handling repeated strikes.

3. Communication

If you plan on training at a local Thai camp in a very rural location, learning a little basic Thai will go a long way towards communicating with your trainers to explain where you are feeling strains and/or any pain. This will ensure that your trainers are always working effectively with you to your best potential. Frankly, learning a bit of Thai is just great all around for both traveling and getting discounts on things.

4. Preworkout routines

Like with any exercise, make sure to stretch and get enough potassium to avoid pulling any muscles. At the same time, don’t fill up before a training session either. Your best bet is to have a light snack an hour or so before.

The Muay Thai community


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Muay Thai training can offer you many things from fitness to self-defense to honing yourself for professional fighting. It is also a gateway to a vibrant, exciting community and a ticket to exploring and experiencing the beautiful country that is Thailand.

When you approach training the right way, you’ll be able to maximize whatever it is you were looking for and have a blast doing it. If any of this sounds interesting to you, why not come to Thailand for some training? Maybe I’ll catch you at the gym!

Michael Sopon New

Michael graduated from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada where he studied Civil Engineering. After working in the engineering field for a few years, Michael moved to Thailand where he worked as a lecturer at Silpakorn University, a translator, a language consultant, and a construction manager before he began his acting career in 2013. Since then, he has worked in television, film, online platforms, and cartoons as an actor, writer, and producer.


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