When I first started Muay Thai many years ago, I was always looking for ways to have harder and faster kicks and punches. I would cluelessly hit the heavy bag for hours and wouldn’t see that much improvement. Although my Muay Thai instructor was a very experience fighter who had many professional fights in Thailand, I still couldn’t figure the heavy bag out completely. It wasn’t my instructors fault that I wasn’t seeing much improvement, I didn’t take any initiative in training outside of class and my punches and kicks showed it.
It took me a long time to progress on the heavy bag. However once I started learning how to flow with certain combinations, I started to improve my entire game. Today I’m going to go over my 15 favorite Muay Thai combinations that I use on the heavy bag almost every day. These heavy bag workouts are great for both speed and strength of your punches and kicks, as well as your elbow and knee strikes. Muay Thai is the art of eight limbs and you don’t want to ignore over half of your striking ability. If you’re looking to just practice Boxing technique, you should visit our how to become a better boxer article.
Benefits of Heavy Bag Training
You’re not always going to have a sparring partner, this shouldn’t stop you from training entirely. If you have a heavy bag, you have a suitable striking surface on which to practice your Muay Thai and Boxing combinations. Not only can you improve technique and strength, training on a heavy bag is also a good cardio workout. Training on an authentic Muay Thai heavy bag will instill good fighting habits.
– Improved Power and Strength
– Control your breathing
– Enhance your Stamina and Endurance
– Improved Speed and Flow
The best thing about heavy bag training is that you can always train, whenever you please! I always used to get disappointed when I couldn’t train, which is why I made a home gym in my garage. Training from home on a heavy bag greatly improved my overall technique and stamina, as well as my punching and kicking power. I no longer feel pain in my shins from kicking a heavy bag because I kick them almost every single day!
Training Gear You’ll Need
- Heavy Bag (preferably authentic Muay Thai Bag or Banana Bag)
- Boxing Gloves (I personally recommend gloves meant for heavy bag training)
- Shin Guards (I recommend training without them at times so you can condition your shins)
15 Muay Thai Heavy Bag Workouts
Our 15 Muay Thai heavy bag workouts are best when trained in order. However you can pick and choose your favorite from this list and implement them in your training sessions. Each workout can be changed and rearranged into whatever works best for your specific training methods. Not only do we show you workouts that can be done on the heavy bag, but they can also be used against a partner or even during a shadow boxing session.
1. Muay Thai Footwork and Movement Drill
In Muay Thai as in all fighting, footwork and movement are important to learn. This drill will help you understand how to properly use your footwork and movement to get in a dominate fighting position. A big NO-NO in fighting is to never cross your feet while moving. This is something that I learned the first day by my instructor, however it took me much longer to become proficient at movement.
I recommend warming up with movement drills before every heavy bag training session. Not only is it important to practice footwork and movement, but it is also important to have the heavy bag swinging around you so that you can visualize an opponent. This drill is great for a warm-up because it will get the blood flowing and allow your body to get loose for other drills.
2. Muay Thai Switch Kick to Switch Knee
This is one of my favorite drills because it helped me understand how to kick and knee within my fighting range. Not only does it help you with range, but it also helps you get faster switch kicks and knees. I love using switch kicks in Muay Thai and I believe it’s probably one of my best weapons to use in a fight. Switch kicks are highly effective in Muay Thai and MMA because they can be thrown in many combinations and are very quick.
This drill is also very helpful for balance and will allow you to become much more comfortable close range. I recommend doing this as apart of your warm up because it forces you to keep a quick pace and will build cardio vascular strength and stamina. Endurance and stamina is important in Muay Thai and MMA because the longer you can outlast your opponent the bigger advantage you’ll have in a real fight.
3. Muay Thai Power Kick Drill
Power is absolutely vital in Muay Thai fighting. I personally use half bags for all my ‘power’ training sessions, I use longer bags for punching combinations and low kicks. Make sure the bag is swinging towards you before throwing your kick.
I recommend doing 25 kicks each leg to start out. As you become much more advanced with your high kicks, I suggest doing 50 kicks, and then eventually 100 each day. Having power in your kicks will give you knockout power, it will also strengthen your stamina as throwing power kicks can take a lot out of you.
4. Muay Thai Teep Power Drill
When you want to increase your power with the teep, the heavy bag is the best option. The ‘teep’ in Muay Thai can single handedly allow a fighter to control his opponents movement. Throwing a well timed and perfectly placed teep has the capability of ending a fighting. However, the teep shouldn’t be used for a potential knockout kick as much as it should be used to control the distance between you and your opponent.
The teep is so important in Muay Thai that we’ve included two separate drills so that you can perfect your teep. On drill #13 of our 15 Muay Thai heavy bag drills we talk about how to improve your teeps balance and timing, however your teep should still have power behind it so that your opponent doesn’t take it lightly. The teep is absolutely necessary for a fighter to master because it has so many advantages in both Muay Thai and MMA.
5. Muay Thai Low Kick Power Drill
Not only do I think the low kick is one of the most important strike sthat you can throw in Muay Thai, I also think it’s one of the most important strikes you can throw in any fight (Muay Thai, MMA, or even street fighting). The low kick is the perfect strike to compliment your punching combination as well. Many opponents won’t be expecting you to throw a low kick after being hit with a few punches.
The low kick is so powerful because a majority of the population can’t take the pain and blunt force of a proper low kick (neither can a majority of professional fighters). The low kick is one of the first strikes I learned in Muay Thai and I’ve been mastering them every since. I recommend throwing 25 low kicks each leg and then eventually throwing them at the end of punching combinations. You should always end a Muay Thai combination with either a knee or kick. Be sure to practice the low kick at many different ranges, both long and short range are important to learn.
6. Muay Thai Punching and Kicking Combinations
This is where the fun begins, now you can start putting your punches, kicks, knees and elbows all together. Muay Thai is the art of eight limbs, you shouldn’t ignore any of your striking ability. I personally end every combination with either a kick or knee, this technique has helped me win a lot of fights. The more you practice your combinations, the quicker your strikes will flow and the better you’ll be able to move around the bag and your opponent. I recommend practicing various techniques every heavy bag session, both old and new techniques should be practiced.
All combinations included in this video:
1. Jab + Switch Kick
2. Rear Straight + Lead Hook + Rear Low Kick
3. Teep + Switch Knee
4. Side Step + Switch Kick
5. Switch Shovel Hook + Rear Low Kick
6. Jab + Lead Hook + Rear Straight + Rear Low Kick
7. Rear Straight + Switch Kick
7. Muay Thai Elbow Drill
In Muay Thai, the elbow is one of the most devastating blows you can throw at an opponent. Not only can you knockout your opponent with a properly placed elbow, but you can also easily cut your opponent with an elbow which will give them many problems in a fight. Using elbows close range is a huge advantage when clinching with an opponent, this technique can be used while training with a heavy bag. I suggest not only elbowing out of your fighting stance, but also elbowing while clinching the bag.
There are many mistakes to avoid while throwing your elbow strikes, the video above does a good job in explaining those specific mistakes you should avoid. The great thing about elbow strikes is that they’re legal in both Muay Thai and MMA fights, that makes this specific technique very useful for both combat sports. Many people use the elbow while practicing dirty boxing as well, this just shows that the elbow strike is multi-dimensional. I recommend throwing an elbow while in proper range, don’t be afraid to throw them while dirty boxing close range.
8. Muay Thai Speed Jab Drill
The jab is one of the most important strikes you can throw in any Muay Thai, Boxing, or MMA match. The reason why the jab is so important is that it sets up other power punches while throwing your opponent off their base. Speed is more important than power when throwing a jab because it’s not meant to be a knockout punch, rather so much a range finder. Compare the jab as the punching equivalent of a Muay Thai teep. Both are used to calculate range between an opponent and can also be used to help you catch a breath mid-fight.
I recommend starting this exercise out slow, don’t throw 5 jabs in a row if you don’t have the technique down yet. It’s important to find the correct range between yourself and the heavy bag. However once you find the correct distance be sure to implement this drill into your Boxing and Muay Thai combination drills. The jab is important because it allows you to set up your other punching combinations. I recommend throwing a jab following by a rear low kick, then a double jab following by a rear low kick, etc.
9. Muay Thai Attack and Defense Drill
This drill is important because it incorporates both attack and defense. Defense is one of the greatest weapons you can use in Muay Thai because a solid defense can allow you to set up counters. One of the first things you should learn in Muay Thai is to protect yourself from kicks. No matter how much it hurts to check a kick, it’s absolutely vital to a proper Muay Thai fighter to learn.
This drill specifically teaches you to check and block kicks following by a counter kick of your own. Whatever side you block the kick on is the side you should throw your own kick from. If you block a kick from the right side, you should throw your right kick. If you block a kick from the left side, you should throw your left kick. It’s not a hard combination to learn and might even seem amateurish for many of you, however it’s an important drill to learn.
10. Muay Thai Flow Drill
This is something I do in between my workout sessions to stay loose. This drill is great for both flow and hip rotation as you’re constantly switching the side of the bag you hit on. This isn’t going to improve strength much, but it will help you develop better flow and will also keep your heart rate up in between drills. This workout helps you constantly transfer your weight in between your shots which is useful for when you start developing more combinations.
I personally do this for about a minute or two in between my various workouts. This isn’t something that you need to do every single day, however it’s fun to get better and better at flowing through your workout. At first you should be stiff, however throughout the flow drill you should continually get looser and looser until the strikes start flowing through you. I realize this drill looks silly, but don’t underestimate something that looks silly as it can be very useful for your heavy bag training session.
11. Muay Thai Knee Drill
This type of drill is obviously better on a shorter bag, however it can still be done on a traditional Muay Thai bag. Having the ability to knee from a standing position is a huge advantage for taller and lengthier fighters. I personally use the knee to my advantage during fights because I have much longer range (6’1, 155 pounds) than most fighters in my weight class. This doesn’t mean this drill can’t be done by shorter fighters, it just means you’ll have to work twice as hard to master it!
This video is great because it gives you many different styles of knee strikes to practice. Don’t be afraid to throw a few punches before throwing your knee strike. The chicken wing knee works best while clinching, something we’ll talk about on drill #14. It might be alarming to some of you to realize how many different types of knees you can throw in Muay Thai and MMA fights, however “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” quoted from the legend Bruce Lee.
12. Muay Thai Stand Your Ground Drill
Ouch, I can feel the pain through the computer screen. The Muay Thai stand your ground drill has many different variations, however this is one you can actually do with a heavy bag. This works best with a shorter heavy bag, however it can also be done with the help of a training partner. It’s fairly common in Muay Thai training that they teach you to condition your core through inflicting painful punches and kicks.
I advise doing this once a week when you’re also training your core through various crunches and ab workouts. Conditioning your body is very important in all combat sports because body shots are allowed in Muay Thai, MMA, and Boxing. I pride myself on having a strong core that has been developed through years of punishment, combat sports aren’t for the faint of heart after all. It’s important to have a strong core, however don’t over-do it. It’s not worth getting hurt just because you were trying to look tough in front of your friends and training partners.
This is a particularly good workout if you have your bag hanging from a ceiling mount, so you have plenty of room to work around the bag.
13. Muay Thai Teep Balance Drill
Heavy bag drills don’t always have to involve power or speed, this teep balance drill is a perfect example on how a heavy bag can be used in unique ways. We showed a drill that involved teep power earlier because teeps are absolutely necessary for Muay Thai fighters to master. They help keep an opponent at bay, and allows you to catch a breath during a fight if needed. This drill isn’t necessarily for power, however learning how to accurately throw a teep will allow you to put more power behind your teeps and front kicks in the future.
This is a drill that I incorporate into the end of my workout at home. I highly recommend anyone who wants to learn how to throw better teeps and front kicks to do this drill for 5 minutes between each leg. This will give you better balance as a fighter and will also help you with timing and reaction.
14. Muay Thai Clinching Knee Drill
This is another drill that I’ve implemented over the years in both the beginning and end of my heavy bag training sessions. In Muay Thai, clinching is a skill-set that’s absolutely necessary to learn. Not only can you dirty box and throw elbows in the clinch, but it’s also the perfect opportunity to knee your opponent. This is the perfect burnout exercise to do after a long and hard training session when your arms are falling off.
Personally I switch between my right and left knee while clinching, however this workout can be done in many ways. I would start with 30 second clinch sessions and eventually raise that time to a minute with 15 second break periods. When you start to master throwing knees in the clinch you won’t need a timer, just continue kneeing the bag until you fall over from exhaustion (just kidding). I’ve trained with Muay Thai professionals who can seem to be able to knee in the clinch forever, it’s quite impressive to watch.
15. Muay Thai Burnout Drill *Intense*
This Muay Thai burnout drill for the heavy bag is not for the faint of heart, which is why we saved it for last. This is best done at the end of a workout for maximum growth in your stamina and endurance. Doing this burnout drill after a long workout is where you’ll see the most growth in your game. Practicing when you’re tired is where champions are born, give it all you can while you still can.
I recommend starting at 20/20/20 like the video above displays. However don’t be afraid to raise those numbers over time. This burnout drill is what I like to call ‘the final round’ because this is exactly how you’ll be feeling in the final round of a fight when you empty out the gas tank and give it all you have. The final round is where champions are made. Not only will this burnout help with your stamina and endurance, but it will also help your overall speed and strength as well.
If you’re able to get through all 15 of the Muay Thai heavy bag drills that we included in this article then you’re ready to take on Buakaw. In all seriousness, every single drill we’ve included on this list will help you improve your Muay Thai technique, speed, and strength. I hope that you spend the time to learn each drill and feel the freedom to add your unique fighting style. It’s important to practice your technique outside of class. Training outside of class will enhance your game in no time.
If you’re looking for more traditional boxing workout routines, check out my favorite heavy bag workouts and speed bag workouts.