One of the most important training tools in Muay Thai is the heavy bag. You can even say that it is indispensable, not just for the art of 8 limbs, but for most other striking arts as well. The heavy bag will help sharpen your skills and technique, regardless if you are a newcomer to the sport or a professional fighter with years of experience.
The biggest advantage of using the heavy bag for your Muay Thai training is that you can do it on your own. There is no need for a training partner or even a coach to be present while you are using the heavy bag. You can practice on it until you drop while honing and improving your form and technique. The possibilities are practically endless as you can practice countless combinations.
Speaking of combinations, you can train everything from the most basic to the more advanced ones on the heavy bag. At the same time, you can also work on other aspects of your Muay Thai game. Improve your footwork and your understanding of distance and timing. Even your endurance will benefit from training on the bag.
The following are the top 10 Muay Thai heavy bag drills for beginner to advanced students.
The power drill is all about throwing slow yet repetitive power strikes. This drill will help you develop and increase the power of your strikes. It is also notable for its simplicity, which also makes it ideal for beginners.
To maximize this drill, make sure that you throw each strike with maximum power. And because of that, there is no need for you to use a timer at all. Just make sure that you throw as powerfully as you possibly can.
To give you an idea, here are some strikes that you can include in this drill:
- 10 power jabs.
- 10 power crosses.
- 10 low kicks using both legs.
Remember to reset after every strike you throw so you can use maximum power for the succeeding ones.
Muay Thai is a physically demanding combat sport. That means you need to have tons of energy for training and competing. Interval drills are designed to help you build up those reserves of energy needed for Muay Thai.
This drill alternates moments of high energy with lighter activities. So a round of Muay Thai, which is composed of 3 minutes, will be divided into periods of 30 seconds that alternate between high and low intensity.
The following are examples of interval drills for Muay Thai:
- Throw the hardest strikes that you can for 30 seconds.
- Throw the fastest strikes that you can for 30 seconds.
- Throw your strikes with proper technique for 30 seconds.
You can repeat this pattern for the duration of the round or you can think of others for the drill. The key is in making sure that you alternate between high and low-intensity moments. This mimics what actually happens in a match or sparring session, where you get what is known as an active rest.
Combination drills also need to be part of every Muay Thai practitioner's heavy bag training. After all, throwing combinations actually happen in fights and even in sparring.
The great thing about Muay Thai is that there is a huge number of combinations from which you can choose. And this drill will help you develop your technique, accuracy, power, and your creativity. It will also help build up your muscle memory, which will be useful in actual competition.
A few of the Muay Thai combinations that you can use for the drill:
- Jab - Cross
- Jab - Teep
- Jab - Leg Kick
- Jab - Roundhouse Kick
- Jab - Cross - Roundhouse Kick
There is an almost endless array of combinations to choose from. Find out which of those combinations works for you best. You will know that by constantly practicing and drilling every kind of combination.
OFFENSE & DEFENSE DRILL
It might come as a surprise to some, but you can train your offense and defense at the same time. All you need is the proper offense and defense drill and you are good to go. In this drill, the heavy bag is going to take the place of your opponent as you work on attacking and then defending against your opponent as well.
Another way to look at this drill is sort of shadowboxing with the use of the heavy bag. An example of this is checking an incoming imaginary leg kick, then countering it with your own leg kick. Throw combinations at the heavy bag while still being mindful of your defense. The goal is to always be alert whether you are the one attacking or defending and this drill is designed specifically for that.
KNEE & ELBOW DRILL
The knee and elbow drill is designed to make you more effective in landing elbows and knees in the clinch. You are doing Muay Thai, so elbows and knees are necessary. By doing this drill, you will become proficient at landing those weapons against your opponent or training partner when you are clinching.
To practice the drill, you will need to grab the top of the heavy bag like you would when clinching with an opponent. Start throwing knees in the direction f your opponent’s ribs. Make sure to throw your knee strikes using proper technique and from both sides. After the knees, you can also throw some elbow strikes against where your opponent’s face would be. Increase the number of strikes as you improve your endurance.
The teep drill is essential to anyone who wants to get better at Muay Thai. Teeps or push kicks are used very often in Muay Thai so it is important for any practitioner to become proficient at it. This drill is meant to help everyone become very good at using the teep - this strike is considered to be the kicking equivalent of the jab.
Like jabs, teeps can be used to manage distance and defend against aggressive opponents. It is also useful as a set-up for other attacks. The drill on the heavy bag can help add more power to your teeps. When you practice the teep drill on the heavy bag, make sure you switch stances every 3 minutes so that both teeps will be strong.
LOW KICK DRILL
The low kick is one of the favorite weapons of Muay Thai practitioners. So it is only right that everyone should practice them and the low kick drill is one of the best ways to do so. A lot of fighters and Muay Thai practitioners finish off their combinations with low kicks, so it would be great to practice them using this drill.
Although not as flashy as other attacks, low kicks are effective in slowing down opponents. To practice it on the heavy bag, start by doing speed low kicks using each side. After that, you could practice with more power on your kicks. Another variation of the drill is to make it a part of a combination that you are going to practice on the heavy bag - for example, a jab-low kick or jab-cross-low kick combination.
The footwork drill in Muay Thai might be basic, but it is so important for anyone who wants to make progress in the art. This is particularly important for new students who are just starting out on their Muay Thai journey. Footwork is very important in any combat sport since it puts you in the proper position to throw your strikes. At the same time, it allows you to move out of harm’s way effectively.
Mastering footwork in Muay Thai will help you dictate the flow of a match or sparring session. You can do the drill by moving around the heavy bag after throwing a series of combinations. Perform various movements, from lateral movements to stepping in and out in front of the heavy bag. Throw a combination after every move and then change to a different one.
The endurance drill is perfect for the heavy bag since you can build up your endurance by throwing every strike as hard as you can. Treat the drill as something similar to a real fight so you will be able to improve and build up your endurance in a realistic sense.
For best results, break up the drill into 3-minute rounds. The important thing is that you maintain a high level of intensity throughout your workout. You can start with 3 or 4 of the 3-minute rounds that will make up the drill. Increase the number of rounds as you improve your overall endurance. Don’t forget to use all of the weapons at your disposal as you attack the heavy bag.
The flow drill allows more room for creativity than any other drill on this list. You can have a lot of fun with it even as you improve your Muay Thai skills on the heavy bag. The main thing about the flow drill is that you do not need to put an emphasis on either speed or power. What you need to be focused on is throwing all your strikes properly.
This drill will help you become more creative with your strikes and be able to throw them with a smooth and easy flow. That is something that you can only achieve when you throw multiple combinations at the heavy bag over many rounds. Remember to put an emphasis on both offense and defense as well as the fundamentals when you do the flow drill on the bag.
Using the heavy bag for Muay Thai training is a must for every practitioner of the art. It helps improve technique, form, timing, power, endurance, and other aspects of your Muay Thai game. The top 10 Muay Thai heavy bag drills for beginners to advanced students listed above should be able to help everyone who wants to become a better Nak Muay version of themselves.