Muay Thai Workout: How to Train the Roundhouse Kick

Here is as complete workout – including warm up, drills, and sparring focus – for practicing and refining the all-important roundhouse kick.

As I have stated many times in the past, the roundhouse kick is one of the most powerful techniques in the muay Thai arsenal. It also happens to be one of the signature movements of the martial art. So, if you are going to say you practice muay Thai, you need to take the time to get this technique down.

Through both articles and videos I have shown how to perform the kick, how to defend the kick, how to appropriately time the kick, and how to counter the kick in various ways. Today, I will give you a template of how to actually organize a training session by utilizing all of these techniques. The workout provided should take about an hour to complete and should be performed with a partner.

Workout Part #1: Warm Up and Mobility

1. Mobility Work

First, perform a basic mobility routine for five to ten minutes so your body is ready for action. Watch the video below to learn about my fighter’s mobility routine:

3. Warm Up: Jump rope x 2 rounds

3. Shadow Boxing: 2 rounds

Remember the most important rule of shadow boxing – don’t be lazy! Move around, keep your hands up, focus on your stance, and throw a lot of kicks to get the hips loose. If you’re still warming up when you begin to shadow box, slowly introduce your lower body techniques as in the video below:

4. Heavy Bag Work: 50 kicks per leg

When kicking the bag, keep the bag moving and focus on timing the kick. Optimally, you want to strike the bag right when it reaches the center of the swing. When performing this drill, take your time to set up the kicks, but don’t hold back on power. To kick hard you have to kick hard – a lot. This drill should take about ten minutes to complete.

Workout Part #2: Drilling

This next section needs to be done with shin guards and gloves. Choose three counters to the roundhouse kick and drill them one person at a time, for one round each per person. Alternate partners each round. One person will defend the kick and perform the appropriate counter while the other attacks.

Said another way: Partner A will throw kicks for the first round, while Partner B defends with the selected counter. When the round ends, Partner A now performs that same counter, while Partner B throws kicks.

Appropriate counter techniques could include, but are not limited to: checking, catching, or parrying the roundhouse kicks. Keep in mind when performing the drills to stay active and move around. Don’t stand in front of each other like statues. If you are pressed for time, switch partners every half round.

Here is a video demonstrating three different counters to the roundhouse kick:

Workout Part #3: Thai Pads

3 rounds of Thai pads per person

During the pad work section incorporate all the elements of muay Thai: punch, elbow, knee, kick, and clinch – but make sure to pay extra attention to kicking. Keep the combinations simple and repetitive.

Workout Part #4: Sparring

Spar for 3-5 rounds

All protective gear should be worn during sparring. For this sparring session kicking and defending the kick is the objective. Use your timing, footwork, feints, and strikes to set up your kicks. Also remember to spar light and work with your partner. Learning is the goal, not smashing each other.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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