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Does Muay Thai Build Muscle? Here’s An Answer

pushups training

Engaging in martial arts is one of the ways people get in shape. Everyone has different goals. Some practice martial art because they want to choose it as a career path; others practice it just for self-defense.

does muay thai build muscle

The answer to your inquiry is yes Muay Thai build muscles, and I am writing this blog to show you how that happens. If you want to find out all you need to know, including a little bit of history about Muay Thai, you have to keep reading.

Your goal could be to take up one or two martial art training sessions to get fit. According to statistics gathered, the number of people in the United States from age six and above to participating in martial arts in 2017 is estimated at 3.42 million.

So, it’s evidence to show you that people are getting involved in martial arts every day. But, irrespective of your goal of getting involved in martial arts, Muay Thai is a martial art you should consider if you want to stay disciplined and achieve your goals.

If you’ve been thinking of taking Muay Thai lessons and you are unsure whether it will help you build some muscles, this blog is for you.

Does Muay Thai Build Muscle?

Muay Thai has its origin traced back to the 16th century in Thailand. However, it has become more incorporated as an entertaining sport in recent times, where fighters compete as spectators watch in excitement.

The fans and spectators may only be concerned about being entertained, but Muay Thai means much more to the fighters, and they put a lot into it. The fact is that they commit their body and their soul to doing it.

I know I have already told you that Muay Thai builds muscles. However, it isn’t as simple as that. Muay Thai can indeed help you build muscles, but the training sessions incorporated with Muay Thai combine many training modalities.

Examples of training incorporated in Muay Thai include skills training such as sparring, shadow boxing, pad work, and bag work. Another type of training is clinch training, and it may sometimes involve slow-paced sprinting or jogging.

Muay Thai classes also involve bodyweight training referred to as Calisthenics, where you will train in the absence of excessive equipment or machinery. The purpose is to help your body weight which includes building your muscles.

calisthenics workout

You are very much familiar with the calisthenic type of training. Examples are squatting, push-ups, leg raises, burpees, dips, pull-ups, and others. These are exercises that help you improve your body flexibility, strength, and balance.

Despite being simple, they are very effective at achieving great results. Muscles also help in weight loss. The more muscle in your body, the more you will burn calories.

Furthermore, you will likely find some Muay Thai classes that incorporate kettlebell and weight lifting training.

After you are done with all of this set of training sessions, there is no way you won’t develop some muscles.

Why Do You Need to Build Muscles?

If you are into combat sports, especially Muay Thai, there is no argument that you need to build muscles. First, it helps you compete better by using your strength while fighting an opponent more efficiently and effectively. Second, muscles also help you remain stronger. Finally, it helps you to take more hits while fighting.

If you also want to control your weight ahead of a fight or you essentially want to lose weight, muscles give you the base to rely upon.

This process happens because the more muscles you have, the better the rate at which your body burns calories naturally, making weight loss easier and faster. Also, when you have muscles, it increases your confidence level wherever you go.

How Can You Build Muscles With Muay Thai Training?

Since we’ve laid the basis that it’s possible to build some muscles with Muay Thai training, we want to consider what you can do by checking out the procedures.

Muay Thai is perfect for building muscles because you will have to combine rigorous endurance training with strength training by using your body for punches and kicks.

Let’s try to break it down in a way to make you understand. We will consider the process in two ways;

  1. The process of gaining strength.
  2. Understanding skills training.

Muay Thai Strength Training

Strength training helps to increase body mass. As a result, it builds your muscles. Bodyweight exercises and weight lifting also come in here.

Most Muay Thai training sessions end with lifting weights. If you want a faster result in building muscles, incorporate weight lifting at the end of each of your training sessions.

Don’t forget after every high intense training your muscles need to rest and recover. I found the ice bath after the training very helpful as a process of healing your muscles and as a natural massage stress relief.

Muay Thai Skills Training

Let’s first consider the skill set in the form of “clinching.” Clinching helps you to build muscles. It develops the muscular strength around your upper body by building your shoulders, biceps, and triceps.

The second one is striking, and the purpose of Muay Thai skill training in the form of “striking” is to build your endurance, although it can also help you develop some muscles. The skills training is excellent for losing fat by burning a lot of calories.

The whole idea is that if you are training to compete as a Muay Thai fighter and not primarily to build body mass, you should not focus on strength training.

I have said this because strength training will drain you faster, and you won’t be able to train properly on skills, especially if you have an upcoming fight.

The ideal thing if you have a fight coming up is to do strength training after skill training.

Where Does The Place of Diet Come In?

Muscle building with Muay Thai is not only about strength or skill training. It is also about eating the right diet. You must eat good foods, both in quality and quantity.

Take it this way, statistics have shown that you will possibly lose up to 1000 calories per Muay Thai training session, and you will need to eat the correct diet to recover from that. If not, you will likely lose the muscles you’ve gathered.

Food helps your muscles to grow and recover. It helps you to maintain, repair, and build your muscles. If you don’t take the right diet, you will lack the energy to take on intense activities.

Make sure you eat food dense with protein to help you build your muscles and minimize fat gain.

Also, you need some other nutrients that could be difficult to find in foods. You can get them by taking supplements. Taking the right supplements before and after training sessions gives you the right body balance to build up those muscles.

Will Muay Thai Get You Bigger?

If you are just starting Muay Thai training to build your muscles, I can assure you that you will lose enough fat to allow the muscles to develop, showing your abs.

However, if you are interested in becoming bigger, Muay Thai might not be the best sport to achieve a massive body. You will need more than the usual training. You may need to increase the tenacity of your training as you develop.

Also, those that aim to become bigger have to introduce special supplements into their diets. In short, getting bigger with Muay Thai training is tasking but achievable if you are ready to put in your all.

In all, if you can put your mind to it, you will need to eat more to cover up for more lost calories, and you will build up your muscles even more in the process.

Disadvantages of Using Muay Thai Training to Build Muscles

Understand that Muay Thai is a type of combat sport that requires your entire body. The first disadvantage of this is that you will most likely lose many calories when you undergo Muay Thai training.

Burning too many calories, resulting in losing too much weight, will not allow you to gain muscles. So if you want to build muscles without allowing the disadvantage to overpower your goals, you have to consume more food to balance things up. The idea is to eat more protein-based food.


In summary, Muay Thai is quite effective in building body muscles. Still, you might not gain a big body unless you incorporate some extra training sessions aside from traditional Muay Thai skill training.

Your focus should be on doing strength training after skill training to gain some muscles. To properly do it, focus on more compound exercises like pushups, burpees, squatting, and others.

Also, ensure you eat the right food before and after training sessions and make sure you rest well to speed up your recovery and repair process. Finally, if you are yet to read this blog, don’t miss out on the information you need. Go and read it now!

Last Updated on July 4, 2022 by Deni



Hi, I started training Muay Thai back in 2016 and fell in love with it. So I decided to create this blog in the pursuit of this passion and share my experience with you.

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