How to train Muay Thai on your own without a coach or training partner

by | Jan 19, 2022 | Articles, Training

Now, before I begin talking about how to train Muay Thai on your own. I must start with the fact that I don’t think it is a good idea to learn or train solo without the input of any coach whatsoever. Mastery of any martial art or combat sport needs the input of both great teachers and great training partners.

Having said that, there are a multitude of benefits and things you can take advantage of by training on your own on a regular basis!

Let’s look quickly at the benefits of solo training.

Solo Training Benefits

  • You can train at a time to suit you, not when a class is scheduled on the timetable or when a training partner is available
  • Solo training allows you to focus specifically on the things you want to work on (there are some exceptions to this)
  • You don’t need a gym load of equipment in order to add value to your weekly training
  • Training on your own will aid in the development of your self-discipline, focus and mental strength
  • You can organise your training so that you are mixing up what you work on each time you train

Now of course, there can’t be benefits without there being negatives so let’s go over some of these.

Solo Training Negatives

  • It can be hard to motivate yourself to train hard, or even at all, when you are training on your own
  • Unless you are very experienced or very studious when it comes to learning, you may find yourself creating a whole heap of bad habits when training without a coach present
  • There are many aspects you cannot work on your own ie sparring, pad work, grappling etc
  • Without careful thought and planning, you may find yourself training the same things relentlessly and not developing
  • Unless you have the space at home or access to an adequate room, you will be limited in the amount of equipment you can use ie bag work etc.
A photo of Damien Trainor throwing a knee from the blog post how to train Muay Thai on your own
If you want to train Muay Thai on your own then you must embrace fresh air drills and shadow boxing as part of your routine.

As you can see then, there are both great benefits and potentially huge pitfalls to be aware of.

How do we take advantage of the first without experiencing the negatives of the latter?

Firstly, I am going to presume that you have, or have had, Muay Thai experience with a coach at some point in your life. If you haven’t, then I really would advise you to make that your initial first step with this.

That might sound strange, given that this blog post is all about how to train Muay Thai on your own. But, I think that it is a lot easier to access terminology, equipment and basic movement, if you have had someone teach you aspects of this in person before embarking on solo training.

If you have no way to access an instructor or class, and this is your first time training, you are going to have to really concentrate and work doubly hard not to create any bad habits. As I mentioned earlier in the post, there are many things you cannot do on your own so it is important to note that solo training should be seen more as a supplement than an actual long term replacement to having a coach.

Now that’s out of the way, let us begin!

Discipline is the refining fire by which talent becomes ability

Roy L.Smith

10 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Training On Your Own in Muay Thai

  • Ensure you have adequate space and a suitable environment to train in
  • Dedicate time to it consistently in your weekly schedule
  • Collate a number of helpful resources such as books, videos and online training websites or apps
  • Structure your training and have a plan
  • Invest in key pieces of equipment that you have both the space for and will use on a regular basis
  • Keep a log of your training sessions so that you know what you have worked on each session
  • Use your phone to record yourself training so that you can constantly assess what you need to work on going forward
  • Don’t skip the basics. Ensure you dedicate more time to the fundamental techniques and drills
  • Even though you are training solo, don’t just switch off mentally. Focus on visualisation so that there is a reason behind what you are doing at every point
  • Agility, strength, conditioning, mobility and flexibility work should all be included to ensure your training sessions are benefiting you across the board
A photo of Stuart Tomlinson throwing a punch from the blog post how to train Muay Thai on your own
There are different hanging and freestanding bags available on the market today if you have the space and budget.

Adequate Space And Environment

Thankfully, you don’t need 1000 square foot of space to train in when you are on your own.

However, depending on what you want to do, and the equipment you may want to use. This can go from being as minimal as having a 3 metre by 3 metre radius area to drill in. Or a huge 100 metre track to use for sprints.

Whatever you are using, just make sure it is fit for purpose. If you are shadow boxing for example. You would ideally not want to be training on a really polished or slippery floor surface.

If you plan on using something permanently for training, such as a home garage or room. Then this can sometimes be easier than looking for different spaces on an ongoing basis each week. It will also give you the benefit of being able to have the use of more equipment.

Consistency

Like any study, training in Muay Thai requires consistency over a long period of time in order to fully develop any real ability with it.

If you are serious about moving forward with your training. Then you are going to have to be your own coach in this sense. Make sure you stick to the training schedule you set. This does not mean it has to be the same day and time each week. As part of the benefit of solo training is within its flexibility. But, you do have to make sure you keep the plates spinning. If you can’t train one day then you need to make sure you fit it elsewhere into your week instead!

Having said that, some people work much better when they have a consistent weekly timetable to stick to. You know yourself, work with whatever suits you best in this regard but stay consistent.

A photo of Barry Robinson throwing a punch from the blog post how to train Muay Thai on your own
Not everything has to be strictly related for it to help. Coach Barry Robinson’s Boxing Drills will aid you in your solo training.

Training Resources

We live in a time when access to Muay Thai related literature, media and learning materials has never been greater. On this website alone, you can find access to all our dedicated social media including

Instagram – @warriorcollective

Facebook – @warriorcollective

YouTube – Stuart Tomlinson

TikTok – @warriorcollective

Each of which contains a vast amount of Muay Thai training drills, concepts and lessons you could take advantage of.

Not to mention the many truly outstanding full length instructional volumes that can be found below on the Warrior Marketplace

Warrior Marketplace

These include instruction from world renowned Muay Thai coaches such as

Damien Trainor, Panicos Yusuf, Greg Wootton, Bryan Popejoy, Paul Karpowicz, Richard Smith and Yoddecha Sityodtong.

You don’t understand anything until you learn it more than one way

Marvin Minsky

However, as much as all this information, training and knowledge is an absolute gold mine for those with the relevant understanding and experience. It can also prove very difficult for those new to the sport. Or for those who want a structured training plan to understand where to start.

With that in mind, there a few volumes on this site that I always recommend to those new to Muay Thai. I also recommend these to those who want specific drills to train on their own.

For those with the experience and ability to understand how to change concepts. Such as adapting drills from partner work to solo training etc. Then anything from Damien Trainor, Barry Robinson, Panicos Yusuf, Greg Wootton, Kieran Keddle, Richard Smith, Bryan Popejoy, Paul Karpowicz or Yoddecha Sityodtong will make for an amazing addition to your library and knowledge base.

For those of you who like to read and appreciate training reference books. I think you will enjoy my book “The Evolution of Martial Arts in Combat Sports” a lot. It is not purely just on Muay Thai (although over half the book is dedicated to those from that particular discipline). But, it has a huge amount of amazing striking details and concepts from some of the world’s leading coaches.

The Evolution of Martial Arts in Combat Sports

An image of the book The Evolution of Martial Arts in Combat Sports
The Evolution of Martial Arts in Combat Sports

There is of course a whole digital world out there online filled with vast amounts of Muay Thai training information. Some of it is really amazing and some of it is really terrible. I mention the Warrior Collective above as a starting point because I know firsthand how fantastic it all is (having either filmed or written it all myself personally) but, just as when finding any coach, you should always have a look around and see what you think suits you best.

Structured Training

As I briefly mention above, there are problems as a result of now having so much information at our fingertips. No longer is it just about how to train Muay Thai on your own. It is that it can be hard to even know where to begin. And, potentially even harder still to structure your training so that you develop in the correct way.

Obviously, this would normally be the role fulfilled by your coach when in class or training one-to-one with them.

However, when solo training, you need to take this responsibility on for yourself.

If I had to layer out something of a framework to training Muay Thai on your own. It would look something like this

  • Stance, base and guard
  • Techniques
  • Movement, footwork and agility
  • Defensive concepts and attacking combinations
  • Advanced applications and equipment use
  • Fitness, strength and conditioning
  • Flexibility and mobility

What do I mean by this?

It is both a list and a typical way I would look to structure my own solo training sessions. To some extent, I also think it is in part the order in which you need to prioritise training on your own. Although the latter two can move around dependent on what you are wanting to achieve in each particular session.

Don’t feel the need to follow it word for word or that you have to cram all of it into each training session. Hopefully it will just give you something to think about when planning what you are going to do.

Damien Trainor training bag work. A great piece of equipment if you are looking to train Muay Thai on your own.

I go back to a couple of the volumes I mention above from Damien Trainor and Barry Robinson. Damien’s Muay Thai Training volume walks you through this kind of approach from the start when it comes to training on your own. Barry’s Mastering Agility for example goes more in-depth into the one area on movement, footwork and agility. They are both completely different from each other, yet highly complimentary all at the same time.

My biggest advice with this would be to not over complicate things. Drill and work the basic fundamentals repeatedly. Vary it up to keep it interesting but stick to developing rather than just doing random flashy moves each time.

Keep it simple and focus on what matters. Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed

Confucius

Invest In Equipment

You don’t need to buy any equipment if you don’t want to, can’t afford it or have vary minimal space. But, you would be missing out on making your solo training sessions more fun, high energy and more varied when it comes to your overall development.

What would I invest in or want for training on my own in Muay Thai?

  • A large mirror
  • Skipping rope
  • Small Agility cones
  • Hanging or freestanding bag (with gloves)
  • Webby Agility Ladder
  • Timer
  • Phone (or camera to record training)
  • Weight(s) of some description (sandbag, kettlebell etc)
  • Running shoes

Obviously, a couple of the things here will depend if you have the space and money, but, in an ideal world this would be a nice selection of things to have for solo training.

If you are training on your own in a dedicated gym space then you may well have access to all of these regardless.

The mirror I like to use when working on fresh air technical drills or practise. It lets me get reps in on making sure I keep my my guard up, pivot into punches, move correctly etc.

The skipping rope is of course great for warm ups, working fitness and developing footwork/co-ordination.

The agility cones have a multitude of excellent uses including shuttle runs, footwork drills, ring craft etc.

The bag is a game changer if you can get access to a good one on a regular basis. Not all bags are created equal though and not every bag is suitable for every kind of training session. If I had to choose one then I would go with either a hanging heavy bag such as those you find from the likes of Fairtex, or if that is not an option because of weak walls, then I would go with a freestanding bag from Bytomic Martial Arts.

If you have not heard of the Webby Agility Ladder then you are missing out. This portable and light circular agility ladder was made specifically for solo training in striking based combat sports such as Muay Thai. You can check out my YouTube review on it here.

Webby Agility Ladder

A timer is obviously self explanatory but I would go with one that has large digits and a buzzer if possible. You won’t want to use your phone…

Because, you will want that to be recording your training sessions a lot of the time. Why? It will help you analyse what you are doing right and what you need to concentrate on going forward.

Some kind of weight or set of weights will be helpful when it comes to adding some strength and conditioning into your training.

The running trainers are down to you. It is not obviously not actual training in Muay Thai but it would be hard to imagine someone who takes it seriously not adding some runs in at least now and again. Fighters competing in Muay Thai hit the road regularly to help develop both their cardio and their mental strength.

Keep A Log

Some people may not do this but I am a big fan of keeping a written log of training sessions and classes. I find it really helps me understand what I have worked on over the past few months. It also helps me remember drills, concepts and ideas that I may otherwise forget over the years.

How to train Muay Thai on your own successfully can often start with simply just writing things down.

It also is a great way of seeing whether you are hitting the goals you are setting for yourself.

If you start doing one round of skipping kicks this month, can you get it to three rounds by the end of next month for example. Data and numbers keep you honest!

Record Your Training

You may baulk at the idea of recording your training sessions. If you are not a narcissist or a social media “influencer” then you may feel no desire at all to use your phone to record your solo rounds.

However, I want you to rethink this. You don’t need to share these videos with anyone else (although it would be a good idea if you do have a coach or training partner), post them online, or even keep them for any length of time after recording them. You will though be able to see what you are doing when you are training.

Use your smart phone to help record your sessions when you train Muay Thai on your own.

This could help you address issues you did not even know you had ie dropping hands when punching or always stepping to your left in every round. It can also help you see what you are doing well or what you do better than you initially thought.

Either way, recording your solo training has real value. Don’t feel the need to record everything. Focus on timed rounds such as shadow boxing, movement or bag work.

Don’t Skip The Basics

When you train on your own in Muay Thai, it is very easy just to focus on the things you enjoy or the things you want to progress onto.

You need to ensure though that you keep training the “basics” as the central theme running through the majority of your solo training sessions.

Don’t over complicate it. Give yourself a theme for the session and drill it from the ground up.

Start with single movements and drill them for timed rounds. This can be things such as repeating a single technique or just simply moving in one direction working on your footwork. Add layers to drills such as these in following rounds by changing stance, varying up rhythm or alternating direction.

Not every minute of a training session needs to be focused on power or fitness. Train smart in order to make sure your solo training gives you exactly what you want to get out it.

Visualisation

Following on from not skipping the basics, it is also vitally important that you don’t switch off mentally whilst solo training in Muay Thai.

You don’t just want to go through the motions. Stay present and actively look to see how you can push or develop the techniques you are working on at any given point.

If you are working on shadow boxing or bag work, then it is a good idea to visualise an opponent. This way you can start to link your skills together in an intelligent way ie step forward to cover distance, jab, cross and then step back to avoid any potential counters.

There are many different ways you can use visualisation within your own training.

Spinning All The Plates

As much as we want to keep hitting bags and working on our striking within Muay Thai, it is also important to realise that other areas of training will also help massively when it comes to our overall development.

Use the analogy of keeping your plates spinning to ensure long term success when you train Muay Thai on your own.

Apart from varying up the development of our striking by mixing up the styles of training we focus on or isolate such as boxing, kicking, elbows, bag work etc, we should also try to keep other plates spinning.

These should include specific training or drills on

  • Agility – Footwork and Movement
  • Cardio – Running or Fitness
  • Conditioning – Bodyweight Training or Circuits
  • Strength and Speed – Explosive Movements or Exercises
  • Flexibility – Mobility and Stretching

You can of course sometimes get reps or timed rounds in on more than one thing at a time ie pad work can give you cardio and agility, alongside developing technical striking.

However, some of these will need to be isolated and given specific time to at some point in your structured training schedule. Failure to do so may cause you problems in the long run. For example, no flexibility or mobility work may inhibit how supple your limbs are when it comes to fluid striking and you may well end up with injuries in the long term as a result.

Putting It All Together

Hopefully you should now have something of an insight into both how I view solo training and how I use it within my own Muay Thai development.

No, I don’t think it is a good thing to just train on your own from the start or long term if it can be helped.

Yes, I do think it is an amazing way to supplement your own training and give yourself a way to work on your Muay Thai even when you have no coaches or training partners present.

I have not gone over how to train Muay Thai on your own from the technical sense in this article. I have not shown you how to stand correctly, what the correct terminology is or even how to punch, kick or knee. There are many great videos, books and articles on this (as I have mentioned some of above). I do hope however that you now understand a little better how to train Muay Thai on your own and have more long term success with it.

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