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How Long Does it Take to Get Good at Muay Thai?

Perhaps you’re just getting started in your Muay Thai training, and have been contemplating your future in the discipline. Maybe you’ve seen how good your instructors are, and have wondered how much time and work they have put into their training. So today, I am going to answer just that: how long does it take to get good at Muay Thai?

It takes a few years to get really good at Muay Thai, 3-5 years to be exact. However, it is possible to look good in 1 year with frequent training and a strict diet. Of course, the results of your time training depend on many factors, such as how often you train, your diet, and how you train.

It is important to know how exactly these factors will influence your progress, as well as the time it will take you to improve. In the rest of the post, I will go into detail on the influence of these factors, as well as what difference is between the different skill levels of Muay Thai.

What It Takes For The Average Person

For most of you, training in Muay Thai will be mostly a hobby, and not something you plan on pursuing as a career. Therefore, this section of the post will be for the average person who trains with the intent of getting fit while learning to fight.

Let’s talk about how often you’re training. You should be able to find time to train pretty much every day of the week. However, I am not suggesting that you train hard every day of the week. You should be getting used to the motions of Muay Thai as many days as you can per week, especially as a beginner.

Most people will have to start by working on their coordination, as this is an important part of any combat sport. Aim to get in at least 4 training sessions during the week, as this will be often enough that you won’t forget what you learned the previous session.

An hour of training on the heavy bag is a good way to work on both ability and fitness.
An hour of training on the heavy bag is a good way to work on both ability and fitness.

You should only train hard a few days a week. By training ‘hard’ I mean you should put full effort into your movements and strikes, so as to improve your overall fitness, strength, and cardio. You want to limit these harder sessions so that you don’t injure yourself.

Spraining a wrist or an ankle is very common in Muay Thai, especially if you aren’t careful with your training. The rest of your training sessions should be lighter training sessions, where the focus is on the technique, balance, and skill. If you want to learn more about how to prevent overtraining, check out a post I made on the topic called Can You Train MMA Every Day?

You may also want to add a sparring session here and there, but it is not necessary for average people, as their fitness will be the most important factor in a fight.

Now personally, I don’t think that a bad diet significantly hinders your progress in Muay Thai. However, a really good diet can help you improve a bit faster, especially if you are not particularly fit to begin with. But I wouldn’t worry about this too much, as there are other things you can do to speed up your progress.

If you follow this lenient regimen, the average person can become fairly skilled in three years.

How A Good Trainer Can Help You Learn Faster

There are many factors involved with progress in a martial art. First of all, you have to find a good instructor and gym in order to learn properly. Second, you must train consistently while learning the skills of Muay Thai. And lastly, you have to practice the skills you learn and apply to them to real fight scenarios.

Finding a good trainer can exponentially increase your learning potential, especially when compared to a bad trainer. A good trainer will usually have some fighting experience in your martial art, which lets you know that they are legitimate.

Another thing to look for in a trainer is their physical ability. If they can demonstrate a move or a technique themselves, it is a lot easier to teach and they can give you tips and correct your form.

Last but certainly not least, they have to be a good teacher. This is very important. If your trainer isn’t naturally a very good teacher, then it will be difficult for them to explain and transfer their knowledge of fighting to others. The knowledge is only useful as a trainer if they can pass it on to others.

A great example of a trainer like this is Matt Hume. He has trained multiple world champions (such as Demetrious Johnson and Bibiano Fernandes) and was an accomplished MMA fighter himself.

Matt Hume (left) posing with his star pupil, Demetrious Johnson, after a successful title defense.
Matt Hume (left) posing with his star pupil, Demetrious Johnson, after a successful title defense.

A good trainer should also motivate you. Training is hard enough as it is, so you want a coach who can push you when the going gets tough. Especially if you’re going to be consistent with your training. You should set goals to motivate yourself, but your trainer should help and encourage you in reaching those goals.

Finally, they should know how to train. This means showing you how to apply techniques in real fight scenarios. They should know how to spar without hurting you, while simultaneously showing you flaws in your technique. With a trainer’s help, you can progress easily, and perhaps be considered ‘good’ in less than a year’s time.

How to Progress by Training Professionally

So far I’ve only considered the time it would take to become good at Muay Thai by training casually. But what if you trained like a professional? By this, I mean longer sessions, stricter dieting, and harder strength and conditioning.

Many professional fighters even train more than once per day. Here’s how you can implement training methods used by professionals, and how they’ll speed up your progress.

There are three major aspects of Muay Thai that you progress through in order to be considered good at it. First, you need to have fitness. You need to be able to land kicks and punches in succession without getting tired.

Second, you need coordination and ability. This is taught to you by your coaches through them correcting your form, and you going through fighting motions repeatedly.

And lastly, you need to learn the defensive aspect. This is probably the hardest of the three, as most people ignore it, instead focusing on strength or technique.

Fitness and Coordination

What I’ve discussed earlier in the post has only applied to people who work fitness and coordination. However, if you want to practice Muay Thai at the expert level, you will have to learn defensive techniques as well. For a start, your diet will obviously have to be very strict. This means no empty calories, no sugars, and only nutrient-rich meals.

Next, I would increase the length and intensity of your training sessions. I’d recommend a 50/50 mix of technique and fitness training, although these sessions should not be done daily. The sessions mentioned should be an hour and a half long, with a combination of pad work, bag work, and drills with a partner.

One or two days out of the week should be focused on strength, but mostly recovery. Work on any muscle groups that aren’t fully engaged when hitting pads, without burning yourself out.

Two training partners drilling defensive technique, as noted by their lack of gloves.
Two training partners drilling defensive technique, as noted by their lack of gloves.

Defensive Muay Thai

Lastly, take one day out of the week to spar. This is the best way to learn defensive Muay Thai from a real combat perspective. Aside from sparring, you can run scenarios with a partner, for example letting your partner throw a move and learning how to react. If you want to know more about sparring safety, check out a post I made called How Many Times A Week Should I Spar?

With this high intensity workout style, you should be fighting fit very fast. You would have the basics of Muay Thai mastered in less than a year, and should become expert level in around two years if you have trained smart and continued learning techniques.

In conclusion, the length it takes you to master Muay Thai depends on your dedication, focus, and training schedule. As mentioned at the beginning of the post, an average person can become good within 5 years, but it can be done much quicker.

If you’re ready to start your martial arts journey, check out the Training Tips for answers to any questions you might have. Good luck in your training and thanks for reading.

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