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Can Muay Thai Build Muscle?

Last Updated: 16.05.22


While you can get athletic, and have a well-toned body with Muay Thai, you won’t be able to get a bodybuilder type just by working out with your Muay Thai jump ropes and other gear. While the short answer to this question is yes, for the best results, your sessions will need to be supplemented with heavy-strength training.

To make the entire process easier for you to understand, we have prepared an in-depth article that will show you how to use your favorite sport to gain muscle in a healthy manner.


Focus on strengthening workouts

When doing Muay Thai every day it is normal to lose both fat and muscle, and if you don’t have any strengthening resistance training in your workout routine, you can end up slowing down your metabolism through lean muscle mass loss and that’s something that you should try to avoid.

To facilitate muscle growth, you should add strength conditioning into your routine. This type of workout is much more efficient than a cardio-based routine. Strengthening is what you should aim for since as you gain strength, you will actually begin to build up muscle mass.

Thus, for the best results, apart from your regular Muay Thai training, you will also need to add some strength training in your schedule, especially if you want to see those results show quicker.

While the traditional way is to go to the gym and do your classic kettlebell and weight lifting workout, there are other methods that are more convenient such as bodyweight and sandbag training that you can perform at home or even in the park.

You also need to remember that in order to gain muscle, your body will need a calorie surplus, something that we will explore in-depth below.




Calories matter

One of the main setbacks that people encounter when trying to build muscle while Muay Thai training is that this sport will have you burn simply too many calories. If you are losing too many calories, it will be almost impossible for you to gain muscle mass. That is why it is important to supplement your body with enough energy to promote building muscle.

Thus, the more you eat, the easier it will be for you to build muscle. You do need to keep in mind that this theory may not work for all skinny people since in most cases there are a lot of other factors involved, such as genetics, metabolism, and the caloric quality of your daily diet.

In a perfect scenario, the simple truth is that if you are not gaining as many muscles as you want to, the cause is most likely due to the fact that you are not eating enough, or the caloric quality of your daily diet is very poor.

It can be difficult at first to supplement your diet since you may feel that you are already full to bursting. The thing that you need to be aware of is that when practicing a sport as intensive as Muay Thai is, you will need to eat a whole lot more if your plan is to gain good and healthy muscle while training.

Your body burns a certain amount of energy every day and you will need to calculate what the value is and eat more in order to build muscle. The idea is very simple, and the mathematics of calories is not as hard as they may seem at first.


How to calculate how much you need to eat

In order to calculate just how much you need to eat, you will first need to determine what your daily caloric maintenance level is. This will let you determine just how many calories you need to eat every day in order to maintain your current weight.

To find what your number is, you should multiply your current weights by 14 and 17 and you will find the daily caloric maintenance level in between these two numbers. So, for example, a 170-pound person would require 170 x 14 and 170 x 17, which means that the amount of calories he or she should consume each day is somewhere between 2,380 and 2,890.

If you have a sedentary lifestyle then you should lean toward the lower end of the range, and if you are very active, it would be best to go toward the higher number. As an example, if you wish to gain 1 pound of weight, you will need around 3,500 calories in excess of your daily caloric maintenance level.

So if you have a daily calorie intake of around 2,500, it is possible for you to gain 1 pound in one day if you consume 6,000 calories (3,500 + 2,500). That is a lot of food to eat in one day, especially if you are naturally thin.

The good thing is that you don’t need (and should not) get all the extra calories in one day, but rather spread that surplus over a week. This way, the 3,500 calories translate to just an additional 500 calories per day, or 1,000 extra calories per day if you want to gain 2 pounds of weight in a week.

This is a more realistic goal, especially since a healthy weight gain is of about 4 pounds per month.


What you should eat and when

The final step is to identify which are the right foods for you to eat since while you may be able to eat much more now, you still need to find the right diet so that all that strengthening exercise does not turn to waste. Bear in mind that while unhealthy foods pack a lot of calories, you still need to gain weight healthily so that it can transform into muscles.

In order to build muscle faster, you must get enough fat and carbs in your diet, and we mean healthy fats and not the trans fat which is commonly found in cookies, fast food, and processed food. For a balanced weight diet plan, you will need carbs, fats, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein.



In terms of meats, chicken is a healthy and high-quality source of proteins, lean beef contains muscle-building nutrients like iron, zinc, and lots of vitamin B. Fish, on the other hand, is rich in proteins and omega-3 fatty acids which can help muscle protein synthesis as well as enhance anabolic responses to exercise.

Vegetables, milk, and eggs are other great sources of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Hydration is also essential since water is just as important in building muscle mass.

You should have at least 3 meals per day with a healthy snack between each one so that you can give your body time to assimilate the nutrients from each meal instead of bombarding it with food in one or two meals. The snacks can consist of a handful of nuts and dried fruits, a glass of whole fat milk, yogurt, or any of your favorite fruits.

In order to help your muscles rebuild and recover, it is recommended that you eat during your metabolic window which is around 30 to 45 minutes after a workout. Try not to drink water before meals since it can make you feel full and since water does not have calories, it will not contribute to your calorie requirement.



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