Muay Thai for Fitness – Master Toddy Shares Muay Thai Fitness Secrets

Since coming to Thailand to train Muay Thai at Master Toddy’s, I’ve been fascinated with the fitness aspect of it all. Especially with people who come to the gym to train only for fitness. Why do Muay Thai for fitness? What does Muay Thai give you that other sports don’t? 

I must admit that after doing a couple of Muay Thai training sessions at the Academy, I was surprised at how little “classic” exercises were incorporated into training. Where was all the running, jumping and weight lifting? How does Muay Thai for fitness even work?

One thing I learned for sure on my own body – it works!

Before ... After

Before … After

It’s obvious just from looking at all the fighters and trainers at the gym that Muay Thai keeps them fit and very, very strong. But their strength doesn’t come from building up heavy muscles. When I talk to most fighters at the gym, one thing I noticed is that they are constantly obsessed with weight loss. By training Muay Thai, they build their strength without putting on extra weight. The main reason being that they don’t want to be matched up against heavier, more dangerous fighters.

Kwan, one of Master Toddy's fighters, wins fight after fight, mostly by knockout. Yet he is so skinny... where does the strength come from?

Kwan, one of Master Toddy’s fighters, wins fight after fight, mostly by knockout. Yet he is so skinny… where does the strength come from?


Lean and mean - Jesse Bird, one of Master Toddy's fighters

Lean and mean – Jesse Bird, one of Master Toddy’s fighters

Can one really do only Muay Thai for fitness?

While I was wandering around the gym pondering these questions about Muay Thai, fitness and everything in-between, as luck would have it I ran into Master Toddy. To my delight, on the spur of the moment he agreed to sit down with me and provide me with his insights into these matters. I ran to get my laptop, and all I had to do was say the words “Muay Thai for fitness“, and Master Toddy started talking…

Doing Muay Thai for fitness will keep you fit for life - Master Toddy through the years

Doing Muay Thai for fitness will keep you fit for life – Master Toddy through the years

Master Toddy on doing Muay Thai for fitness

“In the olden days of Muay Thai, our fitness was the most important thing, because the weapon can break every bone of your body if you don’t prepare your muscle right. Your fitness has to be perfect, because we start fighting from round 1 bell… then fight like a warrior, toe to toe until the round 5 ending bell. The stronger survive. So we have our way of doing fitness, unlike anywhere else in the world. Muay Thai for fitness is simple, it’s easy, and it works fast.”

“For example: the kicking-bag has to be soft, tender and when you work and kick it will take a lot of energy for you because you have to twist and turn to make a dent in the bag. The floppiness on top makes you grab it, but the bottom is hard like a rock so when you swing and move it will shape your balance. If your body and balance is not in the right position, you will spend a lot of energy pulling the bag and swinging it.”


Fitness has been embedded into Muay Thai technique for hundreds of years. By perfecting your technique, you perfect your fitness.

“We have knee number 4, 5 and 6. They are the most energy spending fitness exercises, better than anything. I can’t tell you why, but look at all the Thai boxer bodies. What other sport can compare? Lean, no fat… they don’t need anything. The body is shaped, the hips, everything is beautiful. All Muay Thai fighters are the same. That is proof! That’s why no one can beat our physical fitness.”


Just looking at Thai boxer bodies is proof that Muay Thai for fitness works!

“Ron, you are 70 kilos now. That is too much! You need to lose weight and get stronger. Do roundhouse kick on a soft bag every day, your muscles will get tight and strong. Don’t do heavy, slow weight lifting. Use the weights quickly so that you punch faster. Otherwise you will be s-l-o-o-o-o-w… then everybody can defeat you, doesn’t matter if they are small or big. You need to be strong and fast!”

Big and heavy doesn’t work for Muay Thai. Perfect technique assures delivering pain with every blow. Doing Muay Thai for fitness means getting fit while becoming a fighter.

“Other people think you need treadmills, weight lifting and all sorts of equipment to make your fighter strong. But in our system, by doing Muay Thai for fitness we already have a special thing. You just follow a pattern and system step by step, and you will definitely stay in shape. Your fitness will last longer, too.”


“Even myself, I’m 55 and I own my own restaurant! I love food. I don’t have time to train much, but because I trained Muay Thai my whole life my body is still in very good shape. By doing Muay Thai for fitness, your physical fitness lasts for years.”


“King of the Knee” Dieselnoi, Thai Boxing legend, oversees a Muay Thai training session at Master Toddy’s, passing on many years of wisdom to our fighters – and proving that doing Muay Thai for fitness will keep you fit for life.

“People go weight lifting and treadmill and all sorts of things. In our system, fitness is all-inclusive. The way you breathe, everything. The key to our system is that every one writes their own song, their own rhythm while they’re training. Tap-tap-tap boom. Take you for example, Ron. I saw you kicking the first time. After one round you were exhausted, you couldn’t breathe! So I gave you a rhythm. Tap-tap boom. Tap-tap-tap boom. Now you can last 5 rounds kicking a bag! Then I noticed that some bags you were using were not good for you. You were not enjoying! You need the right tool to sharpen the right weapon.”

Why waste time on exercises that don’t improve your Muay Thai technique? Doing Muay Thai for fitness will take care of everything: fitness, fighting and more

“We already have a special routine included in our system, because I still use the olden day exercise. That is why some of our fighters don’t even go out on runs, but they can fight 5 rounds no problem. None of my people have to go through fitness programs. They know what to do. It’s the song in our gym. It will give you rhythm, focus, and boss you into getting into shape!”


“In some places the rhythm of the training doesn’t motivate you. Here even the background music makes you want to train, and keeps you going with the beat of the song. That’s why my fighters win a lot. We don’t waste time and energy on jumping up and down. We practice knee, sharp knee – that is the key!”


And there you have it. As usual, Master Toddy came in at exactly the right moment and saved me from my own doubts. I will keep doing Muay Thai for fitness. By sticking to Master Toddy’s system not only will I stay in shape, I will get stronger. Not only will I grow stronger, I will get quicker and when I finally start fighting, I will be ready to defeat my opponents.

Now how cool is that?


Ron Anshel

Related article: “What Makes Good Pad-Work?” by Emma Thomas, one of Master Toddy’s fighters and owner of an amazing Muay Thai blog, “Under the Ropes”.