Muay Thai kickboxing is one of the major components of any strong MMA fighter's all-around game. With its combo of devastating kicks, punches, along with elbow and knee strikes, it's also great for getting some cut abs. MMA fighters carve physiques that are both aesthetic and functional. It's hard to do that in your average health club.

That's why we've put together this authentic Muay Thai ab-building regimen—the same kind you'd see executed in the fight camps of Bangkok today. Follow it for a month, and you'll not only shore up your core, you'll also build the same kind of shredded abdominal muscles you usually see on MMA champions like UFC welterweight king Conor McGregor—no bruises required.

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Why It Works

Most of the moves in the pages that follow mimic fight techniques, such as throwing a knee strike or defending an attack by clamping your knee and elbow together on one side. They're designed to throw your body off balance, forcing your core muscles to work hard and fight the urge to topple over. You'll also hit all the deep core muscles you miss with typical crunches and situps. The result? Abs like a plate of armor, as well as a significant calorie burn and improved endurance.


Target Muscles:

Workout Level:

Perform the workout up to six times per week

Time Needed:
45 minutes

How To Do It:
Complete the exercises as straight sets, resting as needed in between before moving on to the next.


1 Thai Plank

Sets: 3 Reps: 5-10 (each side)

Get into pushup position and then bend your elbows so your forearms are fl at on the floor (A). Rotate your body to the right, raising your right arm and right leg off the floor and bringing them together so your elbow and knee touch. Brace your core hard and hold for three seconds (B). Repeat on the opposite side. If that's too difficult, perform the exercise on your knees.

2 Thai Crucifix

Sets: 3 Reps: 5-10 (each side)

Get into pushup position and then rotate to your right side, raising your right hand straight overhead (A). From there, raise your right knee and move your arm so that your knee and elbow touch while you're bracing (B). Hold for three seconds and then repeat on the opposite side. If that's too diffi cult, perform the exercise on your knees.

3 Thai Crunch

Sets: 4 Reps: 10 (each side)

Lie on your back with your knees up and hands behind your head, as you would for a normal crunch. Draw your belly button in and crunch off the floor and to your right, touching your right elbow to your right thigh (A). Hold for three seconds, and then lower your upper back to the fl oor. Crunch your left elbow to your left thigh and hold (B).

4 Elbow to Knee

Sets: 5 Reps: 10 (each side)

Stand with your right palm against a wall and the left arm extended overhead, with the left leg raised off the floor (A). Raise the left knee up and lower the left arm until they meet and hold for three seconds (B). Complete all reps on that side, and then repeat on the opposite side. If you can, do the exercise without a hand on the wall.

5 Gut Shredder

Sets: 5 Reps: 10-15

Stand near a wall that you can use to reach out and steady yourself if you need to. Get into a fighting stance with arms reaching in front of you, as if you were grabbing an opponent by the back of the head (A). Slowly draw your arms in and across your chest as you drive your back knee forward, as if you were landing a knee strike to your opponent's head (B). Hold for three seconds. Complete all reps on that side and then switch sides and repeat.

6 Gorilla Swing 1

Sets: 1 Reps: Swing for three minutes

Hold a light dumbbell in each hand and stand in an athletic stance. Keeping your arm straight but not locked, swing one dumbbell up to shoulder level (A). As you let it swing back down, swing the other up (B). Get into a rhythm and keep your abs braced so your torso is motionless. Have a timer set or watch a clock and continue for three minutes. Afterward, go on immediately to the next exercise without rest.

7 Gorilla Swing 2

Sets: 1 Reps: Swing for three minutes

Hold one light dumbbell with both hands, and stand as you did for the first gorilla swing. Swing the dumbbell to one side with arms straight, but keep your head and torso facing forward (A). Swing the weight to the other side (B). Continue for three minutes, and then go immediately to the next exercise without rest.

8 Gorilla Swing 3

Sets: 1 Reps: Swing for three minutes

Hold a dumbbell as you did for the second gorilla swing, but start with your arms straight out in front of you (A). Swing your arms straight over your head (they can bend a bit at the end of the range of motion) (B) and back down to the starting position. Continue for three minutes.