Boxing Strength Training Tips
Strength training for boxing is an area which many people debate. Should boxers be lifting weights? How much strength training should I be doing as opposed to focusing on boxing skills and cardiovascular training? What are the best exercises for boxing strength training? While you could ask 10 different people and get 10 different stories, here’s a quick guide that should help you get started in the right direction.
Whether or Not to Lift Weights
Traditionally, boxers did not engage in weightlifting. Famously, Muhammad Ali never trained with weights as a professional boxer, and he’s certainly not the only boxer who refrained from such training methods.
There are many reasons why boxing and weightlifting don’t always go hand in hand. To begin with, boxing requires fluidity and coordination, and adding muscle mass to your frame can make you tighter, and could hinder your motion. Weightlifting could also place undue strain on ligaments and tendons, leading to injury.
Additionally, the more muscle mass you have on your body, the more oxygen you need to provide your body during intense exercise. Therefore, heavier-muscled boxers often have stamina issues through no fault of their training, but through the basic physiological operation of their bodies.
Don’t forget that if you add a lot of muscle mass and weight to your frame, you’ll literally be forcing a move up into a higher weight division, which you may not be interested in doing either.
With all of that said, you can still lift weights as a component to your boxing strength training program if you go about it the right way. You shouldn’t be lifting weights with the goal of adding tons of muscle mass, or increasing the amount of weight you can bench press though.
Instead, the goals should adding functional strength which you can effectively use in the ring, and not just in the weight room. Additionally, you can combine strength training with cardiovascular training by performing circuit training routines.
Weightlifting for boxers should incorporate exercises which focus on building core strength, as well as compound exercises, which target multiple muscle groups at once and therefore provide more effective and efficient results. Lighter weights and higher repetitions should be used, to focus on building strength without merely adding mass.
For all of these reasons, many boxers today find that kettlebells make for an ideal strength training tool. Kettlebells train your body in a unique way which will hit all of the muscle groups you want to target at once, while also including a heavy dose of cardio training in the midst of your routine, amongst other benefits.
If you’ve never used one before, a kettlebell looks like a cannonball with a handle on top of it. The shape provides an off-center balance which forces your muscles to react differently, and also opens up a number of unique exercises based on basic foundation movements like swings and presses. You can perform a strength training workout for your entire body in 30 minutes or less with kettlebells, and you will be toast in terms of your cardio as well.
—> Check out the rest of our boxing training section for more training tutorials, how-tos, tips, and everything you need to know to hit the gym.
Strength Training for Boxers without Weights
So feel free to use some weight training as a piece of your strength training program, just go about in the right ways. Compound exercises. Light weights and high reps. Circuit training. Kettlebells. All that good stuff.
But there are also many essential strength training exercises that you can perform without the use of weights. In fact, many of the traditional and best strength training exercises for boxers don’t use weights at all. Included are:
1. Pushups: These are the classic all-in-one exercise for boxers. Pushups primarily target your chest, but can also work on your abdominals, core and triceps. One way to make these a piece of your program without devoting extra workouts to strength training is to do a set number of pushups in the beginning of every boxing workout. For example, make sure to complete 100 pushups as a part of your warmup, before you throw any punches or get started with the rest of your routine.
2. Pullups and Chinups: Pullups and chinups are both essential boxing strength training exercises. They’ll target the big muscle groups in the middle of your back, your lats and rhomboids, while also hitting your core and your arms. Few exercises provide more bang for your buck in terms of effective and efficient strength training, and you will be adding solid muscle and real strength without packing on tons of muscle mass. Getting a portable pullup bar you can use in your home without installing is a low-cost, easy way to get strength training done without needing fancy equipment or a gym membership.
3. Medicine Ball Training: Medicine balls are great strength training tools to target your core muscles and a number of other important areas of your body as well. There are limitless exercises and variations you can incorporate either with a training partner or on your own. Be sure to check out our medicine ball training section to see more about utilizing medicine balls for boxing training.
Prioritize your Training
Finally, make sure that you prioritize your training. Don’t get lost in the world of strength training to the detriment of working on your boxing. Learning proper technical skills, and training on those in the gym day after day is what boxing is all about. Incorporating strength training to make you a better, stronger fighter is an important component of your overall work, but it should always be a second priority as compared to doing the rest of your fundamental routine.
Hopefully you’ve gained a little bit more insight into the world of strength training for boxers. Weightlifting can be fine when done in the right way, and tools like kettlebells can be a great addition to your program, as well as bodyweight and traditional strength exercises like pullups and pushups. Pay attention to the above tips and you’ll see great results with your boxing strength training program.