Boxing requires peak mental and physical conditioning in order to perform at the highest level. But even if you’re not planning on taking up the sport to start fighting, the training techniques involved are still an excellent way to stay in shape. Here we’re going to look at the most effective physical training drills from the boxing world that target technique, muscle development and endurance.
How often should you train per week?
Pro Boxers will train 5-6 days a week when preparing for a fight, reaching peak condition just hours before walking to the ring. But, if you’re taking up boxing as a regular way to keep fit without taking part in fights, then 2-3 sessions a week should be your goal.
One session a week should be dedicated to strength and conditioning, whilst the other two will ideally focus on technique and conditioning. Remember, when training, giving your body the correct recovery period is just as important as training, so try to leave around 48 hours between sessions when possible.
It goes without saying that before any physical activity a good warm-up is required. For boxers, this simply involves a skipping rope and a pair of comfortable running shoes.
Skipping for 5-10 minutes loosens up your wrists and legs whilst strengthening the muscles around the balls of your feet, an important area for attack and defence in boxing.
After you have spent some time skipping, head out for a short 3-5 km run at a good medium pace without burning out. This again just prepares the body well for training and gets your heartbeat up.
Once you’ve got a sweat on jump into a few rounds of shadowboxing. This allows you to practice your movement, balance, defence and attack on your own with an imaginary opponent in front of you.
Make sure you do at least 3 rounds of between 2-3 minutes and remember to up rounds if all gets a little too easy.. As well as being a great way to perfect your technique in a non-combat situation, shadow boxing also conditions all the key muscles you would use in a real fight situation, particularly in your shoulders and arms.
Punch Bag workouts
Whether you’re in a boxing gym or training at home, at some point you’re going to want to open up on a punching bag. There is no doubt that it is a fun, somewhat therapeutic practice, but when used properly there are many more benefits.
As well as building punch strength and timing, moving around a punch bag also strengthens your legs whilst helping you master the use of your feet. It will also help you with your boxing brain in terms of attack and defence, and when practised over a number of rounds (3-5) rapidly increases your overall stamina.
Medicine Ball Training
As well as the punch bag, a medicine ball is a shrewd buy for any home boxer. It’s an incredibly diverse training accessory that has been used in boxing gyms around the world for decades.
A good effective workout with a medicine ball can be achieved in 10-20 minutes, but it’s key that you choose the right weight for your size and training needs, to avoid under or overtraining.
Some of the more typical exercises with a medicine ball are sit-ups, twists and the vertical toss. These are better off being performed in reps as opposed to rounds to avoid injury and maximise your power output.
Punch and Pull
Boxers require both power and hand speed when punching to get in and out of their opponents range without being hit. Most people who start boxing are more capable in one than the other, so this exercise is designed to make fighters become more rounded in both.
Simply take a pair of dumbbells, start with a lightweight then move up slightly if needs be, then throw plenty of 2-3 punch combinations. Start with 2x2 minute rounds then, again, increase as things start to get easier, or use it as a transition between shadowboxing and punch bag training.
Be sure to extend your arms and turn into your shots just as you would when hitting a standing target. The idea is, as well as building the muscles you use to throw punches for power, your punching will become much quicker and more accurate.
If you’re getting into boxing to compete or go head-to-head with your gym partner, then there needs to be an element of mental preparation, tuning your brain into fight mode. We all react differently under pressure when the punches are raining in, and the only way to get familiar with it, and properly practice your attack and defence techniques, is during sparring.
Everything changes when you’re faced with the risk of being hit. Your heart rate goes up, you become more tense and throwing punches uses up a lot more energy than in standard training. So, sparring is a great way to discover how effective your training has been and what areas you may need to focus on more going forward, such as endurance, movement or even your diet.