Whatever their fighting weight, all boxers have toned bodies that enjoy the ultimate blend of agility and strength. But they don’t achieve this just by skipping and sparring. There are some very specific and highly effective exercises that build the strength they need to hit, the stamina to keep going several rounds and the dexterity to dodge, duck and dive back in with a winning hit.
So whether you’re a lover or a fighter, borrow these drills to shape up like a boxing pro…
1. Spin to Win the Battle For Balance
Balance is a serious weapon in the boxer’s armoury and it can be developed by literally going for a spin. In advance of doing strength or cardio training spin around in the same direction quickly three or four time and notice how that gets you off balance. Do this repeatedly as you train, alternating your direction of travel, and you’ll soon notice your body recovers quicker as your stabilisers become trained.
2. Play Tricks to Build Reflexes
Boxers need to react quickly and accurately and to develop these skills they train their reflexes by placing coins in their hands, dropping and catching them. Vary the number of coins, the hand you use and maybe even progress to balancing them on your elbow and catching them in the air as you extend your arm.
As you progress notice the difference when you return to training and in everyday scenarios. If you’re a racket game player it’s a great way to sustain speed of response, especially if you’re weight training too to build upper body strength.
3. Play with Your Press Ups to Create Power for Punching
Traditional press ups are great for the upper body but boxers worry less about the lift and focus on how long they can hold the low position at the middle of each press up. Here’s something to try next time you’re doing press ups…
Warm the muscles with 20 press ups at a relatively fast speed, then slowly bend the elbows to the lowest position and hold yourself there for 20 seconds. Repeat twice with ten reps and ten seconds then four times with five reps and a five-second hold.
Add this to your workout twice and week and you’ll soon see new definition in your upper body.
4. Take a Breath
Breathing is a much-overlooked element of exercise, but when the breath is full and steady the body is more efficient, the mind is more focussed and your endurance is increased.
Boxers focus on their breathing during exercise and before a fight and it’s great practise to stop and take some deep, expansive breaths whatever your sport.
Make sure you’re standing or sitting tall when you do this so you’ve got maximum capacity for the breath and focus on the inhalation, actively drawing air into the body. Relax for the exhalation and allow the air to leave you.
Spend four or five minutes doing this independently of exercising every day for a week and then when you feel fatigued as you exercise employ the same principles. Notice how it gives you the metal focus to lift another weight and the energy you need to run that last leg.
5. Eat, Fight, Sleep
Pro-boxer take their Diet very seriously. They fuel their bodies with good Carbs, enjoying lean protein most meals, have enough fibre to keep the gut healthy and avoid high sugar snacks like sweets and alcohol.
If you’re serious about training your body you need to consider whether the fuel you’re putting in it is fit for purpose. These days there are numerous apps for smartphones you can use to record your food intake and then analyse it honestly. Spend a fortnight doing this to educate yourself and understand the good and bad dietary habits you have. Just one small change could be all you need to make to feel better, look better and workout harder.
A good night’s sleep is as important to a boxer as a full-on training session. During sleep the body rests, the muscles repair and the mind enjoys a period of recovery. Successive studies have found all athletes benefit from a regular sleeping pattern and longer sleeping times.
If you’re getting under seven hours each night then you need to aim for an earlier lights off or a later alarm. And try in so far as your life allows to retire and rise at the same times each day. In effect it’s another form of training and the body will soon adjust to and enjoy good quality sleep. And when you exercise again it will be more energised and able.
6. Vary Your Speed, Distance and Duration During CV Exercise
Most boxers run to improve stamina, but it’s the way they run that counts. They use the principles of fartlek training whereby you play around with the speed, distance, incline and duration to challenge the body to the max.
If you prefer rowing, biking or an Elliptical Trainer the same principles can be applied.
Commit to half an hour, twice a week and every time vary how far you go at different speeds and with varying resistance or at varying inclines, making sure you get at least three sprints in each time of 45 seconds or more and always ending with a top-speed sprint.
If you’re not truly breathless at the end of the 30 minutes go harder next time.