In the world of elite sport, boxers can be seen as some of the fittest athletes in the world. They have an almost perfect balance between muscularity (strength and power) and cardiovascular fitness, which is rarely seen in elite athletes.
Benefits of Boxing
Training using exercises and techniques which were founded within boxing have been seen to be rapidly growing outside of the sport as it has shown to have a multitude of benefits, including; burning fat, increasing strength and speed, improving mobility and massively increasing your cardiovascular fitness.
Along with all these benefits, a major reason boxing exercises have transferred to general training is due to the fact that it is exciting and is unlikely to become tedious. It’s a bit different to continuous running on a treadmill or cycling on a stationary bike!
There are multiple different exercises which can be used and adapted to keep training interesting and improve adherence to exercise; with boredom and lack of motivation due to repetition being one of the major reasons people drop off their fitness regimes. However, if you are doing a training programme built around boxing, it doesn’t mean you have to exclude generic exercises such as training on a treadmill or bike as the sessions can be interchanged and adapted very easily.
As well as adaptability, boxing can be used to complement a weight training programme to help cut body fat percentage and increase aerobic fitness, whilst also improving strength. Scientific research by Bellinger et al (1997) found that one hour of non-contact boxing sessions (exercises such as shadow boxing or punch bag work) expends such a large amount of calories that you would have to run almost 10km in the same time on a treadmill to match the amount of calories burned. That’s how good boxing is for you!
Exercises and Examples
There are numerous different methods to incorporate boxing into your training. It can be done as easily as adding a few boxing exercises into your training circuit, or alternating between days of generic exercises (weights/cardio) and boxing exercises.
Some boxing specific exercises to try are:
This is where you use a variety of punch combinations and movements to replicate fighting someone. This exercise is often the foundation of which things like ‘boxercise’ and ‘fight fit’ classes are built upon. These are great as it keeps you engaged to remember what combinations to perform and also can help you build combos that link more directly to what muscles you want to target.
A very basic exercise but can be a very effective replacement for standard cardio exercises as different intensities can be used – helping to develop speed, balance, coordination and cardiovascular fitness.
Punching a heavy bag
The majority of gyms now have a large punch bag that can be seen hanging from the ceiling or wall. This can be used very effectively in training as you can apply boxing techniques into hitting the bag as the bag adds a further resistance to make the exercise slightly more difficult.
As well as specific boxing exercises, there are more general training techniques which can be used that are seen as part of fighters such as Conor McGregor, Floyd Mayweather and Anthony Joshua’s public training plans.
A brilliant alternative to add to a cardio session.
Push-ups and sit ups
These exercises are often over looked. But if used effectively in a training circuit, these exercises can be great to increase core strength and are often seen as fundamental measures of physical fitness.
A more modern addition to most gyms but can be used in a variety of different ways to improve strength and fitness.
These more general exercises can be used to complement boxing specific techniques to give a full body work out.
The key to any training programme is progression (increasing the difficulty of training).
With the majority of these exercises, you can’t increase the resistance. However, within your training, by reducing rest time and increasing exercise time (repetition length) they can be very effective in helping achieve any exercise goal. So next time you’re in the gym, give any of these boxing exercises a go and you will soon understand why boxers are as fit as they are!
About the Author
Connor Stead and Andrew Triggs are Sport and Exercise Science students who write about training, nutrition and supplementation in exercise. Their background in sport comes mainly from football where they coach and compete at university level. More recently, they have started giving training and nutritional advice through Instagram (@trainingwithscience).