Weight training for boxers is subject to many heated conversations. A few fighters are convinced that heavy muscles impact punch speed. Others declare that, by learning the right strike technique and the proper boxer strength training, velocity won’t be affected.
Both statements can be accurate in different scenarios, and we explain the how and the why of this. Keep in mind that if you’re training for an MMA competition, overall body strength is important for beating your opponent.
If you’re interested in why weight lifting for boxers is important, and which benefits it brings to a fighter, we have the best weight routines for boxers.
Amateurs and professionals seem undecided whether boxers should be iron-pumping or staying away from the free-weight section. Before starting the debate, there are a few things to take into account:
- Distinction between power and speed.
- Consider your weight division.
- Types of weight training.
Distinction Between Power and Speed
First, it’s important to distinguish power from speed. Power can be acquired by weightlifting, while speed is achieved by learning the right technique. Power without speed won’t help you inside the ring, and vice versa.
We often see boxers increasing their punch intensity to compensate for poor skills. If it worked this way, rings would be empty and the free-weight section, full.
Consider Your Weight Division
The weight division you’re competing in will impact your strength training routines. If you’re battling in the strawweight category — up to 115 pounds — every pound of either fat or muscle mass will count. In this case, bulky arms can slow you down rather than giving you an advantage.
Types of Boxing Weight Training
Finally, strength training is a vast world and can be done in many ways and forms.
A strength workout can be completed with heavy weights and fewer repetitions. Or, you can use lighter weights and increase the number of sets. Ideally, you’ll want to alternate both techniques to provide a complete workout routine.
It’s important to differentiate a boxing weight training program and bodybuilding. To reach an overly muscular shape, which may impact your boxing performance, serious and continuous lifting is involved. Unlike bodybuilders, boxers should spend most of their time inside the ring training on their speed and punching technique, rather than in the free-weights room.
Finally, weight doesn’t need to only include iron tools. Workouts using your body weight can also be efficient in increasing your overall strength.
Benefits of Strength Training for Boxers
Weight training has many merits:
- Makes your power strikes feel lighter.
- Builds a balanced frame.
- Required for martial arts.
Lighter Power Strikes
A runner who regularly trains in the rain, hot weather or windy conditions might fly when running in cool and clear weather. The same goes for boxing. If you train with weights, it’ll feel easier when you’re in the ring, without the added weight.
Builds a Balanced Frame
Boxing is mostly composed of repetitive and push movements. To avoid tendonitis and other joint pains, it’s critical to exercise all muscles equally.
Although boxing engages the entire body, it’s certainly more intense on the upper body. You’ll see many boxers with six-packs, bulky chests and arms, yet with chicken legs. Overworked muscles tend to pull weaker ones, creating injuries. Training the right muscles will help re-establish a healthy equilibrium.
Required for Martial Arts
Finally, if you’re boxing as part of your MMA training, lifting weights won’t be optional. Boxing and speedy strikes are undoubtedly important, yet they’re only a small component of a victorious fight.
During grappling, and to get your opponent to the ground, power — along with the right technique — is key. You need powerful arms and legs to choke your rival and bring them to submission.
Boxing Strength Training Program
We’ve grouped the best workouts to increase your punching and kicking power.
Endurance is equally important. Aerobic routines — such as the jumping rope or running — are essential for cardiovascular resistance and footwork. Running up to 8 miles, four to five times per week should help you improve your aerobic conditioning.
Starting With the Basics
The right strength program should be adapted to each individual based on their body composition and training goals. We’ve put together a general routine that should be able to accommodate most boxers.
Weight workouts should only be completed after, or in between, your boxing sessions. You’ll need your full strength to knock out your competitor, and you don’t want to get to your training already drained.
Avoid overtraining. Boxing itself can be intensive and cause muscle injuries, sprains, and strains, especially in the upper body. Weight training shouldn’t exhaust your muscles, but rather give them more power.
After 12 weeks, we recommend assessing your workouts with your coach. They may want to switch some exercises or increase the resistance.
Increasing Your Power Punch
The most common question we tend to hear is how to increase strike power by using weights. Here are some helpful workouts that should follow this guidance:
- Sets: 5
- Repetitions: 6
- Rest between sets: 30 seconds.
- Weight: Light to medium.
- Program: 2–3 times per week.
If this is your first time, start with light weights to acquire the right form. Slowly increase the mass.
This exercise assists in building shoulder strength. Using a dumbbell, bring your arm straight above your head, and bring it back down again to your waist. Alternate hands after each set.
Medicinal Ball Punch
Grab a medicine ball — up to 15 pounds — and lay down on your back with your legs bent. Keep your elbows an inch or two above the floor, in a 45-degree angle from your hips. Throw the ball in front of you, straight above your shoulders and as high as you can.
If you’re afraid that the ball may land on your face, you can do this exercise throwing the ball with one arm, against a wall. Alternate hands after every throw.
Using a cable machine or resistance bands, hold the handle with both hands. With your body sideways on to the cable or bands, pull from one side across your chest while making fast 180-degree twists, and switch sides after each set. Keep your arms locked out, don’t move your legs and make sure to work on these hips rotations.
Increasing Your Kicking Power
- Sets: 5
- Repetitions: 6
- Rest between sets: 1 minute.
- Weight: heavy.
- Program: 2–3 times per week.
Before using any weight, check your form with a trainer. Keep your back straight and squat above your knees. A pair of dumbells or a bar can be used. Here is how it’s performed:
Once you’ve mastered the position, add some weight by placing a straight bar over your shoulders.
For this exercise, you need a leg extension machine. Place one ankle under the pad and pull it up fast before slowly moving back to the start position. Start light to warm-up then gradually increase the weight. Work one leg after the other.
This will increase the challenge and ensure that both legs work evenly. Throw the bar as high as you can.
Strength training doesn’t necessarily require weights. The best way to increase your power kick might be to practice directly on your heavy bag. Switch between high, middle, and low kicks to engage all glutes and leg muscles.
Strength Training Before Competing
Before a fight, ring training should prevail. Stop any heavyweight practice at least a week before the start of a competition. Focus on your technique and maintain your strength rather than building it.
Taking it Down
Before starting any strength training, we recommend consulting your boxing coach. They’ll be able to judge the type of weight training you need. Although your goal isn’t to become the next Schwarzenegger, including strength workouts to your ring routines can be highly beneficial.
Boxer strength training isn’t only necessary for punching. It’s also needed during grappling and ground fights, therefore, constitutes a key factor in winning an MMA fight.