If you’re looking to improve fitness for boxing, you’re in the right place. In this article, I’m going to share with you five knock-out tips that can help improve your general fitness levels so that you can get more out of your boxing training.
In addition to improving fitness, the following tips can also:
Enhance muscle endurance
Increase aerobic fitness
Burn fat and facilitate weight loss
Develop explosive power
Forge functional fitness
But before we get into the how, let’s briefly consider why fitness is important for boxers.
Why improve fitness for boxing?
It would be biased of me if I said that fitness is more important in boxing than other sports. However, if your fitness gives out during a game of football or a CrossFit competition, that won’t result in a beating.
Fitness is of paramount importance for boxers as it enables them to stay sharp and active throughout a fight. Even if a boxer is technically outmatched by their opponent, superior fitness can more than compensate.
Improved fitness enhances mental focus
The great heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis likened boxing to a game of chess. Lewis not only wanted to dispel the prevailing misconception that only knuckleheads box but bring our attention to the immense mental focus that is required when trying to outsmart an opponent.
In many respects, chess is a pertinent metaphor for boxing in more ways than one. Battle takes place inside a square. Contestants are closely matched based on weight and ranking. Once the combatants face each other, it’s just them; nothing can be concealed from the opponent.
A high level of fitness enables the boxer to stay physically and mentally sharp from the first to the final bell.
How to improve fitness for boxing
Right, now that the warm-up is out the way, it’s time to glove up and get ready to take on those 4 tips.
Tip #1: Maintain a consistent training regimen
It makes sense to start with the most important tip. At least that way if you get bored and leave, you’ll do so with the one bit of advice that can have the greatest bearing on your boxing fitness.
The truth is, developing fitness takes time. In fact, it takes time, commitment, and continued dedication. To build up a level of fitness required to compete at just an amateur level takes a good year of training.
Most professionals, who make a 12-round contest look like a walk in the park, have been training consistently for a decade or more. Before they step inside a professional ring, most elite-level boxers have dedicated thousands of hours to training.
Don’t get disheartened. And don’t be put off by the magnitude of the task of improving boxing fitness. If your ambition is to get fit enough to train at a local gym, or compete in the amateurs, or just enjoy the benefits of boxing training, that’s certainly achievable. Remember, even the greatest boxing legends, like Lennox Lewis, were once untrained, unfit beginners.
But they are testament to the fact that consistent hard work can pay off. If you maintain consistency in your training and practice diligently, you will improve both your boxing fitness and technical skill set.
How to establish a boxing regimen
One of the most effective ways to improve boxing fitness is by establishing a training regimen. Below, I’ve outlined three steps that will enable you to implement a boxing routine. Remember, the regimen can be adapted and tailored to suit your training goals.
Improved fitness for boxing training regimen
Step 1: Decide on how many days a week you can commit to training. Of course, not every day needs to be dedicated to boxing. For example, on Monday you could work on general fitness – cardio – on Tuesday conditioning and Friday boxing training – skills development.
Step 2: Once you’ve decided on which days you’re going to train, you now need to determine the length of each session and the time of day. An optimal workout duration can range from 30- to 60-minutes. However, the session duration should reflect your current level of fitness and boxing ability.
Step 3: Now that you’ve decided on the session frequency and duration, and what days you’ll be working out, it’s time to implement your routine.
Step 4: Resolve to stick to your boxing regimen. If you can’t satisfy Step 4, all the preceding steps will count for nothing.
Tip #2: Skip and run regularly
A boxer’s fitness is built on a foundation of skipping and running. This explains why Rocky Balboa scraped himself out of bed at 4 am every morning for his obligatory run through the streets of New York. He also started every boxing workout with a rigorous skip session as well.
These two exercises are staples of the boxer’s diet. From the legends of antiquity to contemporary champions, all professional boxers run and skip religiously.
For those new to boxing, it might be hard to understand why skipping and running are so important. Especially considering that they don’t involve specific boxing techniques.
Related: Challenge yourself to this killer hill sprint workout
Boxing is an aerobic sport
Boxing is primarily powered by the aerobic energy system. It’s the heart and lungs that feed and fuel a fight. The majority of boxing matches go the distance, and the outcome is determined by the judges’ scorecards.
To sustain the stamina needed to last even an amateur contest (3 x 2-minute rounds) requires a robust cardiovascular system. Two of the best exercises for improving cardio fitness are skipping and running.
In addition to developing aerobic fitness, skipping and running also enhance muscle endurance in the legs. Improved leg stamina enables boxers to keep their feet moving throughout a contest.
Related: Learn how to Skip in 7 Steps
Tip #3: Improve fitness for boxing with circuit training
Circuit training is arguably the most effective exercise method for developing boxing fitness. In the Hungry4Fitness Book of Circuits, we explain both the fitness-promoting benefits and why combat sports practitioners should regularly be participating in circuit training.
Circuits, unlike conventional resistance training, or aerobic exercise, can simultaneously develop multiple components of fitness. Static resistance training promotes strength and muscle endurance. Aerobic exercise increases cardiovascular capacity and stamina. But circuit training possesses the flexibility to include strength, muscular endurance, and cardio fitness elements, all in the same workout.
In addition, a circuit session can be designed to incorporate boxing-specific exercises, movements, and drills. For example, this boxing-inspired circuit improves the main components of fitness while also enhancing punch power and stamina.
The compatibility of circuit training with boxing has not escaped the notice of boxing coaches. At all levels boxers are put through rigorous circuits as part of the general fitness training process. And one of the great attributes of boxing circuits is their simplicity. Typically, they are comprised of calisthenics, skipping, shuttle sprints, coordination drills and of course bag and pad work.
Related: Best skipping ropes
You could easily design your own boxing circuits with minimal equipment. With a bit of space, your bodyweight, a skipping rope, and perhaps a punch bag, you could improve your boxing fitness.
Related: Try this boxing conditioning workout
#4: Try boxing fitness classes
A somewhat obvious suggestion I know, but one sure way to improve your boxing fitness is by joining a club.
Boxing clubs are brilliant training facilities for a multitude of reasons. As well as offering comparatively inexpensive fitness training, you’ll almost certainly be put through your paces. Club training is hard work. From the first to the 90th minute you’ll be training nearly nonstop – just a couple of short rest breaks to hydrate.
The structure of a typical boxing session is as follows:
10-minute warm-up: skipping (or sometimes a 2 to 3-mile run)
3 to 5 rounds of shadowboxing
8 to 10 x 2-minute rounds bag work
3 to 5 x 2-minutes of pad work
30-minute bodyweight and boxing circuit
10-minute cool-down skipping/shadowboxing
Of course, not all clubs follow that exact training schedule. But they’ll likely include a combination of the training elements listed; perhaps the order will be different, and the duration of time allocated to each element.
Improve boxing skill set
In addition to improving general fitness levels, boxing clubs are also a great place to develop your skill set. This is one limitation of training at home or alone: while you can work on your fitness you cannot so easily identify and correct poor form.
Boxing clubs offer the best of both worlds. While you’re improving your fitness an eagle-eyes coach will be polishing and perfecting your pugilism.
Improve your boxing skills with these floor to ceiling bags.
For more boxing training articles, see our dedicated Boxing Page.