Boxing Training Guide

Boxing: A Great Sport - Power & Strength Training for the Boxer
By Katalin Rodrigues Zamiar

Power is most clearly defined as "the optimal combination of speed and strength to produce a movement." This definition easily translates into the sharp punches seen within the boxing ring. On a more calculated level, power factors in strength or an individual's one rep max, and speed, the distance traveled in a specific amount of time. In the case of a fighter, it is the amount of weight put behind a punch which travels at its target, in a short period of time.

The importance of weight training for boxing skills has been overlooked by the boxing community until the past 10 years. Although top fighters like, Evander Holyfield, Oscar de la Hoya, Lennox Lewis follow strict weight training programs, they represent a minority within the boxing community. The 'old school' notion that weight training slows down a punch, only carries small merit if flexibility training is completely absent.

Both Jon Jon Park and Tim Hallmark, who have extensive experience training world champion boxers stress the importance of weight training to enhance a boxer's power, to develop strength and to prevent injuries. Although de la Hoya and Holyfield have different weight routines, Park and Hallmark customize and change their fighter's weight routine before each fight and every 3-4 weeks during training (or for each phase of training).

Periodization, which phases an athlete through 3-4 week periods of different weight programs is the most beneficial method of lifting weights. By phasing your weight program the body experiences the most comprehensive weight training routine. Periodization allows for an acclimation phase which tests the body's current strengths and weakness and goal setting. It also includes an endurance phase, which increases the repetitions to 12-20 and 3-4 sets at a significant weight; a strength phase which increases the weight to optimal loads for 4-6 repetitions at 2-4 sets; and lastly a maintenance phase which focuses on injury prevention and maintaining all that has been built in the past phases.

Hallmark and Park admit that there are several excellent ways to design weight training programs. Hallmark recommends that body parts also be cycled throughout a phase to truly keep the boxer at peak fighting shape throughout training and for fight night. Hallmark shared one of his favorite weight routines, "cycle body parts by working each body part twice within one week except for one part; then pick that left over part up the following week for two workouts." The routine listed below is one he used for World Heavyweight Champion Evander Holyfield.

Week One
Chest and Arms (biceps and
on Monday and Wednesday
Back and Shoulders
on Tuesday and Thursday
on Friday

Week Two
on Monday and Wednesday
Chest and Shoulders
on Tuesday and Thursday
Back and Arms
on Friday

Week Three
Back and Shoulders
on Monday and Wednesday
on Tuesday and Thursday
Chest and Arms
on Friday

Week Four
Back and Shoulders
on Monday and Wednesday
on Tuesday and Thursday
Chest and Arms
on Friday

*Abdominal muscles are worked about 4 days a week.

Hallmark emphasizes that the most consistent aspect of Holyfield's weight training program is
the repetitive stretching exercises preformed in between sets of weights.  Not only does
Hallmark stretch his World Champ while lifting weights, but after the workout and surrounding
his boxing training.

Top Ten Weight Exercises to Improve Boxing Skills

Lunges(Total Leg)
There are many variations of this
exercise and it can be done
outside of a gym.
M.A. Benefit: Helps to keep knee
joint stable for excessive kicking
and improves balance.
Step Ups(Thigh)
This exercise can be done
outside of the gym and truly
keeps the heart rate up.
M.A. Benefit:  Improves balance
for holding poses and power for
Front to Side Raises(Shoulders)

Begin by lifting the dumbbell
weights in front then rotate it out
to the side and slowly lower the
weights to the hips.
M.A. Benefit: Improves punching
power, prevent injuries when
grappling and receiving arm bars.
Hammer Curls to a Shoulder
Press(Biceps and Shoulder)
This can be done seated or
standing.  Begin with the
dumbbells at your side with the
palms facing your hips.  Perform a
biceps curl and slowly lift the
weight into a shoulder press.
M.A. Benefits: Punching power
and gripping strength will improve
from this exercise
Lumbar Extensions(Lower back)

This exercise can be done on a
lumbar bench or on the floor.  
Perform exercise slowly.
M.A. Benefits:  Improves stability
for deep stances and ground
fighting. Prevents injuries when
involved in contact fighting.
Resist-a-Ball Abs(Abdominal
There are several exercises that
can be done on the ball.  The
most important is to strengthen
the abdominal wall while
enhancing core stability.  This will
prevent injury to the back.
M.A. Benefits: Whether you
practice Japanese or Brazilian
juijitsu, ball abs can prevent
injuries to the back, obliques and
abs because it improves core
Shoulder Shrugs(Shoulders
and Trapezius)
Use a barbell or dumbbells.  This
exercise is much safer than the
neck roll.  It specifically
strengthens the muscles that
surround the neck.
M.A. Benefits:   Keeps neck strong
and will prevent injuries when
trapped in a choke hold to
receiving jabs to the face.
If you are not strong enough to lift
your own body weight try the dips
off a chair or bench.  
M.A. Benefits:  Punching power will
improve and your grappling grip
from stronger triceps.  
Lat Pull Ups(Back, Biceps,
Slide your hands into a wide grip
to recruit more of the lattisimus
muscles.  Bend your knees if you
need assistance.
M.A. Benefits:  Once you can lift
your body weight for a few sets of
10-20, holding your samurai sword
or sais will be a cinch.
Resist-a-Ball Push-ups(Upper
body and abdominal muscles
Position your hands on the ball or
your feet/shins on the ball.  Then
proceed to do a set of push-ups.  
You will find this far more
challenging than normal pushups.
M.A. Benefit:  This type of pushup
will develop strength through the
forearm, upper body and core
section.  All of which will come in
handy when pinning your down
opponent on the mat.