Boxing Strength And Conditioning – Its place in boxing and its relevance to success.
In recent years the boxing world has seen a huge advancement in the position granted to strength and conditioning training as part of a fight camp. Strength and conditioning covers all exercises outside of specific boxing training and is aimed at developing fitness, strength, endurance and conditioning for resistance to fatigue, injury, punches and pressure.
The great thing about boxing strength and conditioning is that it can make a huge difference to the boxing skills you already possess by enhancing and augmenting speed, power and explosive dynamism as well as reaction times, footwork and resistance to punching. Alongside a properly structure boxing training plan, strength and conditioning can be the difference between a B level fighter and an A level fighter.
Here’s where the most regular problems begin. Fighters in the modern day are sacrificing the volume of specific boxing training they are doing to work harder on boxing strength and conditioning. A lack of dedicated boxing training is resulting in a reduction of boxing skills, and a huge gulf between fighters that consistently work on progressing their boxing abilities and those that are consistently focused on making weight, being as fit as humanly possible and as strong as they can be to the detriment of their boxing training.
– Floyd Mayweather
– Manny Pacquiao
– Andre Ward
– Gennady Golovkin
– Vasyl Lomachenko
– Guillermo Rigondeaux
The difference between these exceptional fighters and their opposition, in my opinion, stems from where they direct their focus when training. They prioritise their training programme correctly in order of what is most essential for advancing their abilities and maximising their opportunity for success.
1.) Boxing Skills – Pad work, Sparring, Technical Drills and Shadow Boxing
2.) Boxing Fitness – Bag work, Skipping, Speedball
3.) Cardio – Sprints, Continuous, Intervals, Swimming, Cycling
4.) Strength And Conditioning – Resistance Training, Plyometrics, Calisthenics, Core Work
5.) Recovery – Physiotherapy, Massage, Cryogenic Chambers, Flexibility, Yoga, Sauna, Steam Rooms, Acupuncture etc.
The reason they prioritise their list in this manner is simple; they are willing to dedicate 100% of their time to being successful so they have no fears that they won’t “have time” for a specific section. By correctly structuring and managing their time they are ensuring they maintain a balanced training schedule that enhances their skills, strengthens their weaknesses and ensures they are able to perform at their maximum ability when it is required. Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way demeaning the importance of any of these five aspects, I’m simply stating that their importance must be prioritised so that one aspect doesn’t progress at the detriment of a priority that is above it in the list.
Boxing skills should always be first and foremost in a fighters mind. Enhancing your offensive and defensive skills will always increase your chances of success and gives you a chance to develop a broad and entertaining style that you can make your own (therefore enhancing your profile). It’s essential that you develop your skills to ensure you are capable of dealing with any opponent irrelevant of their specific skill set or strengths – and that you have the necessary abilities to capitalize on their weaknesses.
Boxing fitness has to follow that, consistent and capable endurance in muscles relevant to your boxing – stamina and repetitive strength in the shoulders, triceps and legs. The ability to function at a consistent level and quality in spite of fatigue throughout a 6, 8, 10 or 12 round fight.
Cardio work follows that because cardio can be varied and is essential for maintaining a healthy fighting weight, ensuring you have the base fitness to get through varied fight lengths and also to ensure your cardio-respiratory system is capable of coping with the short bursts of intense activity followed by active rest periods that frequent a boxing match. You have to be capable of attacking with intensity, defending with surety and then moving with consistency.
This is where your boxing strength and conditioning training comes into the programme. High intensity, focused and varied training designed to shock the body, strengthen joints and connective tissues, enhance your explosive dynamism and augment the strength and stamina already gained from the training you have completed. Heavy targeting of core strength, stability and rotational dynamism alongside strength development through the legs in boxing stance, strength development through the chest and back (relevant to boxing movements), and speed of footwork and reactions. All of these are essential in pushing yourself on to the next level – but never to the detriment of the previous three, simply alongside them.
Recovery may be prioritised last amongst the five essential parts of training, but should nevertheless be a huge part of your training. Flexibility is essential in ensuring relaxation, recovery, dynamism, mobility and agility. Without flexibility you are at greater risk of injury and without correct recovery, the chances of those injuries is increased even further. Over training is a deadly burden faced by many fighters and often results in diminished performance come fight night. The key is to ensure your trainer is structuring your fight camp to include all five of these aspects and to be absolutely honest with yourself – sometimes you are just in need of a rest. Often a rest can improve performance dramatically.
It is important to remember that to achieve success, you must copy and imitate those that have already been successful. Look to the very pinnacle of the sport and seek out the training regimens of the legends, the heroes and the undefeated. Find a trainer who understands your desire to be successful and who shares your willingness to make the necessary sacrifices and stick to a structure that enables you to consistently improve your boxing skills, enhance your boxing fitness, improve your cardio-respiratory response, increase your strength and conditioning and correctly recover. Though it isn’t covered in this article, nutrition and hydration would also be high on the priority list and should never be ignored by any fighter who is taking their journey to success seriously.
Keep an eye out for follow up articles on the subject of a boxer’s nutrition and hydration for making weight, sustaining fitness and for out of camp health and fitness.
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