Over the last six months I've hit 3 - 4 boxing classes per week, ranging from aerobic and anaerobic conditioning to technical pad work, sparring and everything in between.
The more I learn and implement, the more I watch and take notes and lessons from both local and international title holders the more I realize how little I know.
Conscious incompetence if you will...
Below are my six lessons & observations from six months of boxing training...
1. You Must Stay Loose
Your muscle mass can work for you or it can work against you when it comes to boxing, particularly in sparring.
Staying tense and stiff in your movements will cause you to fatigue extremely quick, even if you're throwing minimal punches!
On the other hand if you relax and focus on staying loose and free-flowing in your movement your muscles will remain relaxed to an extent, allowing you to implement your fast footwork and explosive attacks without fear of running out of gas.
2. Explosive Exercises Build Power & Speed
Hitting the heavy bag day after day is not the optimal way to build power and speed in your strikes.
Don't get me wrong - constantly drilling your punches to ensure they're technically sound is extremely important, but that's not how you're going to develop that pist0n-like power in your right cross.
Explosive, low repetition movements are the key.
Heavy military press, the flat barbell bench press, weighted pull-ups.
Heavy compound exercises in the 3-5 repetition range performed explosively will do the trick.
3. You Can't Afford To Neglect Lower Body Mobility
Boxing is a game of footwork, with constant movement in and out, pivots, slips, rolls and cutting off of the ring you need to ensure your lower body flexibility and mobility are sufficient.
If your calves, quads and hamstrings are overly tight you'll find your movement extremely limiting.
At the same time, if your hip flexors are overly tight from working an office job and neglecting your mobility work you'll likely find your power is lacking too.
Your power comes through the hip rotation as you extend your arm, not through your arm itself.
Loose hips = better rotation. Better rotation = increased power.
4. Everyone Has A Plan Until They Get Punched In The Face
You're in the ring with a smaller opponent, the height and reach advantage are on your side... your game plan is to land some wide hooks and maintain your distance from him with your stiff jab.
A solid plan, no doubt.
But as we know, things don't always go to plan.
Your opponents times your movements and slips into close range and places an iron fist on your jaw.
This is the pivotal moment.
Do you go on the defensive, regain your composure and resume your game plan? Or do you allow the clean punch that landed square on your jaw to anger and frustrate you? Causing you to rush forward swinging with no plan and poor technique.
Do not abandon your plan. Pivot as necessary but do not allow yourself to get rocked and through your game plan out the window.
5. Patience Pays Off (Hit The Counter)
Boxing is essentially a game of chess, there's many different strategies and many different styles of play.
There's a big emphasis on "being first!!!" aka. getting in and throwing the first punch...
The chess master is happy to wait, he's happy to wait for you to take the first move, perhaps even the second move - patiently waiting to capitalize on any miniscule mistake you may make.
The slight drop of your guard, the off balance position you've placed yourself in, the chin you've now left exposed.
Don't always rush in to strike first, with explosive speed and power developed through low repetition weight training counter punching is a personal favorite strategy of mine.
6. Cardio Is King (Keep A High Work Rate)
Outworking your opponent in the ring, performing round after round on the heavy bag and reciting long pad drills requires immense cardio conditioning.
Without cardio endurance you'll be overly conservative with the fear of running out of energy lurking in the back of your mind.
Distance cardio, explosive HIIT, bag work, jump rope... pick your poison, it all helps.
"SJ, you can't box and keep muscle at the same time, it's too cardio intensive!"
Maintaining Muscle Is EASY.
Since taking up boxing my strength has continued to slowly increase.
How is that possible?
It's merely a matter of focusing on the exercises that matter - the squat, deadlift, overhead press, bench press and weighted pull-up.
Low reps, sufficient rest periods and a caloric intake to match the increased activity level.
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