Boxing strength and power - a debate

pet'

Level 8 Valued Member
Hello,

Very opened question / debate:

In your opinion, what would be the "best" strength and power training protocol (using bodyweight only, or potentially mace / gada) for boxing, assuming no mass / weight gain or hypertrophy is desired ?

I read plenty of information and I can not find some kind of consensus.

Most of the oldtimers simply did crazy amounts of very fast push ups, even if I guess ROM was reduced to focus on speed. A lot of sit ups / crunches (which I can understand if they are done "Hard style way", as if we were about to take a blow). This was done throughout the day.

Then, there was a lot of roadwork / skipping rope / bagwork, etc...

Currently, we often find "contrast training" approach: very heavy for a few reps, then plyo.

What do you consider being the most efficient ?

Kind regards,

Pet'
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
I'd think a mix of high intensity Isometrics, Plyo, and bodyweight, high volume for the midsection.

"pullups, pushups, dips" Mickey Ward favorites.

Circuits and intervals.

I'd also think it depends a bit on how you fight and your build. If tall for your weight you would train a little different than someone built like a fireplug.
 

pet'

Level 8 Valued Member
Hello,

@North Coast Miller
I am considered as tall for my weight (1,83 for 62kg).

I used to train with high reps:
- for push: push ups
- for pull: pull ups
- for legs: squats
- for core: sit ups and obliques

However, at the time, I was not after both strength and power, as required in boxing. Nonetheless, this method gave me some strength (at least for my needs).

This is the first time I want to apply this strategy (power and strength) to boxing.

For instance, if we consider several fighters, who do (or did) daily:
- Pacquiao: high rep for core
- Tyson: high rep for core and push ups (probably partial reps for speed without bulk) (more or less the same for Carl Froch)
- Marciano: plenty of pull ups and "manual labor"
- Dempsey: push ups and sit ups

However, modern fighters tend not to train like that anymore.

I mention that I will always focus on technique, because this is where "power comes from". Physical training is something I add to improve my boxing and GPP. I do not look for any bulk though

Is there any "most efficient method", backed-up by science (@kennycro@@aol.com ) ?

Kind regards,

Pet'
 
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North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
High reps for core would be a mainstay for power transfer and more importantly to take hits.

Strength out of the chamber is more important than strength at extension, so abbreviated ROM probably not only OK but desirable.

Exercise selection to improve durability/connectivity at the shoulder joint. This mostly for hooks.

I'd be thinking dumbbell work, moderate load, moderate volume following heavybag or focus mits. Legs would be running, jumprope, jumping lunges, step ups - again moderate loading and volume.

What does your theoretical schedule look like for a typical week?
 

pet'

Level 8 Valued Member
Hello,

@North Coast Miller
I usually train boxing from 2 to 3 times a week (every monday, sometimes thursday, every friday).

Alongside this, I shadow box everyday for 3 rounds, with resistance bands on arms and knees.

Then, every other day, I do jumping rope during 20 minutes.

The other day, I follow a routine based on macework:
25 reps with 4,5kg: Mill (R/L), Shovelling (R/L), Wood chopping (R/L), DL with diagonal bottum up throw (R/L), C&J (R/L), "ball throw", pistol squat, Barbarian squat, Cossack squat, Jumping lunges, Hindu push up, Hindu squat
Then, depending on how I feel, I do either 2 to 3 sets of kb C&J @20 or 2 to 3 sets of 10 of OA swings (40kg)
The mace training lasts about 30 minutes. I always focus on being very explosive.

On GTG, high rep of pull ups, and also a daily dose of weighted pull ups (3 reps @40 added).

Every evening, I do the following core routine:
3 deadlifts + 3 OAOL PU + 1 * (Dragon Flag > Hanging leg raises> HS crunches > obliques)

As you see, I still try to maintain near max strength training on a daily basis.

Kind regards,

Pet'
 

pet'

Level 8 Valued Member
Hello,

@Kozushi
Yes indeed they were. They were mainly skill oriented. To be honest, this is what I prefer and this is the main way I also train.

Nonetheless, as I age (even if I remain "young", because I am 29 years old), I want to keep some kind of GPP for daily life. I am just looking for a way to add some components to make my boxing game better, without sacrificing anything.

Kind regards,

Pet'
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
Boxing is perhaps the most specialized of all fighting sports as you don't need to have a comprehensive strength program to fight well at any weight class.

Not to say it isn't helpful/complimentary, but it definitely competes with skill and endurance, and arguably does very little towards improving effectiveness unless one is lacking in technique.

If you want to include more strength training and be proficient in the ring but maybe not the absolute best fighter possible, this is a very doable goal - your #s and workload now are well in the range of solid GPP!

Maybe he best way to blend these goals is to use variety in the resistance training modality. If you always use larger compound movements whatever the mode, then it is possible to let the mode itself determine if you go heavier with fewer reps per, lighter with more volume etc. In fact it sounds like you're already there.

Next step would be to ID any weak spots in your boxing game and tailor a strength plan to plug them and or improve whatever you do well.

Does jab tire to rapidly, does lead hook lack power, can you take charge in a clinch, is the return speed of any particular punch not as fast as it could be? etc.

Are any of the problem areas fixable with targeted strength work or is it a technique issue?

Lastly, if you include more general strength work do you see a decline in boxing execution? Personally your current routine sounds pretty solid. If you were to train for a specific fight date, obviously 2x a week is not enough, and there would be more sparring and stamina work, but unless plugging holes I'd feel good about your strength routine.
 
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pet'

Level 8 Valued Member
Hello,

@North Coast Miller
What you say makes sense. It also tends to confirm that "the best do the basics better". I guess this is why they really focused on technique (sparring, bag, shadow, etc...). Physical preparation seems to be just some kind of "add-on". We I look for modern fighter, it remains possible to find some who mainly train using the very basics of calisthenics.

I noticed that I am faster than before, and tend to be faster than the others (assuming we have more or less the same technical level) for I do macework and the stuff I mentioned earlier. This is true for both upper and lower body. Nonetheless, as always, I am not able to say if the technique does the main part of the job, or if I [over]compensate technique with physical preparation.

So considering what you are saying - always very insightful and interesting by the way - I'll keep doing what I do, but just add a few specifics, such as high reps done fast.

Considering the "bulk" side, I guess that if I do not eat more, this additional work will not make me heavier, right ?

Thanks again !

Kind regards,

Pet'
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
Nonetheless, as always, I am not able to say if the technique does the main part of the job, or if I [over]compensate technique with physical preparation.....
It pays to always be checking technique, studying the technique of those who are doing it well, esp those who otherwise do not look particularly strong/big etc. Speed in particular is the manifestation of solid technique.

The guy that taught me finer points of punching technique was 20-30lbs lighter than me, a few inches shorter and could punch so hard I had a tough time holding mitts for him without an added glove underneath. He was the man who taught me to relax into the punch and let the mass and accumulated energy from the ground power the shot in.

And I still had/have a lot to learn about finer points, my punching power probably doubled under his care, not a single bit of that came from strength training. Slowly increasing my speed on both outbound and return really showed the weak spots in my mechanics. I did not do a ton of max speed work, a small bit in the middle of a session.


Considering the "bulk" side, I guess that if I do not eat more, this additional work will not make me heavier, right ?
Absolutely not, only if you eat more!

I am amazed at how many times you hear coaches and fighters citing weight gain as a reason to avoid weight training - where would this weight or bulk come from if you are already fairly lean and don't increase calories? If anything you should lose weight. Is much more of a concern that it not overtax the muscles you need to punch and move.

But still, there are so many drills you can do with bodyweight that are almost directly applicable to boxing (shoeshine, bob and weave, depth jumps etc) whereas a lot of strength training isn't. Still, no substitute for core work.

Another thought, maybe some Indian clubs worked in with macebell - only because boxing the hands are not working on a single task/implement. You get many of the same shoulder mobility benefits with added foot/hand, hand/hand coordination. Just a thought - my own offset/Hobo pole work has given me great carryover to blue collar activity, but I'd swear it has slowed my hands somewhat.
 

pet'

Level 8 Valued Member
Hello,

@North Coast Miller
It pays to always be checking technique, studying the technique of those who are doing it well, esp those who otherwise do not look particularly strong/big etc. Speed in particular is the manifestation of solid technique
Yes this is true. When it comes to studying technique, regarding English boxing, I am a great fan of:
- Mayweather and G. Rigondeaux, especially regearding the shoulder roll and slip. I tend to use it when I get tired.
- Lomachenko for his footwork. Sugar Ray Leonard and Sugar Robinson also have incredible footwork. Curisouly, I am not necessary a fan of M. Ali's (I do not like the way he squares the feet, because I practice a French boxing...so I have to throw kicks and / or block / parry some).
- Pacquiao and Khan are wonderful regarding the hand speed


The guy that taught me finer points of punching technique was 20-30lbs lighter than me, a few inches shorter and could punch so hard I had a tough time holding mitts for him without an added glove underneath
True. My boxing teacher made me a demo of a very short range punch. Due to a good body mechanics, with just 10cm of ROM he is able to throw me such a powerful punch that I am obliged to get back… He also once got almost KOed by a 50kg girl with incredible timing !

He was the man who taught me to relax into the punch
Yes. I noticed that if I really breathe out, even smoothly, while I throw a punch, I get more relaxed (and so powerful). However, I do not exhale for each kicks / strikes. For instance, if I do a combination of 3 or 4 (which tends to be a maximum, excepted if I want to put a lot of pressure), I exhale slowly but once. This is a bit weird, but I find it easier that way.

I am also faster, and more energy efficient when I "whip and snap" the strikes. I do it by breathing, as mentioned, but also by avoiding any contraction in the fist. I potentially contract only at the very end of the move if we are allowed to do some heavy sparring or if I practice and heavy bag.

I think breathwork is a little bit underrated in the boxing training. I perform better in terms of relaxation since I practice the Wim Hof Method. It helps a lot to get smooth shoulders. This is why I incorporated breathwork in my current routine.

But still, there are so many drills you can do with bodyweight that are almost directly applicable to boxing (shoeshine, bob and weave, depth jumps etc) whereas a lot of strength training isn't. Still, no substitute for core work
I just started simple exercises as an additional practice, designed for boxing. Using GTG, I do a a lot of partial push ups, but extremely fast. Basically, I do 40 push ups with the 1st third of the move ROM (close to the ground), then, 40 with the 2nd third (middle), then 40 with the top of the move, then, 40 with as much ROM as I can. I do this with a maximum core contraction and repeat this throughout the day or even during the session.

Yes, for core work, I keep what I have for the moment, but I like to change it from time to time. I still do not have it clear: is it "better" to go for high rep (even using hard style as if we were about to take a blow) or lower rep with tougher variations to get a strong core… In all cases, I always do some isometrics.

Another thought, maybe some Indian clubs worked in with macebell - only because boxing the hands are not working on a single task/implement
My macework is strongly inspired by Indian clubs. Basically, I use a loadable db, but only once side is loaded. Then, I picked up moves from S. Sonnon, Paul Taras Wolkowinski. For the moment, this is the most efficient way of supplement my boxing I have found. It works well on the joints, power, and endurance. Plus it obliges to get good core, balance and breathing / move coordination. Nonetheless, when away from any weights, as you say, push ups, basic core, shoeshine and shadow get the job done. I'll never drop raw strength training because I do not look for specialization and max strength may also be useful.

Kind regards,

Pet'
 

Pavel Macek

Level 8 Valued Member
Master Certified Instructor
- low rep one-arm pushups (pure strength)
- explosive regular pushups (sets of 10, plenty of rest in between sets. power)
- any type of big pull (swing, snatch, or barbell deadlift)
- hitting the bag

Note: higher reps of abdominal exercises were done not for the strength, but hypertrophy, "armor building". You can't do higher reps Hardstyle - my abs are fried after 3-5 rep of Hardstyle situps or Hanging leg raises. Spare your spine, re-read the Hardstyle Abs.
 

Pantrolyx

Level 5 Valued Member
As for increasing explosiveness and power in the punches, I believe that the training time is best spent actually punching bag, mitts and gloves, focusing on the actual technique. That is the best (virutally the only) way of learning how to transfer the bodyweight by twisting the body, whilst not wasting energy in any unwanted direction.

I have done fine by doing pure bodyweight strength training, combined with combat sports and running, previously. "Pop-ups" (learned from Movnat), pistols, hanging leg raises, bridges (neck and back),pull-ups and push-ups (one handed or on the knuckles, for hand conditioning) did the trick.
 

pet'

Level 8 Valued Member
Hello,

@Pantrolyx
Yes I agree. I a very firm believer of "technique first". When I spare with stronger (meaning heavier, taller, etc...) folks, with less technique, I can often get to the end of it by relying on technique. This is why I religiously do my shadow.

I practice some other physical activity just as a GPP and "support" to my boxing game.

@Pavel Macek
I globally agree with all you said (as often ;) )

However, regarding the core:
Note: higher reps of abdominal exercises were done not for the strength, but hypertrophy, "armor building"
We can find great boxers (Pacquiao, and most of the old school ones) who do / did a lot of "regular" ab training, meaning planche, crunches, obliques, etc... However, they do not necessarily have the "six pack" (which of course dépends a lot on nutrition). In this case, why would they train hypertrophy if they would not follow some kind of "six pack nutrition". However, they build, I guess, a lot of endurance and some "acceptable" core strength. What do you think ?

Kind regards,

Pet'
 

Kozushi

Level 7 Valued Member
Hello,

@Kozushi
Yes indeed they were. They were mainly skill oriented. To be honest, this is what I prefer and this is the main way I also train.

Nonetheless, as I age (even if I remain "young", because I am 29 years old), I want to keep some kind of GPP for daily life. I am just looking for a way to add some components to make my boxing game better, without sacrificing anything.

Kind regards,

Pet'
I'm not a boxer although I've boxed and fought in MMA and trained under and with kickboxers, Muay Thai guys etc. Weights seemed to factor in not at all. Guys do callisthenics like pushups, but most of it, maybe all of it is skipping, running, hitting the bag, sparring.
 

Kozushi

Level 7 Valued Member
Hello,

@North Coast Miller

Yes this is true. When it comes to studying technique, regarding English boxing, I am a great fan of:
- Mayweather and G. Rigondeaux, especially regearding the shoulder roll and slip. I tend to use it when I get tired.
- Lomachenko for his footwork. Sugar Ray Leonard and Sugar Robinson also have incredible footwork. Curisouly, I am not necessary a fan of M. Ali's (I do not like the way he squares the feet, because I practice a French boxing...so I have to throw kicks and / or block / parry some).
- Pacquiao and Khan are wonderful regarding the hand speed



True. My boxing teacher made me a demo of a very short range punch. Due to a good body mechanics, with just 10cm of ROM he is able to throw me such a powerful punch that I am obliged to get back… He also once got almost KOed by a 50kg girl with incredible timing !


Yes. I noticed that if I really breathe out, even smoothly, while I throw a punch, I get more relaxed (and so powerful). However, I do not exhale for each kicks / strikes. For instance, if I do a combination of 3 or 4 (which tends to be a maximum, excepted if I want to put a lot of pressure), I exhale slowly but once. This is a bit weird, but I find it easier that way.

I am also faster, and more energy efficient when I "whip and snap" the strikes. I do it by breathing, as mentioned, but also by avoiding any contraction in the fist. I potentially contract only at the very end of the move if we are allowed to do some heavy sparring or if I practice and heavy bag.

I think breathwork is a little bit underrated in the boxing training. I perform better in terms of relaxation since I practice the Wim Hof Method. It helps a lot to get smooth shoulders. This is why I incorporated breathwork in my current routine.


I just started simple exercises as an additional practice, designed for boxing. Using GTG, I do a a lot of partial push ups, but extremely fast. Basically, I do 40 push ups with the 1st third of the move ROM (close to the ground), then, 40 with the 2nd third (middle), then 40 with the top of the move, then, 40 with as much ROM as I can. I do this with a maximum core contraction and repeat this throughout the day or even during the session.

Yes, for core work, I keep what I have for the moment, but I like to change it from time to time. I still do not have it clear: is it "better" to go for high rep (even using hard style as if we were about to take a blow) or lower rep with tougher variations to get a strong core… In all cases, I always do some isometrics.


My macework is strongly inspired by Indian clubs. Basically, I use a loadable db, but only once side is loaded. Then, I picked up moves from S. Sonnon, Paul Taras Wolkowinski. For the moment, this is the most efficient way of supplement my boxing I have found. It works well on the joints, power, and endurance. Plus it obliges to get good core, balance and breathing / move coordination. Nonetheless, when away from any weights, as you say, push ups, basic core, shoeshine and shadow get the job done. I'll never drop raw strength training because I do not look for specialization and max strength may also be useful.

Kind regards,

Pet'
I like the mace as a healthy exercise for all those reasons, and also as a light exercise when I don't feel up to harder ones.
 

Pavel Macek

Level 8 Valued Member
Master Certified Instructor
Hello,

@Pantrolyx
Yes I agree. I a very firm believer of "technique first". When I spare with stronger (meaning heavier, taller, etc...) folks, with less technique, I can often get to the end of it by relying on technique. This is why I religiously do my shadow.

I practice some other physical activity just as a GPP and "support" to my boxing game.

@Pavel Macek
I globally agree with all you said (as often ;) )

However, regarding the core:

We can find great boxers (Pacquiao, and most of the old school ones) who do / did a lot of "regular" ab training, meaning planche, crunches, obliques, etc... However, they do not necessarily have the "six pack" (which of course dépends a lot on nutrition). In this case, why would they train hypertrophy if they would not follow some kind of "six pack nutrition". However, they build, I guess, a lot of endurance and some "acceptable" core strength. What do you think ?

Kind regards,

Pet'
Six-pack is an aesthetic, not necessarily functional thing. By hypertrophy I mean thick muscular wall (possibly covered with fat), not six pack.

I don't agree with the endurance (of what? For what) and core strength. Endurance for boxing is trained differently that by hundreds of situps, strength as well - all that while sparing your spine.
 

pet'

Level 8 Valued Member
Hello,

@Kozushi
Guys do callisthenics like pushups, but most of it, maybe all of it is skipping, running, hitting the bag, sparring
I tend to think like you. Most of my teachers, including at national level, rely on that.

Nonetheless, what simply call to mind is why some very good fighters trained / have been training with high reps (among other things) despite what science says and still had / have good results. Maybe @Pavel Macek living encyclopedia of old-timeys knows ? :)

Kind regards,

Pet'
 
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North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
I think the high rep for core is based on several considerations.

Iit is difficult to safely train the core with rotational movements at high loading - this puts major shear force on the intercostals. Likewise even doing strict flexion, it is difficult to imagine doing sets of high load without causing the strain to shift to the spine and hip flexors.

Also the abdominal muscles are somewhat unique in that while they are about 50/50 type I to type II, the type II fibers don't get preferentially larger than the type I in response to training - they all get bigger at about the same rate. At least not like the muscles of the upper torso or legs.

Rapid and repeated cross ab bracing is a major conduit for punching power.

I'd also speculate another reason is it confers more benefit when absorbing repeated blows, although I have no idea what the mechanism might be.

You are not just strengthening the core for other work, punching is a very specific action, as is taking a shot in the gut.
 
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