Do Boxers Do Push-Ups Every Day?

November 25, 2021

Name one boxing training montage that doesn’t involve hundreds of push-ups. I’ll wait. Push-ups are synonymous with boxing in that if you are a boxer, you’re probably doing push-ups at some point within your training. But should they be done every day?

Boxers generally don’t perform push-ups every day. While push-ups work similar upper body muscles to those involved in punching, doing push-ups every day will result in burnout when also boxing often.

If push-ups shouldn’t be done every day, why do boxers do so many push-ups and can it be bad for you?

Do Boxers Do Push-Ups Every Day?

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a boxer that does push-ups every single day. Let alone every single boxing training session. When boxing regularly, your shoulders and arms are already taxed from training. Adding push-ups every day on top of that adds to that fatigue hampering boxing performance and leading to potentially gassing out faster.

Are Push-Up Good For Boxers?

Do Boxers Do Push-Ups Every Day

No doubt push-ups are a great exercise for boxers. But just because they are great doesn’t mean you should perform them every day. The poison is in the dose as they say. Use push-ups within your boxing strength training program to target the upper body pushing muscles and to increase their resilience to fatigue.

Why Do Boxers Do So Many Push-Ups

Push-ups work similar muscles to those that are involved when punching. That is the shoulders and arms. Boxers will throw approximately 130 punches over a three-round fight which translates to 20-22 punches per minute on average [1,2].

This doesn’t take into account the 23 defensive movements such as parrying that occur on average per fight.

Tremendous endurance of the shoulders and arm muscles are needed when boxing to hold the hands high in the guard position to be constantly throwing these 130 punches. Performing a lot of push-ups develops strength endurance in these muscles so they are less prone to fatigue when boxing.

Is It Bad To Do Push-Ups Everyday As A Boxer?

Whether doing push-ups every day is bad is going to come down to your overall training routine and how many you are doing. If you are only performing 1-2 sets each day, then the volume of push-ups probably isn’t going to be bad.

If you are performing hundreds of push-ups every day, then it is likely to be bad for your boxing. Because boxing is heavily using the muscles in the front of the shoulders and arms, you are adding even more strenuous work on top of boxing.

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This can lead to overuse injuries and general fatigue that will negatively affect your boxing training. If you are looking for exercises to perform every day to help your boxing that doesn’t involve throwing punches, then these band exercises can be done to restore balance in your shoulders and upper body to offset the high volumes of punches you may be throwing.

Push-Ups vs. Bench Press For Boxing

When it comes to push-ups vs. the bench press, there is no reason you can’t use both within the same exercise session or interchangeably between cycles. We know that the bench press is highly related to the speed of the rear hand punch [3].

Especially at loads of 80% 1RM. Since boxing success is highly dependent on punching velocity, using the bench press may be a great option.

Push-Ups vs. Bench Press Boxing

This means that you can use the bench press for heavy-loaded maximal strength training and push-ups for local muscle endurance. Just be aware that strength endurance is a bit of a misnomer.

That is strength endurance is about being able to repeat high force or power efforts for long time periods or multiple repetitions. Just getting stronger in an exercise like the bench press will improve your strength endurance as now you will be producing force at a much lower relative intensity.

For example, if boxers A and B have the same bodyweight, but boxer A can bench press 225 lbs while boxer B can bench press 135 lbs, boxer A will have greater strength endurance when performing push-ups.

But that’s not the only use for push-ups. Boxing isn’t just about strength. You need to produce it quickly. Performing explosive or plyometric push-ups will improve your ability to produce force quickly and produce more power.

Further, push-ups offer something that the bench press does not. And that is the free movement of the shoulder blades while pressing. The bench press pins the shoulder blades into the bench so the rhythm between the arm and the shoulder blades is lost.

This rhythm is highly important for boxers for optimal shoulder function and health. When lowering yourself in a push-up, the shoulder blades come together and depress. When pushing, the shoulder blades upwardly rotate like they would when punching.

Don’t forget, you can load push-ups heavy for a maximal strength stimulus by having a partner load plates on your back.

Push-Up Variations To Spice Up Your Routine

If you’re stuck in a rut and bored of performing the same type of push-ups, then I’ve got some awesome push-up variations to smash through boredom and get better transfer to boxing.

Knuckle Push-Ups

This is one way to strengthen your wrists and hands for boxing. So, you get the traditional benefits from push-ups with the added benefit of wrist and knuckle conditioning.

Alternating Medicine Ball Push-Ups

You can do these semi-explosively like in the video or as regular push-ups. What the alternating medicine ball push-up gives you that traditional push-ups don’t is the extended range of motion in the hand that is on the ball.

Further, the arm that is on the ball will perform more work making this a semi-unilateral push-up variation.

Explosive Push-Ups

Explosive or clap push-ups is how you will train the ability to produce force quickly and develop immense upper body power. While these are traditionally performed on the floor, I prefer these to be performed on an incline like in the video above.

Using an incline reduces the total load being pushed so speed becomes a greater emphasis which is exactly why you want to perform this exercise.

Plyometric Push-Ups

Many explosive push-ups can be considered plyometric push-ups as well. But if we dive deeper into the definition of a plyometric exercise, it is the rapid transition from eccentric to concentric contractions usually below 250 ms of ground contact.

That is why using the depth plyometric push-up is truly plyometric and will develop extreme speed and power.

Summary

Boxers won’t do push-ups every day but they will use push-ups to develop the upper body muscle used when punching and to improve their resilience to fatigue. If you’re after a well-rounded strength training program for boxing that won’t leave you fatigued and sore, check out Strength Train Like A Professional Boxer.

References

1. Davis, P., Wittekind, A., & Beneke, R. (2013). Amateur boxing: activity profile of winners and losers. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance8(1), 84-92.

2. Davis, P., Benson, P. R., Pitty, J. D., Connorton, A. J., & Waldock, R. (2015). The activity profile of elite male amateur boxing. International journal of sports physiology and performance10(1), 53-57.

3. López-Laval, I., Sitko, S., Muñiz-Pardos, B., Cirer-Sastre, R., & Calleja-González, J. (2020). Relationship Between Bench Press Strength and Punch Performance in Male Professional Boxers. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 34(2), 308-312.

About the author 

James de Lacey

I am a professional strength & conditioning coach that works with professional and international level teams and athletes. I am a published scientific researcher and have completed my Masters in Sport & Exercise Science. I've combined my knowledge of research and experience to bring you the most practical bites to be applied to your combat training.


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