October 21, 2020

Gone are the days of endless push-ups and sit-ups as a boxer’s strength training routine. Sure, you still see amazing technicians performing similar bodyweight routines. However, they are the best boxers not because of what they do regarding strength training, but in spite of what they do.

Strength training for boxing is about delivering a faster, more powerful punch. Training the legs to be strong and powerful and the sequencing to transfer the force from the legs through to the hands are the most important aspects of boxing strength training.

Before we dive into the performance side of boxing, we need to know what the common injuries are and if they can be prevented through specific strength training.

Boxing Injury Profile

A study in 2014 in the Orthopedics & Biomechanics journal followed 44 competitive boxers for a whole year [1]. 121 boxing matches were fought between them throughout the 12 month period.

Of the 192 injuries reported, 67 occurred during a fight and 125 during training. Boxers who had more than 3 fights a year were substantially more likely to sustain an injury compared to those with less than 3 fights a year.

45% of injuries were to the head which consisted mostly of cuts and nosebleeds. 24% occurred in the arms/hands mostly consisting of wrist contusions.

14% of injuries were rib bruises and low back pain. While lower body injuries made up 15% of injuries with thigh or calf muscle tears.

In a later review journal in 2015, they reported similar findings in the region of injury [2]. A review article summarizes all of the research covering the topic and pools all of the data together. They split the data up into professional and amateur boxers.

Professionals sustained the majority of their injuries to the head (74-96%) with a small minority to the arms/hands (0-22%), and virtually none to the trunk (2-5%) or legs (0-2%).

Amateurs on the other hand still had the majority of their injuries to the head (9-75%), but had far greater injuries to the arms/hands (14-55%), the legs (4-24%), and the trunk (0-16%).

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In this review, concussions were the greatest injury to the head while hand injuries comprised of >75% of upper extremity injuries.

While many of these injuries aren’t directly preventable by strength exercise, extra conditioning for the wrist can be done in order to condition and thicken the wrist to take more impact.

Boxing Strength Profile

How Many Days A Week Of Strength Training For A Boxer

Being strong for boxing is about being able to deliver the fastest, most powerful punch possible. My previous article “How To Punch Harder” dives into the greatest detail you will find on the internet on the science behind punching harder.

To sum up the findings for the purpose of this article, strength training for boxing performance should cover these aspects:

  • Harder punchers have greater contributions from the legs and trunk. Focus on lower body strength and power and trunk rotation.
  • Train the sequencing so effective transmission of force can be transferred from the legs through to the hands by using medicine ball throws and overhead Weightlifting derivatives.
  • Use the bench press as a main upper body exercise as the bench press is highly related to punching speed.
  • Develop both maximal and high-velocity strength in order to optimize boxing performance.

Using this framework provides a guideline for putting together an effective strength training program specifically for a boxer.

How Many Days A Week Of Strength Training For A Boxer?

This is going to depend entirely on your boxing level, the number of times you train boxing a week, the time you have available, your strength training background, and how close you are to a fight.

I would advise no more than three times a week of strength training for boxing. If you are far away from a fight, three times is more than enough and when planned well (see below), will not add much in the way of fatigue.

Two times a week is the sweet spot where you can make great strength and power gains without impacting your boxing training. As you get closer to a fight, twice a week is more than enough.

3 Day A Week Strength Training Program For Boxing

I’m going to present a 4-week program I wrote for an International boxer who was preparing for the European Championships. There are a couple of small modifications based on the injury research presented in this article.

The goal was to develop power and speed (as all boxers and boxing coaches want). This was not the 4 weeks before the competition.

This athlete performed resistance training three times a week so I worked with that as to not change their routine.

Their usual strength training program was performing a few random exercises with no real structure. So I wanted to start at a low enough level with some exercises to give room for improvement later on while still providing an intense stimulus as he leads into the European Championships.

Week 1

Day 1

Exercise

Set/Rep

Load

Warm-Up

Cell
Cell

A1) Open Book

3 x 10

Cell

A2) Waiter Walk

3 x 1 length

Cell

A3) Band Pull Apart

3 x 12

Cell

B1) Pallof Press

3 x 10/side

Cell

Main Work

Cell
Cell

C1) Med Ball Explosive Punch

3 x 4

3 kg

D1) Med Ball Scoop Toss

3 x 4

5 kg

E1) Squat Jump

3 x 3

30% 1RM Back Squat

E2) Band Assisted Jump

3 x 5

Cell

F1) Wrist Roller

3 x 1-2

Cell

Day 2

Exercise

Set/Rep

Load

Warm-Up

Cell
Cell

A1) Med Ball Walking Rotation

3 x 10

Cell

A2) Med Ball Overhead Lean

3 x 10

Cell

B1) Box Jump

3 x 4

Cell

B2) Thoracic Ext Foam Roller

3 x 10

Cell

Main Work

Cell
Cell

C1) Power Jerk

3 x 3

40% 1RM

C2) Pullup (Pause top & bottom)

3 x 5-6

Cell

D1) Bench Press Cluster

3 x 2+2+2 (30 sec rest)

75% 1RM

E1) Seated Med Ball Explosive Chest Pass

3 x 10

Cell

E2) Seated Explosive Med Ball Rotation Throw

3 x 10

Cell

Day 3

Exercise

Set/Rep

Load

Warm-Up

Cell
Cell

A1) Quadruped Thoracic Rotation

3 x 8/side

Cell

A2) Band Face Pull

3 x 10

Cell

A3) 3 Point Lunge

3 x 2 circles

Cell

B1) Walking Med Ball Rotation

3 x 10

Cell

B2) Walking Med Overhead Lean

3 x 10

Cell

Main Work

Cell
Cell

C1) Explosive Landmine Rotation

4 x 5/side


C2) Half Kneeling Band Row

3 x 6/side

Cell

D1) Back Squat Cluster

3 x 2+2+2 (30 sec rest)

75% 1RM

E1) Isometric Back Extension

3 x 20sec

Cell

E2) Hammer Pronation/Supination

3 x 5/each

Cell

Week 2

Day 1

Exercise

Set/Rep

Load

Warm-Up

Cell
Cell

A1) Open Book

3 x 10

Cell

A2) Waiter Walk

3 x 1 length

Cell

A3) Band Pull Apart

3 x 12

Cell

B1) Pallof Press

3 x 10/side

Cell

Main Work

Cell
Cell

C1) Med Ball Explosive Punch

3 x 4

3 kg

D1) Med Ball Scoop Toss

3 x 4

5 kg

E1) Squat Jump

3 x 3

35% 1RM Back Squat

E2) Band Assisted Jump

3 x 5

Cell

F1) Wrist Roller

3 x 1-2

Cell

Day 2

Exercise

Set/Rep

Load

Warm-Up

Cell
Cell

A1) Med Ball Walking Rotation

3 x 10

Cell

A2) Med Ball Overhead Lean

3 x 10

Cell

B1) Box Jump

3 x 4

Cell

B2) Thoracic Ext Foam Roller

3 x 10

Cell

Main Work

Cell
Cell

C1) Power Jerk

3 x 3

45% 1RM

C2) Pullup (Pause top & bottom)

3 x 5-6

Cell

D1) Bench Press Cluster

3 x 2+2+2 (30 sec rest)

80% 1RM

E1) Seated Med Ball Explosive Chest Pass

3 x 10

Cell

E2) Seated Explosive Med Ball Rotation Throw

3 x 10

Cell

Day 3

Exercise

Set/Rep

Load

Warm-Up

Cell
Cell

A1) Quadruped Thoracic Rotation

3 x 8/side

Cell

A2) Band Face Pull

3 x 10

Cell

A3) 3 Point Lunge

3 x 2 circles

Cell

B1) Walking Med Ball Rotation

3 x 10

Cell

B2) Walking Med Overhead Lean

3 x 10

Cell

Main Work

Cell
Cell

C1) Explosive Landmine Rotation

4 x 5/side


C2) Half Kneeling Band Row

3 x 6/side

Cell

D1) Back Squat Cluster

3 x 2+2+2 (30 sec rest)

80% 1RM

E1) Isometric Back Extension

3 x 20sec

Cell

E2) Hammer Pronation/Supination

3 x 5/each

Cell

Week 3

Day 1

Exercise

Set/Rep

Load

Warm-Up

Cell
Cell

A1) Open Book

3 x 10

Cell

A2) Waiter Walk

3 x 1 length

Cell

A3) Band Pull Apart

3 x 12

Cell

B1) Pallof Press

3 x 10/side

Cell

Main Work

Cell
Cell

C1) Med Ball Explosive Punch

3 x 3

3 kg

D1) Med Ball Scoop Toss

3 x 3

5 kg

E1) Squat Jump

3 x 3

40% 1RM Back Squat

E2) Band Assisted Jump

3 x 5

Cell

F1) Wrist Roller

3 x 1-2

Cell

Day 2

Exercise

Set/Rep

Load

Warm-Up

Cell
Cell

A1) Med Ball Walking Rotation

3 x 10

Cell

A2) Med Ball Overhead Lean

3 x 10

Cell

B1) Box Jump

3 x 4

Cell

B2) Thoracic Ext Foam Roller

3 x 10

Cell

Main Work

Cell
Cell

C1) Power Jerk

3 x 3

50% 1RM

C2) Pullup (Pause top & bottom)

3 x 5-6

Cell

D1) Bench Press Cluster

3 x 2+2+2 (30 sec rest)

83% 1RM

E1) Seated Med Ball Explosive Chest Pass

3 x 10

Cell

E2) Seated Explosive Med Ball Rotation Throw

3 x 10

Cell

Day 3

Exercise

Set/Rep

Load

Warm-Up

Cell
Cell

A1) Quadruped Thoracic Rotation

3 x 8/side

Cell

A2) Band Face Pull

3 x 10

Cell

A3) 3 Point Lunge

3 x 2 circles

Cell

B1) Walking Med Ball Rotation

3 x 10

Cell

B2) Walking Med Overhead Lean

3 x 10

Cell

Main Work

Cell
Cell

C1) Explosive Landmine Rotation

4 x 5/side


C2) Half Kneeling Band Row

3 x 6/side

Cell

D1) Back Squat Cluster

3 x 2+2+2 (30 sec rest)

83% 1RM

E1) Isometric Back Extension

3 x 20sec

Cell

E2) Hammer Pronation/Supination

3 x 5/each

Cell

Week 4

Day 1

Exercise

Set/Rep

Load

Warm-Up

Cell
Cell

A1) Open Book

3 x 10

Cell

A2) Waiter Walk

3 x 1 length

Cell

A3) Band Pull Apart

3 x 12

Cell

B1) Pallof Press

3 x 10/side

Cell

Main Work

Cell
Cell

C1) Med Ball Explosive Punch

3 x 2

3 kg

D1) Med Ball Scoop Toss

3 x 2

5 kg

E1) Squat Jump

3 x 2

30% 1RM Back Squat

E2) Band Assisted Jump

3 x 5

Cell

F1) Wrist Roller

3 x 1-2

Cell

Day 2

Exercise

Set/Rep

Load

Warm-Up

Cell
Cell

A1) Med Ball Walking Rotation

3 x 10

Cell

A2) Med Ball Overhead Lean

3 x 10

Cell

B1) Box Jump

3 x 4

Cell

B2) Thoracic Ext Foam Roller

3 x 10

Cell

Main Work

Cell
Cell

C1) Power Jerk

3 x 3

40% 1RM

C2) Pullup (Pause top & bottom)

3 x 5-6

Cell

D1) Bench Press Cluster

3 x 1+1+1 (30 sec rest)

80% 1RM

E1) Seated Med Ball Explosive Chest Pass

3 x 10

Cell

E2) Seated Explosive Med Ball Rotation Throw

3 x 10

Cell

Day 3

Exercise

Set/Rep

Load

Warm-Up

Cell
Cell

A1) Quadruped Thoracic Rotation

3 x 8/side

Cell

A2) Band Face Pull

3 x 10

Cell

A3) 3 Point Lunge

3 x 2 circles

Cell

B1) Walking Med Ball Rotation

3 x 10

Cell

B2) Walking Med Overhead Lean

3 x 10

Cell

Main Work

Cell
Cell

C1) Explosive Landmine Rotation

4 x 5/side


C2) Half Kneeling Band Row

3 x 6/side

Cell

D1) Back Squat Cluster

3 x 1+1+1 (30 sec rest)

80% 1RM

E1) Isometric Back Extension

3 x 20sec

Cell

E2) Hammer Pronation/Supination

3 x 5/each

Cell

12 Weeks To Knockout Power!

Train like a professional boxer, develop knockout power, and dominate the ring!

References

1. Siewe, J., Rudat, J., Zarghooni, K., Sobottke, R., Eysel, P., Herren, C., ... & Michael, J. (2015). Injuries in competitive boxing. A prospective study. International journal of sports medicine36(03), 249-253.

2. Loosemore, M., Lightfoot, J., & Beardsley, C. (2015). Boxing injuries by anatomical location: a systematic review. Medicina Sportiva: Journal of Romanian Sports Medicine Society11(3), 2583.

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.


Tags

boxing


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