Combining weight training with boxing has been a subject of intense debate among fitness and boxing enthusiasts. Some argue that weight training could interfere with the agility and speed required in boxing, making the boxer slower, while others contend that it’s an effective way to build muscle and increase strength.
This article explores the intricate relationship between these two seemingly distinct forms of physical activity, analysing the benefits and potential drawbacks of combining weight training with boxing.
Do Boxers Lift Weights and Why?
Weight training is often a subject of contention in boxing circles. In the past, many veteran boxing coaches shunned lifting weights, arguing that training could make the boxer slower. But science has proven otherwise. A correct weight training program will benefit boxers by augmenting their strength and muscular endurance.
Boxers, whether amateurs or professionals, lift weights as part of their training regimen. It’s not the bodybuilding style of weightlifting focused on isolating muscle groups to build muscle mass.
Incorporating weight training into boxing also has a strategic component. Boxers need to maintain a certain weight for their weight category while optimising their power and speed. For example, heavyweight boxers will have a different weight training program than those in lighter weight classes.
Combining weight training with specific boxing exercises such as hitting the heavy bag, shadow boxing, and cardio can create a holistic training routine that ensures the boxer is well-prepared for the ring.
Is Weight Training Bad for Boxing?
Despite the old-school belief that weight training would make a boxer slower, modern training techniques and understanding have helped debunk this myth. It’s been established that weight training can enhance a boxer’s performance when implemented correctly.
The misconception comes from the difference between boxing training and traditional bodybuilding. Boxers need to enhance their cardiovascular and muscular endurance, speed, power, and agility, which are not the primary goals of typical bodybuilding. When a boxer lifts heavy weights for low repetitions in a bodybuilding style, it can lead to unnecessary bulkiness and muscle tightness, possibly making them slower.
However, that doesn’t mean weight training is bad for boxing. A well-structured weight training program can increase a boxer’s strength and power without compromising speed or flexibility. The key is to focus on compound exercises and functional training that closely mimic boxing movements.
For example, lightweight training with high repetitions can help boxers increase endurance, while heavy compound exercises can help increase strength. Combining these with boxing-specific training such as heavy bag workouts, shadow boxing, and cardio provides a comprehensive training routine.
A general rule is to listen to your body and maintain a balance. Boxing-specific training should take precedence, and weight training should complement it.
How Often Should Boxers Do Weight Training?
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to how often boxers should engage in weight training. It depends on several factors, including their boxing weight, fitness level, specific goals, and the time they can dedicate to training.
However, as a general guideline, many boxing coaches recommend incorporating weight training into a boxer’s routine two to three times a week. This frequency delivers the benefits of weight training, such as increased strength, power, and muscular endurance, without overtaxing their bodies or detracting from their technical boxing training.
A typical boxing training routine might involve dedicating certain days of the week to specific activities. For example, one might structure their week as follows:
● Monday: Boxing training (heavy bag training, bag workouts)
● Tuesday: Weight training (lightweight training with high repetitions)
● Wednesday: Boxing training (technical boxing, shadow boxing)
● Thursday: Weight training (compound exercises)
● Friday: Boxing training (sparring, agility drills)
● Saturday: Cardio/endurance training
● Sunday: Rest day
On weight training days, boxers should focus on compound movements that mimic the natural motions of boxing. This could include squats, deadlifts, and bench presses that work for multiple muscle groups at once.
Remember to listen to your body. Overtraining can lead to fatigue, injuries, and decreased performance, so you must include sufficient rest and recovery periods in your schedule.
Do Heavyweight Boxers Lift Weights?
Given their weight category, heavy boxers have a higher threshold for muscle mass and power. Hence, they will likely lift heavier weights to maximise their strength and punching power.
Heavyweight boxers do not have to worry as much about making weight, and as such, they can focus on building more muscle mass without worrying about increasing their weight category. This could include more traditional weightlifting exercises, such as heavy squats, deadlifts, and bench presses.
However, it’s important to note that even heavyweights do not lift weights like bodybuilders. They still focus on functional strength and endurance over sheer muscle size.
In the end, the goal of weightlifting for heavyweight boxers is to increase their power without negatively impacting their other boxing attributes. Like other boxers, they must balance their weight training with technical boxing training, cardio, and agility workouts to maintain a well-rounded skill set.
Does Boxing Build Mass Without Weight Training?
Even without weights, boxing can help build muscle mass to a certain extent. Boxing workouts involve great cardiovascular and muscular endurance training, which helps tone and strengthen muscles.
During a typical boxing workout, emphasis is placed on bodyweight exercises. These exercises simultaneously engage multiple muscle groups and can contribute to lean muscle development. Activities such as shadow boxing, heavy bag workouts, and punching can help build muscle, especially in the upper body.
Furthermore, boxing is an intense activity that burns a lot of calories. Calorie-burning and a proper diet can help reduce body fat and highlight muscular definition.
However, if significant muscle mass or strength gain is your primary goal, incorporating weight training into your boxing routine is essential.
Boxing alone, while beneficial for toning and endurance, may not provide enough resistance or intensity to trigger substantial muscle growth, especially for those looking to move up in weight categories or improve their punching power.
While boxing can contribute to muscle toning and definition, a balanced regimen that combines boxing with weight training is recommended for more considerable muscle mass and strength gains.
The debate around whether to combine weight training with boxing is complex. The boxing pros of the past might have frowned upon the idea of boxers hitting the weight room, but modern fitness science recognises the potential benefits that weight training can bring to a boxer’s performance.
However, it’s important to remember that not all weight training is good for boxing. A program appropriate for a bodybuilder isn’t suitable for a boxer. A well-structured, boxing-specific weight training program can help increase strength, muscular endurance, power, and range of motion, without making the boxer slower or compromising agility.
Whether you’re a professional or an amateur, the science of boxing can be enriched by a thoughtful integration of weight training. As with any fitness regimen, always listen to your body, ensure adequate recovery, and seek professional guidance.