I’m often asked what are my favourite exercises for boxing? Exercises that are going to give the boxer that little bit extra to make them able to complete the 12 rounds, or able to make them punch that little bit harder?
I really believe that nothing replaces the traditional specific movements that are enhanced by shadow boxing, pad work, heavy bag work and sparring. These methods are tried and tested, and unless you are an experienced coach, you should leave this well alone.
During the boxing training camp, there are also other elements I believe which are non negotiable and should be followed to the letter.
▪ A correct weight management process.
▪ An element of Strength training.
▪ An element of Power training.
▪ An element of Speed Training.
▪ A huge amount of Strength-Endurance training.
I also believe that training should be fun, and that when prescribing your exercises to your boxer, you have to keep training interesting. With that in mind here are 10 exercises which I love for all boxers.
1 – Kettle Bell Swing
The kettle bell swing makes the cut due to its ability to build lean muscle and work the cardiovascular system. You will develop leg strength through the effort required to swing the kettle bell forwards and the eccentric contraction necessary to control the kettle bell on its return, as you are constantly working against the momentum of the kettle bell your power will improve.
The cardiovascular system is stressed as there is no rest period between repetitions, the kettlebell should be a great friend of any combat athlete.
2 – Turkish Get Up
The Turkish get up is another kettle bell exercise which whilst being less dynamic than the swing, still has countless benefits to performance. Due to the slow and unstable nature of the Turkish get up core strength is increased, assisting your balance in the ring while ensuring your punches are as powerful as possible. In participation you must look at the kettle bell at all times, aiming for the kettle bell to follow a straight vertical path from start to finish. Take your time!!
3 – Dead Lift
The dead lift is a compound strength exercise that focuses on your glutes, hamstrings and lower back. This is a staple exercise for a boxer.
4 – Pull Up
The pull up has stood the test of time as a valuable tool for fight preparation; if it isn’t part of your training programme make time for it. The pull up will improve your grip strength and engage muscles of the arms, back and core to improve strength and endurance. The large range of grips and arm positions that can be used to perform a pull up means that different muscle groups can be targeted – mix your grips and arm widths on a regular basis, it will keep training varied and provide a more complete work out.
5 – Muscle Up
The muscle up is an upper body exercise which will test you both physically and mentally. Fight training is about pushing yourself and overcoming obstacles, and the muscle up provides this. I guarantee you will not be able to complete this exercise on your first attempt! The transition period from the ‘pull up’ to the ‘dip’ sections of this exercise is the hardest part, beginners may wish to simplify this section by swinging their body slightly or changing arm position alternately.
6 – Back Squat
The king of strength exercises for the lower body. Make this a complex exercise by throwing in jump squats straight after for the training of power.
7 – Multi-planar Lunge
Leg strength and endurance are essential for a fighter. All punches start from your legs, therefore strong legs = strong punches. Endurance in your legs is also vital; if your opponent sees your legs wobble they know they’ve got the fight!! The multi-planar lunge develops leg strength and endurance (depending on weight and reps) and also aids flexibility and balance, as during the multi-planar lunge the ‘lunge’ is performed at different angles to the traditional exercise.
8 – Burpees
Everyone’s favourite, burpees, though hellish are an excellent exercise. They provide a cardiovascular workout alongside plyometric leg work. The high intensity nature of this exercise means it is exceptional for fight conditioning.
9 – Sergeant Jump
The sergeant jump is an explosive exercise which will develop lower body power and fight conditioning due to the difficult and intense nature of this exercise. In my opinion, another staple exercise of the boxer.
10 – FK Pro Neck Stability
In an ideal world we wouldn’t need to strengthen our necks, however the simple fact of fighting is that no matter how good you are you will get hit! A strong neck can withstand more punches and will prevent your head jerking back when receiving a punch as long as it is the deep neck flexors that have been trained!! Many of the “traditional” exercises taught to improve neck strength, simply do not work!!