Do Boxers Lift Weights (And Should They)
Weightlifting and boxing were previously thought of as separate activities. Now, many people have realized that resistance training has many advantages. Boxers can benefit from a strategic weightlifting routine.
Boxers lift weights to improve injury resistance, punching skills, and maximum power expenditure. However, while they may find strength training useful, they shouldn’t train like bodybuilders or powerlifters. Weight training in this manner can make boxers slower, bulkier, and even weaker. But why is this so?
We’ll get into why lifting weights isn’t recommended for boxers within this article, as well as what types of strength training they should be doing.
Is Weightlifting Bad For Boxers?
While most people can benefit from general strength and conditioning, some types of weight training aren’t recommended for boxers. Resistance training can be bad for boxers if they are doing bodybuilding or powerlifting style routines. These programs are designed for maximum hypertrophy, focusing on pure muscle growth. A lot of work is needed within these programs, so boxers may be too tired and overworked for boxing training.
Bodybuilding training also builds slow-twitch muscle fibers. After each session, the targeted muscle group will have been worked to the maximum. This means that they won’t be able to work as hard at boxing training sessions. The muscles also need more time to recover, so they will be more injury-prone if they are used soon after.
Similarly, powerlifting training may build strength, but it doesn’t involve high-speed movements that are needed in boxing. If this is done too often, it can reduce your boxing ability. Boxers will need to train with lower weights, higher speed, and lower volume.
Should Boxers Lift Weights?
People have mixed opinions about whether boxers should weight train or not. Here are the main pros and cons of boxers taking on weight training.
Can Increase Explosive Strength
This is a good reason for boxers to lift weights. Training with weights can increase explosive power. Punching with power uses the whole body. Boxers will need to move in a smooth efficient sequence. Before the punch lands, the legs have to begin moving, then the core, finishing with the arm.
If the boxer is successful, the resulting punch should be strong enough to affect the opponent. Boxers want their hits to be as tough and powerful as is physically possible. Weightlifting is one method that can help with this.
We’ve explained why training for maximum hypertrophy isn’t recommended for boxers. Weightlifting exercises that will help with explosive movements revolve around compound lifts.
These are exercises that use more than one muscle group at a time, like pull-ups, squats, or deadlifts. It’s also important for boxers to train their abs and obliques, as a strong core is essential for landing a hard punch.
While compound lifts are good for boxers, it’s still important to focus on increasing strength rather than building muscle. Instead of high volume sets, boxers should work out using lower repetitions. Staying within 6-8 repetitions in each set has been proven to increase strength without adding bulkier muscle.
Weightlifting May Make You A Slower Boxer
Weightlifting can make your movements more explosive and your punches harder. However, it’s important to note that training with weights may make you slower and rigid too. Bigger boxers may be able to hit heavy punch bags hard, but will struggle against an actual opponent as their movements are too slow.
Large muscles weigh more, so heavier boxers are always carrying around a greater mass. This makes it difficult to land a direct punch, especially when the opponent is lighter and able to dodge hits easily.
Furthermore, several boxers attest that their muscles get more tired during training when they also lift weights. Heavyweight training may make your hits more powerful, but you’ll notice that your muscles soon feel weary, so you won’t be able to keep throwing jabs. Resistance training can make your muscles less flexible, so you won’t be as agile against opponents.
Aspiring boxers should stay away from bodybuilding-style programs and concentrate on increasing overall strength. A good rule to go by is to only do compound exercises that work out 2 or more muscle groups.
Builds The Core To Take Punches
Another pro of resistance training is that it builds core strength. A strong core is essential for boxers, as it can make your punches more powerful. A resistant core also means that any jabs you take affect you less, so you can continue fighting. Due to this fact, many believe that boxers should prioritize ab exercises in their strength training routine.
Most boxing enthusiasts know that boxers tend to have wider waists than athletes from other sports. Boxing involves movements that heavily use the core, like ducking, punching, and dodging.
Traditional ab exercises, like crunches and sit-ups, will keep the abs strong, though boxers should add weights to these movements whenever possible.
Other than making the abs stronger, core training will make it easier for you to ‘take a punch’ to your abdominals. Well-directed punches to the body affect even the best boxers. A jab to the stomach puts you off of your flow and tires you out instantly.
The goal should be to make your core able to withstand jabs, which can be done with regular weighted ab exercises. Other less known ab exercises include cable woodchoppers, weighted oblique twists, and ab pulldowns with a machine. Always use the correct form and use a challenging weight, increasing it slowly over time.
Higher Risk Of Overtraining
It can be beneficial for boxers, but a huge con of weightlifting is that it increases the risk of overtraining. More seriously, it may also cause detrimental injuries which may prevent you from boxing ever again.
These negative effects tend to be seen when boxers first start weightlifting. Instead of easing into a routine, they try to progress as quickly as possible. Weightlifting places a lot of stress on the body, so it’s important to stay within your limits and progress slowly, especially if you also take up boxing training.
The term ‘overtraining’ refers to when a person trains at a harder level than they can manage. When this happens, their body cannot recover sufficiently. Boxers need to be aware of this, as boxing is another activity that places stress on the body.
If you’re killing it at boxing training, but also trying to make maximum gains in the gym, overtraining is a real possibility. It’s best to focus on boxing and use weightlifting as a tool to help you be a better boxer.
Start by lifting weights no more than twice a week. If you see good progression, your body will tell you if you can increase the number of sessions or not. Look out for overtraining signs like tiredness, sore muscles, and stress. When this happens, reduce the sessions or take a break from weight training for a while.
On the other hand, if you’re seeing good results and feel like you can handle some more weights, feel free to add another session to your regime. Remember to use proper form. You can look in the mirror to check, or ask a trainer to show you the correct positioning.
We’ve covered the main pros and cons of weight training for boxers above. Weight training can be great for boxers, but with specific guidelines. Only train for strength rather than hypertrophy. Compound movements that use more than one muscle group are better for boxers.
Overtraining is a real possibility, so focus on your boxing training. Try to commit to no more than two weightlifting sessions a week.
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