Boxing is one of the most popular combat sports in the world, particularly in the west thanks to decades of heritage and some of the highest-profile rivalries and champions in sports history.
Boxing has even become a popular way for non-fighters and general athletes to keep fit or to help people obtain a ‘fighting fit’ body, due to the incredibly rigorous training that boxing requires, and the benefits that come with this.
However, training as a boxer isn’t all about speed bags, shadow boxing, and sparring. Boxers, even, and often, especially, amateur boxers do a lot of cardiovascular exercises to be able to raise their fitness levels to the point where they can train very hard for extended periods.
Boxing is one of the most demanding sports in the world, and even very casual of non-competitive boxers require an immense level of fitness in order to complete even a basic boxing training session, and without good cardio, you will find yourself sweating, panting and possible vomiting on the floor of your local boxing gym (trust me, I’ve been there!).
This is why boxers run so much, and why there is a massive focus on cardiovascular fitness as well as power, strength, and flexibility.
Boxers are some of the most complete athletes in the world and their combination of all these aspects of fitness along with the coordination, technique, and strategy to progress and succeed as a boxer is what makes the sport so difficult, and so rewarding.
Why Running is So Important
Running is important because, without a good gas tank, you will barely be able to finish a basic boxing workout, let alone hold your own in a light sparring session. Fighting is incredibly taxing both physically and mentally, and it takes a lot of fitness to maintain the proper technique under the pressure of the pace of the fight and the punishment you may be receiving.
A lapse in fitness can lead to a lapse in concentration or technique, which leads to getting tagged and potentially finished or hurt during a fight. At the very least, it makes the fight a much more difficult prospect.
Running is important because it, like boxing, is a full-body workout that develops the cardiovascular system across the whole body and this is really important for boxers as boxing is an all-body, intensive workout.
How Often Do Boxers Run?
Boxers run almost every day with very few exceptions, and experienced boxers will often run 3 to 5 miles daily without even thinking twice about it, and often still train in the gym or at home on top of this.
Boxers work in a lot of cardio for all the reasons mentioned above, but there are other reasons for this too.
Running is a great way to get into the zone mentally, and can help boxers relieve stress or take some alone time to strategize or get motivated. Running builds up positive hormones in the body and warms the body up ready to perform other types of exercise too, however, there is another more important and dreaded reason for running and its dominance in boxing.
This is weight management. Boxers need to be able to carefully maintain and control their weight and body composition, and one of the best ways to ensure they stay on top of this is to use low-intensity cardio exercises such as running to burn calories without risking injuries that could potentially lead to an issue during a training camp or in the lead up to a fight.
Boxers are often seen running in hoodies, hats, or sweatsuits, and this is because this is one of the best ways to drop water weight fast and keep fat levels low while still preserving power and strength for fighting and training in the gym.
There are many other forms of training that boxers use, however, as well as other cardio exercises that are popular. While running is the most popular and widespread, particularly among entry-level boxers and amateurs there are increasingly popular alternatives to this. That being said, running will always be a part of a boxer’s lifestyle and that is very unlikely to change.
Sprinting, HIIT Training and Other Cardio Exercise
These other forms of exercise are things like sprints, HIIT training, and other forms of cardio to help manage stress on the body.
Boxers will regularly swim and cycle alongside their boxing training and running as these exercises are much more low impact than running and help further reduce the risk of injury, taking the strain off the body and helping reduce recovery times, as well as helping to develop endurance in a slightly different way and stave off boredom.
Boredom is one of the key concerns almost all trainers and coaches fear, and it’s a little-known fact that this is one of the main reasons why people don’t stick to their training.
Mixing in other forms of exercise alongside running can help with this, maintaining motivation.
HIIT training and sprints are also used quite often by boxers, as these forms of exercise build up fitness very quickly and improve recovery times as well as explosiveness, which are obviously both very important aspects of a boxer’s physical skillset.
Being able to recover in the time between rounds efficiently and to punch with power are key, and the only way to be able to keep this up over the course of 20 to 30 minutes is to build anaerobic endurance alongside aerobic endurance.
Not many people are aware of these two different types of fitness but they both govern different areas of performance.
Aerobic endurance is fitness that cardiovascular endurance develops, and governs how long you can continually work out for, as well as how efficient and strong your cardio is. Good aerobic fitness lets you train harder and for longer.
Anaerobic endurance is a different type of fitness that governs how strong, fast and explosive you are, as well as how long you can maintain this type of output.
Anaerobic endurance is important for punching hard and recovering, so developing an elite level in both sets of endurance is key to improving in boxing. Ignoring one of these will slow your progress considerably and leave you a much weaker boxer overall.
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