Does Boxing Build Muscle (Without Lifting Weights)

Does Boxing Build Muscle (Without Lifting Weights)

Boxers are well known for their incredible physiques, and this has led many people to incorporate boxing or ‘boxercise’ into their workout regimes in an attempt to emulate or recreate the same or similar results for themselves.

But many people don’t have a very good understanding of boxing or the training side of it, and simply see the boxers on fight night without grasping how boxers attain this form.

It’s actually well known that boxers can come in many different shapes and sizes and there isn’t necessarily a perfect shape for boxing, as some boxers are very lean and muscular, while others are slightly less athletic.

A great example of this difference is in the physique of boxers such as Anthony Joshua or Deontay Wilder, who are two of the best heavyweights in the world and in astonishingly good physical shape, contrasted against Tyson Fury, who is far less muscular and ‘athletic’ looking, yet he is arguably the best heavyweight in the world despite his extreme height and considerable weight.

Boxing, in general, does improve fitness immensely, however, and can build muscle and have other effects and benefits. In this guide, we’re going to look at if boxing builds muscle and how it does this as well as what role weight training plays in boxing training today.

Does Boxing Build Muscle?

Boxing does build muscle, and it does this in a few different ways.

First and foremost, boxing itself is a full-body exercise and training regime, meaning that the whole body is targeted and improved using the techniques and training boxing requires.

Holding the hands up in the correct position for extended periods, moving around a lot, lateral movement, and of course, punching are very demanding movements that are often done for hours at a time in various formats, and this builds muscle through the incredible stress this puts on the muscles.

A common physical calling card of boxers is large, well-developed shoulder muscles, and this is because the shoulders are placed under incredible stress due to having to keep the hands raised and providing power for punches.

Boxing also exposes muscle by making you leaner and reducing the fat percentage of your body. This fundamental change in body composition does a lot to make boxers look much more muscular and athletic, and these changes occur because boxing burns a lot of calories and also because boxers who want to compete have to closely control their weight in order to compete in the appropriate weight class for their size.

Do Boxers Lift Weights?

Do Boxers Lift Weights

This is an interesting and contentious question. Many traditionalists in the boxing community, from coaches and trainers to fighters, viewed weight training as impractical and avoided or prohibited their fighters from lifting weights as there was a belief that this would slow hand and punching speed, reducing overall power and also making fighters movement slower, and reducing their cardiovascular endurance.

All of these aspects were considered paramount to a successful boxer, and so for a long time weight training was incredibly unpopular among fighters and trainers.

Things have changed, however, and sports science and new training techniques coupled with a better understanding of how to harness training techniques mean that weight training is much more common among boxers now as it is true that weight lifting can actually improve speed and power as long as it is used correctly as part of a larger boxing training program.

Can Boxing Training Build Muscle Without Lifting Weights?

Even though weight training is now a common choice among fighters of various disciplines and boxers, it is possible to build muscle while boxing without lifting weight.

This is because boxing is still a very intensive form of exercise and this alone can build muscle as well as cut body fat leading to an incredibly athletic physique, even without weight training playing a role in the process.

Weight training can accelerate this process however which is why it’s commonly used by most professional athletes today in some capacity.

What Other Ways Can I Build Strength And Muscle For Boxing?

There are many ways to build strength and muscle for boxing, and weight training isn’t the only way. In fact, using various training types and techniques is important to maintain high motivation and prevent boredom which can massively affect an athlete’s mental state and lead to reduced motivation, performance and lead to plateaus and other unwanted outcomes for an athlete or trainee.

Incorporating other forms of exercise and training such as running, swimming, cycling, HIIT, and interval training are all hugely beneficial to building muscle for boxing, and many professional coaches use these different forms of exercise to maintain and assist in the acquisition of strength and muscle for boxers of various ability levels.

Do Boxers Need To Be Muscular?

Do Boxers Need to be Muscular

While it certainly helps, boxers don’t need to be traditionally athletic to be successful. Some amazing examples of this are in the heavyweight division in particular, Tyson Fury who is a reigning heavyweight world champion, as well as Andy Ruiz, a Mexican Heavyweight boxer who doesn’t have an athletic body type but who managed to beat Anthony Joshua in their first fight.

However it’s also important to note that despite not having an athletic appearance, these boxers are still incredibly fit and strong, and although they carry a few extra pounds and don’t have that cut and lean physique some boxers use, they are still very strong and muscular beneath the extra fat they carry.

It’s much harder for boxers in lower-weight divisions to carry extra weight in this way, which is why lower-weight divisions typically see a much leaner physique in their boxers.

Can I Use Boxing To Get In Shape?

Absolutely, and boxing is in fact one of the best ways to get in shape if you’re trying to obtain a lean and muscular physique as well as incredible flexibility and fitness.

Boxing is intense, however, and many people struggle to keep up with these training sessions over a long period of time as they are intense.

Eventually, however, you will get up to speed and if you persevere you will find yourself among some of the fittest athletes around, as boxing develops all aspects of physical fitness from strength and endurance to flexibility, coordination, and technique.

Can Boxing Make Me Leaner?

Boxing can definitely make you leaner as it burns an insane amount of calories. However becoming leaner is less to do with the type of training you do and more about how to manage your diet, and even boxers can struggle to become lean if they don’t eat correctly along with their training programs.


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