Ringside Blog

Advice from The Best in Boxing

  • The Science Behind your Coach's Training Regime

    If you’ve been following this blog for a while then you know that boxing training constitutes more than just physical strength. We’ve discussed speed, movement, endurance, and mental preparation.

    Now, we’re going to take a look at the science that supports the training that goes into boxing. If you understand the physical principles involved, then you will be able to better identify ways to maximize strength, speed, and your overall boxing prowess every time you put on your headgear and step into the ring.

    Hitting the heavy bag to improve strength and mobility

    Figuring Out an Ideal Training Regimen

    Punching requires rapid force development and can be fostered through explosive strength training. Sounds simple, but boxing tradition holds that adding muscle to boxers will slow them down while many strength and conditioning coaches argue the opposite. Turns out, both can be correct, depending on the training method.

    Since forceful punches rely on momentum, getting bigger, stronger, and faster is the best way to punch harder. Yet boxers are limited in their ability to increase mass because of weight classes, so developing momentum without adding excessive muscle becomes priority number-one.

    That’s where strength-speed exercises that train to develop a neuromuscular system with the capability to generate force rapidly come into play.

    Understanding the Force-Velocity Curve

    A well-designed training program based on the force-velocity continuum will help whip your body into ideal boxing shape. There is an inverse relationship between force and velocity, meaning the heavier the weight you lift (force), the slower you lift it (velocity) and vice versa

    Using a range of exercises throughout this spectrum can help you develop strength and speed together. For example, the top of the spectrum might include squats and deadlifts which are high force and low velocity. The middle of the curve is more explosive strength and involves using a dynamic effort method (slightly lighter load with a higher speed), which could be box jumps or deadlifts with lighter weight.

    As you get to the bottom of the curve, exercises could include bench press throw, jump squats, plyometrics and finally general speedwork. To reap the maximum benefits of your training program, identify your weak spots on the force-velocity curve and focus on improving those areas.

    Strength-Speed

    Also known as explosive strength, strength-speed is a type of strength training where athletes need to produce large quantities of force in a short timeframe. By optimizing rate of force development, strength-speed exercises reduce the likelihood of muscular hypertrophy, increasing speed while making mass gains slower. Furthermore, muscle and connective tissue resilience is improved, and type II muscle fibers and high-threshold motor units are activated.

    Squatting with heavy bar across shoulders.

    Targeting Strength-Speed

    Olympic lifts are perfect for developing explosive strength whether you're wearing MMA gear or boxing gear. They activate several muscles and joints and promote rapid kinetic chain sequencing, meaning a forceful punch can be generated from the lower body and hips on through the core and into the upper body.

    Olympic lifts are another name for the snatch and the clean and jerk progression lifts. These lifts are difficult to do and should be performed under the tutelage of an experienced coach.

    The Snatch: The snatch is where the weightlifter lifts the barbell from the floor to overhead in one fluid motion.

    The Clean and Jerk: This lift involves moving the barbell from the floor to a “racked” position  resting on the shoulders (the clean) before extending to a fixed position above the head (the jerk).

    If you're not ready to do olympic lifts, there are a number of loaded jumps that  can be employed for similar effect. To perform a loaded jump, start with the barbell on your back and go into a deep squat. Explode upwards and jump as high as you can before landing softly into a deep squat.

    Using the resistance band to increase foot quickness

    Accommodating Resistance Training

    To produce a harder punch at a longer range, you can try to increase the amount of force-generating elements within a muscle tendon without adding too much weight. Using resistance bands can help accomplish this by encouraging you to apply more force at the top of the lift.

    Consider working elastic resistance bands into your squats, deadlifts, and upper-body pressing exercises. To do this, first be sure to get the right resistance bands. Our 41” resistance bands can be used by themselves or with Olympic bars and weights.

    To avoid injury, use a lighter barbell weight than you normally do. For a bench press resistance exercise, locate the small bar underneath your bench press and attach the resistance bands to each end of the barbell. As you extend upwards, you’ll notice added resistance to the barbells.

    Velocity-Based Training

    Velocity-based training (VBT) encourages athletes to lift at speed, and the method is used to monitor performances and structure programs. A powerful tool to improve strength and speed, VBT is usually reserved for serious boxers who want to prepare for a competition.

    VBT can give you and your team a Load-Velocity Profile, a 1RM (one repetition max) estimate, and a fatigue index. All of these are useful tools for planning and implementing a training program that will transform your body effectively.

    However, keep in mind that you will need bar speed technology to track your speed and calculate how much load you should be using for each set. Although this data is helpful for becoming a better fighter, the technology can cost anywhere from $250 to $500.

  • Foam Rolling for Boxers - Improving Post-Fight Recovery

    Dr Robyn Love of Love Chiropractic Dr. Robyn Love of Love Chiropractic

    GUEST POST: To talk to you this week, we reached out to a local expert on the topic of using foam rollers and massage balls to recover after a fight or workout. Foam rolling and other forms of trigger point therapy are growing in popularity throughout the sports world. As Dr. Love shows, they are incredibly effective for treating some of the unique stresses of boxing and mma. You can reach Dr. Love at Love Chiropractic, the practice she shares with her husband, Dr. Adam Love. 

    When you’re in the ring or shadowboxing, maintaining a proper fighting stance keeps you ready to react, allows for fluidity of movement, and maximizes proper transference of force. However, holding that body position can also lead to fatigue and tightness in muscles throughout the body, especially in the legs and shoulders. After a hard workout or an intense competition, this tightness and fatigue can turn to pain or reduced mobility if left un-addressed.

    To help reverse these issues, athletes in many sports have turned to foam-rolling and other forms self-myofascial release. In fact, focusing on release of trigger points or adhesions (small areas of tension in the muscle or fascia surrounding the muscle that impede smooth movement) has been shown to be incredibly important to reducing muscle soreness, improving flexibility and enhancing range of motion following exercise—especially high intensity workouts. An October 2018 study just showed that self-myofascial release is beneficial in reducing fatigue-induced losses of power and velocity.

    Read on to learn about two of the main types of self-myofascial release exercises: foam rolling and massage ball releases. I’ve highlighted three exercises in each category that will work the most common areas of tightness in boxers and MMA fighters.

    Boxer in ready stance doing mitt work

    Foam Rolling

    The use of a foam roller over the larger muscle groups such as the quadriceps, anterior tib

    ialis, and the thoracic spine following intense exercise, such as boxing and MMA training can be a very effective intervention for enhancing joint range of motion for post-exercise performance. A study in the Journal of Strength Conditioning Research suggested that for improvements in joint range of motion, rolling for between 2-5 minutes is recommended.

    Quadriceps

    Your quads are the workhouse of your stance. If you’ve got a good crouch and good ring movement, your quadriceps will almost never be relaxed when you’re in the ring. Relieving that stress through a myo-fascial release exercise can significantly reduce soreness and maintain long-term mobility. Start by laying face down with the foam roller underneath your quads and perpendicular to the legs. Support your upper body on your forearms. Push yourself slowly back, at a rate of about one inch per second. When the roller reaches your hip, roll yourself slowly forward at the same rate until the roller is just above your knee. Repeat for 2-5 minutes.

    Anterior Tibialis

    Foam rolling the anterior tibialis (the muscle that runs along the outside edge of the shin bone) can be very beneficial for the long-term endurance of the calves and lower legs. Begin on your hands and knees with the foam roller under your shins. Make sure to engage your abdominal muscles and keep a flat back as you place more of your weight over the foam roller. Pull your knees toward your hands, while keeping your hands planted firmly on the ground, slowly moving the roller down your leg toward the ankle. Then push your knees back out until you no longer feel pressure on your anterior tibialis muscle. Then repeat.

     

    Thoracic ExtensionUsing a foam roller to relieve tension and tightness in the thoracic spine area.

    Foam rolling along your spine for thoracic extension will help to keep your posture tall and straight outside of the fight. While in the fighting stance, your hands are in front of you in a ready position with your head slightly flexed to keep your chin down and protected. This position, while protective and active during a fight, enhances forward rolled shoulders, increased thoracic curvature, and a promotes a forward head posture. To help counteract these long-term posture changes, lie on the ground with the foam roller underneath your upper back and perpendicular to the spine. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the ground. Place your hands behind your head and pull your elbows apart and towards the ground as far back as is comfortably possible. Extend the thoracic spine over the roller and begin rolling slowly up and down the vertebrae.

    Massage Ball

    While foam rolling is great for larger muscle groups, their use over large joints is not recommended. The use of a hard massage ball would be much more beneficial to really get in deep to these muscles.

    Calf

    Specifically, with the calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus) the attachment of the muscle to the tendon becomes a weak point due to frequent explosive movements.  Begin sitting on the floor with the lacrosse ball placed underneath your calf and to begin, lift your buttocks up and move back and forth along the muscle belly and at the tendon insertion.

    Hip Flexors

    Using the massage ball instead of a foam roller to provide relief for trapezius muscles.

    Lie on your belly, using your forearms to prop yourself up. Place the ball at the crease that forms when you lift your hip. With small motions, move side to side as well as up and down until you find a tight spot. Don’t be alarmed if you find more than one or if most of the muscle feels tight, this muscle is kept in shortened and tight position when seated and is a weak spot for much of the population. Hold over the tight spot until you feel a release.

    Trapezius

    For the trapezius, place the ball between a wall and your upper back. Move the ball until you find a tight spot and hold until you feel a release. Trouble areas for a lot of people in the trapezius are right above the shoulder blade and just an inch or two towards the spine as well as just below where your neck and shoulders meet.

     

  • 8 Tips to Help you Succeed as an MMA Fighter

    The octagon - where MMA fighters dream of victory

    To say the popularity of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has skyrocketed since UFC’s first event in November of 1993 would be an understatement. The UFC was valued at about $4 billion in 2016. It now consistently draws more pay-per-view buys than boxing and a comparable number to the WWE.

    The popularity of the sport has inspired many people to start learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in hopes of one day stepping into the Octagon. But before you set your sights on becoming a great MMA fighter like Conor McGregor or Demetrious Johnson, let's consider what it takes to get there. Follow these eight tips to becoming a successful MMA fighter to give yourself a shot at the glory. Be warned though—you will need to put in a LOT of hard work.

    Background in Martial Arts

    Even though MMA requires a mixture of a lot of skill sets (hence the name), it’s pretty vital that you have considerable training in at least one area to act as a foundation. Preferably, you started training in martial arts as a teenager or have several years of experience in something like boxing or wrestling. Often, having one go-to strength is a more realistic goal than trying to be solid at everything.

    Do Your Homework

    Take a step back before you slide your hands into MMA-style gloves. Even if you’re well-versed in boxing, wrestling, or karate, becoming a capable MMA fighter will take time. You’ll have to train every day to bridge the gap in knowledge between where you are now and someone who has an official W-L record with the UFC. While developing or honing a central strength, you need to absorb as much information as you can to continue progressing.

    Versatility Is Essential

    Circling back to our first point, the more tools you have for success, the better. In MMA, there are so many strategies that can take away your game plan, so the ability to resort to plans B, C, D, and on down the line is key. For athletes who really love throwing on the shin guards and competing, the challenge of learning unique, new moves adds to the sport’s appeal.

    Two MMA fighters in a ground and pound situation

    Let Go of your Ego

    As in many areas of life, pride can be uplifting or debilitating. When you first start serious MMA training, chances are you’re gonna get your butt kicked more than a few times. Maybe even by someone a good bit smaller or younger than you. Don't get frustrated at the defeat.  Look at these experiences as an opportunity to learn. There may be no better teacher when you're getting started.

    Mindset Is Everything

    It takes a certain type of individual to enjoy a sport where the other person wants to physically dominate you. You must possess the determination to inflict your will on the opponent. But you must also have the adaptability to recover from defeat.

    Bigger Doesn’t Necessarily Equal Better

    While bulky muscle-bound fighters were once the norm in MMA, the paradigm has shifted toward gymnast-like bodies. A solid size-to-strength ratio allows fighters to have power, quickness, and stamina. In the world of MMA, if you don't have all three, you aren't going to last long. MMA fighters don't have the option to hang back on the ropes and conserve energy. MMA fighters need to be able to go at 100% for the whole fight. Increased muscle size might give you an advantage in striking, but at the cost of late round endurance. Since muscles take oxygen, the more you have, the more oxygen you’ll require and the quicker you’ll hit a wall. Keep this in mind as you are training.

    Physical Toughness Is Important

    That said, being physically strong and tough is a pretty big part of the sport. Whether you’re training multiple times a day or trying to stay locked in as a fight wages on, your ligaments, muscles, and skin need to be able to take a toll. While a certain amount of wear and tear is a fact for MMA fighters, recognize when you need a break. Over-training will accentuate existing injuries and create new ones.

    Get Ready to Overcome Adversity

    No matter what level you’re at, you’re going to lose—and you might lose big—and  painfully. Use losses as fuel to get better, and have the fortitude to put them behind you as the next fight approaches.

  • A Guide to Maintaining Your Boxing Gear

    All your ringside boxing gear stored in a locker at the gym

    “The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses—behind the lines, in the gym and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.” – Muhammad Ali

    It never hurts to consult a guy called "The Greatest" for advice in his area of expertise. Of course, in the quote above, Ali was referring to the work he did training his body day in and day out, training his mind to be able to out-think his opponents in the ring, and developing tactics and strategies suited to each opponent he faced.  But there's another aspect of behind the scenes preparation that should be top-of-mind for boxers of all skill levels: your boxing gear.

    Don’t let countless hours of work and the money you spent on great boxing gear go to waste because you failed to take care of said gear. By following our guide to maintaining your equipment, you can place most of your focus on the the journey from boxing training, that behind the lines work, to dancing under the lights on fight night.

    Handwraps

    Wearing a clean pair of handwraps underneath your boxing gloves will protect your hands and wrists while also absorbing the sweat that you generate. To get the most out of your wraps, though, you cannot let them sit in your gym bag, wet and unwashed, after you leave the gym. Unpleasant odors are just the tip of what you'll start to run into. And no one wants to start a workout with wraps that are still damp from the last training session. 

    The biggest step in properly taking care of your handwraps is to just take the wraps out of your bag and hang them up, so they can dry out. This will help guard against funky smells and mold buildup. After every few sessions, you'll want to stick them in the washing machine to get them thoroughly cleaned up. Here are some suggestions on getting the best results from the next wash cycle:

    • Put each wrap in a small mesh bag or pillowcase to prevent tangling.
    • Since the colors of the wraps may bleed, wash them by themselves.
    • Hang up instead of using a dryer. While most wraps can go in the dryer, many boxers believe they’ll get more shelf life out of wraps that are hung to dry instead.

    Wrapping a boxer's hands with a red handwrap, a key piece of boxing gear.

    Gloves

    Boxers are fixated on their boxing gloves. A lot of time goes in to choosing just the right pair. And that makes sense, because good gloves aren't cheap, and they will be your steadfast partner through all of your training. Get the most out of your investment and keep that attachment going as long as possible by keeping them in peak shape.

    It’s essential to wipe down gloves after each workout. A washcloth and some antiseptic spray on the inside and outside of gloves will do the trick. The goal here is to snuff out bacteria, whose presence will cause nasty odors and mold buildup. Just like with hand wraps, take your gloves out of your bag as soon as you can so that they can dry out. You can speed up the process by placing them in front of a fan.

    To go the extra mile and keep them smelling good—or as realistically “good” as possible—shove a few dryer sheets deep into each glove. You could also fill two socks with cedar chips, tie the end of each sock, and then place a sock in each glove. Creativity points for the latter.

    Headgear and Groin Protectors

    For obvious reason, both of these items are pretty important. Don’t neglect them. Wipe your headgear and groin protector with antiseptic wipes and hang up to air out after each training session.

    Shoes

    You know you’ve put some work in when you feel pools of sweat collecting in your shoes. That’s a good thing. What’s not good is failing to air them out afterward. So, don’t do that. Another “don’t do” is to wear your shoes outside. Boxing shoes are exactly that—boxing shoes. Wearing them outside or anywhere but in the gym or in the ring will mean you’ll have to invest in another pair far sooner than you'd like.

    Mouthguard

    Clean your mouthguard before and after each workout. Rinsing with water beforehand will suffice. After your workout, we advise that you soak it in a glass filled with water and mouthwash overnight. For sanitary reasons, always keep your mouthpiece in its case while in your bag.

    Jump Rope

    Jumping rope is likely part of your routine in some form or fashion. Avoid tangling by taking the jump rope out of your bag as soon as you get home. Hanging the rope on a hook or hanger. Then tie a paperweight to each handle. That should help prevent annoying tangling.

  • 9 Exercises that Will Improve Your Punching Power

    Hitting the heavy bag is a key element of boxing training.

    While so much of what makes a great boxer or MMA fighter is technique, speed, and mental toughness, it doesn’t hurt to have a powerful punch. No matter how the fight is going, it can turn decidedly in your favor if you can land one devastating punch.

    If you’re not blessed with innate punching power, though, don’t worry. Making these nine exercises part of your boxing training program can help you improve in a big way.

    Medicine Ball Throw

    The key to packing more of a punch is training the explosiveness of your arms and increasing the power generated from your punching muscle fibers. Both of these techniques can help achieve that:

    1. Lie flat on your back and throw a heavy medicine ball as high as you can, pushing forward from the chest. Catch the ball with both hands and repeat until fatigue sets in.
    2. While standing upright in your boxing stance, take a medium-weight medicine ball into the palm of one hand and push forward as hard as you can. You can either throw the ball against the wall or have a partner catch it and throw back to you. You should do this as if you’re throwing a punch.

    Plyometric Push-Ups

    Increasing power and speed will allow you to make contact that can stagger your opponent. Plyometric push-ups can aid power and speed by training arm, shoulder, and pectoral strength--all parts of the body that influence punching power. Read on for a brief description of how they are performed.

    1. In the standard push-up position, dip down as you normally would but, as you rise, explode up so that your hands lift off the ground.
    2. To get peak results, ensure your core and glutes remain tight throughout the act.
    3. A slight variation to the exercise involves clapping your hands in mid-air or against your chest after you push off the floor.

    Work the Heavy Bag

    The heavy bag is training staple for a reason, so throw on your bag gloves (boxing- or MMA-style, you will benefit in either sport) and get well-acquainted with the heavy bag.

    In ten-second intervals, try to hit as hard as you can using any combination of straights, hooks, and uppercuts. Then, for 10-15 seconds, conduct an active rest time of light jabs and footwork before ramping it up for another 10 seconds. Carry these out for three-minute rounds, resting for about a minute in between sets.

    Shadowboxing in the ring with yellow handwraps Shadowboxing will help you refine your technique, ensuring more of your power ends up at the tip of your glove.

    Shadowboxing

    Although it may not seem like it, shadowboxing is great for increasing punching power because it forces you to focus on technique and proper execution. The better your form is, the more efficiently you will deliver your punches. This means that more of the power you’ve developed in your muscles will wind up at the tip of your glove.

    With the supervision of a trainer or boxing buddy, shadowbox in front of a mirror while paying close attention to technique and the way you throw punches. The bonus here is the exercise should also train defense, head movement, and footwork to make you a better all-around fighter. This is one of the reasons that Shadowboxing is a fundamental part of any boxing training program.

    Squats with Medicine Ball

    Whether you’re your training for boxing or MMA, rest assured that a majority of your punching power comes from your legs. Performing squats with a medicine ball will help give you a stronger base to work from.

    Combine Squats and Lunges

    Since full squats can add weight and force you up a weight class and lunges recreate movement patterns often used in the ring, combining split squats and lunges is a good option for efficient athletes.

    Tub o’ Rice

    Hand injuries are very common in boxing and MMA, so you need to put an emphasis on strengthening your fists. Start by getting a large tub of rice and digging your hands through it, fingertips first. You can also try punching through water or into sandbags to help strengthen your fists.

    Rotate Your Torso

    An underrated component to delivering impactful punches, especially later in fights when you start to tire, is rotating shoulders and torso as you deliver a hit. Work on creating that kind of torque by holding a medicine ball at chest level with both hands, straightening your arms and rotating your torso continuously from left to right.

    Chin-Ups

    Chin-ups are perfect for training your opposing (antagonist) muscles, so you’re not solely focusing on strengthening pecs, anterior deltoids, triceps, and other primary muscle groups used in punching. Get the most out of it by performing them with additional resistance as you go along.

  • What to Look For When Purchasing Speed Bags

    man hitting speed bag

    Speed bags are often associated with professional boxers, but the truth is that anyone can use them to improve their speed, timing, and endurance. Not only are these small, swivel-mounted punching bags fun to hit, they can also provide immense fitness benefits to beginners and skilled practitioners alike. As such, it’s not surprising that speed bags are a common addition to many commercial gyms and in-home gyms. If you’re currently searching for a speed bag, here is what you should be looking for: Continue reading

  • What Boxing Gear Is Essential for a Child’s First Competition?

    child boxer

    Your child’s first boxing competition is always an exciting time. Kids from all over the country congregate in one city to put their skills to the test inside the ring. After logging hours of training, your children will get their chance to shine and become true champions. However, before they can step into the ring, it’s critical that they have the right boxing gear. Making sure that your children are equipped with the right gear is essential. Not only is it required by every well-known youth boxing organization, but it’s also vital to their safety. Continue reading

  • Finding the Right Punching Bag for Your In-Home Gym

    punching bag

    So, you’ve finally made the decision to add a punching bag to your home gym. Smart choice! Now you can reap the many benefits of boxing fitness in the comfort of your own home. Before you run out and buy the first punching bag you see, there are a few things you should consider first. For instance, how large is your space? What do you want to achieve from your boxing workouts? If you don’t do your research, you’re likely to end up with a punching bag that doesn’t meet your specific needs. To save yourself both time and money, keep the following in mind: Continue reading

  • 5 of the Best Cardio Machines for Boxers

    young man using exercise bike at the gym

    Boxers know that their cardio workouts are essential to winning fights. You can have the best technique in the world and still lose if you’re feeling fatigued by the second round. Becoming a better boxer, will require incorporating a comprehensive cardio routine into your training regimen. Cardio work can help improve not only your speed and endurance but also your agility, balance, and stability. But which cardio machines are best for boxers? To get the most out of your workouts and start outlasting your opponents, here are the some of the best cardio machines that you should be using: Continue reading

  • Purchasing Equipment for Your Boxing Gym or Class: Rings, Bags and More

    Purchasing Equipment for Your Boxing Gym or Class Rings, Bags and More

    Ringside Boxing GloveIf you’re considering opening up a boxing gym or hosting boxing classes at your fitness facility, you’ll need to choose the right boxing ring and training equipment. Building a viable training facility requires a substantial investment, so you want to make every dollar count. Choosing an established, high-quality brand that you can trust is a great idea. You don’t want to gamble on these types of products, especially if it’s an area where you lack experience.

    Before deciding what to buy, it’s best to do a bit of research on what to look for in each of your boxing training equipment purchases. Fortunately, we’ve done a lot of that research for you already. We’ve taken years of boxing training experience and working with various brands of equipment to figure out what works best. Let’s go through several staples in boxing gyms and see how to pick the right products.

    Continue reading

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