Monthly Archives: February 2019

  • Sizing Matters: Getting the Right Size for your Boxing Equipment

    A bxoer with gloves and headgear in the ring in front of US flagDetails matter. How many times have you heard a parent, teacher, boss, or coach utter some variation of that during your formative years? How many times have you found it to be true? “A Lot” is probably the answer to both questions, and elite athletes often have to be super focused on the details to succeed.

    Former NBA star Bill Bradley offers one of the best examples of this phenomenon. While home training in Missouri one summer, Bradley noticed many of his jump shots were sailing just a tad long. He eventually insisted the basket he was practicing on was not the regulation ten-feet tall. Turns out, he was right. It was shorter by an inch.

    The lesson here is that for athletes of all ages and ability levels, you need to have and practice with the right size equipment to get better. With a particular emphasis on getting properly sized gloves, here’s a look at why sizing matters when it comes to boxing equipment.

    Gloves – They’re Important

    Comfortable, durable, and rightly sized gloves are a must-have for any boxer serious about improving. Consulting a gloves size chart is wise, as it offers guidance on your best bet for all different types of gloves.

    To keep it simple, first measure the circumference of your dominant hand, just below the knuckles. This will help determine the general size of the glove you’ll need. Whether you’re a traditional boxer or prefer sliding on MMA gloves, you’ll also need to take into account the intended use of the gloves and your body weight.

    All-Purpose vs. Sparring vs. Competition Gloves

    Many boxers have a pair of gloves they use for all training purposes. If you’re mostly using the sport to get into or stay in shape, and have no plans to fight competitively, one pair is probably all you need. They will primarily be used for hitting the bags and occasionally sparring. This type of glove typically ranges from 12 to 18 ounces in weight, depending on your size.

    If you plan to Spar regularly, however, you will want gloves specific to this purpose. Sparring gloves have extra-padding, making it less likely to hurt your sparring partner. Serious boxers should probably spar with gloves at competition weight, though many boxers will spar with heavier gloves so that their hands feel lighter during competition. Beginners should choose bigger gloves initially, as they will have less control and will benefit (or rather their sparring partner will benefit) from the increased protection.

    Competition boxing gloves are used in the ring for both professional and amateur boxing. The weight class and competition certifying body dictate exact size specifications. Most of the time, your competition gloves will be lighter and have less exterior padding than your training gloves.  As we pointed out before, you’ll want that reduced weight so that your hands feel faster when during competition. Competition gloves, despite being lighter, should still have more than enough padding to protect your hands.

    Handwraps

    Boxer with red and white gel-wraps on fists.If you size gloves without your handwraps on, you’ve wasted your time. Handwraps are essential for keeping your hands strong and healthy whether you’re training or competing. For traditional and mexican-style handwraps, you will generally select handwrap size based on your weight. For quick wraps and gel wraps, you will need to know your hand circumference. To obtain this, measure the circumference of your hand around the palm across the knuckles using a soft measuring tape.

    Headgear

    It’s not entirely about the gloves. Paying attention to securing properly sized headgear is huge when it comes to boxing as safely as possible. Headgear sizes are based on your fitted hat size, which is obtained by measuring the circumference of your head approximately one inch above your ears. Those after a more custom fit can also check out our Flex-Panel Technology headgear.

    Mouthguards

    Mouthguard size is simply based on age. Age 11 or under will use a youth-sized mouthguard. All others will use an adult-sized mouthguard. Given the unique size and shape of each individual’s mouth, guards are intended to be easily customized for each user. This is easy to accomplish by adjusting the fit with a pair of scissors.

    Ankle Supports

    We all know landing impactful punches is influenced greatly by a strong lower half, so you always want to make sure you’re protecting your body from the waist down, too. One way to do this is by wearing ankle supports. Ankle supporting sizing is based on your shoe size for males and females.

    Groin Protection

    Regardless of your gender, groin protection is an important piece of equipment for sparring and competing. Wearing the wrong size or style of groin protector can hinder your movement, distract you in the ring and cause general discomfort. Make sure to choose a groin protector that is appropriate for your gender and waist size.

    Shoes

    Black and silver ringside boxing shoots on the feet of a boxer.If you want to be a quick and agile boxer, wearing high-quality boxing shoes is essential. Boxing shoes provide much-needed ankle support while allowing you to remain light on your feet in the ring. They also have traction and sweat protection to keep you dry and sure-footed. Our boxing shoe sizes are based on standard US men’s shoe sizing.

  • The Science Behind your Coach's Training Regime

    NOTE: This article was edited on 2/18/19 to include more information about Velocity Based Training (VBT) and common devices used to measure movement speed for use with VBT.

    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) flips the script a bit on how athletes build their workout routine. Instead of focusing on the load (weight) associated with a particular exercise, the athlete instead focuses on the velocity of the movement. The Force-Velocity curve shown below provides specific velocity windows (as opposed to fractions of an individuals single rep max or 1RM) to achieve certain training goals. 

    In the case of a boxer trying to target a Stregnth-Speed range, the athlete would want to perform his or her movements with a velocity between 0.75 and 1.00 meters/sec. The athlete would choose a load that allows this velocity to be maintained thorughout the full exercise (3 or 4 sets). If the movement is too slow, reduce weight. If it is too fast, increase weight. Organizing training this way has the benefit of allowing the athlete to adjust on the fly to any fluctuations in capability.

    The down side to this type of training is that it requires some specialized equipment that usually costs at least $250 to $350. We don't have any specific recommendations on tools to help dial in your VBT training, but here are links to some of the more popular devices:

  • 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.

     

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