boxing

  • 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:

  • 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.

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