Boxing is one of the toughest but most effective workouts, and professional boxers at the top of their game are some of the fittest athletes in the world. You don’t have to be a professional boxer or even take on opponents to reap the fitness benefits of boxing. Without even stepping foot in a ring, regular heavy bag workouts, speed bag drills, and shadowboxing can get you in great shape. But, just like Mayweather and the other champion fighters, in order to become a lean, mean, fighting machine, you need to supplement your boxing workouts with strength and conditioning exercises.
The best workouts for boxers aside from boxing-specific drills include exercises that improve your strength, agility, speed, endurance, and power. Boxing requires cardiovascular endurance and metabolic conditioning because it’s a high-intensity, anaerobic sport with aerobic demands as well, which is why cardio and conditioning exercises are an important component of boxing workouts. Moreover, while many people tend to think of boxing as solely an upper-body activity, the true power from a punch comes from your hips, core, and lower body, making boxing a total-body sport.
As such, the best boxing workouts will include strengthening exercises that target all the major muscles in the body and that train your neuromuscular system to coordinate movements and muscle contractions to deliver more force and power. We know you probably love a good session on the heavy bag, but keep reading for the best strengthening and conditioning workout for boxers to take your boxing to the next level and help you harness your inner Muhammad Ali.
Best Conditioning Exercises for Boxers
Boxing requires speed, agility, strength, power, and cardiovascular fitness. The focus of strength training workouts is usually on improving coordination, power, and speed of force development rather than on building muscle mass and gaining size. After all, boxers tend to try to remain as lean as possible without sacrificing strength, in order to be quick and light on their feet. For this reason, conditioning exercises are a crucial component of boxing workouts, and strengthening exercises focus on improving power and neuromuscular recruitment so that punches and movements are more efficient and forceful without needing to add more muscle fibers.
In other words, if you can train your body to use the muscles you have more effectively, you’ll be stronger and perform better. Spending time in the gym or doing resistance training exercises at home helps develop the neuromuscular communication and movement patterns you’ll rely on in the ring or in front of your favorite punching bag. Below, we share the best conditioning exercises for boxers:
A jump rope is the go-to conditioning tool for most successful boxers. Jumping rope, which is a form of plyometric exercise, not only conditions your heart and lungs and burns calories but also can be seen as an effective form of footwork that trains you to develop rhythm and be light on your feet, which are major factors in boxing.
Typically referred to as “roadwork” in the boxing sphere, running is one of the fundamental cornerstones of every good boxer’s workout regimen. Putting in miles, whether truly on the road or on a trail, track, treadmill, or otherwise, builds the aerobic base fitness boxers need to support their workouts and competitions.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is an excellent metabolic and cardiovascular conditioning tool for boxers. Much like HIIT, boxing involves bouts of near-maximum effort interspersed with relative lulls to recover. Thus, the intensity of HIIT mimics the demands of boxing and trains your body to push and perform at a high level even when you’re tired. HIIT workouts for boxers can involve any type of exercise, from running to cycling, calisthenics to rowing because the benefits mainly come from the metabolic conditioning stimulus.
Like jumping rope, burpees are a plyometric exercise. They help develop explosive power while simultaneously strengthening nearly every major muscle in your body. Additionally, you’ll also get a mighty cardio workout if you keep at it, making them a boxer’s best friend.
Mountain climbers will strengthen your core and shoulders while training your neuromuscular system to move quickly. Your focus should be on moving as fast as possible while maintaining good form.
Agility ladders can be used for drills that improve your agility and speed, helping you become lighter on your feet and more precise with your movements.
Interestingly, a lot of training that athletes do focuses on forward and back motions but many sports, especially boxing, require tons of lateral movements. As a boxer, you need to be strong and agile in 360 degrees so it’s critical that you train your hips, glutes, legs, and core with lateral exercises. Using a slide board can strengthen key muscles needed to drive power behind your punch, pivot, bob, and weave, and otherwise be the most competitive boxer you can be.
Best Strengthening Exercises for Boxers
Again, the focus on strengthening workouts for boxers should be on improving neuromuscular coordination and strength. Strength training can also help prevent injuries and correct muscle imbalances you may develop from hours spent pummeling the heavy bag.
The best strength training exercises for boxers include the following:
- Lunges/walking lunges
- Weighted punches
- Turkish get-ups
- Hanging knee raises
- Landmine punches
- Medicine ball slams
- Medicine ball chops