Does Bench Press help Boxing?


does bench press help boxing

The Bench Press And Boxing

Boxing training has changed quite drastically from the previous generations, today we can find boxers of all levels not just with a boxing trainer, but a strength and conditioning coach and nutritionist too. How times have changed, the fighters of yesteryear would very often have a very limited arsenal to choose from for their workouts, preferring to stick to roadwork, bag work, skipping and sparring to prepare them for the fights and whose to say that was bad? Plenty of these men went onto become the greatest boxers we have ever seen so I find nothing wrong in their choice of training methods – it clearly worked for them.
Today though, things have changed – you could say it has advanced but there is no question the knowledge available now is far superior to what was available to boxers 50yrs ago, even 20yrs ago. As such, the training methods and tools have changed for fighters and there is a lot more variety with everyone wanting to try the latest cutting edge drill to give you that extra boost going into your fight. A question I am asked a lot is does bench press help boxing?

Arguably the most common exercise is the bench press, if it’s not that it is the bicep curl but we’re going to have a look at the bench press today because many fighters wonder whether the bench press is good for boxing. In the 1970’s we saw a shift in mainstream media, thanks largely to Arnold Schwarzenegger which saw bodybuilding take over as the main form of training the masses used. Now whilst this was great for guys wanting to get bigger and more muscular, the shift in ideology meant that many aspiring athletes were duped into thinking the same way you train for bodybuilding, was the same way you would train for sports.
Bodybuilding is used for hypertrophy – making the muscles larger. This is not an effective way to use the bench press for boxing. You do not want to be using the same sets and reps scheme which bodybuilders use because with boxing your goal is vastly different. We’ve often heard that lifting weights will make you slow and rigid, this is not correct – what will make you slow and rigid is using a bodybuilding routine for your boxing.

As someone who has trained in bodybuilding and has stepped into the ring, in my own experience bench pressing was not an effective tool for boxing but this was because at the time, I was still using a more bodybuilding orientated approach to bench pressing for boxing. Every time I was boxing and I had done the bench press a day or two before, I immediately noticed how much slower my punches were, and they weren’t necessarily harder either.
What I did do was pretty much drop the bench press from my routine, instead I replaced them with more push ups, dips and also plyo push ups(plyo push ups are a more explosive form of push ups, slow on the way down and fast on the way up). The times I was now using the bench press, I was training using the speed bench. The speed bench involves you lifting a weight which is between 30-70% of your one rep max. Lower the weight slowly and then explode up with the weight. Do this for 2-3 reps for a maximum of 5-6 sets. We are training explosive power and speed here, which is much more transferable to the sport of boxing. Boxing is sport which requires speed and explosiveness so try to train this way. I immediately felt my punches were sharper, quicker and had more snap to it, in boxing speed kills and you want to throw your punches with snap by whipping it in, something that is very difficult to achieve if you are using the bench press for boxing training incorrectly.

Now you can use heavy benching for boxing but this really depends on what stage you are at in your training. If you are not in fight camp and are going through a strength phase then heavy benching can be used but again avoid the bodybuilding rep ranges, keep your reps to 5 and under and lift explosively. Given a choice though I don’t really see a need for heavy benching unless you are moving up a weight class or you are a heavyweight and can mix that type of training in around explosive movements ie heavy bench followed immediately by plyo push ups or med ball chest passes.

So that is my take on the bench press for boxing. In summary, you can use the bench press, but stay away from bodybuilding routines, include more push ups and dips and focus on explosive lifts such as speed training/speed bench press.
To read more routines which can help you become faster, stronger and more powerful then grab a copy of my book Strength and Conditioning for Boxing.

About the author 


Boxing Coach
Strength and Conditioning Coach
Boxing Author of:

The Boxing Cheat Sheet - Your Ultimate Guide to Ring Survival

Strength and Conditioning for Boxing - Work out Hits to get you Fighting Fit!

Forgotten Legends of the Ring - Ten Past Masters of the Squared Circle

*Any videos or images used on this site to support my articles that are copyrighted are used for educational purposes and in accordance to the fair use act and are not my own - all credit is due to the respective owners. No copyright infringement intended.


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