Strength and Conditioning For Boxing


strength and conditioning for boxing

Is Strength and Conditioning Good For Boxing

Strength and conditioning for boxing plays an important part of your game. Times have changed and with advancements in training methods and nutrition, we have a better idea of how to set up training programs for boxers. The old days was mostly a program consisting of plenty of running, hitting the heavy bag, skipping and sparring, that was about it. Now that is not to say these methods are not effective – the best boxers in history, such as Sugar Ray Robinson would have followed a similar routine, there is nothing wrong with basing your training around a lot of running and plenty of sparring and I would still recommend that the bulk of your routine consists of boxing based training such as sparring, technique work and road work but there is a place for strength and conditioning for boxing and you should ideally set some time aside for this work.

Strength and conditioning is to be seen as a supplement to your training for boxing, it should never overtake what makes you a good boxer, which is predominantly technical work and sparring. You must be very careful how you use the exercises and at which point of your training you are currently at. For example, if you are in camp for a fight or getting ready for an amateur/white collar bout, you should be very careful about how many squats or weighted exercises for the legs you do. This is because running must take priority, if you lifting heavy on the squats, which is a great exercise for sports, you will not be able to recover in time for your running and so this would likely impede your performance. Whereas you can do still perform leg work, I would reduce the weight and perform speed squats instead. Speed training is great because it trains the body to work explosively and it only requires 2-3 reps per set, ensuring you are not exhausting your muscles.

Resistance exercises are great for boxing and it doesn’t have to be using weights, resistance bands also provide the tension required to work the muscles. A lot of boxers will use the cable crossover machine to replicate throwing punches, you can quite easily use this piece of equipment to throw the jab, the cross and the hook. Again keep the weight low and train explosively. You can use the medicine ball to also train the muscles used for throwing punches, a chest pass will train the arms and chest to explosively throw punches, the side toss will train the same muscles used when throwing the hook.

The power is mostly created from the ground up, this means you should look for exercises which train the legs, hips and core. Kettlebell swings utilise the hip hinge, which is used when throwing punches. The deadlift is also a great choice, arguably the best exercise you can use for boxing. Not only does it increase power, it trains most of the body so you are getting stronger all round but just as importantly, it trains the muscles which will cushion you against punches. Don’t leave the deadlift out of your routine. Another exercise I would recommend for power is the snatch balance – see my post here for why you should include this lift – again the weights used will depend on where you are at in your camp.


This is a different type of training as we are now training the cardiovascular systems of the body. We can use the strength exercises above to work into the conditioning aspect as well, we simply lower the weight and perform cycles and circuits.
There are many different methods to use conditioning, one such method is the 12-10-8 system which pics one muscle group and then you continually train this muscle in reps of 12, 10 and 8 one after another. An example of this would be using the bench press, chest pass with med ball and push ups. Perform 12 reps on the bench press, followed by 12 reps of the chest pass with a medicine ball and onto 12 push ups. Once you have done this, without rest you go onto performing 10 of the same exercises, bench press, chest pass and push ups. Once you have completed 10, again without any rest move onto 8 reps of the same exercises. When you have finished the final set of 8, then you can take a rest.
You can also use sprinting, weighted sled, airdyne/exercise bike as part of your conditioning. Max sprints are great for boxing as it helps to replicate the fast pace and high intensity of fighting inside the ring. A routine you could use is battle ropes, exercise bike, tyre flips and push up burpees – all for one minute each one after the other to train your conditioning. Boxing is three minute rounds so you could pick three and go for three minutes but I think going the extra minute is always wise so you are prepared for more when you get to the actual fight.

Speed kills – that’s the old adage in boxing and it is very true. When training, although you want to increase power, I generally recommend speed training over power training. You want to choose exercises that have a carry over effect to your boxing. You have to remain in a weight class(unless you are a heavyweight) so you cannot just eat whatever you like and go lift heavy weights like a bodybuilder or power lifter. There are exceptions to the rule, deadlifts can be performed at max weight but this should be cycled so you are not always performing max lifts – the closer to the fight you are though, speed deadlift should be the main form of lifting and not heavy deads. This is why plyometrics, speed training or explosively moving the weight is the preferred option. This also means lower reps because you cannot train for speed or explosiveness using higher reps, if you do you end up training the power for endurance rather than speed. Speed is short bursts of maximal output.

If you are lifting heavy I would suggest you mix it in with contrast training. Contrast training is a good method of training for sports. This allows you to train heavy for one set, immediately followed by an explosive movement. A basic example of this would be heavy squats, which trains the strength and power followed by box jumps, which trains the explosiveness and quick twitch muscles. Keep the reps 5 and below for the heavy squat and a similar number for the box jumps(or any other type of jump you wish to use)

For more information and an in-depth look at how strength and conditioning can help your boxing, get my ebook Strength and Conditioning for Boxing. Use the template defined in this book to create for yourself a routine that will help you become faster, fitter and stronger. Or use any one of the training programs in the book to take your training to the next level! CLICK HERE to view your copy.

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.


Is Strength and Conditioning Good For Boxing, Strength and Conditioning for Boxing

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