In this boxing workouts guide, we’ll highlight some of the most common yet highly effective exercises for boxers and boxing enthusiasts.
Boxing is a sport that requires a great deal of dedication, hard work and drives you to better yourself. The latter is especially crucial as boxing isn’t an easy sport by any means, and progression requires you to consistently up your game. Some of the biggest names in boxing have lost fights to lesser competitors simply because they failed to train sufficiently. It doesn’t matter how fantastic you are as a boxer. Neglecting to get yourself into superior shape instantly puts you at a disadvantage.
However, not everyone who boxes intends to step foot in the ring for a fight. Does this mean that training properly is any less important? Absolutely not. Working hard in the gym helps you improve your strength, fitness, confidence and also aids your body when it comes to recovering and avoiding injuries.
So, we decided to put together a comprehensive yet straightforward boxing workouts guide that highlights some of the most popular and beneficial exercises to implement into your fitness regime. Whether you’re a fighter or a newbie, these exercises will benefit both your body and your mind.
No boxing workouts guide would be credible without the inclusion of running. Running is a crucial aspect of boxing routines at every level and will always be recognised as a form of exercise that offers incredible benefits. The vast majority of boxers include running as a cornerstone of training, many of which run before and after sessions. Fighters such as Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson were renowned for putting in the miles, and Tyson even used to get up at 4 am to run four miles before the day started. We told you, dedication!
Firstly, running is crucial for developing and maintaining the endurance needed for intense training or a boxing match. Motivating yourself to run those miles builds the endurance of your whole body, from your lungs to your legs and beyond. The more you run, the more your body is used to and capable of bringing the necessary oxygen to your muscles and literally keeps you in the fight for longer.
While many people make running look effortless, it can be gruelling at times and test your mental fortitude. Sounds a lot like the challenges of boxing, doesn’t it? This is precisely the point! Running teaches you to be mentally strong, even at times when you feel like giving up. When you set a goal of a certain amount of miles and then achieve it — despite weather conditions, tiredness or any other challenges — the reward of doing so is incredible. It not only benefits your fitness and mental strength, but it also teaches you a lot about yourself as a human being and what it means to be a fighter.
There has always been somewhat of a debate about the relevance and benefit of strength training for boxers. But the reality is that strength training is essential for making you a strong and more durable fighter. This isn’t to say that you should be looking to break any powerlifting world records, as many forms of weightlifting tend to isolate muscle groups. The most effective strength training for boxers is compound exercises, which means that you strengthen multiple muscle groups when you work out.
Callisthenics is a perfect example of this and one of the go-to strength and conditioning exercises for fighters. Bodyweight exercises look straightforward, which may lead you to believe that weights will benefit you more, but it’s not as simple as that. Take push-ups, for example — you work your arms, shoulders, chest, core and back. Not to mention the way it benefits your range of motion and explosive power. When done right, callisthenics offer a total body workout. Just ask Mike Tyson, he stayed away from the weight room and stuck to callisthenics, and it’s safe to say his power didn’t suffer for it!
However, there’s never one correct way to do things, especially in a sport as diverse as boxing. Some boxers implement powerlifting exercises with low reps to develop power, whereas fighters such as Floyd Mayweather use light weights and replicate boxing movements to enhance their strength and technique. It’s often best to try a few different boxing routines and find what works for you. After all, everyone is different.
Boxers skipping is an iconic image you will see over and over again. You know why? Because it works. Jumping rope is one of the most effective ways to improve footwork and agility, as it quite literally keeps you on your toes, engages your brain and helps you improve timing. Unless you jump rope already, it’s probably something you haven’t done since your school days. So it will take some time before you learn to skip like the boxing pros you know and love, but you’ll get there.
Jumping rope for at least twenty minutes every day will massively improve your technique and make you more comfortable at skipping. In the process, you’ll become a much more agile fighter with quick feet and more muscular legs.
Shadow Boxing Routines
To some, shadow boxing may look like a fighter showing off or simply having way too much energy. But the truth is that shadow boxing is one of the essential boxing routines for developing good habits, eliminating bad habits, and fully focusing on your technique and footwork. Why is it so beneficial? Well, mainly because no punches are coming back at you, and you have the time and space to work on your own skills instead of worrying about someone else’s.
Got 10 minutes? Try this shadowboxing routine!
You may feel a bit silly at first, but shadowboxing is something to take seriously. All of the best boxers do it, and with good reason. When you shadowbox, throw real punches. And by that, we mean that you should be throwing sharp, fast punches, not sloppy and slow because there isn’t an opponent. Imagine there is someone in front of you. Throw punches that would land, adjust your footwork to improve your position and always be aware of your head movement. If your arms become tired, take a round off and purely focus on head movement or footwork to enhance every area of your game.
Hit the Mitts
Whether you’re a seasoned fighter or a boxercise class regular, you’ll be no stranger to pad work. Hitting pads is a brilliant way to work on punching power, speed and learning combinations. The critical difference between this exercise and those mentioned above is that this requires you to have a partner, but you will have no problem getting some pad work in at a boxing club or gym.
Padwork is an effective but also enjoyable way to improve your overall boxing skills. With a smaller target to hit, you’ll have to be more accurate, and it will teach you the value of timing punches for maximum effect. Not only this, but a decent partner will happily slap you with a pad from time to time if they notice your hands are too low. Gotta protect that chin!
Is there anything more iconic than a boxer hitting a heavy bag? Ok, a glorious knockout is most definitely more iconic, but you know what we mean. Often the most underutilised piece of equipment in a regular gym, but a heavy bag is a cornerstone of any boxing gym and something you should definitely utilise.
A heavy bag allows you to work on speed, stamina, coordination, combinations, range and, of course, punching power. You can hit the bag as hard as you can without any consequences, which aside from being insanely fun, is a fantastic way to work on your power. We’re not just talking about brute force. A heavy bag is an ideal tool to combine speed, power and technique to deliver punches that hit hard and keep coming. Also, it teaches you a lot about how you throw punches because if you throw them full power with poor technique, you’ll feel it for sure.
Are you looking for more advice and guidance about boxing techniques, training, nutrition, equipment and much more? Keep an eye on our blog for regular boxing articles for beginners, experienced fighters and everyone in between.