Many boxing coaches may be reluctant to have their fighters lift weights for fear that it will slow them down in the ring.


Whilst many may be quick to dismiss this idea, I want to tell you a quick story that should hopefully make you think twice before rushing into the weight room to set a new deadlift personal record right in the middle of fight camp…


On Saturday mornings, once I’ve finished my strongman class, I like to go to the boxing gym and do several rounds on the bag. 


It’s a nice way to draw a line under the working week and to commence the start of the weekend.


By no means do I consider myself a good boxer. 


In fact, by no means do I even consider myself a boxer. 


I know how to box.


Kind of. 


And that’s it. 


But this post isn’t about my (lack of) boxing prowess, but rather something I experienced one Saturday. 


About 3 weeks before, I felt incredible in the gym. 


Speed was good. 


Movement was good. 


Energy was good.


Even though I wasn’t in the gym long, I felt like I could have spent several hours there with no drop in performance. 


But this particular Saturday was quite different – 


Everything felt terrible. 


There was no speed and no power. 


Every movement felt like a monstrous effort and I tired out pretty quickly. 


So what what was up?


Over the past 3 weeks, I’d been following a fairly heavy strength training programme. 


Although some power training has been involved, the main crux of the programme is lifting heavy loads…


…which can be immensely fatiguing to the nervous system. 


When the nervous system is fatigued, you can feel like the life has been knocked out of you.


What should feel quick, light and effortless becomes slow, sluggish and exhausting to execute. 


Any boxer who’s implemented lifting heavy weights into their training schedule, only to find a decline in speed and performance, was most probably experiencing the same effects.


So does this mean that lifting heavy weights should be avoided?


Well, yes and no. 


On the one hand, lifting heavy weights is how you get stronger…


And getting stronger is the first step to optimising power output…


And improving power output can lead to improved boxing performance…


And despite the fact that lifting weights can result in decreased speed, once the fatigue has dissipated, you should see a noticeable improvement in speed and power output. 


But on the other hand, if you lift heavy all the time, the constant state of fatigue means that boxing performance will suffer. which means that you have a reduction in skill development. 


Not only that, but getting stronger merely builds the foundation from which power can be developed, and other than in beginners, by itself it won’t directly improve power output.


Together, this means you may see a reduction in skill development as a result of doing something in training that you have no need to be doing. 


So no, lifting heavy weights shouldn’t be completely avoided…


…but if you need to do it, then it must be part of a well-structured training programme, and not just thrown into your training schedule willy nilly.


You need to know – 

  • If lifting heavy will actually benefit you, or if there’s another training priority

  • How to manage your strength training so that you become more powerful in the boxing ring, as opposed to turning into stoned zombie

  • How to optimise recovery so that you don’t stay in a fatigued state any longer than you need to be


Right from day 1, there needs to be a solid plan that transforms you from being a novice in the weight room into a fine piece of athletic machinery – 


So that when you step into the ring on fight night, you’re the strongest, fastest and most powerful you’ve ever been…


…and not an exhausted wreck of a human who’s so tired he can neither move around the ring nor keep his hands up to protect his face. 


If you have any questions about strength & conditioning, please feel free to let me know in the comments below. 


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The Boxing Strength & Conditioning Manual

The 16 principles you need to know if you want to take your boxing performance to the next level with strength & conditioning

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