It should be no surprise to anyone that power is an important component of boxing.
Although some boxers do very well despite a lack of power in the ring, this may simply be because they have an incredibly well-developed skill set, which reduces the reliance of a knockout in order to secure victory.
This is why the saying the ‘skills pay the bills’ is very important to take note of and why technical training will always be more superior than strength and conditioning training.
But this does not mean that power development should be ignored.
This article is going to provide a brief overview of power training within a boxer’s regime.
Firstly, a very simple way to define power is:
Strength x Speed
Essentially, it is the ability to produce high levels of force quickly.
Although I’m aware it’s not the only factor that determines victory by KO, it is a strong correlate i.e. the boxers who have the greatest KO percentages would likely perform well in tests for maximal power output in either the gym or the laboratory.
Where To Begin…
Firstly, a boxer needs an idea of their strengths and weaknesses so that they can be put on an appropriate strength and conditioning programme.
Whilst their coach is likely to have some very intelligent insight into their physiological requirements from watching them in training and in the ring, objective measurements can be obtained via specific testing in the gym.
Strength and power can be tested as part of an overall field-testing battery at the start of training camp, which will then dictate the overall focus of the strength and conditioning programme.
The table below shows a very rough guide as to how this may work:
If you refer to #3 in ‘The Boxing Strength & Conditioning Manual’, I make the point that boxers must firstly have a good foundation of strength before they incorporate methods to develop their power.
This is because, initially, strength training alone will be enough to develop power in boxers who have limited strength training experience.
When they start lifting weights (properly), the knock-on effect should be that they’re able to pack more force into their punches.
However, there will come a point where, despite lifting heavier weights and increasing their strength, they won’t be able to improve power output, and as such, their punch force will stagnate.
Although the reasons behind involve a very deep understanding physiology, understand that strength training tends to happen at slow speeds, and as such, fails to develop the ability to produce force at high speeds, which means it will fail to improve power output beyond a certain point.
Since knockout punches are typically delivered in the blink of an eye, a boxer will need specific power training methods in order to develop their power output, should that be a priority for them.
Peak Power Development
Peak power i.e maximum power produced in a single effort, is going to be required in boxers who have a reasonable level of strength, whether it’s genetic or as a result of a well-constructed strength training programme, and who need to focus on developing the ability to produce forces at high speeds.
The exact methods used to develop peak power i.e., are going to be dependent on the boxer and their specific needs, but essentially, but essentially, the exercises used to develop power are ones that can be performed at high speeds, such as:
- Squat jumps
- Box jumps
- Depth jumps
- Medicine ball throws
- Bench press throws
However, all of these exercises are ‘general’, and whilst they will teach the boxer to produce more force at high speeds, they may not immediately see an improvement in punch force.
This is simply because there will need to be a period of time where the power developed in the gym is transferred into specific power that is used in boxing, and may require the use of the heavy bag, punch shield and body shield – tools that allow the boxer to ‘practise’ producing as much power as possible in short amounts of time.
Regardless of strength levels, peak power may not be an issue for some boxers – they either may have a good background of strength and conditioning, or they may be blessed with incredible genetics (a great example would be Mike Tyson, who reportedly lifted weights once in a blue moon).
If the boxer has great peak power, but is not particularly strong, strength training may be useful if the coach believes it will be of benefit to the boxer.
If the boxer is already strong and powerful, it may be useful for them to learn proper lifting technique, but actual strength development does not need to be a priority.
The priority, regardless of whether the boxer is strong or not, will be to develop the ability to maintain high levels of power over the duration of the fight i.e. average power, which is accomplished by very specific energy systems training (conditioning) and will be the subject of a future article.
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