In Part 1 of this series, I discussed where to start with a beginner’s strength training programme and in Part 2, I discussed how to make progress in the gym so that the boxer continued to development over time.
But in this article, I want to focus on what to do with a boxer who is already strong, either because they already have previous strength training experience or because of their genetics.
Building strength may not have the same benefits to performance as it did to the strength training novice, so other programming methods need to be explored.
Where to begin in a boxing strength training programme (Part 3): Already strong
Whether they have a background in strength training, or simply have great genetics, some people will start their boxing career with a great foundation of strength.
So, should these boxers perform strength training, with the intention of getting stronger?
This is a pretty fair question.
Firstly, it needs to be understood that, by itself, strength it not the most useful athletic quality for a boxer to develop – it simply serves as a platform from which to develop all other motor abilities.
Of course, there are certain situations where a stronger boxer will have an advantage, such as being in ‘up close’ situations and fighting on the inside, but as a whole, more strength does not necessarily equate to better performance.
Weak and untrained boxers should start strength training as it will improve many other athletic qualities that are useful to boxers, but only up to a point – there will come a time when they need to separate their training into different focuses.
A key example of this is mentioned in ‘The Boxing S&C Manual’ –
“…there will come a point when strength training alone will be insufficient for improving punch force due to the fact that it teaches an athlete to produce force over a longer time frame, whereas a punch is delivered very quickly and therefore requires rapid force production.
This means there will come a point when more specific methods will be required, such as plyometrics and ballistic training, which involve faster muscular contractions and will teach boxers to produce much more quickly and exactly as they will need to in the ring.”
So once a boxer is at a certain level of strength, more strength training isn’t necessary and may be a waste of training time – their time would be better served developing power output, as this is much more useful in boxing.
How can we see test if a boxer needs strength training?
In order to ascertain whether a boxer needs strength training, they can perform test for both max strength and power.
Max strength –
If the boxer has a history of strength training, then they can perform 1-rep max tests in lifts such as the squat and bench press.
This is simply a test to see the absolute maximum amount of weight they can lift for one single rep in both of these exercises.
However, boxers who have never had any formal coaching on weight lifting technique, should only perform maximum strength testing on machines, such as the leg press and chest press.
Not only is this much safer, but their lack of technical expertise in the barbell lifts could likely cause a false negative and make them appear weaker than they are.
Although power testing can get quite complex, the most simple and straightforward way to test power in boxers is with tests such as the vertical/broad jump and medicine ball throw.
All you need to see is how high/far a boxer can jump (from a standing still position) or how far they can throw a medicine ball.
What to do with the test data?
The test scores should give you provide you with a rough overview as to how strong/powerful a boxer is, and the best way to direct their training:
Putting a programme together
This article is focusing on the boxer who has tested well for strength, but poorly for power.
For example, they may be excellent at lifting a lot of weight in the squat or leg press, but have a very poor vertical jump height. In this instance, they are simply incapable of producing force quickly and as such, need to focus their training on improving power output.
A sample workout for a boxer who has never lifted weights may look like this:
|Power||Box jumps: 3 x 5|
|Lifting Technique||Squat: 5 x 3
Bench press: 5 x 3
|Accessory||Chin-up: 3 x 6-8|
|Core||Swiss ball rollout: 3 x 6-10|
|Shoulder Health||Face pull: 3 x 12-15|
- Perform ballistic exercises, such as barbell jump squats, bench press throws or jumping trap-bar deadlift
- Perform the squat, bench press and deadlift, but with lighter weights (40-60% of max) and focus on performing the exercise with as much speed as possible
In the fourth and final part to this series, I will discuss a suitable approach for a boxer who possesses high levels of strength and power.
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