Boxing training isn't easy, but the rewards are substantial.
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Boxing is often referred to as the "Sweet Science" in the sports world, known for its unique blend of simplicity -- fighters can only punch and defend against punches -- and complex set of techniques, counters and setups. Because it is a combat sport, expert boxers require a high level of overall fitness to excel at the highest levels. Boxing fitness exercises are designed to improve aerobic capacity, endurance, functional strength, timing, coordination and technique.
You can be the hardest puncher in the gym, but it will all be for naught if you can't keep up a consistent pace in training or in the ring. Aerobic conditioning is a staple in the fitness routines of amateur and professional boxers. Running distance burns calories and improves cardiovascular endurance, but faster exercises such as sprints and jump rope are ideal for boxers because of their similarities to interval training, which increases cardio and muscular endurance. Jump rope training also improves quickness, reflexes, coordination and agility.
Boxing may look arm-centric, but elite strikers train to recruit all of the major muscles of their upper and lower bodies to deliver fast, powerful punches. Developing a well-rounded strength training regimen is important to complement skill development. Weighted shadow boxing with dumbbells, squats, lunges, bench presses and shoulder presses improve functional strength, while plyometric jumps increase explosive power. Perform strength-training exercises two or three times per week.
Technique and Bag Work
There's a reason you don't see many bodybuilders in a boxing gym. Functional strength and power will only take you so far once you step into the ring. If you can't make contact with a moving target or defend against oncoming attacks, you can't call yourself a boxer. The most important boxing fitness exercises improve aerobic conditioning as they teach you valuable sport-specific skills. Shadow boxing, pad work, heavy bag and speed bag training are essential for developing quality techniques. Repetition is everything in boxing, so technique and bag work should take priority over supplemental strength and conditioning programs.
The ultimate proving ground for boxing trainees is the boxing ring. Using proper safety equipment, you should aim to spar at least once per week against an uncooperative opponent around your skill level. Not only will you burn calories during sparring rounds, you'll also get accustomed to reacting to strikes and tracking a moving target simultaneously. There's no substitute for a real boxing match, but sparring is as close as it gets.