Strength training for boxing

Hi guys and gals,

Does anyone know any good links or programmes for boxing strength training. I still do 400m training 1-2 times a week along with my boxing.



Tell us a bit more about your program. What times are you running your 400m in? How much rest are you taking? What sort of weights are you doing already?

1995 BC Provincial Light-Heavyweight Champion.

You might want to post on Chris T.'s forum on as well, if you haven’t already. He seems to know a lot about everything.

Chris T also posts here. There are many heavy hitters on this forum (HAHA get it heavy hitters? Boxing…Haha!).

Thanks guys.

Herb. I am a 50sec 400m runner, definately able to go sub 50 with more work. The sessions usually consist of drills then 4 x 300 with 3-5min recovery or 4-5 x 150m with same recovery.

I box twice a week with a long term goal of amateur championships (uk) next year. I train in two minute rounds as follows:

Skipping 3-4 rounds
Shadow boxing / footwork 3 rounds
Heavy bag 4-5 rounds
Focus pads / technical work 3 rounds
Body sparring 3-4 rounds
Circuit 5x30sec stations x 3

I weight train twice a week doing bench, rows, squat 4-6sets x 4-6 reps. With romanian deadlifts, chins, and reverse hypers at 2sets of 8-12 reps. 60 secs rest in between all sets.

Hope this is enough info.:help:


I am not a boxer - but I have some stuff here on Hatfields training with Holyfield - who imo is the best ever ‘manufactured’ heavyweight - i.e. he had to do some serious work even just to make the weight against the bigger guys and was one of the first to move away from the old skool training of 15 burgers and 2 hours of chopping wood.

I have some stuff somewhere from De la Hoyas training and nutrition programmes will try and dig it up.

He trained with Jon Jon (??) Park I think it is - Reg Parks son?? (sorry maybe that last bit is wrong … I’ll try and dig it up anyway.

Training Strategy for Evander Holyfield
Frederick C. Hatfield, Ph.D., FISSA

The time-honoured – but unfortunately ill-conceived – practice of long, slow distance work as a conditioning regimen for boxers is what Evander learned from the training dinosaurs of his youth, and had continued with for years. When I was brought aboard his team, prior to his fight against Buster Douglas in 1990, Evander was in sad physical condition considering the specific demands of his sport. I immediately tested Evander’s responses to three minutes of boxing specific total body work (the 3-minute drill), which brought his heart rate above 180 bpm. He needed a full 7 or 8 minutes to recover back to 120 bpm after this single bout, analogous to one hard boxing round. What was worse, after doing five of the 3-minute drills with a one minute rest between, his heart rate remained above 150 between bouts. In short, he did not have the capacity to sustain a high performance level for even half of the duration of a professional fight.

My responsibilities were limited to the physical conditioning component of Evander’s training, which had to be integrated into his skills and sparring training. Boxers require not only agility, speed and strength in short, explosive bursts, but also a high level of anaerobic strength endurance in order to perform these bursts over and over for ten rounds or more. I designed Evander’s training regimen and nutritional protocol to reflect these all-important elements. The road work ended promptly and completely.

After the 12 week cycle described below, Evander recovered quickly from intense activity, even after a series of ten, 3-minute drills. His agility and limit strength levels increased, and his lean Baudot increased from 208 to 218.

The conditioning program described below was the program I personally supervised Evander through prior to the Buster Douglas fight. He also used the same training cycle in preparation for his most recent fights against Mike Tyson, but I was not there personally to oversee his training. This preparation was supervised by a friend of mine in the strength coaching profession who assures me the Evander followed the prescribed program precisely.

General Points of Conditioning for Boxers

There are several general concepts which helped to shape the specific program that I designed for Evander. First, the work profile of boxing is repeated 3-minute rounds of activity, often with very high intensity bursts within a round. The rounds are separated by one minute rest intervals. Thus, the relative contribution of anaerobic energy release pathways is considered extremely important, with aerobic capacity playing an important role in terms of facilitating rapid recovery. Extreme conditioning is required to fight effectively for ten intense, 3-minute rounds and anaerobic endurance is a key aspect that cannot be overlooked. Short of an early round knockout, boxers cannot afford to win only the early rounds of a fight. They must maintain an intense, but measured pace throughout a long and competitive bout. So conditioning counts almost as much as skill for boxing success. Optimal physical conditioning provides the platform from which the skills can be used. The best way to simulate the demands of boxing is to use conditioning methods which mimic the work/rest ratio and integrated bursts of power that typify boxing.

Boxing is a highly individual sport. Fighters possess unique styles that create specific physical demands. Some rely on explosive strength (“power”), for others it’s starting strength (“speed”), and for most a combination of the two (“speed-strength”). True champions alter their style in a way that will make them more able to attack the weaknesses of any given opponent. Improvements in specific capacities can be made, but they are only helpful if integrated into the fighter’s style. For example, extensive footwork exercises may not benefit the power puncher who fights stationary and looks to deliver a blow that starts with the legs and drives right through the opponent (and wins that way). Similarly, a fighter who relies on punching speed and fast footwork should not put all his training hours into heavy bag work and muscle mass development. So, the program designed must not only be specific to boxing, but also specific to the boxer.

Ideally, the boxing punch consists of a synchronization between arm, leg, and trunk actions. The punching movement of a boxer consists of leg extension, trunk rotation, and arm extension, in succession. The more effective the coordination between arm, leg and trunk movements, the greater the impact force of a punch. The leg muscles play a vital role in the power developed in this sequence. Increasing leg force development and coordinating it with trunk and arm action is probably the most effective way to increase punching power.

Because boxing is an explosive sport, ballistic training methods are especially effective during weight training for boxing. This kind of training method requires the athlete to perform each repetition explosively, with maximal intended velocity. Finally, in my view, the best way to weight train for competitive boxing is via a cycled training schedule. This type of training schedule integrates workouts and exercises that will meet all the basic performance demands of boxing, strength, power, speed, agility, and strength endurance.

Evander’s Conditioning Plan

The twelve week macro cycle was broken down into four mesocycles of three weeks duration. Each 3-week period had specific goals, and each subsequent 3-week period built upon what was established in the preceding periods. The conditioning goals for each mesocycle were as follows:

Weeks One, Two and Three

  1. Maximize muscle mass – Evander needed to increase his body mass from under 210 to 220 pounds.
  2. Minimize fat accumulation during hypertrophy phase (dietary strategies including “zig-zag” diet were employed).
  3. Improve general strength and fitness foundation, including moderate aerobic threshold intensity training.
  4. Begin training to increase anaerobic threshold.
  5. Introduce light plyometrics.

Weeks Four, Five and Six

  1. Maximize limit strength of muscles/movement used in boxing (emphasis on legs).
  2. Increase anaerobic strength endurance (maximum force output time after time).
  3. Begin training specific skills (weaknesses) in earnest.
  4. Concentrate on between-workout recovery.
  5. Introduce explosive strength and starting strength with moderate plyometrics.

Weeks Seven, Eight and Nine

  1. Maximize explosive strength.
  2. Specific event skills must predominate all skills training sessions.
  3. Continue anaerobic threshold training.
  4. Maximize between-workout recovery.
  5. Incorporate weighted plyometrics and hill/stairs running.

Weeks Ten, Eleven and Twelve

  1. Maximize ballistic strength (starting strength) using “shock” plyometrics (built on a 9-week base of plyometrics progression).
  2. Heavy emphasis on anaerobic threshold.
  3. Maximize between-workout recovery ability.
  4. Heavy emphasis on skills.
  5. Emphasize speed, agility, ballistic movements.
  6. “Overspend” drills in final preparatory period.
  7. Begin “complex training” as a replacement for normal weight training.

An old Chris T article from ironmag:

Training for Boxing:
Don’t fall victim to the myths!
Index:[ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 3 ]
By Chris Thibaudeau, August 18, 2000. © Iron Magazine Online

I’m sure that you remember very vividly one of the most significant scenes in sport movies history, even more so if you happen to be a boxer. The scene I’m talking about is the one where Rocky run through the streets of Philadelphia to hand up arms raised in victory after climbing that monstrous flight of steps!However great and motivating that scene may be it unfortunately illustrates the myth that most boxers have fallen victim to: To be a good boxer you must do a lot of aerobic work! As a result strength and power training has fallen to the rank of secondary or supplementary training which means that it ends up planned quickly without much though about the desired effects, or even worst: not planned at all! This is such a shame because strength training when properly practiced will do much more for the boxer than any amount of aerobic exercise will ever do!Sure aerobic exercise will make you more enduring. Good for you because you will be able to get your head pounded for a lot more time!Unfortunately if aerobic exercise do indeed improve your endurance it also decrease your capacity to exert strength and power which are much more important characteristics to a fighter. After all isn’t it better to develop a devastative hitting power that could destroy an opponent in three sharp than to turn you into a guy who could box forever but couldn’t hurt a paraplegic grandmother suffering from osteoporosis?That’s why the more important part of a boxer’s training should be spent developing his hitting power. This is accomplished by strengthening the muscles involved in throwing mastodont punches but most importantly by making the nervous system more efficient as producing strength.As you know most weight trainees that are relatively advanced have pretty big arms, bodybuilders even more so. But that hardly make them explosive punchers, in fact as a group they probably have weaker punches than your sister! This is probably the reason why boxing coaches (and coaches in many other sports as well) decided a while back that weight lifting was counterproductive to sport performance because it makes you big and slow. Hence the “muscle-bound” myth was born.This myth is in fact a half-truth. See, bodybuilder for the most part acquire their muscle by doing large volume of work with relatively light weights (relative to their strength potential). This type of training lead to an increase in non-functional hypertrophy or in other words an increase in muscle mass that doesn’t contribute to powerful muscle contractions. This is because the muscles get better via an increase in the sarcoplasmic content of the muscle cells, not of the elements those contracts. Furthermore this increase in non-functional volume can impair the contraction of the elements of the muscle that contracts which make you slower and less powerful.On the other hand you could look at Olympic weightlifters and shot-putters who exhibit possibly the most powerful human machines ever built and who built them by training with weights! I think that most boxers should envy the leg and shoulder strength of Olympic lifters who can jerk a 440lbs + barbell overhead in less than 1 second! And I think that they should envy the torso and arms strength of shot-putters even more for they can throw a 16lbs metal ball over a distance of over 70"! I mean, imagine having that kind of power in your arms and torso… can you simply begin to feel the kind of punches you could throw! Surely in less than 2 months they would start calling you “The Tank” or “The Bomber”!Now, how come the shot-putters and Olympic weightlifters (powerlifters could be included in here too) are so powerful while the average trainee/bodybuilder isn’t even if some might be pretty strong? The answer if functional hypertrophy and nervous system potentiation. Remember that when I talked about non-functional hypertrophy I said that this type of gain in size isn’t related to an increase in the size/strength of the elements of the muscle that contracts. Well functional hypertrophy is the opposite. Functional hypertrophy is an increase in muscle/muscle fiber size via an increase in size/strength of the elements of the muscle that contracts. Thus, this type of improvement lead to a greater force potential and an enhanced capacity to be powerful! Now, to stimulate this type of adaptation you have to train under a heavy load, preferably in the 85-95% range, even going up to 100% sometimes.The second phenomenon I referred to is nervous system potentiation. This simply means “making the nervous system better at recruiting muscle fibers and at making them work together”. Simply imagine that your nervous system is a light switch and it’s connections while your muscle fibers are the light bulbs connected to the light switch. Once the nervous system sends the activation signal (called innervation) - in our example when the switch is turned on - the electrical impulse will travel to the muscle fibers (light bulbs) via the connections. Once the “message” reaches the muscle fibers (light bulbs) they are activated.Now, by making your nervous system more efficient you can decrease the time it takes to activate each muscle fiber (the “message” is sent faster). If a muscle fiber is activated faster you will be quicker! Remember when they said that Mohamed Ali had a jab faster than a man’s normal reaction time? That’s what we are talking about here! Mohamed had an incredibly efficient nervous system, which allowed him to transmit the “firing” message extremely fast, and as a result his jab was lightning fast. Some peoples are blessed with efficient CNS, others simply have to develop it.By making your nervous system more efficient you also improve your capacity to synchronize the action of your muscle fibers. Thus you will have more muscle fibers “working for you” as you throw a punch. I can illustrate this phenomenon by a simply tug-o-war contest. Obviously having more men pulling on your side will mean that you will have a greater pulling force! Thus having more muscle fibers working during your punch the more punching power you’ll have!Nervous system potentiation is accomplished by lifting/throwing light/moderate resistance with as much speed and acceleration as possible. It is also accomplished by lifting loads in the 90-100% range.A good boxer knows that, if strong arms and shoulders are important in punching power, good torso strength is truly where all that devastating power comes from. Punching with your arms alone will not hurt your baby sister if you tried! But put your torso and legs into it and watch her fly away!!! (Note from Chris: DO NOT try this at home!). For that reason “core” workouts are included in the program presented. This program focuses on developing rotary strength in the internal and external obliques. Strong obliques lead to great punching power. And as an added bonus, the obliques work as trunk stabilizers which means that they will help you absorb the shock from the punches you receive.I stated that aerobic conditioning is overdone by boxers. However that’s not a warrant to because out of shape! You still need to be able to sustain a high level of performance during the 3 minutes of a round and then be able to recover fully for the next one. This calls for anaerobic endurance (the term anaerobic resistance would be better but I didn’t invent the terms!) as well as the capacity to recover from an oxygen dept. For that reason Specific Sport Conditioning (SSC) days are included in the program. These will help you burn bodyfat much faster than any amount of aerobic work and develop the type of conditioning that you need during a boxing match, not during a marathon!The program is divided into 2 phases (it’s a 6 weeks program). Ideally you would repeat the program 2 times before an important fight.The first phase lasts 4 weeks and it emphasizes the development of your strength, power and conditioning. The frequency, volume and intensity are relatively high. This could be termed a “Physical accumulation”. During that 4 weeks period boxing practices are kept to the minimum necessary to retain fighting skills (2-3 times per week for the average fighter). Both to avoid overexerting yourself and to enable as much of your body 's energy as possible to be spent on gaining strength and power.The second phase is shorter in duration, it lasts 2 weeks and it’s the “Peaking” phase. During that phase, strength training is reduced and the emphasis is on attaining top muscular and neuromuscular shape for the fight. Inversely to the strength-training portion, the boxing specific (boxing practices) portion is increased up to 4-5 sessions a week to allow the boxer to fine-tune his boxing skills and to assimilate his gained physical capacities.

Some Iddealystic exercises for Boxers would require a willing partner with the same training phillosophy as you. Simply throwing a medicine ball from and too each other (often mimmicking punch movements, Left throws, right hand throws, left leg leading, facing square on, right leg lead, amongst other types of throwing) would be a good choice to add to the list of exercises. The speed and distance you throw, plus the reps you do will determine the ratio of power and explosive endurance developed.

Thanks guys!

I recently read an article by Charles Staley called “Convergent Phase Training” from the archives of This seems pretty cool. If anyone knows of it tell me what you think.

Sorry, I don’t know how to do a direct link to the site from this post.

Stay loose.:saint: