Boxing demands tremendous anaerobic fitness. The sport stresses muscles at high intensity for short periods of time, such as when boxers throw a rapid-fire combination of punches in the ring. While aerobic fitness is also important, boxing is primarily an anaerobic sport that forces muscles to work without oxygen. So boxers should stress interval training outside the boxing gym and replicate bout intensity when they work in the gym.
Boxing training has traditionally included lots of distance running. Increasingly, though, distance running has been used to create a fitness base and then complement the more sport-specific interval training. Regular 3- to 5-mile runs make sense early in the training process, but as the interval work increases, the long jogs should become intermittent. "What does long slow intensity do? It’s a good basic level of conditioning, recovery type of workout, and can be used to burn calories," veteran boxing trainer Dave "Scooter" Honig told the Seconds Out website.
Amateur boxing features 2-minute rounds with a minute of rest. Professional boxers have 3-minute rounds with a minute off. Your workouts should reflect that pace. Work toward a 2-to-1 or 3-to-1 work/rest ratio, depending on your level. Ian Pyper, strength and conditioning specialist for Great Britain Boxing, told the GB Boxing website that he uses sprints, stair and hill running, strongman circuits, punching bag work and weighted/bodyweight circuits to develop anaerobic and strength/power endurance. Interval sprints of 100, 200, 400 and 600 yards with one-minute breaks build proper fitness. Fast backpedaling is a valuable exercise, as is throwing punches while running. Extend your endurance by running at least one more interval than the number of rounds you are scheduled to box.
Boxers must extend their anaerobic training to their gym work. Hit the heavy bag with persistent intensity to push your physical limits. Throw punches with purpose. Veteran trainer Freddie Roach's preferred routine includes shadow boxing to build up a sweat, eight hard rounds on the heavy bag, three rounds on the double-end bag and three rounds of jumping rope.
Some boxers prefer to spar relentlessly in the build-up to a bout. World Champion Manny Pacquiao likes to spar for a full 12 rounds, but Roach believes six- or eight-round sessions every other day are more productive. Training regimens have become more diverse. “We sparred six days a week in my day," Roach, a former boxer, told Muscle & Fitness. "I only spar my fighters three days a week.”
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