When getting ready for a fight at any level, professional or beginner, there are various methods that can be employed by the fighter and trainer. Obviously, the core training methods for beginners will be the same as that of the pro boxer but on a lesser scale to begin with. A good boxing coach or boxing personal trainer will be able to guide you in the right direction.
So, let’s have a look at some of the routines fighters can follow, whether boxing personal training or getting ready for a world championship contest. Firstly, all of the bases will be covered with basic boxing preparatory training: speed training, strength training, agility, aerobic, anaerobic capacity etc. To last the requisite three minute rounds and be recovered and able to compete again, after a one minute break, you’ll need to have your lungs in good shape. Get those sprints, long distance early morning jogs and hill runs all done in advance.
Swimming, especially deep underwater swimming, is great for increasing lung capacity. However, don’t sacrifice aerobic training in favour of muscle building or weight training. Physical strength is important in a fight but this is a boxing match, not a bodybuilding contest. Guys like Roberto Duran and George Foreman were never body-beautiful but both could complete the 15-round distance with ease.
Pull ups, push ups, chin ups and reps are the staple of any boxing routine – this all helps build core strength, as does squatting with weights. Skipping helps with balance and agility. Yoga also helps with flexibility and agility. Vasyl Lomachenko’s father took him out of boxing training for a year when he was younger and sent him only to ballet classes! Look now at how good his footwork is though before you laugh. Wladimir Klitschko spends an hour moving in circles, setting his feet and perfecting his movement before he does anything else in the gym. The best fighters have an innate, trained appreciation of timing and distance.
Skipping and shadow boxing are good warm up techniques at the start of a training session, followed by the heavy bag. Medicine balls are good for crunching those stomach muscles and helping to protect against
debilitating body shots. Lie back and tense the stomach muscles before your coach cracks the medicine ball down in a rhythm, to harden the belly region.
Nutrition is a vitally important part of competing at the very top of the sport. Early on, many novice boxers get by on the instructions of their coaching team alone but when stepping up in class it is important to employ a nutritional expert to help with diet. Boxing has weight classes for a reason and making weight, while retaining hydration levels, cannot be taken lightly. Sticking to a strict meal plan leading up to a fight means it is easier to burn off fat safely and get down naturally to the desired
Former world champion Ricky Hatton was notorious for “blowing up” between fights i.e. gorging on junk food and alcohol and then using almost an entire camp cutting weight rather than preparing properly.
This affected Hatton’s stamina late in fights, so don’t make this same mistake. Even for beginners, manage your diet and nutrition properly, take notice of what you put into your body. Fatigue can strike early or late in a fight depending on how well you have covered this area.
Techniques for strength and conditioning have moved on a bit since the days of Joe Frazier, Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard but some staple practices remain. Many boxing fans will have seen Rocky Balboa
chasing chickens and running up steps in the famous Rocky movies, right? Well, dismiss this at your peril because many of those old-style methods have stood the test of time, merely getting updated into new
ideas as new machinery enters the boxing gyms. Old school trainer Ann Wolfe still trains her fighter James Kirkland in some of these old strength and conditioning ways, even today. Kirkland can be seen powering up hills, lifting tractor tyres and punching a heavy bag as Wolfe drives it on the back of an army vehicle!
Now, let’s set out an example if you’re heading into a fight with a six-week training camp. You’ll focus mentally, cut out all of the junk food, alcohol and excess, nailing down the diet. The first two weeks or so will consist of high level strength and conditioning work, covering all of the fitness bases outlined above.
The third week will introduce pad work, technique work, sharpening the tools. Sparring will be introduced around this time as you work against sparring partners with your actual opponent in mind. Working on your
strengths and weaknesses, sparring people with similar attributes as your opponent enables you to get a feel for him/her in the ring and adjust accordingly. This continues until the week of the fight when it is all about keeping the weight down, taking your foot off the gas slightly to ensure no cuts or silly injuries occur and mentally attuning ahead of the contest.
Finally, don’t forget you’ll need a plan and strategy devised by your coach and some basic boxing skills if you’re a beginner. Remember, fights can be won or lost in the boxing gym as much as in the ring. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail as the old adage goes.