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Category Archives for Boxing Training

8 Boxing Training Myths

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I was in the gym the other day and I overhead a guy telling his friend that the best thing for a boxer is LSD (long, slow, distance) roadwork.

That kind of thinking along with a few other 1950's training methodologies are what keep boxing training in the stone ages compared to how other sports train.

Alrighty let's clear a few things up right now:

Myth 1: Long Slow Distance (LSD) Roadwork is Good for a Boxer

It won't hurt, but it isn't going to make you the most effective boxer. LSD running targets the body's aerobic system and it has its place, but let's face it - boxers are not marathon runners. We are not looking to develop the long thin muscles found on distance runners. You know, the people who look so skinny and frail that you could blow them over. (Not saying they aren't great athletes, just saying I do not desire their physique at all.)

The energy systems used in boxing are primarily anaerobic, short burst energy systems 70-80% of the time. The aerobic energy system plays its part in keeping the boxer going during the rounds in between bouts of intense activity and while you are running around trying to catch your breath or sitting in the corner recovering between rounds. Aerobic activity is good for burning extra fat though and boxing roadwork serves a purpose, so don't give up on it entirely which brings me to...

Myth 2: Moderate Intensity Cardio For an Hour is the Best Way to Burn Fat

Yes, you will burn fat, but you will burn just as much in a shorter time with a higher intensity workout. All things being equal, if you run at a moderate pace for an hour or a high intensity pace for an hour, you will burn more calories at the high intensity pace. Problem is that you probably can't keep up the high intensity pace for an hour. So does that reason that it's better to do a moderate intensity workout?

Not really because even though you can only work out for a shorter time, the higher intensity causes your body to keep burning calories after your workout is complete where the moderate pace doesn't stimulate the same kind of calorie burning reaction. Remedy? Work hard.

Myth 3: You can get a six pack set of abs by doing a thousand crunches a day

I think everyone has heard this. Simple and to the point - if you have fat covering your abs, no one is going to see them no matter how big they are. You have to remove the fat. You have to decrease your body fat percentage.

Myth 4: Weight training will: (take your pick)

  • Make you slower;
  • Tighten your muscles and make you prone to fatigue;
  • Decrease flexibility; or
  • Only be beneficial with light weights and high reps.

Okay, take the example of two boxers in the ring. They both have the same skills, the same speed, the same everything, except Boxer A is stronger than Boxer B. Who is going to win? For you dummies - Boxer A will win. Weight training makes you stronger. It provides the raw material to make your punches stronger. The proper weight training gives you more explosive movements. It will make you faster....not slower.

Weightlifting is anaerobic in nature, just like boxing. See a parallel here? Your muscles will be stronger, not tightened and tired. It is likely you will be able to move your muscle through a more increased range of motion because you practice doing that while lifting weights especially if you also incorporate flexibility and mobility training into your routine. There is nothing supporting the theory that strength training will decrease flexibility.

Light weights and high reps put you more in the aerobic range of training. You want to be in the ballistic, explosive, anaerobic area. That is done by lifting heavy or medium heavy with explosive ballistic movements. Do not be afraid of muscle. Look at Tyson, one of the greatest boxers of all time in his prime regardless of his actions outside the ring. Is he afraid to put on a few pounds of muscle?

Myth 5: Eating food after 8pm turns to fat

Guess what, at 8:01pm your body does not shut off.  It still chugs away burning calories to keep itself running and it does it all night long. Your metabolism may slow somewhat but with a regular exercise and training program in place your body becomes very efficient at burning calories - even after 8pm.

Myth 6: You Can't Teach Punching Power

Punching power comes from technique and techniques are learned.  True, some people have natural ability and some people are even stronger than other people.  In 1955, Rocky Marciano had his punch measured at a USA military installation probably on a ballistic pendulum. It showed him punching with a force of 925 foot pounds (overhand right -- the same punch that nearly tore Jersey Joe Walcott's head off in their 1952 championship match).

If the myth is true then explain to me how someone with no boxing experience can walk into a gym and be taught, over time, to throw a knockout punch.  That is the very definition of learning punching power if you ask me.  Punching power is not arm strength. It comes from the legs, hips, the torso and the upper body.  If, through practice, one can teach all of those systems to work together at the optimum level, then there is no doubt about it, punching power will be increased.

Myth 7: All Female Boxers are Masculine and Angry

Um, no.  I know a couple that are just the opposite.  I'm sure you guys can post links to a few pics as well.  Enough said.

Myth 8:  Fat, but fit, is OK

This should ruffle a feather or two.  I've read many, many posts on the various boxing boards around the net, that you don't need washboard abs or to look like Tyson in order to be fit and fight optimally. Some have even said that extra fat is desirable.  Someone please enlighten me as to why that is so.

Fat doesn't do anything but keep you warm in the winter.  If you have the opportunity to replace a pound of fat with a pound of muscle, why the hell wouldn't you.  Muscle is useful.  It makes you stronger and punch harder.  It helps your speed and your confidence.  Fat hangs there looking soft.  Nice.

I'm sure you can list off a hundred boxers with high body fat percentages that still fight well.  Imagine how well they would fight without the fat...  An article on CNN details a study about how carrying extra fat still makes you unhealthy.  Just having it on your body is not a good thing.  As far as I'm concerned, fat and fit do not belong in the same sentence (except for the good fats your body requires)

Put an end to the lunacy and an end to the myths. Did I miss any?

How to Shadowbox

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The term shadowboxing comes from a training method that boxers use where they pretend to box their shadow on a wall, although more commonly they use a mirror.

Shadowboxing is the most cost effective boxing training method you can use to improve your boxing skills. 

Shadowboxing requires absolutely no equipment, and you can do it anywhere and nearly anytime.  I've routinely worked shadowboxing into my day, throwing punches as I walk up stairs or down a hallway.  (I generally try to make sure no one is watching :)).  Have to say, much to my embarrassment, that I've been caught more than once in my own little boxing world.  Try explaining to a co-worker why you are jumping around like a lunatic in a suit in a board room punching something nobody else can see...

I guarantee you are going to feel awkward at first and feel like you're looking a little silly.  Take a look at Harry Greb shadowboxing (at 3:06) above. Looks like something that should be sent to the insane asylum and you probably won't look much different at least at first.  Don't worry, you get over it, and will see substantial improvements in the ring as well.

What is Shadowboxing?

Shadowboxing is boxing yourself or an imaginary opponent.  I don't think I'd be wrong if I said that every boxer uses shadowboxing as part of their training routine.  The technique is incredibly useful for you to learn techniques and work drills through in your head.  Shadowboxing basically has you punching the air and moving around practicing your drills and pretending to defend against an attacker.

How to Shadowbox?

Believe it or not, when you see someone shadowboxing they usually have an aim to what they are doing.  Or at least they should.  You can use shadowboxing a number of different ways to improve your boxing skills.  It is not necessarily just random punching and moving, although it could be.  Here are nine different shadowboxing drills for you to incorporate into your workouts:

1.  Movement Shadowboxing.  When practicing your movement while shadowboxing, you start out by not throwing any punches.  Your goal here is to concentrate on how you are moving around in your boxing stance.  Move forwards, backwards, side to side, pivot, hop, pendulum step, etc... This is where you develop some agility and light footwork.  Once you get comfortable with the movement, add in some punches, but the focus is still on the movement.  Visualize how your feet are turning, moving in relation to the punches you are throwing.

2.  Pivot and T Frame Shadowboxing.  In this round, while you shadowbox, your focus is on maintaining the T Frame, keeping your shoulders above your knees and pivoting correctly while throwing your punches.  You can move around all you want, throw whatever you want, but at all times, your focus is on the pivot and T-Frame.

3.  Shadowboxing Combinations.  For beginners, I generally have them start out doing a round of movement shadowboxing followed by a couple more rounds of specific combinations.  For instance, one entire round, I'll have them shadowbox jabs only.  They can be single jabs, double jabs, triple jabs, jabs to body then to head, and so on.  But, the focus is the jab.  The next round, the focus may switch to the 1-2 in which case the boxer will spend the entire round throwing technically correct jabs followed by straight rights (or lefts for the southpaws).    The next round they may do 1-2-3 combinations and so on.  The key is to focus on drilling a specific combination for the entire round.

4.  Shadowboxing for Speed.  This is quite fun and introduces a little bit of competition into the mix.  Shadowboxing for speed means the boxer will throw as many punches as he can in the span of the round.  They should still be throwing technically correct punches, but the real aim is to let their hands fly and count how many punches they can throw in three minutes.  It's best to track this so the boxer can attempt to beat whatever he did last time.  Being able to throw 250-300 punches in three minutes is a good goal to work towards.  One can also introduce constraints into this, for instance, throw as many jabs as you can in three minutes, etc... to mix it up and keep pers from getting bored.

5.  Shadowboxing an Opponent.  The opponent is yourself and this is where a mirror is really handy.  Having the boxer box himself will show him where his weaknesses are.  He can see when he leaves his head open or if his punches are off target.  He can see if he is bending his knees fully when going down for a body punch or if his slips are crisp, clean, and fast.  It may seem vain to an outsider, but boxing in a mirror will show you what your opponent sees and therefore what you need to fix before getting in the ring.

6.  Shadowboxing Free For Alls.  Anything goes.  Picture an opponent and move, punch, and defend against what he is doing to you.  Takes an imagination, but if you can picture yourself hitting someone and then reacting to whatever they do, you'll engrain it in your head that much quicker.  This is where the real implantation happens from learning a skill to putting it in your arsenal.  When you can visualize a scenario in vivid detail and respond with zero hesitation, you'll have that skill with you in the ring.  It's kind of like learning a second language.  Experts say that once you begin dreaming in that language, you're well on your way to becoming fluent in it.

7.  Slow Motion Shadowboxing.  Do everything deliberately in slow motion concentrating on perfect technique.  This will show you the mechanics behind a certain combination or punch and allow you to correct the little things - foot off center, not enough pivot, weight distributed slightly wrong, etc...

8.  Shadowboxing with Your Mouthpiece.  Adds a new dynamic into the mix.  Personally, I always train myself and those I train with their mouthpieces at all times.  Train how you fight is the motto.  Some don't though, and if you incorporate the mouthguard into your training, you see how breathing is a big part of the game.  Same goes for handwraps, wear them when you train.

9.  Shadowboxing with Weights.  Start small, holding small dumbells or weights in either hand as you shadowbox.  The added weight will not only aid in simulating a ring situation as you put on 10-16oz gloves, but the increased weight will help strengthen and develop your shoulders and possibly help your speed when you aren't holding the weights.

When to Shadowbox?

This may seem obvious, but shadowbox every chance you get.  You can use it as a warmup, cooldown, skills session, or anything else you can imagine.  For instance, with Commando Boxing's boxing training plans, if you don't have a heavy bag yet, substitute shadowboxing for the heavy bag drills.  You'll miss out on the resistance, but you're still learning the drills. 

The more you shadowbox, the quicker the drills and techniques are going to be implanted in your head and become instinct.  Like I mentioned previously, nothing is stopping you from incorporating it into your daily routine.  Sit at your desk and throw punches, walk down the hallway and throw punches, move like you're in the ring.  You may look like a dork, but who cares.  You're learning something and trying to condition your muscles and brain to react and throw in a certain way.  The more you drill that in, the better. Boxon.

How do you incorporate shadowboxing into your training routine?

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