Frequently Asked Questions
Every day I receive emails from people who are new to boxing, people thinking about starting boxing, people thinking about thinking about starting boxing and so on.
A lot of them ask the same questions.
I wish they had posted them to the site so everyone can learn from them, but alas, everyone seems to like the individual one on one conversation and is scared of publishing their questions for all to read. Stop it, there are other people just like you...
Anyways, here are the most frequently asked questions regarding how to get started in boxing or how to fix something or how to......you fill in the blank:
This page will grow over time and they are in no particular order:
General Boxing Questions
Do I really have to wrap my hands to box?
Unless you're some kind of freak, you were born with 300 bones that magically turn into 206 bones by the time you are an adult. It has to do with cartilage turning into bones and bones fusing together -- a lot of stuff your doctor knows that you don't really need to know...
Over half of the bones in the human body are in your hands and feet. There are 27 individual bones in your hands alone and your hands aren't that big. That means those bones are small and fragile.
Do you really think your hands were made to repeatedly pound into a hard mass of anything?
Boxing is all about punching. If you have a broken hand, you can't punch therefore you can't box.
If you haven't seen Cinderella Man - watch it and listen for the sickening crunch of Russel Crowe's hand when he breaks it in a match. Then imagine how much it would hurt (until it numbs up) to slam your now broken hand into something again and again....not very appealing is it?
You have to protect your hands by using wraps properly. Granted that some people do not use wraps and only use bag gloves. They are still getting some protection, but I recommend that you always wrap your hands AND use bag gloves when hitting the heavy bag. Just wraps on the speed bag or double end bag is fine. Those bags will give when you hit them - you aren't absorbing the full force of the punch in your hands and forearms.
I wear glasses or contacts, can I still box?
This is a damn good question and one that is not easily verifiable as the regulations seem to differ in various places. As I see it - poor eyesight shouldn't deter you from boxing and you have two options - either take off your glasses and swing away blindly or put in contacts and go until they get knocked out. You may be at a slight disadvantage - but that is all part of combat - overcoming your limitations.
I have inquired (not yet confi1rmed) and it seems Larry Holmes wore corrective contact lenses later in his career. It is rumoured he even used them as an excuse for not doing as well as he should of against Hollyfield -- remarking that one got knocked out. As well, Sugar Ray Leonard wore or wears glasses/contacts although it is probably a result of his eye surgery. I don't think he does as much boxing anymore.1
At any rate, it's clear there are few professional level boxers who wear glasses or contacts. At the amateur level, I know of at least three guys in my gym who wear contacts. My own son boxes with some pretty poor eyesight - luckily he sees good up close, just not far away. Sometimes they take them out while sparring (which makes it easier for me), sometimes not. I have never heard any of them complain that they have been knocked out and you will have to check the amateur rules in your area to see if there are any regulations against wearing contacts in amateur level competition.
In short, yes you can still box if you wear contact lenses - you may just have a more difficult time becoming the world champ (feel free to prove me wrong on that account)
Boxing Equipment Questions
What kind of boxing gloves, wraps, heavy bag, mouthguard, speed bag, skipping rope, etc... should I buy?
Generally speaking, anything made by the main boxing suppliers are usually fairly good quality items. The top/most common suppliers would be Everlast, Title, Ringside, Rival, and Boes. As for individual product recommendations, I have started a beginner's guide to boxing gear and equipment that details what you should be looking for when starting out boxing.
What is the minimum I should buy to start boxing?
I get this one so much I'm thinking of putting together a beginning boxer's equipment package. Assuming you are working out at home, by yourself, to start boxing, equipment wise, you need:
- a heavy bag
- bag gloves
- hand wraps
- skipping rope
- desire and motivation
That's it. Total cost = approx $175.00 - less desire and motivation which is priceless. Eventually you can build yourself an awesome, equipment filled home boxing gym like I have at my house, but in the meantime, start out slow, make sure you like the sport and go from there. With a little ingenuity you can even build your own boxing equipment (more to come on that soon...).
Boxing Gym or Club Questions
Do you know of a boxing gym or a boxing trainer living in .....(fill in the blank)?
Yes, in fact I probably do. I have the contact information for boxing gyms and trainers in our directory for pretty much anywhere in the world. Problem is that I never have enough time to put them all on the site so you can easily find them. I plan to keep plugging away and adding them, but if you need to know - email me and ask.
Until I get every boxing gym and trainer I know on the site - feel free to keep asking me where the closest boxing gym or trainer is to you. I'll respond as quickly as I can.
Boxing Training Questions
How far do you think I should run every day to get in shape?
Running long, slow distances (LSD) and boxing seem to go hand in hand. Whenever one envisions a boxer, one pictures the boxer in a hooded sweatsuit sweating away for hours and hours and hours on the road or chasing the trainer's car.
Roadwork is only one small part of boxing training and it's importance is one of the great training myths attached to boxing training. In reality, short intense bursts as found in interval training are more effective at developing the energy systems (anaerobic) you use in the ring.
Boxing is an anaerobic sport requiring maximum output for short durations. Long distance running develops your aerobic system and will help you recover in-between rounds but will not help you when it counts. (much).
In short, training to box requires a lot of discipline and a lot of effort. The results both in terms of performance and physical appearance are well worth it though. The CBBT for Men or CBBT for Women programs address questions of this type in detail. It is mentored coaching - completely online - one of a kind - and always developing. Any feedback I receive on it gets integrated into future versions. The training approach is based on long term athlete development models, includes audio, video, compliance tracking and a bunch of other cool stuff.
Strength training is a vital part of any well-rounded boxing training plan.
The neck is just one of many areas that should get some attention and shouldn't be neglected. I believe, and I have zero data to back up this belief, that a strong neck can help prevent knockouts. While knockouts aren't completely understood, one leading theory is that a hard enough hit that twists the head fast enough shuts off the electrical signals that results in the body shutting down.
A strong neck can help nullify some of the force of a punch and prevent such a violent twisting action.
Like any muscle your neck needs training. My favorite exercises are Yes's and No's. For both you lie down in the ring with your head hanging over the edge.
- Yes's - While lying down, let your head go back towards the floor under control and then bring your chin to your chest - just like you're nodding yes to someone. Keep going until failure - you'll eventually start to feel the muscles fatigue. It helps to focus your eyes on a specific spot to keep from getting a little dizzy doing this.
- No's - Again, while lying down with your head unsupported over the edge of the ring - lift your head so it is parallel to the floor and then look left and right through a full range of motion. Go to failure. Focus on a specific point to prevent dizziness.
Three sets of those a couple times a week will help you hold your head in place in the ring - making you a more solid target.
Closing or blinking your eyes during sparring is a normal instinctual reaction - so don't think you're the only one having this problem.
Your eyes are super important so your body naturally tries to protect them by closing the covers if it senses something is going to make contact with your eyeball. Usually that's a good thing, but like you're experiencing - it is annoying and detrimental during a sparring session or boxing match.
There are two things you can do to train yourself to keep your eyes (more often than not) open when something is coming at them. Even after training there will still be times when instincts take over - you'll just have to deal with that:
- Lots of practice. If regularly do some drills where you have someone throw punches at your face, but never connect, you can trick your eyes and mind into believing the incoming punches are not a threat and the blink will be less frequent. You can even do this yourself with your own hand. Hold it out in front of you and bring it quickly towards your eyes and stopping as close as you can. Consciously think about not blinking - this will be fairly easy to do as you know you're not going to hit yourself. Do this enough and become more comfortable with things like punches coming within millimetres of your face and you can train yourself not to blink in the ring.
- Look through things. If you hold your hand up in front of your face again - don't look directly at it - look beyond it. If you're focused on something in the background, your mind won't register the incoming hit as quickly to force a blink. If all your attention is focused on the incoming punch then instinct is going to take over unless you've trained a different response. In the ring, focus on something other than the hands of your opponent. The best place to place your focus is just above the sternum.
Breathing is vitally important - not just to keep you alive - but also to ensure enough oxygen is getting into your body to sustain the level of energy you are expending in the ring. For the most part, your body is going to take care of the breathing all by itself and will force you to switch back and forth between mouth and nose breathing when necessary to adjust the level of oxygen its getting.
With boxing you have to be careful with mouth breathing, especially when in striking distance. Your jaw needs to be closed (which means your mouth needs to be closed) when you get hit. An open jaw could result in nasty injuries including a dislocated jaw. It also hurts like hell. Most new boxers find this out the hard way.
At the same time, it is absolutely essential to breathe when you punch - forcefully and usually through the mouth. If you hold your breathe and take one good punch and you'll have no air at all.
Nose breathing can help lower your heart rate and it also moistens and filters air before it goes into your lungs. If you're working out or boxing in a dry location - it helps prevent sore throats and with a lower heart rate - you're expending less energy.
The general mantra to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth is good advice. Do it when you can. When you need a little more oxygen - you'll start mouth breathing - but if you're in striking distance, do it through clenched teeth and your mouth guard. If you try it, you'll notice that you're actually taking in air through both your mouth and nose at the same time.
Your body has been ensuring you breathe all your life - it knows what it's doing so let it. Rather than try and forcing any regular type of breathing - focus instead on keeping your jaw closed when in striking distance and forcefully exhaling when you punch so you don't hold your breathe and blow up like a blowfish waiting to be popped.
Boxing Nutrition Questions
Can you develop me a meal plan to help me lose weight/gain weight/tone up/tone down, etc...?
I did - it's called the Commando Boxing Body Transformation Program. If you're not able to join the program right now for whatever reason, then keep reading what I give away for free. I give away enough information and training (i.e., the free transformation courses for men and women) that you can use to change how you look.