Boxing training is extremely rewarding. Hitting something over and over just feels really good - some days even more so than others... But, if you don't take the proper precautions and use proper technique, you risk injuring yourself. An injury will instantly affect your training even if it is a small one. So, before you start swinging - at minimum ensure you've got these four points covered.
Note that I'm only covering training you do by yourself here. If you're sparring, you have more things to consider.
Protect Your Hands
Hand wraps are cheap, so there is no excuse for not using them. In the pages that follow, we'll even show you how to wrap your hands a couple of different ways. Do not buy into the myth that you need to hit the heavy bag with bare knuckles to strengthen them up. Do you box bare knuckle? No - so why would you risk damaging your hands doing it in training.
Ideally, you will put on wraps that will protect all the little bones in your hands and then put on a pair of training gloves - 12 oz are a good size - and then hit the heavy bag. Not only will you be training more like you are fighting, but there is far less chance of breaking your hands.
A boxer with broken hands isn't much of a boxer, so use your head here. Wraps and gloves will also help avoid scrapes on your knuckles. Rubbing the skin off your knuckles stings and hurts and it makes you think twice about hitting something again. Even with wraps and gloves, you may experience this sooner or later. They will eventually callous over, but it is a painful process that affects the quality of your training.
Fuel and Rest Properly
The boxing nutrition portion of the site has more detailed information, but as a general rule:
- Before Training (approx 30-45 min) - Drink/eat some easily digestable/simple carbs (fruits or pre-workout sports drinks)
- During Training: up to about 90 min - you only need water. But, if you plan on working out longer than 90 min then you need to replace electrolytes by drinking something like Gatorade. You may even consider replacing calories at the rate of about 200-300 calories/hour (something easily digested).
- After Training (within 30 min of stopping): Eat something with about a 4:1 carb to protein ratio to replace the glycogen in your muscles and provide some protein to stimulate muscle repair.
Boxing training is intense. You will sweat uncontrollably and tax your body's ability to keep the activity going. If you are not eating and drinking to sustain this kind of activity, your training will eventually become a chore. You will lose interest and you may even overtrain. You need to provide your body with the fuel it needs before, during, and after training to keep you energized throughout the training session and then repair your body afterwards.
Rest is extremely important. It is during the times when you rest that your muscles repair and get stronger. Getting adequate sleep every night is extremely important. Set a time when you will go to bed and then stick to it. When you give yourself the seven or eight hours of sleep you need you'll immediately notice the difference in your training - and when you are more focused and rested, there is less chance you'll injure yourself through bad technique.
Check Your Equipment
Nothing is worse than hitting the bag, knocking it off the rafters and injuring yourself in the process. It goes without saying that if you are hanging a heavy bag at home, then use the proper anchors and ensure it is secure before slugging away at it. While it may feel good to knock it off the ceiling, a 100lb bag can do a lot of damage to you, your house, and others on the way down.
Using proper fill in your heavybag is important as well. Sand is not a good fill - it compacts and turns to cement as moisture gets into the bag. This makes the bag really, really hard over time and puts much more strain on your body. Remember you are absorbing a tremendous amount of impact and kinetic energy with each punch, so your heavy bag is an important piece of equipment that must be maintained.
Use Proper Technique
Nearly all boxing injuries that people report come from improper punching technique. I know you want to start hitting things, but take the time to ensure you have the right form. If you aren't impacting the bag with straight arms, hitting with the proper knuckles, you risk breaking your hand and wrist. If you are too far from the bag, you can hyper-extend your elbow. If you are too close, you can put a lot of strain on your shoulders. If you aren't pivoting, not only are you robbing yourself of speed and power, but the arm punches place extra strain on your shoulder joints as well.
So, we've just gone over what you need to consider when training by yourself. Ensuring your boxing training is injury free will keep you interested in the sport and help you progress faster than your opponents. Injuries are demoralizing, hurt, and disadvantage you in pre-fight prep time - and in most cases are completely avoidable. Don't be stupid and you can train injury free indefinitely. Boxon.