Boxing is considered an "old school" one-on-one sport, embraced by relatively few compared to those who favor the more popular mixed martial arts trend. However, the same types of strategies that kept heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis active in the ring for more than 14 years can give you similar strength and endurance. This article addresses what you can expect from a boxing exercise routine as a beginner.
Boxing Routine of the Pros
The first thing to understand about boxing exercise routines is that they are composed of roughly 60 percent anaerobic activity performed at 85 to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate. Compared to aerobic activity, in which your heart beats within 70 to 85 percent of its maximum, boxing exercises are extremely strenuous and not for the faint-hearted--or weak-wristed, for that matter. These workouts are composed of interval training--typically two minutes of intense, anaerobic activity followed by a minute's rest. Pro boxers use interval running to build up strength and endurance before they even get in the ring, sometimes running as many as four miles a day, as well as weight training, plyometrics, and training "drills." To wit: your boxing exercise routine will involve some hard physical work. So are you ready to start?
Training for Your Boxing Routine
In many books you read or videos you watch about boxing, an exercise routine established by a professional trainer is recommended for the beginner who knows nothing about the physical techniques involved in this sport. Even the person who's in exquisite shape physically can still make the common errors of using nothing but the strength of the arm when punching or not hitting with a straight wrist. Ever heard the term "fights like a girl?" There you have it.
If you're in fairly good physical condition, your first training session will entail a series of intense "drills" that can include a veritable festival of high-intensity, sweat-popping activities, such as sprinting forward, then running backward; doing jump-backs, jumping jacks, quick steps, or jumping rope (both feet on the ground, then alternating right foot, left foot). You'll be given basic instructions, such as how to wrap your wrists, select the right glove (and glove weight), and adopt the right protective stance, including keeping the chin tucked with the inactive hand raised to protect the face. For right-handed fighters, the left foot is forward, with the right foot about a half-foot behind, heel slightly lifted.
There are four primary punches you'll learn--the jab, cross, hook, and uppercut (see Resources)--which can be practiced in simple or more complex combinations, either on a heavy bag or on your trainer's boxing mitts. The goal of these drills is to encourage proper technique; however, once you can easily and instinctively throw an variety of impromptu combinations, your boxing exercise routine will become more challenging, both mentally and physically.
Expect "rounds" to last one minute on and one minute off during your initial sessions, then two minutes, and finally three (with one minute off in between). That shrill noise you hear, followed by a clanging bell? That's the sound of the round timer. Get used to it--you'll be hearing it a lot when you take your training routine solo.
The design of your own boxing exercise routine is largely dependent on what you hope to get out of it. Aspire to become an amateur or "hobby" boxer? You might want to do your interval running at one time of the day, your resistance training at a different time, and your punching drills at yet another. But if you want to fit it all in at one trip to the gym, make sure to include five to ten minutes of warm-up (e.g., running on the treadmill) and another ten minutes of resistance conditioning. Thirty to 35 minutes of timed punching drills constitute the majority of your exercise routine.
Make use of all of the hanging and standing bags at your disposal. A good standing bag to use for practicing all types of punches is the body opponent bag. This much-abused fellow, commonly referred to as "Bob," allows you to perfect your upper cut, which cannot be accomplished on the flat surface of a hanging bag. Use a timer, not your own watch or the gym clock--you don't want distractions during your punching drills. Aspire to eventually go at least nine three-minute rounds during the course of your workout routine, with 30 second resting intervals.
Before you begin any boxing exercise routine, it's important to work one-on-one with a professional trainer experienced in this sport. Not only is it possible to injure your wrists and shoulders but it's easy to learn how to punch "wrong," and since boxing is an intuitive sport, old habits are hard to break once they are firmly enmeshed in your technique. If you can't afford a personal boxing coach, try attending small boxing classes that incorporate all aspects of endurance training. This is also an excellent way to learn how to create a boxing exercise routine that you can perform on your own.