Strength training for Boxing – 3 tips to increase your power (without the excess weight!)

Strength training for Boxing – 3 tips to increase your power (without the excess weight!)

There’s a common misconception in the boxing world that strength training makes a boxer slow and bulky. It’s not true! As a boxer, strength is key, but incorrect weight training programmes have given strength training a bad reputation in some boxing circles.

Athletes such as boxers want functional strength they can use in a fight or training scenario, not a bodybuilder’s physique that puts them at a disadvantage, that’s why we have a weights corner at VANDA! So why should YOU lift weights?


Weight training for strength not mass 

The best way to increase strength is through resistance exercise, where the muscle contracts against an external source. ‘Resistance’ can come in many forms – your own bodyweight, resistance bands, a punchbag – but the most effective example of resistance training is with dumbbells and barbells.

Weight training can achieve many goals:

  • Increase strength
  • Improve body tone
  • Increase muscle mass
  • Improve endurance

However, it won’t do all four at the same time!

When it comes to boxing, the goal of weight training should be to increase muscle strength rather than muscle mass (unless you’re a heavyweight or want to move up a weight class), and this depends on your training programme.

Below are three simple tips to help you improve your strength without gaining weight!

Strength tip 1 – Increase the weight, do fewer reps

Different types of weight training are more effective in achieving certain goals. For example, high rep weight training until muscle failure promotes more effective muscle growth

Weight training’s bad reputation has been developed by programmes that focus too much on hypertrophy – muscle growth – rather than developing strength.

To increase strength, you need to increase the weight and decrease the reps. Research has shown that the correct type of training can increase strength and speed with very little effect on body weight.

For maximum strength gains, increase your load to >80% of your 1 rep maximum and complete 5 reps or less. This allows you to strengthen muscle fibres by completing more sets of a heavier weight.  

With heavy weights, always make sure you have completely warmed up your muscles to avoid injury.

Strength tip 2 – Increase your rest periods 

With heavier weights comes longer rest periods as more stress is put on your central nervous system during the set. To maximise muscle power, rest periods are measured in the minutes rather than seconds – 3 to 4 minutes is a good amount of period between sets for your CNS to recover. Anything less won’t be enough.

An example deadlift programme to strengthen the posterior chain

Week Reps Sets % of 1 RM Rest period
1 5 5 85% 4 mins
2 3 5 90% 4 mins
3 1 5 95% 4 mins
4 Deload week, drop weight to 50% of 1 rep maximum

Strength tip 3 – Don’t increase your calorie intake

Remember this: you’ll only put on weight when your calorie intake is higher than the number of calories you burn (through natural processes and exercise) over a sustained period of time. Consume less calories than you burn, and you’ll lose weight.

With this logic, consume the same amount of calories as you burn – known as your maintenance level –  and you’ll stay the same weight, no matter how many weights you lift!

It’s always a good idea to monitor your calories input/output for a week to make sure you’re at the desired level for your goal. You can check on the MyZone App how many calories you burn per class

Research has shown that you can lift weights and gain strength without becoming a big, bulky boxer. It’s all down to the correct method of weight training. Stick to these three tips and you’ll be improving your strength and power in no time, without becoming a new heavyweight. We look forward to seeing you in the VANDA weight section soon!

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