Category Archives: Training

January 13, 2017
January 13, 2017
improve your running

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HARD work beats talent if talent doesn’t work hard. Talent with hard work is unbeatable.” It’s hard to argue with trainer and former world title challenger Jim McDonnell at the best of times, but when he is espousing such compelling principles, it becomes impossible. Below, in his own words, the coach of top super-middleweight James DeGale among others shares some useful tips on how to improve your running for boxers.

DO THE DONKEY WORK

IT’S like a menu for a meal. Over the course of a camp, we’ve got to put ingredients into the recipe to get the best product. In a 12-week camp, the first month is what we call ‘Donkey work’, the stuff that when you get sharp, crisp and fast, it’s got to be in the tank; you don’t want to be doing it close to a fight. It’s your endurance work. Putting the miles in on the road. We do it by time because it’s not a race, it’s time on feet. You’re way out from boxing. So we run for two hours at ‘talking’ pace, nice and steady.

These long runs build strength, endurance, conditioning, leg strength. We’ll do a run like this once a week at this stage of camp. We do a run in Hampstead, over six hills, from sub-two hours, steady state, at the start of camp, to doing it in one hour and 15 minutes when DeGale is in top shape.

It’s 8.3 miles and one of the hills is the steepest in London. Sometimes when he goes out he’ll be wearing a lot of clothing, hand weights, boots, and do a slow jog; time on feet. Then, when he goes in his tracksuit or shorts and t-shirt, he’s really fast.

FIX UP, LOOK SHARP

WHEN he’s fine-tuning, in the last six weeks, we do tempo runs. It’s not a luxury run, it’s hard work against the clock. A tempo run is about 5-45, definitely subsix- minute. It’s a measured distance and they have to try and beat me; I’ll run subsix minutes every mile. Sometimes we’ll hit the track and do 1,600m in 5-30, then go up and down the hill, maybe a halfdozen times, that really takes it out of you. Then you do another sub-six mile, before running on the flat for 45 minutes. We do lots of work on the track and the sessions vary. We do one called ’20-10′.

You have to cover a set distance in 20 seconds; if you drop short, you’re out; end of session. You get exactly 10 seconds’ recovery then you’ve got to run the same distance again. You have to do that for 12 minutes; that’s 24 reps. I can count on one hand the amount of fighters in my career who have achieved that. To start, we see how far they can sprint flat-out in 20 seconds. Then, after the 10-second recovery, they have to get back to where they started from. They either drop just short or they go a bit further. If they go further, we say, ‘Oh, you can do that in 20 seconds. Now we know how far you can sprint.’

Sometimes I bring things out in the middle of it. So they do the sprint, and straight after the 10 seconds’ rest, I make them do a round on the pads. They’ve got no breath, their heart-rate’s over the top and they’re doing pads. While the donkey work is aerobic, the interval work is anaerobic. It’s like when we do 15 15s – 15-second sprints with 15-second rests. It replicates when James is in the ring, working in 15-second bursts, then walking around for 15 seconds, and he’s recovered. His heartrate goes from 70bpm to 120bpm, then he takes that walk and it goes back down again. James can throw a huge amount of punches every round because of the training he does.

GET READY FOR A SURPRISE

SOMETIMES, we’re running early in the morning, up a hill in Epping Forest, and I pull some pads out from behind a tree! I’ve stashed some gloves there too and they go through a pads drill. Then, we run another mile, and I pull out two 10kg weights from behind another tree. I’ve got to lay it all out in advance. One of the key things in training is to keep the body from getting accustomed. They have to get used to adapting by working with the unpredictable, prepare for the unexpected, so when something happens in the ring that hasn’t happened before, they can deal with it. That’s why I surprise them in training and I do different sessions, week in, week out.

RUN A MILE IN THEIR SHOES

FIGHTERS sometimes say to a trainer, ‘You don’t know how hard it is.’ You can’t say that to me. Anything they do, I can do and I have done. Every distance, they can’t beat me and they respect the fact I’m still doing stuff. You’re not asking them to do anything you can’t do. I could get a good runner and a strength coach to work with my fighters but, as a bonding thing, if, as a fighter, I know my trainer in the corner has done the distance, and he’s telling me in the ninth round, ‘Come on!’, I think you respond. Leading from the front is sometimes a positive thing.

 

January 12, 2017
January 12, 2017
Frank Buglioni on running for boxing

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THE importance of running for boxing is undoubtedly high. A well planned and correctly executed running program will have a direct correlation with your success inside the ring.

It provides the fighter with that crucial stamina. The footprint for endurance, movement, speed and even power. Running is our most basic and natural exercise. But don’t let that be overlooked. Modern fighters have grown to cross train and mix their training methods; which, proven through sports science, shows good results. However do not neglect your road work!

Running although primarily a lower body exercise, brings your arms and core into play – similarities to boxing, clearly evident. Try running with some light wrist or hand weights and you will soon realise how much your arms are used during a run.

Often a go-to exercise to trim fat and muscle from a fighter and keep him or her in a desired weight class. Long distance running can help slim your legs down too (overly bulky legs in boxing, especially in the lower weight divisions, are usually seen as a hinderance and disadvantage).

Be sure to mix up your runs. Change the tempos, distances, recovery times and intervals. Variation is the spice of life and to fight through different gears will require you to switch up your training. By not adjusting to one type of run, your body will be constantly adapting to different stimulus and grow stronger in a wider range of areas.

Running schedules can vary greatly between different weight classes and level of fighters, for example a novice four-round fighter would not be expected to run the same amount of time as a championship level 12 round fighter. So taper your running  schedule to fit your needs.

Approaching a fight, a typical weekly format would be 2x moderate pace long distance runs, 2x higher tempo runs and 1x sprint session. (When starting sprint sessions, build up the intensity so as to let your body adapt, start at 60-70% maximal effort and build up over the course of a few weeks.)

Here is an example of a tempo/sprint run that can be used to build speed, power and endurance. This session can be completed solo, but I recommend training with a similar level partner.  Even better would be two pairs for competition!

Known as the 20m x4, x4, x4:

Set up 2 cones 20m apart. On the whistle 1 person from each team will run to the cone and back, twice (sprinting 80m in total) they will then tag their partner who will then go on to do the same. Repeat this a total of 4 times. Myself and my running partner aim to finish a set in around 2minutes. Then take a 2minute recovery (walking recovery, do not let legs seize up) before repeating again. Complete this 4 times. Good luck!

Frank Buglioni is the new British light-heavyweight champion

January 11, 2017
January 11, 2017
boxing training

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Boxing may just be the last frontier in strength and conditioning. Whatever the current champions are doing, especially the popular heavyweights, the contenders are sure to copy. The problem with that approach is that some boxing champions are champions not because of their unique training methods but in spite of them. Mike Tyson at his best didn’t lift weights, but he had tremendous muscle mass that gave him devastating punching power.

We still see boxers running long distances, exercising in sauna suits, and using Spartan training methods to the point of overtraining. As for nutrition… well, many fighters see no problem preparing for their training and bouts by consuming a Snickers bar and a can of Red Bull.

It’s impossible for me in one article to clarify all the myths about training fighters, but I can give you an overall perspective based upon my work with professional and amateur boxers.

1. Over-emphasis on easy work

Jumping rope and jogging can certainly be used as a warm-up to prepare a boxer for intense training, but too much of it increases the risk of injury and makes fighters slower.

If you combine too much slow training with fast training, the body will not understand what it is supposed to adapt to and this can affect speed and power.

2. Focusing on quantity v quality 

The body can only recover from so much training. Boxing bouts seldom last more than an hour, so workouts (after the warm-up) should not take more than an hour if you expect an athlete to perform quality work. Furthermore, workout sessions that are too long can cause a fighter to enter a state of overtraining.

3. Overworking sport-specific work

Although the most sport-specific activity for boxing is boxing, there are many exercises that are valuable for boxers – but it’s easy to overdo it.
One example is hitting large tyres with sledgehammers to train the oblique abdominal muscles. These dynamic exercises are hard on the shoulders, so they should not be used too frequently in training. Studies have shown that after injuries to the wrists and hands, shoulders are the most common upper-body injuries in boxing.

4. Shadow boxing with dumbbells

I see many fighters shadow box with 1-2kg dumbbells – even Floyd Mayweather does this. This type of exercise ruins fine-movement patterns and places harmful stress on the shoulders and even the lumbar spine. To strengthen the arms and shoulders for punching, a general exercise such as the incline bench press is a wiser –
and safer – choice.

5. Avoiding the weights room

Many boxers and their coaches still believe weight-training will slow you down and make you less powerful. Power is defined as force x distance ÷ by time, and to achieve high levels of power you have to have strength. Tyson’s exceptional genetics endowed him with a powerful punch, so he wasn’t compelled to lift weights until his later years. Nevertheless, weight training is the fastest and most effective way to develop muscles.

I should add, however, that to stay fresh it’s not wise to lift heavy weights shortly before competing, and that when athletes train they always need to lift with the ‘intent’ of moving fast.

6. Lack of grip work

The most commonly injured body parts in boxing are the wrists and hands. It makes sense that you should find methods to strengthen the forearms and the grip. My gym is outfitted with thick-grip barbells and dumbbells that develop a strong grip and add muscle to the forearms.
To reduce the stress on the elbows, this equipment must have revolving sleeves. However, be aware that athletes who use thick-grip apparatus can quickly reach a state of overtraining with additional exercises.

7. Too much non-specific ab work

Ab training is overrated for boxing, and I’ve found that the ab training most boxers perform is never balanced. Performing 1,000 crunches may be hard, but this results in structural imbalances. Also, although many coaches consider core training to be simply ab work, I’ve found that to create balance in the trunk – a muscular corset, if you will – boxers also need to perform exercises for the lower back muscles.
You should be aware that multi-joint exercises such as deadlifts and squats work the ‘bracing’ function of the abs. Also, I found overhead squats are great for balancing out the development of these muscles.

8. Imbalanced neck-training methods

Although boxers and boxing coaches often perform neck training, they usually don’t use a wide variety of exercises.
One of the most popular is using a harness attached to the head while the user performs neck extensions. This is fine, but the exercise involves only one plane of motion of the neck – you also need to work the forward and lateral flexion of the neck, horizontal rotation, upward and downward diagonal rotation, and downward diagonal rotation. Additionally, exercises for the trapezius muscles will help support the neck, and these can be trained with power cleans, shoulder shrugs, and even deadlifts.

Training the neck can significantly reduce the risk of concussions – a major concern in the boxing community – and it facilitates the growth of all the muscles in the upper extremities.

Because the neck is capable of moving in so many different directions and angles, you need to use a variety of exercises, methods, tempos, and ranges of motion when developing the neck muscles.

9. Insufficient stretching

Boxers, especially heavyweight boxers, are often tight. Such structural imbalances increase the risk of injury and performance. Boxers often are not shown how to stretch, and even then they typically spend only a few minutes a day on mobility work. I have my boxers perform dynamic stretching before a workout as a warm-up; after the workout they do static stretching.

10. Misguided nutrition

Nutrition unfortunately is a neglected part of the training of many boxers. A common belief is that a fighter needs sugar before training or competing – I actually witnessed one boxing coach give his fighter a piece of cake shortly before he stepped into the ring for a bout! Even though this fighter won the title, he didn’t perform well due to a lack of energy. Fighters really can feel the difference that optimal nutrition makes in their performance.

*For training information and workouts from some of the biggest names in combat sport don’t miss the Fighting Fit: Train like the Stars special*

January 9, 2017
January 9, 2017
stamina

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We asked strength and conditioning coach Krool for some tips on how to improve your stamina:

RUNNING

The old method of going running and plodding along, if you take sports specific training and apply it to what a fighter would use in a fight, I don’t think it’s really that effective, if you really look at it. If you think of running a 5k, unless on your 5k route you’re doing sprints and there’s different exercises you’re going to bring, then that’s not really functional enough.

It’s just boring going on the road and running, the old school boxing idea of going on a run. In this day and age everything has to change a bit. You could be running for four minutes and then picking up the pace for two minutes on your run, then half pace, picking it up to three quarter pace. Doing a full sprint for 30 seconds or a minute, then recovering. Runs will be more effective if you have the coach, the coach is interactive with the fighters and the coach is on a bike and the coach picks up the pace of the fighters. It brings a different element.

If it’s plodding along, it’s just conducive to injuries eventually. You don’t need to do 10k runs. 5k, with all the other training they’re doing is perfect.

EXPLOSIVE

I’ll do lots of explosive exercises with either a tornado ball or I’ll use a medicine ball. I’ll do lots of explosive throwing. So imagine him throwing punches but not in a boxing gym, I’m taking him out of the boxing environment so we might do that in the park.

With a medicine ball, I’ll have him crouching down, getting up and exploding, twisting maybe from your left to your right, so that’s making sure he’s getting enough leverage in his punches. He has to extend to his right side and throw the medicine ball either against a wall, throw it to me and wait for me to get it back to him. He’ll keep on twisting from left to right or from right to left. We’ll do a minute on each side, so his obliques really get strong.

Again if you just have someone lying on the floor doing a sit up, or doing sit ups with oblique twists, it’s not really functional and it’s not really sports specific because he’s not really going to lie down on the floor and fight on the floor, he’s going to be standing up and throwing punches. Again you have to relate the sport that you’re involved in to the exercises that you’re doing.

KETTLEBELLS

Knees slightly bent so you’re getting a lot of work out of your core and lower back, because that’s where the power comes from. We have them swinging the kettlebell between the legs, doing two swings basically (imagine them throwing two punches) going half [way up first], then the full American Swing all the way up and have the biceps and the ears in one straight line. So you first go half [way up] then you go full.

Sometimes I have people doing them for a minute. Boxers especially, when you take them out of their comfort zone, mostly it’s when they’reworking on minutes and they’re working on time. It’s mind over matter working through your exercises.

When I do a kettlebell work out, I’ll have them doing those kettlebell swings for a minute then [with 30 seconds rest inbetween], upright rows with the kettlebell, then single kettlebell swings with one arm, so it’s building up the power individually with each arm, you’ll swap arms obviously. For single arm movements I’ll do that for 40 seconds or 45 seconds. Once they start improving you can take it further. Then you can have them changing direction with a kettlebell. It’s working on foot movement, how they pivot in the ring. You bring that dimension into it, where you’re pivoting on the right leg, turning to the left and pivoting on the left leg and turning to the right. As you go up you pivot and when you come down you’ve changed direction, it’s part of the kettlebell swing. You can have them squatting and pressing with single arms again. Instead of swinging now you’re going into a full press. So you go from a full squat, getting as low as possible, and then extending your arm above your head into a shoulder press, using that as a punch. You’re not punching forward you’re punching straight up. Off that, once you’re getting that, you can then add a lunge forward, throwing the punch, then stepping back into the squat again. You bring the footwork into it.

YOU CAN TRY

KETTLEBELL CIRCUIT

  • KETTLEBELL swings 1 min, rest 30 seconds
  • UPRIGHT row 1 min, rest 30 seconds
  • SINGLE arm swings, 40 seconds each arm,rest 30 seconds
  • KETTLEBELL Swing with pivot, 1 min, rest 30 seconds
  • SQUAT and press, 40 seconds each arm

YOGA

YOGA helps your mental focus. Because it’s Bikram and it’s done in a hot room it also helps stretch out the muscles. Boxers put a lot of stress on the muscles so he’s doing two hits in one, the mental focus, having to stay in that room for almost two hours or an hour and a half, he’s controlling his respiratory system and he’s also working out a lot of the lactic acid in the stretches and in the hot room itself.

*For training information and workouts from some of the biggest names in combat sport don’t miss the Fighting Fit: Train like the Stars special*

January 9, 2017
January 9, 2017
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Video: Showtime

January 6, 2017
January 6, 2017
boost your power

Naoki Fukuda

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PLYOMETRICS are exercises that im to produce fast, powerful movements by improving the elastic ability of both the muscle and tendons. Here strength and conditioning coach Barrie Edwards provides a lower body routine for you to begin plyometric training, just ensure you complete a dynamic warm-up and stretches before attacking the routine. Don’t miss next week’s issue for part two, the starter upper-body routine.

STARTER LOWER-BODY ROUTINE

Once in the routine, each exercise should be done for four sets – with a one-minute rest between sets – before moving on to the next station.

STATION 1

  • DEPTH DROP TO VERTICAL LEAP – Stand on a box six-12ins high. With arms at your sides and head up, step off the box with your left foot. Land on BOTH feet and, without squatting, explode vertically as high as you can. Minimise the time in contact with the ground between the land and the jump. Power arms up to give extra height. Land quietly into a squatted position with arms outstretched.

STATION 2

  • SINGLE-LEG BOX JUMPS – Stand directly in front of a step or box six-12ins high with your left foot placed firmly on the box and right foot on the floor. Press up on to the box with your left foot and explode your right leg up causing both feet to leave the box. Land with your left foot back on the box and right foot on the floor. Repeat, minimising the contact time on the box.

STATION 3

  • LATERAL BOX JUMPS – Stand to the left of the box or step and place right foot on top of the box. Using your right leg only, push off the box and explode vertically as high as possible. Land on the other side of the box with your opposite foot on the box, then immediately repeat, alternating sides and minimising the contact time on the box.

STATION 4

  • SPRINT STRIDERS – Use a box which is a minimum of six inches in height. Start by facing the box with your right leg on the box and your left leg on the floor. Stand on the balls of the feet. Alternate arms and legs as quickly as possible, and be as quick as you can off the ground.

STATION 5

  • BOX SIDE JACKS – Start with both feet on the ground either side of the box, with a good athletic posture. Jump onto the centre of the box. Be as quick as you can off the ground. Hit the centre of the step for each rep.

STATION 6

  • BOX HOPS – Start by facing the box with both feet on the ground, and be on the balls of your feet. Jump to the centre of the step with both feet. Be as quick as you can off the ground. Hit the same spot on the box and the floor every time.

*For training information and workouts from some of the biggest names in combat sport don’t miss the Fighting Fit: Train like the Stars special*

January 4, 2017
January 4, 2017
Back squat

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Strength and conditioning is becoming more and more popular within the boxing community. In a new article series, Boxing Science provide the Top 5 exercises that we use in our programs to improve punch force.

Strength training is important for Boxing

Impulse is the amount of force developed in a short space of time, and this is an important contributor to running, jumping and throwing performance, as well as… yeah you guessed it, PUNCH FORCE.

This can be improved through hand speed drills and technique… However these improvements might be small.

Our programs are designed to improve the maximal force production through strength, speed and movement drills. The more weight load you can shift in the shortest amount of time will give you more bang for your buck. Click below to see number 1.

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