AS Anthony Joshua prepares to defend his heavyweight crown from former king Wladimir Klitschko, America’s Deontay Wilder continuing to deliver devastating knockouts, the promising rise of Joseph Parker and Tony Bellew’s shocking defeat of fan favourite David Haye. It is safe to say that the heavyweight division has really come alive.
The size, uniqueness and knockout power these heavyweights possess seems to attract the casual boxing fans. These are athletes that carry their own identity and may require different training approaches in comparison to fighters in lighter weight categories.
In Training Heavyweight Boxers, we explained how taller athletes may train in the weight room. Now we will cover conditioning methods for heavyweight boxers.
Move before you can run!
Although boxing is not a sport determined on running performance, I always integrate running mechanics drills into a boxers program.
Why? Boxing movements create muscular asymmetries and imbalances, this can result in an altered running technique. These tiny faults may cause overuse injuries and negatively affect running performance when clocking up the miles in training camp.
Taller, heavier athletes will find it harder to lift their body parts into the correct technique, ingraining bad habits and movement patterns. The risk of injury will be further increased due to heavyweights likely to put these imbalances under more stress because of their heavier bodyweights.
Heavyweight boxers should focus on developing proper running and sprinting mechanics to avoid injury and improve performance. In assistance, mobility and movement training should be a priority to improve flexibility and reduce muscular imbalances.
TRAINING 6″8, 120 KG DAVE HOWE CONSISTS OF MUCH MORE THAN RUNNING HARD AND LIFTING HEAVY
Reduce Impact Forces and Run Uphill
Hill sprints are a great method to combat poor running technique and reduce large impact forces. Running on incline develops acceleration technique as it promotes high knee drive, stride frequency and force production.
The hill also forces you to be in more of a forward lean, this is a difficult position to get in on a flat track as you need to be strong. A greater forward lean leads to a greater leg extension, therefore more force is produced.
This reduces the amount of impact on the joints whilst creating a higher demand on the lower body muscles – resulting in an increased cardio-respiratory response.
Try out these workouts
High intensity intervals of 4-8 minutes at 90-100% maximal heart rate is a method we use with our boxers to improve the function of the cardio-respiratory system.
The impact on the joints during high intensity runs can be troublesome at times, especially if you are completing the runs at a much higher body mass. The longer intervals require lower running speeds, so this will be helpful in reducing the risk of overuse injuries.
SESSION: 4-8 minute intervals x 3-6 reps
We have already tackled impact forces and overuse injuries with various methods, however a heavyweight boxer can still break down if they stick to one training pattern.
A lack of training variation can cause high physical strain, resulting in increased risk of injury, overtraining and illness. With the heavyweights already prone to this, a variety of conditioning methods are important to optimise performance and stay off the physio table.
Alternative Conditioning Tools
Although we prioritise running for longer intervals, heavyweights still need to target peripheral adaptations through maximal efforts (10-45s : 1-4 minutes recovery).
We have explained that heavyweights might be prone to high impact forces when running at high speeds, so we can target high intensities through alternative conditioning tools. The top one would be the curve, as the C shape and requirement to power the treadmill reduces impact forces.
Pushing big weights on the ‘Prowler’ is also a great way to encourage maximal efforts, or if you really want to take the weight off your feet a watt bike is a great conditioning tool with quantifiable feedback.
Heavyweight boxers are a different kind of athlete, so sometimes they will need a different kind of training and an individualised approach. These are just some guidelines based on my experiences working with bigger guys, so please do not feel that this is the blueprint.
These are methods that have worked well for me and my athletes in the past, explore them with your own training philosophies attached to enhance your programming.