“TRAIN HARD, FIGHT EASY”
“NO PAIN, NO GAIN”
“HARD WORK, DEDICATION!”
These are common phrases heard when a boxer is preparing for competition.
We agree, training requires a lot of hard work, but how much is smart work?
In this article we’ll look at some basic methods we used to help elite amateur Ryszard Lewicki improve estimated punch force and jump height by 15% on his way to reaching the semi-final of the national amateur championships.
Ryszard has been a Combat Conditioning regular for the past 12-18 months, partaking in our Saturday sessions, our research project and a few 10 week programmes.
At the end of 2014, he was continuing to improve the weights he lifted in the gym and aerobic fitness. However, his speed and muscular force capability, assessed using sprint and jump tests and medicine ball throws had stagnated.
Ryszard was investing money, time and hard work to be on the program, but he wasn’t getting the desired results. Two questions we had to answer were:
- What is the problem?
- What Is the solution?
Session day wellness
On the Combat Conditioning Training Clusters, we monitor a boxers wellness every training session to assess their physical and mental state. These are subjective answers based on how the boxer feels on that day. From October to December, Ryszard’s overall wellness score was 3.4 out of 5. Not ideal when wanting to get the most out of each session.
Therefore, we assumed that the reductions in performance were due to accumulated fatigue.
The problem was highlighted, but we had to go into more detail so we could provide a solution.
Problem: Program structure
When sitting down with a boxer for the first time, we’ll go through what their week looks like. More often than not, there is little structure to their week, not a lot of variation between days, and some days just look way too busy.
Ryszard first started training with us at the start of the Combat Conditioning program back in early 2013 with gym mates from Sheffield City ABC, so weekly planning went amiss.
Solution: Weekly Planner
For effective periodisation, you would look to load and de-load training volume in order to over-reach and recover. This is thought to increase adaptations whilst reducing fatigue and the likliehood of injury. We started to plan what his heavy and light days should look like and spaced them apart strategically.
Like many amateur boxers, Rys has to fit his training around study and work commitments. It would be illogical to put in a heavy training load on a day with extensive work and study. So we got him to rate training load subjectively to control this.
Problem: How good was his recovery?
Following on from balancing commitments and managing training loads, we highlighted the importance of rest. We looked at his recovery methods and how we might improve them.
Solution: Monitor use of methods
First of all, we addressed the basics of sleep and recovery.
Prior to the National Championships, Rys was assigned the task of filling in an online form everyday so I could monitor his wellness and use of recovery methods.
The data was used in the lead up to the championships. We noticed overall day wellness average 4 out of 5 despite the heavy training and competition schedule.
Problem: Large training volumes
Ryszard has built a reputation of being a fit, strong boxer from Sheffield City ABC since he was young. This was built by clocking up the mileage through long bike rides and killer road runs.
Running at a “steady pace” is very common and a traditional boxing training method. We often say when boxers run like this they are ‘running in no man’s land‘. This is training in a medium intensity zone is suboptimal for inducing adaptations and can cause fatigue.
Solution: Reduce the volume and increase the speed
We usually see Ryszard twice per week, so we gave him ownership over his longer endurance work to do on the road or at the gym. However, we did structure it to either 4 or 2 minute intervals.
When Ryszard did train with us, we wanted to overload speed and rate of force development as we knew his home training would not consist of the intensity to cause adaptation. For this, we used repeated sprints for conditioning and strength-speed exercises as part of his resistance training.
Test rests in November 2014 were a cause for concern. The main indicator for the suspected accumulated fatigue was countermovement jump height (CMJ).
After the adjustments we made we found a 15% increase in CMJ height, suggesting that our training and planning improved his ability to produce force quickly.
This was accompanied with a record equaling run on the Yo-Yo test, 7% increase on his previous score. The most impressive result was his right hand medicine ball throw, scoring 14.3 m. This is ranked second to 6”8 heavyweight Dave Howe’s 15 m attempt, a great result for the 18 year old middleweight.
Looking at the session day wellness, Ryszard improved his average daily score from 3.4 to 3.9 out of 5 between phase 1 and phase 4. For a boxer that undergoes high volumes of training, this is pretty good.
The results above are a great example how basic structuring of your weekly and daily training loads can have a large impact on your training & performance.
To assess your daily wellness is important, but to see what methods help improve it each day will encourage you to prioritise recovery methods.
Ryszard performed great in the championships, awarded a bronze medal in the 75 kg category at 18 years old is a fantastic achievement. Continuing his hard work and eagerness to learn, I am sure he will taste national success in the not too distant future.
These results are due to the coaching and guidance from Sheffield City ABC head coach Brendan Warburton, Ryszard’s hard work and commitment, and of course, a sprinkle of science.