EVIDENCED in ‘Behind the Ropes’, Carl Frampton has taken his preparations for the Scott Quigg fight very seriously.
Shane McGuigan has a growing reputation in the sport, now working with top names such as David Haye and George Groves. The relatively young coach is well-known for exploring new training methods and seems to be an inspiration for a new generation of boxing coaches.
But some in the boxing community have also questioned his approaches to training.
Let’s analyse the training footage on Behind the Ropes.
Ice Ice Baby!
We saw Carl Frampton taking what looked like a horrendous ice-filled water-bath. In fact, it looked like he hated it. So much so, he immediately jumped in a hot shower afterwards to warm-up.
You’ve probably heard about or even seen elite athletes taking these ice baths. But just because elite athletes seem to do it doesn’t make it elite practice.
We ask – “why?”
The common held (and outdated) theory for taking an ice-bath is that it causes vasoconstriction, stimulates venous return and aids metabolite removal after exercise. The physiological responses to ice-baths are more complex than this and distilling the theory down to this level is not helpful at all.
Still, several pieces of scientific research have investigated whether cold-water immersion can improve subjective ratings of muscle soreness. The consensus is that cold-water immersion after muscle damaging exercise does improve feelings of soreness. That is athletes feel less sore after cold water baths.
But, there are caveats. The effect severe cold water immersion (between 5 and 10°C) on muscle soreness, (I think we can assume that Frampton’s ice-bath was about below 10°C judging by his reaction), is unclear – some find it helpful others don’t. Yet, when the temperature of water increases to between 11 and 15°C there is a clear beneficial effect on the perception of muscle soreness. That is people feel less sore.
So does Frampton need to go so cold? No.
He’s likely going to get better results if the temperature is warmer.
The immersion time is also important. There’s obviously a good relationship between water temperature and tolerable immersion time. The research indicates immersion times between 5 and 15 min as most beneficial. So, if the water is too cold, then tolerance time will decrease. Then you’ll be missing both the time-frame of effectiveness and the optimal temperature.
These studies all investigated the perception of muscle soreness, which is clearly individual. So if you think that cold water immersion will speed your recovery, it probably will.
But, as we always say, there’s a time and place for everything. The skill is knowing when that place is.
It’s probably not a sensible thing to jump in a cold bath after every training session. Especially if your sport requires strength, a sport like boxing.
Two pieces of research published in the last few years have indicated that we need to re-think how athletes use cold water immersion. Both these studies suggest that strength training adaptations are blunted if cold water immersion is used frequently. So they might actually be doing more harm than good because strength gains are likely slowed by the use of cold water immersion.
So, do we recommend cold water immersion? No.
We believe that we can get better adaptions from the intelligent management of training load. We stress athletes when they need overloading, and we let the body manage recovery.
Obviously, we encourage mobility work during recovery but this is different to altering biochemical signalling pathways responsible for muscle hypertrophy, as is the case with cold water immersion.
Shane McGuigan has been holding paddle sticks for Carl Frampton’s pad work. These are a relatively new piece of kit, but what are the benefits?
Due to less weight from the coach behind the pads, there are reduced impact forces through the boxers shoulder, arm and fist when hitting the paddle sticks. This allows a boxer to throw faster shots and combinations, as well as the coach getting more range when working on a boxers defence.
This is good for when a boxer is working in a speed block, tapering for a fight, de-loading for recovery or rehabilitation following a hand injury.
In a short clip at the end of behind the ropes, Frampton is seen using the prowler. It’s hard to say what he was doing and the adaptation he was targeting, but it’s worth sharing our opinions on the prowler as a training tool.
The prowler is being used in many strength and conditioning programs.
This is a great piece of equipment if used in the right way, but more often than not we’ve seen some pointless use of the prowler in the boxing world. Many times we see boxers just beasted on the prowler, with no training aim or adaptation targeted.
We feel that this is a fantastic piece of kit that could be going to waste.
Used in the right way, the prowler can benefit strength, core stability, acceleration and fitness. It can also be strategically integrated to help training variation and recovery.
Coaches should manipulate sets, rest periods, external load (% body mass) and desired speeds to target specific adaptations.
The prowler can also be used in a circuit, see the video below.