THE proof of the pudding is in the eating although it’s not very often a boxer actually gets to eat a pudding. But that’s not what this article is about. I’m talking about proof. Or evidence is perhaps a better description.
When I began my career working with professional fighters I would often hear the fighter being told phrases such as “You are getting fitter”, or “You are punching harder than in your last training camp.” Now this may well have been the case. But the reality was that as a team we did not know if any of the statements we were making regarding their physical progress were actually true; they were all subjective and not evidence-based. As a team we needed to know that the training methods we were using were actually benefiting our fighters, and increasing their chances of success in the ring.
Here are the five things that a fighter should be testing:
A fighter needs to achieve a target weight whilst retaining as much lean muscle tissue as possible. Solely monitoring weight on the scales does not account for lean tissue, fat stores and fluid levels. Therefore monitoring weight on the scales is simply not good enough and we must monitor a decrease in body-fat levels. Skinfold testing using calipers is a more than adequate method. The Hydrostatic chamber is another method of testing, however subject to the budget available, the Dexa Scan is the gold standard.
Research shows the human body consists of roughly 66 per cent water. There is also a huge amount of research showing the damage dehydration can cause to performance. Therefore hydration testing through the training camp is critical. Urine, Saliva and sweat analysis tests are all available through various systems.
Many fighters believed for a long time that strength training made you bulky and slow. Done correctly we know that this is not true and that increased strength is the cornerstone of the training camp, for both improved performance and decreased risk of injury. One-Repetition Maximum (1RM) testing is the favoured method of many coaches and professionals of measuring an athlete’s total strength during the camp. This measurement is vital, to make sure the fighter is not losing lean muscle and physical strength during the training camp.
Due to the physiological nature of boxing, and the stress placed on the fighter’s body, high levels of cardiovascular endurance and stamina are essential. Testing procedures for ensuring boxers’ fitness levels are progressing through the training camp are key. The measurement of V02 shows how much oxygen is being used, and how efficiently that oxygen is being utilised by the body during exercise.
Increased punch power is of course what all boxers want. However a fighter must be clear that strength and power are not the same. Therefore neither is their training! Power is a combination of strength and speed. Preparation and developing power is done through explosive and ballistic movements, usually through variations of essential lifts and emulating real-life fighting scenarios. The sergeant jump and the broad jump are basic testing methods of power, with advanced pieces of equipment such as the Force Plate offering detailed scientific feedback of any increases, or decreases during a training camp.