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Boxing, known by many as the “sweet science,” has long been one of the most physically demanding sports. To become a champion, a boxer must perfectly combine the elements of strength, quickness and endurance. The training leading up to a big fight can last for several months or more, and is designed to push a boxer to his physical limits.

To gain more strength for a fight, a boxer can do many different exercises. A combination of weight training and strength exercises are used. Strength exercises can include sit-ups and push-ups. Sit-ups are designed to strengthen the boxer’s abdomen and allow him to sustain body punches. Often a medicine ball is used in conjunction with sit-ups to force the fighter to build up even more endurance. The ball is tossed down to the boxer, and he then has to throw it back at the training partner before he can complete the movement. Push-ups are great for strengthening shoulders and backs as well as building endurance. Most boxers use a training routine of 30 seconds of push-ups followed by 30 seconds of sit-ups. Weight training is also used to strengthen arms and legs. Arm exercises include a combination of bicep curls and military presses. Leg exercises include squats and lunges. Fighters alternate these workouts, doing arms one day and legs the next.

Quickness in the ring can mean the difference between winning and losing. Muhammad Ali used to “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.” To do so, he needed to do many exercises to develop his quickness of hand and foot. This entails much time spent shadowboxing and working the punching bag (either the heavy bag or the speed bag). These improve speed as well as reflexes and techniques. Shadowboxing is done with or without gloves, but using weighted boxing gloves helps increase arm strength while building good technique. Heavy bag exercises should never be done without gloves or taped hands because knuckles can get damaged or even broken. Heavy bag work includes exercises for head punches, body punches and combinations. These are done in 30-second intervals to build not only technique but also endurance.

Endurance may be any fighter’s best friend. While 3-minute rounds may sound easy, they are anything but that. Check out this YouTube clip if you don’t believe me!

Moving around a ring throwing and taking punches can quickly fatigue a fighter in poor shape. To make sure this doesn’t happen, fighters use several different exercises. Unfortunately for boxers, nothing takes the place of running several miles per day. To improve footwork, jogging in place or jumping jacks are effective. These are usually done at the beginning of a workout to warm up and then in the middle to keep from becoming complacent. Jumping rope is a triple threat exercise for fighters. Not only does it increase endurance, but it also strengthens leg muscles and lungs. Jumping rope is usually not done directly after running because it tires a boxer’s body too quickly. When jumping rope boxers typically start with 1-2 minutes of slow jogging in place followed by 30-second intervals of jumping rope.

To become a champion boxer takes much hard work, dedication and sacrifice. Whether one is looking to become the next Muhammad Ali or Sugar Ray Leonard, these training techniques will help any fighter improve his skills to win the next big championship fight.