Bonus!!! We have a guest article today from Jamie Stewart at Warrior Punch. See Jamie’s info at the end of article and pay his site a visit. Lot’s of great info!
A boxer’s physique – a sign of athleticism and mental grit, showcased by ripped arms, a powerful core, and a chiseled body.
Yeah, that sounds awesome.
However, most people dismiss the idea as not being attainable for them. But I’m here to tell you otherwise. You can have a boxer’s physique, and you don’t even need to step foot in the ring.
With the right training program, performed at high intensity, and with a healthy diet, you can have the body of a professional fighter – minus the broken nose.
If you’re up for the challenge, here are seven exercises that will carve out the body of a boxer.
How to Get the Most from these Exercises
You could incorporate any or all of these exercises into a new routine or an existing one, and do ten reps of each exercise and 3-5 sets. However, if you’re truly serious about attaining that fighter’s body, combining these exercises into a circuit will create a HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) workout that builds cardio, strength, and endurance at the same time.
Suggestion: Perform each exercise at maximum intensity for 1 minute, followed by 15 seconds of rest as you switch stations. Catch your breath for 60 seconds, then repeat the whole program two more times.
- Weighted Shadowboxing
Shadowboxing is a fundamental element of boxing training which brings together defense, attack, movement, and technique.
Boxers use shadow boxing for many purposes. At low intensity, it is a great warm up and cool down exercise. When performed in front of a mirror, it’s an opportunity to self-correct technique and spot gaps in your guard.
Shadowboxing is vital to a boxers development, but if you’re not a boxer, it becomes nothing more than an awkward dance that doesn’t provide any tangible results.
However, weighted shadowboxing will build the muscles of your shoulders and arms and increase endurance whether you have beautiful punching technique or you’re an all-out slugger.
The technique is easy; grab a dumbbell in each hand (1-2kg is fine) and bang out continuous jab crosses for the round. Don’t get sloppy, and make sure your punches stay up at chin height. Bust out a few combinations if you know how, otherwise, just stick to the 1-2.
- Jumping Rope
Most people discard jumping rope as child’s play. Big mistake. Jumping rope for just ten minutes will burn your calves and forearms, and cause your lungs to scream.
There’s a reason all boxers jump rope: it improves your aerobic conditioning, coordination, responsiveness, and agility.
Beginners should master single unders, high knees, and side to side jumps. Then, when you’re ready to get tricky, work in double unders (two rotations for every jump). You can even combine several skipping exercises to create a killer fifteen minute program.
Jumping Rope Program:
30 Seconds Singles (Relaxed Pace)
30 Seconds High Knees
30 Seconds Side To Side
30 Second Double Unders
Rest 60 Seconds x 5 Sets
- Jab Cross Sit-ups
Boxers are allowed to strike anywhere above the belt. Punching the torso is therefore fair game.
If you don’t want to end up curled up on the canvas holding your stomach after taking a body shot, you have to build mid-region muscle capable of taking a blow.
Sit ups are part of every boxer’s routine – and they should now be part of yours.
For effective results, do every type of sit-up variation you can think of so that you target the upper, mid, and lower stomach muscles. My favorite, by far, is the jab cross sit-up:
Start by lying on your back with knees bent and your hands at your chin. Perform the sit-up and when near the top, throw the jab-cross. Each punch should go over the opposite knee to engage more of the core.
- Med Ball Burpees
No doubt you were praying that burpees wouldn’t make this list.
Bad news (or good news if you like torture); burpees develop the stamina and endurance required to “go the distance” in a fight. They are instrumental in developing fitness.
Boxers will squeeze in a couple hundred burpees in an average session – sometimes even doing them during the “rest” period between rounds. So, it’s time to get reacquainted with the old enemy.
But worse yet, you’re going to be performing burpees with a medicine ball.
Begin in the push-up position with hands on the med ball. Spring your legs up until you’re bent over the ball and then squat up with the ball. Once standing, press the ball out from the chest. Reverse the motion and go back to starting position.
Variations of this exercise include pressing the ball above your head, or holding it close to your chest and performing a jump squat.
- Clapping Push-Ups
Push-ups are a favorite exercise of boxers as they build strength and muscle endurance in the upper body. They work your chest, arms, back, shoulders, and core.
But there’s just one problem…
Most people perform terrible push-ups.
They have their back arched, neck bent, and their range of movement is minimal. And yet these are the guys that are cranking out two reps to your one, and attempting knuckle and diamond push-ups.
You need to learn to do proper push-ups and be able to do 20 clean reps before you graduate to technical push-ups.
Here is a simple hierarchy:
- Knee Push-Ups
- Regular Push-Ups
- Elevated Push-Ups
- Clapping Push-Ups
The goal is clapping push-ups, and if you can already do these, skip the easier options. This plyometric exercise will build explosive muscle and give you the compact but POWERFUL arms of a boxer.
Having a strong upper body is advantageous in boxing for obvious reasons. However, traditional weightlifting exercises – like the bench press and barbell curls – build muscle that is ineffective for boxing.
Your focus should be on building functional muscle that is both lean and powerful.
Bodyweight exercises are the way to go, and the pull-up is one bodyweight exercise you cannot afford to miss out.
Pull-ups are a compound exercise that work just about every muscle above the waist. Now, how’s that for efficiency?
- Punch Bag Intervals
What better way to get fighting fit than actually throwing some punches?
Hitting the heavy bag tightens and tones the entire body, is an insane cardio workout, and is also phenomenal for weight loss. A one hour session on the heavy bag can burn a RIDICULOUS 600 calories!
Boxing bag workouts are also fun, can be done at home, and you don’t need to spend a fortune on equipment to get started.
If you don’t have a heavy bag available, you can substitute this exercise for jogging on the spot while throwing straight punches. Just make sure to get those knees up high and fully extend the arms when punching.
Boxers look fit and lean and have amazing pound for pound power – but they can back it up too.
There’s a reason why boxers bodies are seen as the pinnacle of both aesthetics and performance. They’re willing to put in the work and perform routines like the one above with maximum intensity, and they’re also willing to be strict with their nutrition and make lifestyle choices that aren’t always fun.
While the only way to become a boxer is to join a fight gym, incorporating these exercises into your program will at least make you look the part.
Jamie Stewart is a muay thai fighter and boxing enthusiast with a passion for martial arts and fitness. When he’s not training, he likes to write about martial arts, health and fitness, nutrition, and mindset.
If you would like to learn more, you can find him blogging at warriorpunch.com.