This is one of the most common questions a lot of boxers will ask? Instead of dancing around the question from the start here is your answer below, but I will go into more depth afterwards to why.
Is weight lifting training good or bad for boxers?
Yes, weight lifting training is a good practice for boxers to use. This is because it can build up additional power, strength, speed and muscle at whatever weight category you are at. It is important to do boxing specific movements as much as possible, so boxers can transfer the movements from weight exercises into technical boxing exercises, sparring or competition in the ring.
Now to back up this point above I want to go into more detail in terms of why that is actually the case. I’ll also want to explain to you why many old school trainers will tell you otherwise and myths around how it won’t help you. E.g. It will make you slow!
Myths of Strength and Conditioning for Boxers
Slows you down
Now the first myth to address is that weight lifting slows you down. Yes to an extent this is the case, especially if you are just lifting heavy weights 70% of the time and only boxing 30% of the time.
If you are wanting to get better at boxing you need to do more boxing training and less lifting. It’s not so much the weight lifting that slows you down, it is doing too much of it.
Think about it, if you are doing weight training, your muscles will be sore the next day so that can hinder performance in your body to give 100%. That’s why things such as muscle recovery are so important after every training session you do. Read my blog on muscle recovery for boxers here for some helpful tips.
Makes you more powerful or faster
Many also make this mistake where they feel they need to lift weights to be more powerful or faster. Once again yes it will help, but at the end of the day, a lot of it comes down to your actual boxing punch technique.
Lifting weights that help boxer specific movement, e.g. throwing a straight right hand. Will in fact be more powerful, but it will first come down to how much you have trained your boxing technique first and foremost. A landmine press for example generates a lot of the muscle you would do while punching, however it will always be the technique that helps this.
You really need to see lifting weights for what it is sometimes and that is simply strength and conditioning. It will help you become stronger and grow muscle, but not necessarily make you more powerful and faster.
Old School methods are better
You will hear all the time from a lot of the old school trainers: “Muhammad Ali or Sugar Ray Robinson didn’t lift weights. So why should modern boxers do it today?”
Now yes they have a point, however, they forget that these fighters from the past (for the most part), would still do some form of strength conditioning training. For example, punching the heavy bag, press ups, crunches are all forms of strength and conditioning.
Now as the world of sports has developed across the board, weight lifting S&C is a huge part for almost every sportsman now. Think about it, Lebron James, Ronaldo, Tom Brady all do some form of weight training for their respective sport. It’s no different for boxing, the top world champions are all doing some form of weight strength training to help increase their physical performance in the ring.
Now obviously natural size strength also plays it part too and depending on what weight category. That can play a difference in terms of how much of an impact you make when in the ring. This is exactly why there are weight categories in combat sports, so there is an evenly balanced playing field.
Here is great 5 minute video by world class combat sport coach Phil Daru who goes over the old school vs science approach:
Why boxers should lift weights
Personally I believe boxers should do boxing specific weight training which will help you get stronger and physically fitter, than just doing traditional old school methods all the time.
That helps make your technique feel much more powerful when it comes round to doing your boxing training.
It also allows you to change up your training slightly. As much as I love boxing, it can get very repetitive at times and it’s great to be able to do other forms of exercises to change things up and keep you motivated.
When boxers should not lift weights
Like I said earlier if you are amatuer, semi pro or full time professional boxer. You don’t want to be lifting weights all the time as it can actually hinder your progress when boxing training.
You need to find the right balance when you are doing the two. For example, I never usually do weight training on a day when I’m working on technical boxing skills.
If I do, I will make sure it is after I have done my boxing training first, this is so I can perform at the highest level there first!
Make a plan
It’s vital that you follow a proper strength and conditioning plan to go alongside your boxing training! If you do this, you will be in a much better position to perform at a higher level.
If you plan on lifting weights for strength and conditioning and are training 5-6 days a week. I recommend a max of only 2-3 days.
These sessions should also not clash with your boxing training days or if you do, make sure it is after your technical training. For example, boxing training in the morning, weight strength and conditioning in the afternoon. Here is example of a training week you could follow to try out:
|Tuesday||S&C (explosive and core exercises)|
|Thursday||Cardio & Light S&C (upper body)|
|Sunday||Rest Day or Light Jog/Run|
*Boxing Training can involve hitting the bag, doing mitt work, double end bag or sparring.
*You can also replace S&C days with light boxing training instead – shadow boxing or reflex drills for example.
I also recommend you check out my reviews below on Phil Daru’s Strength and Conditioning programs for fighters, these tremendously helped me when it came to sorting this area of my S&C training.
If you are looking for more technical boxing skills, Expert Boxing has good resources to increase punch power below.
Pros and Cons of weight lifting for boxing
|Can help muscle growth||Can cause muscle fatigue if done too often|
|Target and strengthens weaker muscles||Effects your technical boxing training if not timed correctly|
|Helps you see physical changes quicker||Can cause injury if exercise form isn’t correct|
|Brilliant to use as part of S&C plan to track improvements||Lifting weights won’t necessarily make you more powerful|
Weight lifting in my opinion is a brilliant practice for boxers to consider. You just have to make sure you are doing exercises that will help with specific boxing movements you will make in the ring.
It’s also important that you are not doing too much weight lifting strength and conditioning days. Make sure you stick to a plan as boxing training itself can be a very intense training session.
That being said, recovery is key if you are going to maximize your potential and performance each day. Check out my blog on recovery here for more detail.
Hopefully this blog has got rid of some of those myths so often associated with boxing. Make sure to check out my article on exercises to increase punch power for some exercise ideas you try out at the gym.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below or check out more boxing training advice by visiting the link here or check out some related useful article below: