Boxing and weightlifting are two different forms of training that all fighters should be doing and most boxing gyms will have some element of weights to accommodate this, although I have personally always liked to keep my weights gym and boxing gym separate and I would advise you to do the same.
The weights in a boxing gym will be mostly for conditioning and endurance, although plenty will have a squat rack and bench press as well.
The amount of weights boxing gyms have will vary greatly from one gym to the next, some gyms will split the premises in two and have separate weights and striking areas. Some gyms will only have all school barbells, eazy bars and some light & heavy dumbbells suitable for endurance and conditioning work during your boxing class or before it, but most of the time, they will not be sufficient for proper strength training.
Your goal in the boxing gym
Your goal in the boxing gym is to increase your skills, endurance and conditioning through pads, bags, sparring, drills and circuits and your goals in the weight gym should be to increase your bodies overall strength and power.
Strength training in the weights gym
For strength training, you need to be 100-percent fresh so you can put everything you have in for heavy lifting and to get the maximum strength gains.
If you go strength training after you’re tired from boxing and not at 100%, you might not increase any strength at all but just increase your conditioning.
That’s why we would recommend and to keep your boxing and weights completely separate.
You can train boxing and weights in the same day but we would advise to train weights in the morning when you are super fresh, rehydrate and get your sugars in after the first session and then move on to boxing in the evening as your body will adapt to being more tired for boxing and improve even more or in your boxing workouts.
Having been in a number of gyms all around the world and most will have some weights set up, but it won’t match that of a commercial gym almost every time.
Spike O’Sullivan’s boxing gym in Cork
Spike O’Sullivan’s boxing gym in Cork had a lot of weights but these were mainly used separately by bodybuilders and for conditioning and endurance for The Fighters during their workouts and I used to go to a separate fitness gym to do strength training.
Macklin’s Gym Marbella
Macklin’s Gym Marbella or MTK Global is one of the best boxing gyms in Europe, they have full-size boxing rings, and a very well kitted out gym with squat racks, machines, pulley machines, pull-up bars and a good range of dumbbells so it was possible to do some good strength training here but it is also quite small so if it was busy you might not get to use all the machines you wanted.
Sinbi Muay Thai in Thailand
Sinbi Muay Thai in Thailand is one of the best professional Muay Thai gyms in the world and they have a good weights set up where you can get all of your strength training in. The one thing about it was that all the weights were old and nobody really used them as there was so much technical training for Muay Thai going on that it wasn’t really needed and the receptionist was wondering what I was doing when I went in to lift weights.
Origins Muay Thai Dublin
Quality gym for technique, conditioning and sparring with some really good fighters and a very well laid out, cozy gym. The weights here are old school with a pull-up and dip bar, old school barbells, kettlebells and dumbbells with a bench press as well but weights wasn’t really the main focus here but getting the fighters ready technically and in condition for battle.
What you should use weights for in a boxing gym
Shadow boxing with weights
Shadowboxing with weights is a great way to build endurance in the arms, build up the shoulders and increase hand speed along with punching power. Mix these with your regular shadowboxing to get a great warm-up for your pads, bags, drills, conditioning and sparring.
As Part Of Circuits
Weights are excellent as part of endurance and conditioning circuits, you can have one station with push-ups and the next station with bicep curls so you don’t get a rest between the exercises increase the amount of time you can stay strong for.
The next exercise might be pull-ups, squat jumps, shoulder press with dumbbells are heavy lunges with dumbbells. The key here is that there’s no break between sets so it builds up your overall Endurance and it is a whole-body workout.
These types of exercises are great but they will only increase punching power and strength for beginners. Once you hit the wall with weights with your initial gains, you will really need to be turning to heavy lifting to increase your power and strength in the ring.
What to focus on in the weights gym
The goal is to get stronger without putting on useless bulk and that’s why strength training recommends heavy weights for only a few reps and more sets than traditional bodybuilding which is almost useless for fighting.
If you put on useless bulk, your body will need the fuel all that muscle and you will get tired much quicker and the muscle will make you slower, so if it doesn’t make you hit harder it has no business in boxing.
Heavy compound is what you need with heavy accessories also to increase your full body strength.
You should be aiming for 5 sets of 5 reps on your main exercises, 3 sets of 6 reps on the accessories, everything heavy.
Squats are great for building up the glutes, quads and lower back. As your punches star from your feet and move through your hips, this is an exercise you need to include.
List is an overall strength movement that builds the hamstrings, lower back, forearms and biceps leading to an overall strength gain in your body which can easily be transferred into punching power in the boxing gym.
The good old fashioned bench press is great for building power in the chest, triceps and the front of the shoulder. Going 5 by 5 on this should be a good strength then on its own.
Use a weight vest or belt so that you are maxing out in the 5 by 5 range and this will add strength to your biceps, lats and the rest of your back. It is the squat of the upper body.
Military press is the last of the compound lifts. It does your shoulders and the muscles in your upper back. The shoulders are the most active muscle in your punch so increasing the strength here is pivotal to increasing overall punching power.
Quality Accessory Lifts
Quality accessories like Heavy Lunges, Flies, Bent Over Rows and the Close Grip Bench Press should all also be kept heavy with 6 * 3 sets and if you want to exhaust the muscle at the end, go for a superset with around 30 reps without a break to really burn it out.
Why I keep my boxing and weights gym separate
It provides a different atmosphere, so if I am in the boxing gym 4 times a week I am seeing all the same people, whereas if I join a separate commercial gym it’s a new environment and you get to meet new people and it’s just more enjoyable to have two places where you can go. Most Commercial gyms will only cost you about $30 and month now anyway and they will have all the best equipment.
Most boxing gym owners will probably get sick of seeing you too much anyway if you’re in the gym all the time so you’re better off to keep them separate in my opinion.