If you have ever tried boxing then you will know how physically demanding the sport is, throwing constant punches really puts a toll on the bodies anaerobic conditioning system and if boxing is a sport that you stick with, then increasing your stamina is something that will become a priority quite quickly.
Boxing is a dynamic sport in that it uses all the muscles of the body to move around the ring, throw punches, block punches and dodge punches. It also uses all of the body’s energy systems and while training specifically for boxing will massively improve your conditioning on its own, there are plenty of other ways that we can increase your stamina outside of the Ring and outside of the boxing gym as well. Boxing as a sport is not easy, if it was everyone would be doing it. If you have ever gotten very tired in boxing or sparring, then you will know just how difficult it is to even keep your hands up when tired, so we need to condition the full body for 12 Rounds to be the best we can be in the ring.
In this article we will look at plenty of the ways to increase your stamina for boxing and we also introduce you to each of the energy systems that you will be trying to improve upon.
A Brief look at the body’s energy system
The Aerobic System
The aerobic system allows us to perform steady-state exercise for a long period of time from 1 minutes all the way up to a couple of hours for marathon runners and even full days for Ultrarunners. Aerobic exercise allows the body and the muscles to be refueled by oxygen through breathing. Performing steady-state cardio like running, swimming and long-distance cycle can help us improve the air conditioning system.
The Anaerobic System
The anaerobic system involves short bursts of high-intensity exercise and it is characterized by the body’s inability to refuel the muscles with oxygen causing them to fill with lactic acid which is why your arms will feel sore during punching drills, circuits or strength training. Anaerobic training will last from anywhere between 6 seconds to a minute and this is like 1-minute fast punches on the heavy bag arms where your arms feel sore and it is difficult to even hold them up. The anaerobic system builds on the Aerobic system so it is crucial to build a good base with cardio.
The Alactic System
The alactic system is like your one-rep max in the weightlifting room and it looks like the power you can generate in one punch when you’re going for a Knockout. It is represented by your maximum effort for a very small amount of time. While the anaerobic system will signify your strength, the alactic system will signify your knockout power with one punch or a 3 punch combo. It is like your 0-60 speed in a car.
There are many sports that use only one or two of the energy systems but boxing is a sport that requires all of our systems to be highly optimized and that is why training to be a high-level fighter is so difficult. It’s not just the skills required, it is also the conditioning.
Improving our stamina for fighting is really only going to involve the aerobic and anaerobic system but these systems are like a sliding scale so, if we improve aerobic and anaerobic then we should also see gains in the one rep force of the alactic system.
Conditioning the aerobic system what cardio
Running for boxing
Running is the first thing that will come to many people’s minds when they think about conditioning for boxing and increasing the stamina. Cast back to the Rocky movies of the 70s where he would be going out doing his road work to get in shape for his upcoming mega fight.
Running and boxing go hand and hand because it conditions the body and mind and it is also very very effective at increasing our lung capacity and our ability to last 12 rounds in the ring. There is also nothing like running for building strength and endurance in the legs.
Running 10km once twice or three times a week is a great way to get the body used to working without a break for a long period of time.
Running is also excellent for conditioning the muscles of the legs and there are plenty of ways we can adapt running to hit or other energy systems as well as being the top dog for increasing aerobic capacity.
If increasing your stamina for boxing is something you want to do then going on two or three 5 to 10K runs per week is certainly an option worth considering.
If you get a good SmartWatch you can track your heart rate, distance run and times so that you can look to improve consistently.
If you are a pro or advanced level fighter then you might even consider 10 kilometers every day or at least five days a week.
High intensity interval training in your runs
Having a solid aerobic system is like laying the foundation for a house. A solid anaerobic system is where you can increase your strength, endurance and high-intensity output.
HIIT is where you run as fast as you can for 10 seconds and then actively recover for 30 seconds by still jogging at your normal place. Incorporating 15 sets of this into your long run can also tap into and improve your anaerobic conditioning as well as your overall stamina with the aerobic exercise.
Another way to blast the Anaerobic system and increase strength is in the weights room.
Sprinting is definitely going to work on your anaerobic conditioning and it’s something that all boxers incorporate into their routine at least once or twice a week.
Boxing is a sport that goes from slow to fast pace quickly and sprinting is an excellent way to get you into the condition to face whatever is thrown at you in the boxing ring.
How to improve your stamina: Aim for 10 to 15 seconds sprints followed by a 30-second jog back to the starting position and you could do this 5 times without taking a break and you can do 3 to 5 sets of that as part of a quality sprinting workout for boxing.
Hill sprints at another level of difficulty to your running workouts. Running uphill leans more heavily on the anaerobic system as the muscles burn and you are unable to breathe.
It is also a well known trick for professional Fighters as they get ready to go to battle, they will increase the amount of Hill sprints they are doing every week right up until one week before the fight when they will start to rest and get into the state of mind when they are ready to fight.
You can work Hill sprints the exact same way as normal sprints, sprint up the hill, jog back down and sprint up again 5 times without a break and you can do that 3 to 5 times depending on how close the fight is and how much you want to get from your workout.
The biggest disadvantage of running is that it is tough on the knees and the joints and the treadmill is no exception, but it does also have some advantages.
The treadmill is a favorite in the Ingle gym in Sheffield and that is for a reason. You can set the pace on the treadmill and then you are forced to run at pace for a specified amount of time and it can get you out of your comfort zone and push you to increase your stamina, especially if you have a coach like Dominic ingle right behind you screaming at you to keep going and push yourself to the max.
Even if you don’t have a coach and set a target and then meeting that target on the treadmill can be a good mental boost and then you can increase the target for the next week to make sure that you’re making good progress. Getting yourself out of your comfort zone is crucial to getting better when it comes to anything in life and training is no different.
Swimming is a low impact exercise that can be even more effective for increasing lung capacity that anaerobic conditioning than running.
Swimming has a number of additional benefits including offering a quality way for fighters to recover actively from tough sessions and sparring.
For increasing stamina we recommend swimming 20 laps without taking a break if you can manage to or doing 10 if that’s all you can manage but with the goal of increasing that week on week to 15, 20 all the way up to 30 or 40 without taking a break.
Swimming works all the muscles of the body and it helps a fighter to focus on their breathing and it doesn’t put any pressure on the knees or the joints of the body making it a preferred training option for plenty of Fighters including Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko.
Introducing high-intensity interval training to swimming
By blasting the aerobic and then the anaerobic systems with HIIT training, we can build muscle while losing fat and increasing your stamina for boxing.
Simply Swim 1 length as fast as you can and then swim slowly on the next length back to the starting position and you can do that five times before you take your break, rest up and do 3 to 5 sets for a quality workout.
Cycling is something that is very enjoyable for many people, it is low impact on the knees and the joints and if you find a nice hill to cycle up, it can be a really challenging workout that can increase stamina, torch body fat, build the legs and allow us to last the distance in the boxing ring.
You can go on a long steady-state cycle to increase aerobic conditioning and you can introduce high-intensity interval training just like running.
I find spinning classes very good for increasing conditioning, losing fat and giving your energy systems a good blast to increase stamina and endurance while making you stronger in the ring.
Spinning classes are cheap and most gyms have them. Working out with other people is a great way to make friends and actually enjoy the work out a lot more.
Working out in a group can make it easier to push yourself as well.
The rowing machine
This one is an old favorite of boxers and one that I like to incorporate into my heavy bag workouts and when training alone in the gym.
If you are just starting out you could try to go for 1000m as fast as you can, which should be around 5 minutes without stopping and if you are more advanced you can go for 2 meters as quickly as you can for 10-minutes.
You can also introduce high-intensity interval training into the rowing workout by going as hard and fast as you can for ten pulls and then rowing easily for the rest of the minute.
The rower is superb for increasing stamina, building the shoulders, back and arms and it’s an underrated exercise that should be incorporated by everyone that wants to step into the ring and fight or even for amateurs and fitness enthusiasts who just enjoy boxing and want to increase their levels of stamina.
Skipping is a key exercise for boxers and it comes with many benefits including increased stamina and endurance in the ring.
Skipping is not only a great way to warm up before a boxing workout, but you can also get a full workout with a skipping rope on its own.
Look to all the great champions of the past and you’ll never find a skipping rope too far away, consider like Floyd Mayweather, Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson who are all consummate professionals on the skipping rope.
Skipping improves footwork, hand-eye coordination, arm endurance, stamina, and overall fitness.
You can work at a fast pace to really burn the arms or work at a slow pace for a long time to build aerobic strength and conditioning. You can even incorporate high-intensity interval training by moving fast and slow throughout the workout.
All in all, skipping is right behind running for its importance and getting ready to fight.
What better way to how to increase stamina for fighting then by mimicking the moves that you will be performing in the ring against an invisible opponent.
Shadowboxing allows us to practice all of the moves we’ve been picking up in the gym, in sparring and on the bags and pads as well as trying out new moves that we’ve only seen before in our head’s.
If you do 3 to 5 rounds of shadow boxing you can incorporate push-ups, sit-ups, burpees and mountain climbers at the end of each round to make it an anaerobic workout that is really effective.
Shadowboxing with weights
If we introduce light dumbbells into the exercise it becomes more anaerobic in nature and it helps us to build endurance in the shoulders and in the arms.
You can also build stamina very well and it helps us to hit harder as our muscles adapt to punching with the higher weight and when we release the weight, our hands can move more quickly and with more Force.
If you’re doing 3 or 5 rounds you could consider doing one or two using the light dumbbells not more than 2 lbs in weight.
The heavy bag
The heavy bag can be your best friend if you want to increase your stamina and endurance for the boxing ring. One thing to make sure is that you are organized and you have a good timing app in your phone or you can set the timer in the gym for 2 or 3-minute rounds.
The worst thing you can do on the heavy bag is just hit the bag until you get tired then take a small break hit it again and get tired, you want to have some structure to your workout.
You can do a full workout with the heavy bag, make sure that you have a bag that’s heavy enough for you and it doesn’t swing around too much, wrap your hands and use a pair of boxing gloves that are suitable.
Make sure you use your footwork, move your head and you can start with just a jab in the first round, bring a right hand in the second round and then work on all your shots and work on your movement for the final three rounds.
When the round ends you can punctuate it by doing 20 push-ups, 20 sit-ups, 20 burpees or mountain climbers to make sure you are increasing your stamina as much as possible.
You can also do stamina rounds when you hit the bag as fast as you can with straight punches for 30 seconds and then hit it with heavy shots for the second 30 seconds and repeat that three times for a round, to really burn it out and increase your endurance and stamina.
Pad work with a coach
Hitting the pads with a trainer is a great way to improve your skills as your coach will be able to point out the errors that you are making and you can fix them on the spot. You can go and practice what you’ve learned on the pads in your shadow boxing and on the bags.
Hitting the pads is also a great way to increase your stamina and endurance for in the ring as it is very similar to all the movements required for a fight or for sparring.
If the coach sees that you’re lacking stamina, they should push you hard with punching drills on the pads about making you do burpees and push-ups to get you into fighting shape between, so overall it’s a great way to increase your stamina.
Boxing conditioning circuits
Often called strength and conditioning this works a lot more on your endurance and conditioning. The gym will be set up into various different areas where everyone who is doing the circuit will do a different exercise in each area.
Some of the exercises will include jump squats, lunges, shadowboxing with weights, dips, pull-ups, push-ups or planks, mountain climbers, bicep curls and the list goes on and on.
Each person completing the circuit will spend 30 seconds on each station and move quickly to the next station without taking a break. When everyone has completed each station then everyone will take a rest together and you might do 3 rounds of the circuit and then work the core together with everybody at the end of the three rounds.
It is a great way to build up stamina and endurance for the ring while getting in great shape, torching belly fat, revealing those six-packs and building a knockout punch.
Sparing is as close to the real thing as you can get and if you don’t plan on fighting then you may be looking to increase your stamina just to perform better in your sparring.
That being said, sparing is one of the best ways to increase your stamina, endurance, and overall fighting skills.
Find a good partner who is around your level and get ready to learn together, always remember not to hit someone harder than you’d like to be hit yourself, but if both people involved in the spar want to push it harder, then there’s nothing wrong with doing that.
If you’re at a good gym there should be sparing on a certain time every week where you can go through 12 to 15 rounds of sparring within an hour or two and you could take the full next day to rest and overall that is one of the best ways to increase your stamina for the ring.
Exercises in this guide range from slow pace for a considerable period of time, to a fast pace for a couple of minutes. We are also hitting the body with a huge amount of different exercises and that is great to get it ready for all the different styles and challenges that we face in a ring whether that is sparring or in an actual fight.
Try to get a good mix of cardio and boxing specific training and remember to push yourself hard to increase your stamina as much as possible
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