I have a number of competitive boxers and MMA specialists walking through my doors here at Ultimate Performance’s London Personal Training Gym. In 9 out of 10 cases they aren’t so interested in our more traditional personal training services where we concentrate on the refinement of body composition. In fact all they are generally interested in is how to get stronger. And to be more specific, they want to develop explosive strength whilst staying within a particular weight limit. So it’s not simply a case of throwing a bodybuilding style hypertrophy training regime at them.

I have found that most Boxers in particular are stuck with Rocky era methodologies. Chasing chickens and downing raw eggs may have worked when Sly was trained by Mickey, but it won’t do anything for you if you come up against a well trained modern athlete. Here are our 5 best tips for fighters: 

Fitness Lanre-Olubamiwo

"War Machine" Lanre Olubamiwo knows a thing or two about developing the muscle needed to hit HARD!!

  1. Use resistance training with the goal to increase your relative strength. Very few boxers actually do strength training sufficient strength training to maximise their relative strength potential (strength relative to bodyweight). It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if you can improve your Bench Press by 100kg for 4 reps, to 140kg for 4 reps, you are going to be hitting a hell of a lot harder!
  2. If you wish to stay within your current weight limit, then you must use strict repetition protocols and train only for relative strength by using repetitions in the 1-5 range. This will severely curtail any potential muscular hypertrophy (growth) and keep you lean, mean and super powerful at your fighting weight.
  3. Please make sure that you lift weights in an individual session or right at the outset of your overall workout. If you do your weight training after your cardio you will massively limit its effectiveness. The reverse does not hold true for cardio after weights, so train intelligently and maximise your efforts.
  4. Each repetition if a weight training movement should be performed with a controlled lowering of the weight (2 – 4 seconds depending upon the exercise) and the intent of exploding it upwards as quickly as possible. Don’t worry if your explosion is actually more of a damp squib (if the load is a heavy one for you this will inevitably happen on occasion) as it is the intent of your brain (and central nervous system) that is important for developing explosive power, not the actual velocity of the movement itself. Note also that advanced training techniques such as adding chains and bands to some of your barbell exercises will also help develop punching power so long as you ensure that you always try to explode through the concentric (contracting of the target muscle) phase of the movement.
  5. Never ever drink raw eggs. Frolicking on the sand with your training partner and dancing in the mirror (if that goes over your head go rent Rocky III) may add value for some of you, but no one is immune to the effects of salmonella. I speak with firsthand knowledge as a teenager in the 1980s who just had to emulate what he saw in the movies. My 14 year old bodyweight was probably in negative digits by the time I recovered! A further problem with raw eggs is that there is a substance found in raw egg whites called avidin that blocks the body’s absorption of the key vitamin, biotin. Vitamin deficiencies and healthy living, let alone effective sports performance, don’t go hand in hand so this is yet another reason to leave the raw eggs to the film stars!

Follow these guidelines and you should soon be punching above your weight in every sense!

NB: I am indebted to the writings of Charles Poliquin for providing much of the original inspiration for this article. However, I take full credit for all the references to Sylvester Stallone!