Conditioning Exercises for Boxing

Boxing requires intense conditioning and discipline.
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Boxing requires immense cardiovascular and physical strength and endurance. The combination of speed, constant movement and explosive power require consistent training and focus. Combining specific conditioning exercises with regular boxing drills and bag work can elevate endurance and performance significantly.

Pushups and Crunches

Chest and core strength are significant factors in the ability to deliver and take punches. Circuits that include bag work combined with pushup and crunches challenge key punching muscles and pushes the entire body to the limit.

Coach Dale Herring, of Tennessee-based Fight Force Fitness, recommends a full two- or three-minute round, alternating between 30 second intervals of one-two punches on the heavy bag followed by 30 seconds of either pushups or crunches. Repeat the circuit round at least two more times.

Punches Under the Bag

Working against gravity forces every punching muscle to develop and prevents lazy form or sloppy technique. Punching upward develops explosive power in the shoulders and back as well as additional strength in the core. This also accentuates full rotation from the hips as opposed to just using the arms.

Be sure of positioning underneath a heavy bag at a distance that allows for fully extended punches toward the bottom of the bag when either lying flat or curled in a V-sit position. Work the bag as usual with single punches or combinations for designated periods of work and rest. This drill works best with someone to hold the bag steady.

Weighted Punches

Familiar movements can suddenly becoming challenging if even a small increment of weight or resistance is added. Combinations of foot work and weighted punches can add explosive power and speed to the feet and hands.

Another of Herring's workouts involves working inside a ring or designated enclosed space with 3- or 5-pound weights in each hand. For the first 30 seconds of the round, move by side shuffle in one direction around the ring. At the next interval, plant into a fighting stance and perform rapid one-two punches with the weights for the duration of the 30 seconds. Side shuffle in the opposite direction for the next 30 seconds and repeat one-two punches for the next interval. Repeat for the entire round and repeat the exercise again using alternating upper cuts instead of one-two punches.


Boxing is anaerobic by nature, requiring frequent bursts of near maximal exertion. Sprints create a similar environment to fight rounds pushing cardio conditioning to extremes along the same lines and for similar times as rounds in boxing. A 600-meter interval can closely emulate the physical demands of a two-minute round. However, shorter sprint distances of 100 and 200 meters can be beneficial as well. Sprinting 100 meters followed immediately by 30 seconds of non-stop mitt work or bag work can increase cardio efficiency immensely. Forcing the fighter to push through barriers of exhaustion mimics the energy needed for continued efficiency well into later rounds of a bout. Mix sprint interval training with distance running to avoid over-training while still keeping the cardio system at peak performance.

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