Strength is an important asset in boxing, though not all exercises build the sort of strength that you need to succeed as a boxer. While exercises that increase speed and cardiovascular strength are important, to develop the strength and power that you need to bring your opponents down you have to increase muscle mass and density. Doing so requires you to push your muscles to their limits, encouraging the body to generate more muscle fibers in an attempt to adapt to the strain you're placing on it.
If you don't have a heavy bag available, try shadowboxing using weighted gloves. While you won't receive the same impact as you would with a heavy bag, the weighted gloves ensure that your arms receive a workout, and you will still be able to practice your footwork and form.
If you experience sharp pain or are unable to continue lifting, stop your lifting workout, even if you haven't completed all your sets. When training with heavy weights, you don't have to complete all your sets for the workout to be effective; if the workout is more than your body can handle, it will attempt to adapt and grow its muscles to better handle the workout in the future. Pushing your body past its limits won't necessarily result in increased muscle mass, and can result in serious injuries.
Practice with a heavy bag regularly. This will not only provide you with a good workout, but will also reinforce the movements you perform in the boxing ring and tone the specific muscles that you use. Make sure that you incorporate footwork and other common motions into your heavy bag routine for maximum benefit.
Lift heavy weights, using sets of three to six repetitions. Perform several types of lifts that use the same muscles used in boxing: as curls, dumbbell uppercuts, straight-arm weighted punches, bench presses and shoulder presses. Using fewer reps of heavier weights increases the stress placed on your muscles, promoting muscle mass development as the body tries to adapt to the stress.
Limit your weight training sessions to under 45 minutes, performing no more than eight to 10 sets during a session. Lifting for longer than that or performing more sets can result in muscle injury or increased recovery time as the body attempts to repair and grow the muscles you used. This limitation doesn't include warmup exercises that you do to prepare for lifting or the two- to three-minute rests you should take between sets.
Perform cardio-intensive exercises on separate days from your weight training. Cardio increases your endurance and tones muscle, but performing cardio on the same day as intense lifting can cause excessive muscle strain or other injury. Use interval training during your cardio workouts, alternating between moderate and high intensity during each cardio exercise to gain increased benefit from your training.
Eat high-protein snacks and meals throughout the day to ensure that your body has enough protein for effective muscle mass development. Incorporate fish and other sources of omega-3 fatty acids and a significant amount of nutrient-rich vegetables. Have a snack an hour or two before you begin working out to provide energy, and make sure you eat within an hour of completing your workout as well.
Increase the length of intervals that you use in your cardio training and the weight used in your weight training gradually. By adding a few pounds to your weights each week and a few seconds to your high-intensity intervals, you will increase the stress your workout places on your body before it can adapt, avoiding training plateaus that can stop the development of additional muscle mass.
Born in West Virginia, Jack Gerard now lives in Kentucky. A writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience, he has written both articles and poetry for publication in magazines and online. A former nationally ranked sport fencer, Gerard also spent several years as a fencing coach and trainer.