T Nation

Boxer Physiques


#1

I have a question for some of the physiogeeks around here.

For the past couple months I've been training at a boxing gym. There are quite a few female boxers there who are very serious about the sport and pretty much train all day every day. They all have amazingly muscular bodies, sort of like slightly stockier, less sculpted off-season figure competitors. This seems contrary to most of the advice I've seen about muscle building. That is, they all eat in a caloric deficit (to make weight class).

They train for hours and hours every day, pretty much always keeping their heart rate up, and always training the same muscle groups daily without allowing time for recovery. Everything is light weight/high rep (though they do reach failure). They do a ton of cardio. Yet, they're ripped. Is there an explanation for this?

Thanks!

is curious


#2

Well in describing what they do you listed most of the main things to achieving rippedness. They eat in a deficit when making weight and do tons of cardio and are active most of the day. Doing those things will usually result in being ripped. So I am not sure what you are surprised at...are you also saying they carry more muscle mass than you expected? Sometimes someone who has very low body fat looks bigger than they actually are.


#3

Eating at a caloric deficit + boxing workouts every day = ripped. Not big. But ripped.

It doesn't go against anything that people here say- that's the wrong way to gain a lot of mass. But boxers not out to gain the most muscle they can, they're there to fight. As such, their size, as long as they make weight, doesn't particularly matter.


#4

Everything I've always read is that unless you're just starting out or returning from a long layoff, you can't burn fat and build muscle simultaneously. You can either be in a caloric deficit and burn fat, or be in a caloric surplus and gain mass, but not both at the same time. But, they seem to be doing both, and are definitely building a good amount of muscle mass. They have low body fat but not super-low; they don't have a WHOLE lot of definition. Nowhere near the body fat % of a figure competitor.


#5

When you lean up the muscle begins to look bigger. They only way for sure to see if they are infact gaining muscle while losing fat is by a scale and a reliable way to measure body fat.


#6

I get what you're saying, but I know what "skinnyfat" looks like and this definitely isn't it.


#7

Gaining muscle and losing fat at the same time is not impossible, just harder and less efficient than focusing on eating on a caloric surplus to gain muscle and then in a caloric deficit to lose fat. And like everyone else said, they're getting leaner makes them look like they're getting more muscular.

If you see most successful weight loss transformations, it does seem like they're losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time (some actually do lose fat and gain muscle at that time period though) even though they're eating at a caloric deficit most of the time.

Besides, you said they train for hours everyday, the high frequency puts a lot of demand on the body to try to keep and probably even build muscle while dieting.


#8

They all have big delts, don't they?


#9

Definitely.


#10

take this down to the most basic as a hypothetical: 100lb person with 10% BF.

if they eat a calorie neutral diet while training hard, they can achieve 100lb with 7% BF. they've lost 3lb of fat and gained muscle -- and so they have just done what you say they can not.


#11

They handle an enormous amount of stress during boxing workouts, especially for such a small muscle.

They can also make you look much bigger if properly developed, especially if you're lean.


#12

take this down to the most basic as a hypothetical: a 100lb person with 10% bf who wants to see pigs fly.

First he sees the pig fly - then he realizes he is 100 lb with 7% bf!

ooops i forgot to give any proof or explanation at all - i just said something happened which must mean it is true.


#13

well, what could be said further to help you understand?

i stated that a person's mass went unchanged after a training period, and i stated that measurements were taken that showed that they initially had 10lb of fat and now (after this training period) they had 7lb of fat.

still with me, or are the pigs flying??

so, i am saying the ability to maintain the mass (100lb was unchanged) is due to muscle gain.

perhaps you attribute the 3 lbs to something else?? please offer your suggestion.

to give you additional details to my argument, if a person eats a hypocaloric diet they can not maintain mass. this is, as i understand it, the law of thermodyamics. equally, the inverse is true, and thus my argument that body recomp is possible with a eucaloric diet (the law of thermodynamics is honored on the basis of fat energy being used to create muscle) and appropriate training intensity.


#14

It is possible to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. However, the process is tremendously slow as opposed to a traditional bulk/cut type plan.

What the fuck about this is so hard to understand?


#15

Their training is different because their goal is different. Bodybuilders focus primarily on strength/size, while boxers try to obtain a good amount of strength as well as endurance and speed.
You can apply boxers to the "pyramid" of an athlete. Strength being on top (the smallest), speed in the middle (in between) and endurance being on the bottom (the largest). I personally don't follow this idea, but it seems to make sense for a lot of sports.


#16

Do you know for sure that they all started out with a lot less muscle than they carry now?

Because if they were stockier to begin with, and have now leaned out, that would be totally predicted by the diet and training you describe.

But in any case, there are many ways to build muscle and improve body comp, but even if they get results training in this way, it is NOT efficient because they are training all day. Few people are going to train all day to build some muscle and get leaner. If others can train 4-6 hours a week and get bigger and leaner than that, which way do you think is more efficient?

Think about it. What if an author were to publish this training and diet method, promising that it will make you somewhat more muscular and somewhat leaner than average, while training all day long every day? NOT a good selling point, if you see what I mean. The cost/benefit for body comp sucks.


#17

These boxers will not be trying to build muscle. They'll be focusing on becoming stronger, quicker and more powerful. A lot of these fighters likely used to weigh a fair bit more, but the intensive training and dieting has sliced off the fat, like with bodybuilders getting ready for a competition. They are likely not gaining muscle when they work in the gym, or if they do it's during the offseason. Bulky is not good for a fighter, their goal is to be as fast and strong as possible. If you look at their workouts, they're not trying to get hypertrophy. They'll be doing weight circuits, shadow boxing, sprint intervals or other high intensity work. They're focused on conditioning, not getting bigger.

You also can't forget they've likely been training for years. A similar comparison would be gymnasts. They don't train to have big arms and low body fat percents, but in order to improve at their sport their body must adapt. Same goes for these boxers.


#18

Thanks, this makes a lot of sense.


#19

Not whether or not it is possible - the OP asked for someone to explain something and there was no explanation except for a very. very poorly proposed math example which gave a situation and no explanation as to how it happened or how it was possible.


#20

I wrestled for a couple years, then boxed for a very short time. For both sports, I focused very heavily on endurance. Nothing sucks more than feeling like you have absolutely no wind or strength left when you're just 1:30 minutes in.

I competed around 126 lbs. I ate a LOT until it was time for a competition, then I'd cut heavily about two days before to make weight. I still lifted a lot, but only muscle groups that I thought would make me better.

I definitely had some muscle on me, and was building more. I was stronger and looked bigger than most others in the weight room that were the same height but 20-30 lbs heavier. Some people actually are bigger. One of my buddies wrestled at 165 lbs and had 18" arms at 5'8", along with a well balanced physique.

It wasn't a bad thing to go up a class IF I was going up a class because I had gained pure muscle. I usually found that I could lose a little more fat instead. I'd rather have the ability to hit or toss around my opponent harder than he can to me. I also liked being able to keep going strong after they were winded.

Anyway, unless these people tell you otherwise, don't assume they barely eat. I'd happily down a whole large thick pizza at Dominos, then go back for more. Don't assume they don't lift weights.

I'd lift for at least an hour a day, several times a week. Also, don't assume every fighter does the same thing as every other fighter all of the time. Different fighters have different goals at different times and have different (sometimes wrong imo) ways of getting there.