T Nation

Boxing and Lifting


I used to box competitively, and now most of my focus is on building muscle mass, although I still like to go to my old boxing gym 1-3 times a week on my off days. Since I have moved up a class due to my muscle gains, I doubt I will compete in the future (maybe white collar stuff or exhibition fights since I'm in my 30's now).

My question is this: I like to have one of my off days (usually Saturday), where I get some good sparring in. Of course this is very taxing, and I probably go anywhere from 6-15 rounds depending on who is there. The other day or two I will do like a 45-60 min workout, with the typical bag work, mitt work, shadowboxing, skipping, etc. Is this too much if I have a 4 day bodybuilding type of split?

Or should I use bag work as a finisher? Kind of like a substitute for a prowler-type of training.

And I have found that I REALLY need to do more rear delt and back work. Any recommendations on volume?? Thanks.


Well it depends what your priorities are. If that priority is building muscle mass, and you really want to get in your four workouts a week, then boxing is going to come second. If you see your lifts suffering, or you're too beat up in the weightroom, cutting back on boxing would be a good idea.

But if you're finding you can handle the workout pretty well, then stick with it - although be careful about the volume you're doing and the intensity you're hitting it with.

Boxing is #1 for me, so if I'm skipping something it's weight room work, and I'm basing the days I lift around my days in the ring. I can't handle doing 3-4 days of boxing and more than 2 days of lifting, but if you can without hitting a wall, go for it.

Keep in mind that it may become too much for you, and you've got to keep an eye on it...especially if you go full bore boxing. Obviously we can do full boxing workouts every day and with intensity (as fighters do) but I've found that if I really go all out, my lifts are gonna suffer so I've got to cut the volume with the weights back.

This is my log.



And as for rear delts and back, I hear you. Honestly though, nothing in the weight room is going to help you with that and you know that.

But band pull aparts for higher reps (12-15) have strengthened the rear delts, and working as many pullups as possible into your workout (within reason) will help with the back.

And I really can't stress enough the importance of foam rolling before hand. I do the Defranco warm up, and I think its excellent:

And also, when you're jumping rope, make sure you're turning the rope with your hands and wrists, not your shoulders. If you're turning the rope with your shoulders, and you have ANY tension in your arms, your rear delts will tire out first.


It's pretty hard to do too much volume for your upper back. It's one of those areas that tends to respond best to more volume anyways. I do upper back work monday-friday. I do it towards the end of my workout. I'll basically just pick a different exercise each day and do that. I'll either do facepulls, band pull aparts, ytwl's or scarecrows. It's also important to do some scapular protaction work. I'll through in scap pushups every now and then as well, but I already get some scap protraction work from the ring push-up progression I'm going through.

I already get quite a bit of upper back work from other exercises though. I do Clean and Jerks once a week and am working on snatching as well, so I'll be doing that once a week as well. I also do farmer's walks and waiter walks (the kind of upper back work achieved by waiter walks is hard to replicate and important for scapular health).

I do a range of martial arts myself (BJJ with some shooto thrown in, JKD, kali, muay thai) and have definitely had to cut back my volume for lifting as well as increase my use of varying recovery methods. Obviously it's about what is your priority. My main problem is that there is a tendency to throw in conditioning/calisthenics work in those classes which can be a bit annoying. The other thing to consider is that your body will generally adapt to a higher workload overtime (although probably not as quickly at your age). You can have the best of both worlds (almost), but you'll have to work your way up to it. I don't really think that what you're doing is excessive and you can definitely pull it fairly easily.

My main recommendation would be to increase your recovery. Stretch, foam rolling/myofascial release/massage, active recovery, mobility work, icing sore joints, contrast showers/epsom salt baths (these last too are debated a bit). Eating enough and well is important (creatine and fish oil are good supplements to consider, glutamine probably is too) as well is sleep (I'd shoot for 9 hours). One thing that for people who exercise a lot to consider is the need to bring the body back into a parasympathetic state after exercising. People who exercise a lot tend to chronically be in a sympathetic state (Stress is also a big factor here as well). There are a lot of other things that can be done to stimulate the parasympathetic system other than what I have mentioned. Progressive relaxation, mindfullness/breathe meditation, taking melatonin or ZMA before bedtime. You may have already known this stuff, but it can never be overemphasized.


Thanks for the responses. I think I am going to try the foam rolling. Actually, I used to kind of make fun of it, I thought it was worthless (this was out of ignorance). Too many people recommend it. And my flexibilty also has seemed to got worse as I grew.

Over 2 years ago, I could make Middle easy, now I would probably barely make LHW. Gonna buy a lacrosse ball too.


And what is your take on bagwork as a finisher? Would it detract from my hypertrophy-based workout? I was planning on using peri-workout nutrition along with the training (basically slipping on a high carb, high protien drink before/during/after the workout) to keep the energy up.

I would do something like 10 2 min rounds with 30 rests. Both heavy and DE bags.


Dude, I know what you're saying, but once you start doing it, it's amazing the effect it has. It's not a miracle worker, but it definitely is necessary if you're putting a beating on yourself. Lacrosse balls work for more specific areas, like the shoulder joints.


1) If you can sip on any kind of workout drinking during boxing, you're not working hard enough. It should be 10 minutes before you can even catch your breath enough to drink water haha.

2) It very well might. I'll use bagwork as a finisher, but only after I've done 10-12 rounds of work. Typically, after the speedbag, my shoulders are so tired that I can barely keep my hands up - so then I'll get at the bag for one more round, or shadowbox for one more round, just to push that shit as much as I can and be able to punch with power even while totally exhausted (but I never can.)

Ten 2 minute rounds is a lot for a heavy bag, and if you're throwing a lot of punches on the double end it's a lot also. Do it the day before upper body day and yea, you're gonna be hurting.

What's your lifting schedule look like?


You might want to look into overhead press and bent over rows if you're looking for lifts that will help your shoulders and upper back.


Here's a website that lets you click on certain muscle groups and find weightlifting exercises that work specific muscles.


MON: Chest, shoulders, triceps. Bench press, incline DB press, military press, lateral raises, rear delt raises, french presses

TUE: Legs. Squats, deadlifts, pylo jumps

WED: light boxing workout

THR: Back, biceps, abs. pullups, bent over rows, facepulls, shrugs, various situps with rotation, leg raises, planks, BB curls, DB curls

FRI: Rest

SAT: Sparring

SUN: Rest

3-4 sets per exercise, rep range usually heavy (around 4-8 reps per set).


Sledge hammer work is great on the back and the rear deltoids. The farmers walk is great on the back and the upper, lower, middle traps. Upright rows, rows, one arm rows, deadlifts, over the head lifting, alternating rows, DB rows, shrugs, etc.

The back is a contortionist of a muscle, you can train it in hundreds of different ways.

Hiking with weight is great for the back muscle, using some type of log or drift wood to throw on the back and run or hike with that is great for the back. Dragging, pulling, pushing stuff is great for the back.

The back is an awesome muscle to train, if you are really interested read: "Molding A Mighty Back" by George Jowett.

One of the best back development exercises in the world is the bent press, but perform at your own risk as many claim it's a dangerous lift. When done with proper form, controllable weight, It works and the risks can be limited.

Then there's heavy bag work, if you hit the back hard and heavy, and you use the line of power across your shoulders, shit, your back and shoulders should build up to near super-human levels JUST FROM THAT, if done with consistency, and a mass gaining diet.

Look at the back's of boxers, you get like that from hitting the heavy-bag with force. If you aren't getting some FREAKY back muscle like Jack Dempsey from heavy-bag work, chances are you aren't hitting the bag hard enough to bring about muscle-growth.

My own back is very built up with muscle, however when I hit the heavy bag with a good heavy shot, with good technique, you feel the impact of it in your back. (my muscle isn't built up enough to not feel it at all) and due to this every-time I use the heavy-bag, eat well, get good rest, my back is BIGGER, more muscular, even more ripped.

heavy-bag work is perhaps one of the best exercises for back development that there is, the entire back. Esp up and mid back work.


LOL @ Ironclaws' "good technique."


If you're resting the day before and the day after you spar, I can't see you having too much of a problem maintaining this schedule, especially after you adapt to the worload. You're not doing a ton of boxing work here.

However, if you're really hitting the weights heavy on Thursday, expect to be slow and wear out quick on Saturday. I never did well doing this, and that's why I lift upper body once on Friday - after my boxing skillwork for the week is done.


That's right, good technique. Take a look at my viking like back, from hitting the heavy-bag. Hitting it in a way that builds a powerful back, which lends to a powerful punch. I don't see any pictures of your back or physique, probably because you know showing off that deformed shoulder would make us puke all over our keyboards.

good game. show me that deformed useless shoulder or stfu.


He should be fine as long as he's use to the workload. I lift Thurdays mornings and spar Friday night. I also go to the technique class Thursday night. A lot of that stuff on Thurs isn't even going to leave him very sore once he adapts, since he's doing a lot of ab/core work and only a few lifts.


do that chest fly/real delt machine often. I would do it 3x per week. The movement if mimics the opposite of a foreward punch.

A never really thought of the heavy bag working the rear of the delts though. I could be wrong.


is that an invite to gander at your back

  • while you are on all fours-

maybe this isnt the right kind of forum to lure someone into your
smoke scented plaid couch shhh dont make too much noise or you'll wake mom
kind of living


To the OP,

Listen to Irish.


I think this is a bit relavent. It is a kind of punch right?

Is it bad I thought of rabbit first?

Related note, the gif on the wikipedia page is funny to me.


Robert A