T Nation

Boxing and weight lifting


I took up boxing last week. The only excercises we did were running situps and jump rope, along with bag work/speedball etc. I spoke to my coach and told him I weight lift three times a week, and which excercises he would reccommend which will help me in my boxing training. He told me to go easy on the weights as it would make me slower and less flexible???
Thats probably true if I were to adopt a bodybuilding type program to gain mass, but could anyone reccommend which excercises would make my punch harder. The obvious one is bench pressing, what sort of set/rep ranges???


slower and less flexible??? bullshit.

check out the vertical leap of any olympic lifter.

I'm not sure about benching, but learning olympic lifts would be good for sure. balance, speed, power, coordination.


NOTHING will enable you to develop more punching power other than working on your punching technique.

There is more to punching than just "hittin' real hard". Also, bare in mind that most boxing coaches are very "old school". My coach, while pretty young, was very much still entrenched in old school training practices. First rule of thumb: don't ask your boxing coach about weight training.

If you intend to actually pursue fighting, you're really going to have focus on the actual boxing training. 4-5 (maybe more) days a week. That means weight training becomes more of a "enhance" or maintaining function. Around 2-3 days a week.

For the weight training, I would stay with the compound movements. Look into Westside if you can, I really think the protocols for WS can compliment boxing very nicely.

My bf is much more knowledgeable in this area, I'll see if he'll chime in for you.


Don't forget the "Equal and Opposite Effect" concept from Ian King.

Basically, to prevent injuries and keep your punches strong, you want to work the muscles NOT always used in boxing.

(A quote from Alwyn Cosgrove... about boxing :wink: )
"For example -in boxing- the fighter is often in a forward head posture position. Consquently, the upper pecs, shoulder and the internal rotators of the arm/shoulder become shorter and tighter than the external rotators and scapula retractors."

So you actually wouldn't want to risk making these muscles shorter and tighter as you would risk injury. Therefore, you should favour rows, cuban presses, and chin ups to keep your retractors/external rotators strong to help support the pec/shoulder/internal rotation work.


Good to see another boxer on the forum.

Alot of trainers I've met have an instant knee-jerk reaction when it comes to weight-training and boxing. This i believe originates from the seventies where weights meant body-building. Which as you say will slow you down.

You need speed to develop power in your punches. Bench isn't the best exercise for punch power and is often why big strong guys 'arm' punch. In bench you have to slow the bar as it reaches lockout. A punch will still be accelerating at this point. So by benching you are learning a motor pattern that inhibits your punch speed.
(In fact this is more like a karate punch in that respect)

When benching make sure to do speed bench and ballistic bench it is very important to keep your speed up. Also read Push-up Your Explosive Strength!
by Chad Waterbury about explosive push-ups. These are an excellent exercise for explosive punch power.

Very important to avoid injury is training the lats and biceps, especially with horizontal movements i.e. rows. Also strong biceps and lats make for a more powerful punch. This is because if the body 'knows' that the antagonists can deccelerate the motion of a punch it will allow the agonists to fire for longer before applying the brakes to avoid hyperextension. Just check out Roy Jones bicep development.

If you have access to a medicine ball then use it. To make the most of it you will need a partner. Throw the ball at each other, alternate between right and left leg leading. Or you can throw it against a wall.

I also think olympic lifts are great for learning how to transfer your bodyweight explosively all the way through your feet to your shoulders. Yes it is more 'up and down' than punching but I still feel it is great for hip and leg explosiveness which is where most of your power comes from.

Squats are also important. Some of the guys with the most powerful punches have had very strong legs, Mike Tyson, Rocky Marciano, Naseem Hamed to name a few.More importantly they all knew how to generate power from their legs.

Train the obliques, from the legs the power must then transfer through the hips with rotation. Use twisting motions like russian twists. Medicine balls again are good for this. One piece of equipement that I would like to get my hands on is the tornado ball by Paul Chek.

Something that I've found really improves my hand speed is the use of overspeed training as sprinters use. If you attach resistance band (like the sort that physio's use for rehab) to an anchor point like a door handle and the other end to your wrist you can then let your punch fly with the added tension of the band. In time your CNS will learn to fire at the higher rate and your punches will be faster. It works!

But I think the most important way to increase power is through practice, practice, practice. Punching with power is about technique. I think the heavy bag is the best tool for this.


Listen to what creed said - very good advice!
movements that integrate leg/hips I think do aid in power development greatly.

Look at the way Tyson brings everything up from his legs through his hips for that explosive uppercut.

Thus learning good technique with max hip/leg force is the best way to increase power.


Fat Panda,

While I agree about the imbalances that can result from poor boxing training programs, I disagree with your assertion that chinups will help to correct internally rotated shoulder. The lats are internal rotators themselves; more volume with them will only make the problem worse.

Rows, external rotations, prone trap raises, and posterior delt fly variations are key.


I have second Patricia's post entirely. You WILL NOT get a stronger punch by lifting right now. Even Ian King said that he thought a minimum of five years of boxing training should be done before you should consider punch-power-enhancing strength training. Don't be afraid to ease up on the weights. Recently, I quit all lifting for two whole months, just to focus on my training. Honestly, I didn't lose a single pound.

Did I get weaker? I don't know. I guess it depends on what you mean by "weaker," but I do know that I can kick more ass than I could before, and that's what mattered to me.

I'm back to lifting now, 2x/week, using a very vanilla program that observes the basics.


I really think that the length of time needed to improve your technique to the point where weight-training/plyos will improve you punch power is totally dependent on the individual.

I have seen guys take up boxing and pick up good technique in no time at all say 3 months! But then some people have been boxing for 3 years and still can't throw a decent jab?? If you are a natural then no probs.

Just don't let it become the 'keystone' of your training. Concentrate on developing your technique first and foremost and use the weight-training and plyos as a supplemental as patricia advises. BUT whatever you decide if you do use weights you must remember one thing...SPEED!!! Do everything with speed and you can't go wrong. And I mean everything, everytime you hit that bag, everytime you lift that bar. You have to train fast to be fast.

Technique will get you so far but speed is vitally important. Some say that speed is the most untrainable physical quality and it mostly determined by genetics but in 'reality' it most definitely can be improved.