T Nation

Training Questions


#1

First, really enjoy/appreciate the amount of time and energy you guys put into this forum. Its practically the only forum i come to t nation for now a days.

I have a few newbie-esq questions Id appreciate help with. And if others do, could be a good place to put them. I'll just go ahead and list mine rather than babble on.

Is skipping necessary? can footwork/conditioning be improved sufficiently without?
Does punching the heavy bag bareknuckle strength the hands? if so, how many rounds a week should i do?
i hear pads are overrated. that ali, duran etc. never used them. thoughts?
how can you strength punch resistance (chin)? any theorys other than genetics? ive heard neck training helps brace the impact?

thanks in advance


#2

[quote]CarltonJ wrote:
Is skipping necessary? can footwork/conditioning be improved sufficiently without?
[/quote]

It’s pretty necessary, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find any fighter anywhere who doesn’t jump rope. It improves you coordination and your endurance, especially in your calf muscles, which are absolutely essential for boxing.

It’s not a coincidence that the best fighters do this shit constantly.

I’ve only begun doing it recently after several years of regular boxing, and it’s certainly a different game - it keeps you utterly and truly honest in your form. If you’re off by even a hair in your fist placement, wrist alignment, whatever, that bag is going to let you know right away. And if you’re off and you hit too hard, you’re gonna break something.

But it’s important if your goal is street defense - you’re not going to have gloves on in real life, and you should know how to hit effectively in case that happens. So strengthen isn’t really the right word - it’s more like you “acclimate” your hands to punching barefisted. You learn to hit straight on instead of letting your hand float up, you learn to keep a tight-as-shit fist, and you figure out that you can’t really hit full-power without gloves. So it is, in my opinion, important, but if you’re a new guy still, I wouldn’t worry about it until I was sure of myself with the handwraps ON.

Many of the greatest fighters never did use them - as far as I can tell they’re a relatively recent invention - but that doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t if they had been around, or that you yourself should not. They’re a great tool for helping put everything together, and learning to generate power while maintaining your accuracy and using footwork and head movement to avoid incoming shots (without the head trauma of sparring). It’s not the be-all end-all, and you certainly can be a great fighter without ever touching them, but if they’re around, they’re worth using.

You can’t. Your chin is 100 percent genetics, and anyone who tells you different is bullshitting you.


#3

[quote]CarltonJ wrote:
First, really enjoy/appreciate the amount of time and energy you guys put into this forum. Its practically the only forum i come to t nation for now a days.

I have a few newbie-esq questions Id appreciate help with. And if others do, could be a good place to put them. I’ll just go ahead and list mine rather than babble on.

Is skipping necessary? can footwork/conditioning be improved sufficiently without?
Does punching the heavy bag bareknuckle strength the hands? if so, how many rounds a week should i do?
i hear pads are overrated. that ali, duran etc. never used them. thoughts?
how can you strength punch resistance (chin)? any theorys other than genetics? ive heard neck training helps brace the impact?

thanks in advance

[/quote]

Is skipping necessary? can footwork/conditioning be improved sufficiently without?

Necessary, no, but it’s probably as close to necessary as you can get without being essential. It will improve your footwork, your coordination between your hands and feet together, and your rhythm. It is a fantastic exercise that everyone should do, but essential, no not quite in my view.

Does punching the heavy bag bareknuckle strength the hands? if so, how many rounds a week should i do?

It will help build calloused skin on top of the knuckles, and kill the nerves there. Hitting hard without gloves is a skill in itself, and hitting the bag without gloves will teach you proper wrist alignment so you can hit bareknuckle an reduce your risk of injury. Sento is the one to get detailed information from on this, as he will know much more than me. My own suspicion is that too much of this is likely to lead to problems in the future, like arthritis, but I may just be trotting out old wives tales.

i hear pads are overrated. that ali, duran etc. never used them. thoughts?

I think they become much less important once you reach a high degree of ability. Once you have perfect technique ingrained from years of work with a trainer, shadow boxing is more effective, as you can get in a lot more rounds but put less stress on your joints. While you still make fundamental errors, working with a coach on the pads is highly valuable. As with many things, the training hierarchy changes as you progress, and depending on the type of fighter you are. For example, I can prepare for competition more effectively by doing fairly limited sparring, but at a very high intensity, with a much greater emphasis on shadow boxing under coach supervision. Other fighters may need more time with particular types of sparring, or to achieve certain milestones in their sparring preparation.

how can you strength punch resistance (chin)? any theorys other than genetics? ive heard neck training helps brace the impact?

I don’t know that there are any studies on this, or that there is anything conclusive out there. That said, I swear by regular high rep neck work and bridging work, and have always felt it made me more punch resistant. Whether it is psychosomatic or not doesn’t really matter. If you arrive at competition optimally prepared from head to toe, you will handle everything better when it comes your way. Ultimately, if you’re going to get sparked out, it’s goin to be from a good punch you haven’t seen coming. I can’t see anything saving you at that point, however a solid base of neck work may determine how fatigued you are when the big punch lands, how much cumulative damage the punches before have done. That may play a part in how badly hurt or disorientated you are.


#4

thanks for the responses guys.

im hearing that skipping is very useful and ill bite the bullet and implement it. which sucks because i suck at it lol! im thinking maybe start with (3 minute x 3 rounds) mins every day for a couple of weeks to start.


#5

Don’t worry, a bit of practice will go a long way. You could also count the number of jumps you do within a set time period so you can tinker a bit with your rythm and switch your technique, e.g. 150x double foot jumps, 150X single foot or alternating foot jumps and so on.

You might need to constantly remind yourself in the beginning to stay loose while jumping rope. No clenched jaws and fists, stiff forearms, flexed traps and so on.


#6

I would be very careful with bare knuckle work. I did this several times on pads with the mind set ‘if I get it wrong my knuckles will bleed; if they bleed it will curtail further training’. I did get it wrong several times resulting in 10 days without serious punching. If you’re doing drills where your pushing yourself physically then your coordination will suffer as you fatigue then this can happen quite easily.

As for heavy bag, I would be asking for broken bones on my 25kg bag with any punch in anger. Instead, I attempt to do some stuff at range so I am only making a light contact (I certainly think it helps for possible street fighting scenarios). I agree with the other posters, there is a marked difference and it highlights how easily it is to punch with soft hands when they’re happily snug in gloves.


#7

[quote]CarltonJ wrote:
First, really enjoy/appreciate the amount of time and energy you guys put into this forum. Its practically the only forum i come to t nation for now a days.

I have a few newbie-esq questions Id appreciate help with. And if others do, could be a good place to put them. I’ll just go ahead and list mine rather than babble on.

Is skipping necessary? can footwork/conditioning be improved sufficiently without?
[/quote]

No, it’s not necessary, but it is a very useful supplementary exercise which will help you learn to be light on your feet, build coordination, and is great cardio. So, I would second what others have said and strongly suggest you practice it.

Not only can it toughen the skin on the hands, but it also highlights and mistakes you may have been making regarding alignment and mechsnics with gloves and wraps on (which can cover up such weak links). How many rounds you do would depend a lot on how naturally tough yor skin is (some people have naturally thicker skin than others and this can afford more practice time when first learning without skinning their knuckles) and how good your technique is (the better then technique and more straight your punches the less friction your will encounter at impact and the less precise and more “loopy” your punches the more friction your will encounter).

I would suggest starting out slowly, really working on your mechsnics, and putting in slightly less volume than you think you are capable of and slowly building up your volume, speed, and power over time; the last thing you want is to injure your hands or skin your knuckles line JamesBrawner warned against.

Pads are great training tools (probably the most versatile), provided you have someone who knows how to hold them and you use them correctly. That said, it’s possible to get good without using them. Again though, if you have a good coach/pad holder who understands how to use them correctly I would strongly suggest utilizing them.

A strong neck can help brace the spine and skull, and since KO’s generally occur due to the twisting of the brain stem of rattling of the brain inside the skull this can at least to an extent help prevent KO’s. Of course there is only so much that can be improved and there are certainly those with naturally very thick short necks, extra thick skulls, greater amounts of cerebrospinal fluid protecting their brains, etc… That make them extra difficult to KO and people on the opposite side of the spectrum who are especially susceptible to being KO’d. in the end trying to maximize good defensive skills and remain in good position are your best preventative measure though.


#8

cool. awesome advice. really appreciated.

my calfs are on fire from the last few days of skipping - i still suck at it but i guess itll come in time. im doing 12 (4x3) mins per day until i become proficient/skilled enough to go fast, crossover etc.

proper dont get how some guys can be born with such solid chins.

You look at a guy like say amir khan and he gives 110% heart but struggles with big shots. and then, say guys like carl froch or bernard hopkins and they are just immovable. i no a good defence is imperative, but froch has none, and hopkins is 50 and still immovable.


#9

[quote]CarltonJ wrote:
cool. awesome advice. really appreciated.

my calfs are on fire from the last few days of skipping - i still suck at it but i guess itll come in time. im doing 12 (4x3) mins per day until i become proficient/skilled enough to go fast, crossover etc.

proper dont get how some guys can be born with such solid chins.

You look at a guy like say amir khan and he gives 110% heart but struggles with big shots. and then, say guys like carl froch or bernard hopkins and they are just immovable. i no a good defence is imperative, but froch has none, and hopkins is 50 and still immovable. [/quote]

Hopkins is the best technical fighter in the world, in my opinion. His age is really catching up with him the last couple of fights, but his grasp of the fundamentals is unrivalled. He is also tough, and presumably for the reasons Sento suggested (brain fluid etc), genetically predisposed to be durable. It’s a powerful combination and no doubt a big reason that he’s never been stopped (I mean, when you look at who he’s been in with, and the one sided loss against Kovalev, that’s pretty extraordinary).

As durable as he is, it’s his technique which is the primary reason behind his competitiveness and difficulty to hit, and he is a lesson for any developing fighter in what you can do as an averagely gifted athlete.


#10

^^^Absolutely agree.


#11

[quote]CarltonJ wrote:
First, really enjoy/appreciate the amount of time and energy you guys put into this forum. Its practically the only forum i come to t nation for now a days.

I have a few newbie-esq questions Id appreciate help with. And if others do, could be a good place to put them. I’ll just go ahead and list mine rather than babble on.

Is skipping necessary? can footwork/conditioning be improved sufficiently without?
Does punching the heavy bag bareknuckle strength the hands? if so, how many rounds a week should i do?
i hear pads are overrated. that ali, duran etc. never used them. thoughts?
how can you strength punch resistance (chin)? any theorys other than genetics? ive heard neck training helps brace the impact?

thanks in advance

[/quote]

My two cents as follows:

Jump rope?

London hits on a point, that jump rope is not essential. And thank god because I suck at it. However, I have willfully neglected that aspect of my training over time and I regret it always. If not, why not jump rope? It will improve your calf strength, cardio and footwork. So really don’t be a chump like me.

Bare knuckle heavy bag?

I LOVE bare knuckle training. Do I recommend it to people new to the sport? No. You’ll need to make that decision when you’re technically proficient with wraps and gloves. Until then, you’re asking to severely damage your hand with a poor punch. Also, if you have a pre-existing injury to your hand, the bare knuckle can aggravate it. I recently dislocated my left middle finger at the PIP joint. Bare knuckle for me is out of the question for a few more months. I wrap that sucker up. Focus on hitting right before you ditch the gloves.

Pads?

I trained in Thailand and pads are a staple of training because they allow full contact for very dynamic attacks like kicks. I just can’t truly high or low kick a heavy bag or a sparring partner. This is less of an issue for boxing, but padwork definitely improves your hand speed, coordination and accuracy and with a skilled pad coach you’ll get some beautiful combos in. That said, the return of investment in pad work is directly related to the skill level of the coach holding the pads. It stops being useful as a training tool when you hit a certain level, and more about conditioning and flow.

Chin?

My experience is that I have never been KO’d cold. TKO, yeah. I’ve even played an entire rugby game without any memory of the match after getting smoked. Was I doing anything special to prevent being knocked out in my training? No. You absolutely should do neck extensions and bridges. Don’t be slack jawed and always protect yourself. You should leave as little to chance as possible and their will be an indirect improvement in your ability to fight with this. Also, glancing shots will suck less. But when your opponent lands a hook in the sweet spot, some lights will go out.

I hope this helps. Results may vary. end of the day: If your heart is in it, you’ll go further than if not.


#12

awesome help guys. my calves are really coming on from all this skipping .

does anyone use 18oz or 20oz gloves on the heavy bag?

i usually do shadow boxing with resistance bands and weights to help speed, and just hit the bag with 14-16oz. recently found some 18oz dirt cheap and thought why not.


#13

does any1 box under water?

ali-esq, ive got access to a pool and thought of implementing it. is it just a gimmick? ive only seen ali and wlad do it.


#14

IMO I’d say it’s about as it’s about as effective as dry land swimming practice in terms of return on investment. If you want to swim for conditioning, then just swim, no need to try to conflate the two activities.


#15

I’ve never used gloves bigger than 16oz.

I tend to like smaller gloves anyway. I feel like I can actually feel my fist hitting the bag/pads properly.

Bigger gloves tend to just be like hitting with pillows, so you get less feedback about technique (IMO). But they are a lot easier on the hands. I tend to only wear smaller gloves when doing padwork for this reason.

Boxing underwater seems pretty pointless. Shadow boxing would be much better. Its not like you need to relieve your joints from hitting air and I imagine it would just make your footwork/balance feel all over the place. Plus you don’t want to be holding your breath while punching.

Swimming for conditioning is ace though.


#16

I really liked bare knuckle training. It is very much the same as conditioning your arms and legs (shins) to kick and absorb blows and Sento and the others are dead on.

Obviously it jeeds to be worked into gradually and carefully. I started with just drills, then partner arm/leg hardening drills (forearm against forearm, shin against shin), & for punching I used light padding and light impact. This gradually got to the point where I was hitting trees.

Yes, actual whole trees still in the ground with bark and all. And no, I never got injured. Naturally though, this was never a marathon session.

Everybody is right, it really forces you to do things correctly, or suffer badly. But beyond that I think it is useful in general to develop the real world durability Irish spoke of–in a bar, or a theater of war, or a random day somebody decides you need a beating you don’t get to put gloves and wraps on. It’d be nice, but its not the nature of violence in the street.

For competitive reasons this isn’t really a big deal, particularly because if you’re getting paid to fight you should not be messing with the possibility of as many pay days as possible. Although in my biased opinion I really believe a gradual and strategic strengthening routine will prolong your time by keeping you from breaking your hand on someone’s face, there is certainly considerable risk involved in that approach for a competitive fighter regardless of resulting competitive advantage.

Personally, it works. And works well.


#17

If you are considering the hand hardening approach, try the following:

One of the old approaches was to use bags of dry rice, then progressively get to harder substances. One of the better starting points in my humble opinion is to take a page from the traditional martial artists and use a basin with rice, or a bag, and instead of punching you slap the bag backhanded. This starts the conditioning response on the knuckles without really running the risk of hurting your wrists by coming in crooked or sloppy on a punch. Hell, for most people interested in competition this type of thing might be all they need to help harden hands.

And you can always use the more conservative approach of wrapping and using lighter gloves to get used to punching. Quite useful and quite effective. The only down side is that if you get overly excited in sparring or drilling you might break your hand because you still “feel” protected by the glove even though it is significantly less than normal padding. In other words, you don’t “feel” as vulnerable as you are and it may lead you to not pay attention when you need to.

All kinds of analogies can be drawn to always lifting with belt, or wrist wraps, or knee wraps, or whatever. But for some people’s psyche it is easier for them to over throw, and for some people this approach works well because they are still cautious.


#18

Something I am a bit curious about…

Purely for boxing, the three primary pieces of equipment are Heavy bag, speed ball, floor to ceiling ball, and then of course shadow boxing.

How do people prioritise/break down their time to these pieces of equipment?

I have been using a heavy bag for 20 minutes doing 10 second on/off which is a great double up for conditioning work too.

If I don’t do this I tend to go for 6-8 rounds on the heavy bag.

I also have been doing 10 minutes or 3/4 rounds shadow boxing and using the floor to ceiling bag as part of my warm up. So doing both at the same time.

I don’t use the speed ball much, just cos I also do a conditioning circuit (about 15-20 minutes) focusing on shoulders and squats/lunges etc and then with core work and skipping at the start this tends to take up to 90 minutes (with a stretch at the end) which is about what I have time for.

How does everyone else allocate their time to those pieces of equipment? Assuming you had, say 15 rounds total for the three.


#19

[quote]CarltonJ wrote:
does any1 box under water?

ali-esq, ive got access to a pool and thought of implementing it. is it just a gimmick? ive only seen ali and wlad do it. [/quote]

I’ve done it before, and it’s good to get your blood moving as a warm up and to get a little resistance from odd angles.

It’s not a training staple, mind you. But as something to mix it up, sure. And it’s tiring as shit.


#20

[quote]Kirks wrote:
Something I am a bit curious about…

Purely for boxing, the three primary pieces of equipment are Heavy bag, speed ball, floor to ceiling ball, and then of course shadow boxing.

How do people prioritise/break down their time to these pieces of equipment?

I have been using a heavy bag for 20 minutes doing 10 second on/off which is a great double up for conditioning work too.

If I don’t do this I tend to go for 6-8 rounds on the heavy bag.

I also have been doing 10 minutes or 3/4 rounds shadow boxing and using the floor to ceiling bag as part of my warm up. So doing both at the same time.

I don’t use the speed ball much, just cos I also do a conditioning circuit (about 15-20 minutes) focusing on shoulders and squats/lunges etc and then with core work and skipping at the start this tends to take up to 90 minutes (with a stretch at the end) which is about what I have time for.

How does everyone else allocate their time to those pieces of equipment? Assuming you had, say 15 rounds total for the three.[/quote]

Well, it’s just me, but I don’t consider the floor-to-ceiling bag or the speed bag as “necessary” or “primary” pieces of equipment. I like using them, and I do from time to time, but they’re far from indispensable.

I also don’t consider shadowboxing as only a warm-up - to me, it’s just below sparring in terms of importance to building a fighter, and I do shitloads of it.

My log is in here, and there are many days where I’m boxing on my own. They tend to go something like this.

General warmup

Shadowboxing - 2 x 3 (slow and easy with 1, 2, 3 punch combos and basic footwork)
Shadowboxing - 2 x 3 (fight pace - more movement, longer combos, etc)
Heavy bag - 2 x 3 (jabs only - to land and draw counter jab)
Heavy bag - 2 x 3 (jabs and rear hand counters to return jab)
Heavy bag - 2 x 3 (jabs, slips, counters combinations)
Shadowboxing - 2 x 3 (with 2 lb. weights)
Shadowboxing - 1 x 6 (fight pace, moving and punching)
Speed bag - 2 x 3 (finisher if I’m up to it)

That’s a long workout, and I normally shoot for 12 or 13 rounds.