Boxing is a sport that requires speed, technique, power, determination, and ENDURANCE. To become a successful boxer, you have to train every aspect of the sport effectively. This includes sport-specific training like shadow boxing, bag work, mits, and sparring, to improve these necessary skills. But one thing every boxer has to focus on is endurance.
Regardless if you started boxing today or you have been boxing your whole life, you have to set time aside in your training to do cardio. Some beginners underestimate how important cardio for boxing is. They want to focus on other things like power and technique. Although those skills are important, you need the endurance to throw fast, powerful punches, utilize head movement, and keep your hands up for the entire sparring session/fight.
There are many types of cardio you can perform in your weekly routine, and I’ll help you determine what you should be focusing on.
Long Distance Cardio
When someone mentions cardio, most people instantly think of jogging for miles. Luckily, this isn’t the only option, and you probably don’t have to do as much as you’d expect. Jogging is definitely a valid option, and perhaps the most popular, but if you hate running as much as I do, you could also bike or swim.
Jogging can be hard on the joints and cause some problems. I struggle with shin splints and do all my distance cardio on an exercise bike. I have a cheap bike in my basement that I use, and I also try to end my workouts with some biking at the gym.
Biking is less stressful on the joints, and one of the few problems you experience is tight hip flexors which can be easily fixed with consistent stretching.
Another excellent form of cardio is swimming. It is completely zero impact and works your whole body. Not many people have access to a pool they can do laps in, but if you do, this would be a great alternative. In fact, the current holder of the WBC heavyweight title, Deontay Wilder, stays away from running as stated in an article written by the Washington Post.
‘“That’s old school; I stay away from road running,” he said, “because it tears up your knees over time.”
Instead, Wilder regaled me with his enthusiasm for a regime that is — literally — all wet.
“I love the water because it builds all your muscles in your body,” Wilder said. “After I get finished with a water workout . . . I can’t even tell you the name of the muscles, that’s for sure, but I feel it.”
For Wilder, the pool provides a low-impact medium for workouts, plus it adds crucial resistance during all of his movements.’
Assuming most of the people reading this are beginners, you shouldn’t get too caught up in a complicated cardio regime. Remember, if you are just starting, doing anything is better than doing nothing. Just Make sure you are doing some type of long-distance cardio every 2-3 days.
If you are planning on competing you should be doing cardio pretty much every single day. Here is an article that talks about how fast you can lose your progression if you start slacking with your cardio.
Amateur matches and sparring sessions are short. Sprints train your body to push through quick, intense rounds of exercise. Due to this, some people claim sprints are more effective than long-distance cardio because they better replicate an amateur match.
I agree with this partially … I think sprints should be incorporated into your cardio regime, but you have to be careful with it. Sprints take up way more energy than long-distance cardio, and it takes a harder toll on your body. This type of exhaustion is much more challenging to recover from without proper rest and nutrition. As a beginner, I recommend making sprints one of your cardio sessions per week. This will allow you to train sprints and still recover, meaning you can continue training hard in the gym.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is similar to sprints, in my opinion. I’m not going to cover HIIT in-depth, but if you want to incorporate it in your cardio regime, I recommend swapping it for your weekly sprint workout. If you are getting proper nutrition and sleep, you could add it as an additional workout as well. Just listen to your body. If you are feeling fatigued during your boxing specific training, you might need to cut back.
When performing HIIT for boxing cardio, you want to make it as sport-specific as possible. Do three-minute rounds with a minute rest to simulate what your body will be experiencing in the ring.
Boxing Training – Is Practice Enough?
Some people claim you get enough cardio from doing boxing specific workouts like shadow boxing, bag work, mits, and sparring. These exercises are great for working the specific muscles required for boxing and increasing endurance, but won’t be enough to keep you sparring effectively.
If you are boxing for fitness purposes only and training at a fitness gym, this is probably all you’ll need. Mit and bag work is fun, high intensity, and you can achieve an excellent workout in a short amount of time just focusing on this. It all depends on what your goals are.
The cardio you do for boxing should focus on your training goals. If you are boxing for a fun, fitness-based workout, you can probably get away with not doing any form of long-distance cardio. If you plan on sparring you will need to incorporate some other type of cardio to keep you competitive in the ring.
A good workout plan for someone starting out would be this on top of your gym training:
Monday: Run, bike, or swim for 15-20 min
Wednesday: Sprint for 20 seconds then one minute of active rest. Repeat 6-10 times depending on fitness level. This can be done running, biking, or swimming
Friday: Run, bike, or swim for 15-20 min
If you consistently follow this, you’ll see your ability to train with proper form and intensity increase, allowing you to step in the ring a more confident fighter.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below!