Boxing for Fitness

Boxing for Fitness

By Dr. David Ryan and James “Buster” Douglas (Former Heavy Weight Champion of the World)

Boxing has always defined our times. The Romans and Gladiators would stage large fights and this grew to the sport of boxing that has brought the world together to wonder at the fighting form. From the moments that millions were glued to their radios to hear the Great Jack Dempsey, to the Ali-Frazer Fights watched around the globe on television. Men come from every nation, from every type of gym to rise through the ranks to make their stand and grab at their conquest of victory in the ring. One such man took his shot at a highly ranked champion, Mike Tyson and after the all the hype and yelling, James “Buster” Douglas stood and had his massive arm lifted by the referee to signify himself as the newest name carved on the short list of Heavy Weight Champions of the World.

It is a tough sport and takes lots of mental and physical training. Getting hit and knocked down is all part of the mountain you have to climb to be called a champion. Learning to take the blows and training to “pick yourself up” has brought Buster to the point where he is now fighting for his very own life. Several years ago after not being diagnosed correctly, he was finally told that he had diabetes and it was very aggressive. Not shying from the punch, Buster has taken on the task to make himself again stand tall and is fighting his opponent head on.

In that light, “Buster” has taken on the role of teaching others how to stay fit and learn to eat healthy. The champ knows that eating is the biggest part of the fight and has even came out with a simple BBQ cookbook to help guide the way to a fitter healthier you.

To order his book visit: Buster Douglas Book

The other portion of Buster’s help is with teaching young boxers how to get in shape and start on the same struggle that he started so many years ago. If you are looking for the eye of the tiger, it’s there as you speak to Buster about how he is gearing his life and changing his lifestyle around. You’ll also see it as he offers advice to the many fighters that approach the former champion and ask for advice.

Motivation is the key with wanting to exercise. Frankly speaking, this world has a lot of things in it that make all of us “fighting mad.” So using that drive of wanting to hit something is a great way to key our energy to becoming a more fit individual. The basics are that using our arms and legs offers the highest energy expenditure on our bodies. Running and punching produce the highest heart rates that have been recorded. So this exercise routine is for everyone of you who tell us that you can’t run cause your knees hurt, time for the old ONE….TWO.

Training for a fight is completely different than most sports. The fact is that a round of boxing can last from 45 seconds to 3 minutes. If you’re an MMA/UFC fighter your round can last an astounding 5 minutes. This makes fighting very difficult to train for. The energy systems of the body kick in at various times. The simple energy drive is the ATP/PC cycle and it last 0-45 seconds, then the lactic acid cycle starts and last for about 5 minutes or until there is enough body heat and oxygen to allow for the BetaOxidative cycle to begin. Place link to this article here: See TABLE 1.
The simple fact is that most boxers hit a wall after 90 seconds, great fighters can maintain the intensity for the full duration of the round. Typical bodybuilding of sets and reps last usually no longer than 30 seconds. It is important to understand that muscles are energy storage cells, and their training has to implement a stress to allow them to respond for strength, power, and endurance associated with fighting. This is what makes boxing a specifically difficult to condition for and presents it as a very effective form of training.

Training for boxing starts with the basic ideas of sets and reps, but it is necessary warm up.

You can begin by doing some road work/walking/skipping rope to warm up. This should last approximately 5 minutes to obtain proper body heat and get you breathing in that much needed oxygen. Every fighter will perform 5-20 minutes of warm up to obtain heat and oxygen levels prior to the first round.

Begin with 10 seconds of jumping jacks/windmills,
followed by 10 seconds of push-ups,
followed by10 seconds of deep knee squats with punching with dumbbells,
followed by 10 seconds of bent-knee sit-ups,
followed by 10 seconds of jumping rope.
REST: 60-90 seconds

BUSTER’S KEY POINTS: There is no rest between movements. The athlete should have easy access to all necessary area and equipment. Transitioning from one exercise to the next, needs to be fluid and direct. Do not stop to drink or rest until all exercises in a single round has been completed. All exercise should reflect the expected intensity from the athlete. The following rounds will alter since every round is different and must reflect the unexpected pursuit of the opposing fighter. Rest is approximately 60-90 seconds, depending on your level of conditioning.
Learn to wrap your hands and wrist to prevent injury to them.

20 seconds of jumping jacks/windmills,
followed by 20 seconds of jumping rope,
followed by20 seconds of deep knee squats with punching with dumbbells,
followed by 20 seconds of bent-knee sit-ups,
followed by 20 seconds of push-ups.
REST: 60-90 seconds

30 seconds of duck-unders* with single punch on opposite side,
followed by 30 seconds of planks,
followed by 30 seconds of bent-over rows,
followed by 30 seconds of jumping rope or line hops.
REST: 60-90 seconds

*Duck-unders are best performed with a string draped between two points, with enough room for the athlete to move freely under the string. The height of the string should be placed at the bottom of the pectoral muscles. Begin by standing on one side and then bend down and step under the string quickly, as the string is cleared arise on the other side and punch with the arm that reflects that side, step back and then rise on the opposite side punching with the appropriate arm, repeat this for the duration of the time. For a variation try throwing a combination of several punches before ducking under the string again. When ducking under the gloves/hands are positioned in front of the head as blocking position. The eyes remain upward to maintain eye contact on the tie of the string.

Begin by doing 45 seconds of bent knee twisting sit-ups while holding a ball/medicine ball,
followed by FOOT WORK**45 seconds,
followed by step-ups (alternating mid-shin height) with a punch(s) for 45 seconds,
followed by 30 seconds of push-ups.
REST: 60-90 seconds

**FOOTWORK is performed with four two foot squares in the following format. The athlete steps or hops from one square to another and performs a series of punches as they move from square to square. Both feet must be completely in the appropriate square prior to punching. (A trainer would mark each square A, B, C, D and offer a call of punches ie. Right; Right-Left; Left-Left-Right; etc.)


A:Right;D:Left Left;C:Right Right jab, Left Hook, D: Right, Right, Left, Quick Right, duck; C: Right, Left, Flurry; D: Left, Right, Left upper cut, Right Hook, duck, duck, Right……etc.

Begin by 45 seconds of FOOTWORK,
Followed by 45 seconds of punching a heavy bag,
Followed by 45 seconds of bent-kneed sit-ups as the trainer lightly hits your stomach with a medicine ball on the athlete’s stomach as they lye back between reps,
Followed by 45 seconds of step-up punches.
REST: 60-90 seconds

Additional rounds are possible with various activities used as the primary exercises. Once completed the athlete must finish by performing aerobic exercises for 15-30 minutes. This is the simple basics of boxing/fighting conditioning. The MMA fighter must incorporate more ground exercises and also maintain a longer series of activity since the duration of rounds is longer.

Design your workout to progress you with time and choose exercises that keep you motivated. If you like hitting things, then by all means choose to hit that heavy bag, but save it for your first two rounds to make you fight your way through them. If it helps tape up my picture on that heavy bag, since it my fault your training like this. Don’t use Buster’s photo, just ask Tyson how well that went over for him.

Dr. David Ryan
Columbus Chiropractic Center Director

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