Should Boxers Lift Weights?


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One of the most common questions related to boxing training is should boxers lift weights? It's a question that many people have different opinions on, and it's an important subject to tackle whether you are looking for beginner boxing tips or you are a serious boxer looking to get to the next level.

Even professional fighters don't all agree. The classic example I always use is that Muhammad Ali never trained at all with weights, and many other fighters did not either. Meanwhile, today many fighters seem to incorporate at least some weight lifting into their boxing training. So should boxers weight lift?

So.... Should Boxers Lift Weights?


Unfortunately, there is not an easy yes and no answer to this. Old school trainers and fighters will typically say that no, a boxer should not be weightlifting at all. The theory behind this is simple and there are several reasons incorporated in it. To begin with, by adding extra muscle mass to your frame you can tighten up and slow down your punches and your all around boxing form.

Additionally, adding a lot of muscle mass can decrease your stamina, as muscles are major oxygen hogs in your body. The more muscle mass you have, the greater your oxygen requirements, and the greater the chance of running out of gas towards the end of a fight.

Finally, you can pack on enough muscle to effectively move yourself to a higher weight class where you don't wish to be campaigning at.

However, boxers can weight train and incorporate weightlifting into their boxing training. The key is separating weightlifting for bodybuilders or those in other sports for weightlifting for boxing. When people ask should boxers lift weights, they don't separate the question into the different styles of weight training that a person can use.

Weightlifting for Boxing

Boxers want to have solid, lean frames, but not be overly muscle bound. Lifting weights as if you were a football player, bodybuilder or regular gym-head can result in changes to your physique and your abilities that detract from your boxing game. But weightlifting correctly can and will make you stronger while leaving you better prepared for tough challenges inside the ring.

The first key for weightlifting for boxing training is that you should avoid heavy weight, low repetition sets. This kind of weight training is designed for packing on a maximum amount of muscle mass, which is not what you want to do. Instead, you should focus on weight training with lighter weights and more reps, ideally between 12 and 15 per set.

Additionally, when weightlifting for boxing, you should focus on your core strength. Your core is where your real power comes from, and it involves your abdominals, oblique muscles, lower back muscles and upper leg muscles. Don't waste your time with bicep curls, focus on compound exercises that will help increase your functional strength, not just make your body look more muscular.

Weightlifting Alternatives for Boxers

There are several weightlifting alternatives for boxers.

  • Bodyweight exercises: Bodyweight exercises will add real strength to your body without adding excess muscle mass. Pull-ups and chin-ups are great bodyweight exercises, as are pushups, all sit-ups variations and dips.
  • Medicine ball exercises: Using a medicine ball can help you gain strength and mimic actual boxing movements while avoiding too much muscle gain.
  • Circuit training: Circuit training is technically weight lifting, but with a focus on the cardio aspects involved. Use only machines, and use a weight light enough to continually blast out reps for 30 seconds. Without resting, switch to another machine and incorporate 10 total machines in the workout, completing 2 circuits.

Read more boxing training tips

You asked should boxers weight lift or incorporate any weight training into their boxing training. The choice is yours, but you don't have to completely avoid weight training when boxing. Just change your approach towards weightlifting to achieve maximum results for boxing.

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10 comments.

  1. Very good article.look forward to more informative reads like this.

  2. Good and thoughful comment above; also true, the style of weightlifting is the key. Power is important, not bulk or absolute strenth, therefore, use Olympic type lifts, like power cleans for best results.

  3. im a boxer and i do mostly circuit training, sprinting , skill training, and core exercises. but i do weights as well. i do not do powerlifting, or bodybuilding either. i do a weight i can bang off 10 reps anf do 5 instead. speed coming up with weight. slow and controlled on the way down

  4. The first key for weightlifting for boxing training is that you should avoid heavy weight, low repetition sets

    This is just a wrong fact.How do you expect to build maximal strength if you dont benchpress,deadlift,squat or do olympic style weightlifting(snatch and jerk) hard 85-90 % of your 1RM?Btw when you build this kind od stregth it makes you more explosive as well.

    you should focus on weight training with lighter weights and more reps, ideally between 12 and 15 per set.
    Once again wrong…all you do on boxing training strength wise is muscular endurance and repetitive strength.Why do the same thing in the weightlifting gym?Youre not shocking you body right and are doing the same thing over and over and over.
    Get your fact right man.

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  6. I think it’s still smart to throw in some heavy weight, low rep sets since this a great way to work your white fast twitch muscle fibers which is key in explosiveness although I personally prefer plyometrics. Also you’re not going to gain that much weight unless you increase your caloric intake.

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  10. This is terrible information. Reps of 12-15 increase muscle mass way more than low reps do.

    Low reps should especially be used by boxers to increase strength and power.

    You’re not going to put on extra unless you break the muscles down and then eat enough protein to rebuild them. If you just do very heavy weights with low volume, you will increase power without increasing muscle see especially if you purposely don’t feed your body enough to rebuild the muscles.

    After, using the same volume for long enough your body will only tear a few muscle fibers each time you work out. Your body will get use to the volume and there will be no need to worry about putting on muscle mass.

    The muscle that fatigues a lot might be muscles built by using steroids. When a very muscled guy fatigues in a fight how do we know he didn’t use steroids to build that muscle?

    Lifting weights doesn’t slow you down it speeds you up. Many sprinters lift 2 or 3 times their body weight in the squat.

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