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Boxing Workout – Plyometric Circuits for Speed, Power and Strength

plyometric boxing workouts

Plyometric Circuits are the corner-stone of a good boxing workout. A boxer must maintain his strength and explosive power through two or three minute rounds. Plyometric circuit training is designed to mimic the demands of an actual fight. It takes exactly two minutes, or the duration of a round in amateur boxing, to complete the following eight circuits.

Leave one minute rest between each circuit and do sets of circuits to recreate the conditions of a fight. Do each exercise for 15 seconds at a very high intensity and then move onto the next.


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Boxing workouts are very popular ways of getting fit and learning how to lose your belly fat. Many people become sedentary over the winter months.

Boxing workouts train you to be powerful, not just strong. Start with vertical jumps, then chin-ups, then seated medicine ball throws with a partner. Move onto straight one-two (jab-cross) punches with dumbbells. Then, using Swiss ball, alternate abdominal crunches with incline press-ups. Perform side jumps with a 20-30cm high rope. Move onto flurries of punching combinations while holding 1-2kg dumb-bells, and finish with 3-5kg medicine ball sit-up and throws.

Weight Training for Boxers

Weight training for boxing should benefit the whole body, so cut out isolation reps, and choose free weights over machines. You want strength, so aim for two to three sets with six reps, explosive on concentric phase and slow on the eccentric phase.

Plyometric Training for Boxers and Athletes

This is resistance exercise followed by a matching plyometric one. For instance, a bench press followed by medicine ball chest pass. The resistance workout kicks the nervous system into gear, so that more Type IIb fibers are available for the second explosive exercise. Type IIb muscle fibers are those that produce the most explosive force.

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Squats 2 8 60 secs
Vertical Jumps 2 6 60 secs
Bench Press 2 8 60 secs
Medicine Ball (MB) Chest Pass 2 6 60 secs
Barbell lunge 2 8 60 secs
Step jumps 2 6 60 secs
Lat pull down 2 8 60 secs
MB overhead pass 2 6 60 secs
Weighted crunches 2 8 60 secs
MB sit ups 2 6 60 secs

Boxing Specific Complex Training

Sport-specific complex training includes exercises of plyometric nature that closely mimic actions like throwing a punch from the ball of your back foot to your fist, with proper posture and technique.

Exercise (one set) Weight Reps Rest
Left jab 1-6kg dumb-bell 8 No rest
Left jab MB throws 3-5kg medicine ball 6 3 mins rest
Straight right 1-6kg dumb-bell 8 No rest
Straight right MB throws 3-5kg medicine ball 6 3 mins rest
Left hook 1-6kg dumb-bell 8 No rest
Left hook MB throws 3-5kg medicine ball 6 3 mins rest
Right cross 1-6kg dumb-bell 8 No rest
Right cross MB throws 3-5kg medicine ball 6 3 mins rest
Left uppercut 1-6kg dumb-bell 8 No rest
Left uppercut MB throws 3-5kg medicine ball 6 3 mins rest
Right uppercut 1-6kg dumb-bell 8 No rest
Right uppercut MB throws 3-5kg medicine ball 6 3 mins rest

Pure Cardio Boxing Training

While a three to five mile run a week is a good idea, a boxer should make his cardio workouts sport-specific. Interval training is ideal for boxing. An 800 meter interval would closely mimic the anaerobic demands of a three-minute round of professional boxing. Amateur bouts consist of four two-minute rounds, and the following workout has been designed with this structure in mind.


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Begin with a 1,200-1,600m warm up of jogging, hopping and short sprints. Then do three 600m intervals at medium intensity with a one or two minute rest between runs. Then do three 200m intervals at high intensity with 30-second rests and jog back to the start point after each run. Finish with an 800m loose run to warm down. Two interval training sessions per week should deliver the best results. Also buy a skipping rope to improve your stamina agility and foot speed.

Boxing Workouts and Motor Programming – Training the Mind of the Boxer

A vital part of a boxing workout is to imprint sport specific actions and make them reflexive by reprogramming the body’s motor programming unit. No matter how much stamina a runner has, he will be exhausted after just a couple of rounds. The act of running is imprinted from an early age, but throwing a punch with proper posture and leverage is an underdeveloped skill for most. An aspiring boxer can train to reprogram his motor unit and progressively boost his performance with better posture, balance and co-ordination, resulting in a drastic improvement in reaction time and fighting ability.

Bodyweight Dips – Barry McGuigan’s Favorite Exercise

Barry McGuigan is still one of the best boxers to have come out of Ireland. His professional career started in 1981, and in 1982 he won 8 fights, 7 of which were by knockout. In 1985 he finally won the WBA title in the featherweight division. His total fight record was 32 wins and 3 losses, with 26 wins by knockout. In January 2005, McGuigan was elected into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Recently he was asked what his favorite exercise was, and he revealed that bodyweight dips were his preferred exercise.

Dips are one of the best bodyweight compound exercises. They work the chest (major pectorals), front delts (anterior deltoid) and triceps. These muscles are essential for boxers and as dips is a pushing exercise the correct muscles are being strengthened. Curls and rows are less important for boxers.

Barry McGuigan is now 50 years old but still performs dips. Being of a smaller frame is a great help though, as your muscles do not need to lift such a large mass, but really anyone should be able to perform dips throughout their lives if they stay in shape.

Performing dips is also a great way to help tone he upper body and to help with weight loss. The delts and chest are large groups of muscles, do if you combine dips with squats, you will start working the whole body and burn a lot of fat, as well as build solid, functional muscle tissue.

In November 2009 McGuigan launched the inaugural Barry McGuigan Boxing Academy in Leicestershire, UK. The academy aims to help youngsters improve their sporting and academic skills by offering boxing tuition as an incentive for staying on in school or college.

Web Resources and References


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www.rossboxing.com/thegym/thegym19.htm - Ross Enamait’s guide to boxing fitness training.

www.brianmac.co.uk/plymo.htm - Brian Mac’s guide to plyometric training

“A Review of Combined Weight Training and Plyometric Training Modes: Complex Training“ by William P. Ebben, MS, MSSW, CSCS and Phillip B. Watts, PhD

COMPLEX TRAINING: A BRIEF REVIEW” (pdf) by William P. Ebben. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2002) 1, 42-46

Acute Effects of Plyometric Exercise on Maximum Squat Performance in Male Athletes” by NAOTO MASAMOTO, RICH LARSON, TODD GATES, AND AVERY FAIGENBAUM. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2003, 17(1), 68–71q 2003 National Strength & Conditioning Association.

Portuguese version: Boxe Workout – versão portuguesa

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  64 comments for “Boxing Workout – Plyometric Circuits for Speed, Power and Strength

  1. stephen newall
    May 6, 2009 at 11:08 am

    Hello people at Motleyhealth. I am a aspiring boxer who has just come across plyometric workouts and find this page extremely informative and easy to understand (boxing workout) though I can not get my head a couple of the exercises for example how can I throw a jab, uppercut etc with a medicine ball any tips on how to do these or explained so a dimwit like me can understand would be greatly appreciated thank you very much.

    Stephen

  2. MotleyHealth
    May 6, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    Hi Stephen, you are probably trying to imagine how to do this with an old fashioned leather ball. There are two ways. If using an old fashioned ball, you need a partner – throw the ball across the body for hooks, and upwards for upper cuts. Or you can use one of those modern medicine balls with handles, like the Everlast Double Grip Rubber Medicine Balll. Then use them like dumbbells, or throw (let go) when shadow boxing. I should have been clearer – I am sure that you are no dimwit! Here’s a YouTube clip that explains a little better.

  3. dan
    February 3, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    great page, good easy to understand advice that makes sense thanks.

  4. Gautam Sareen
    March 8, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    its realy helpful…thanx for sharing

  5. Mylo
    April 25, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Hi there,i just came acrose this page,it’s so cool,but i’m kind of new and i couldn’t understand some terms like:concentric phase,eccentric phase,
    sets,reps, etc.
    Could you please make them clear for me?Thanks!

  6. MotleyHealth
    April 25, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    Hi Mylo. Concentric is when you contract the muscles to pull. Eccentric is when you extend the muscles in the reverse movement, e.g. with a curl, the lift/pull is the concentric movement and the lowering of the weight is the eccentric movement. Reps=repetitions, i.e. the number of individual exercises you perform in a set. A set is a group of repetitions. So 3 sets of 8 reps means to perform an exercise 8 times, then rest, then repeat again, rest, then repeat again. I hope this helps!

  7. Mylo
    April 25, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    You guys are the best,thanks for the answer.
    My other question? what’s free weight and function strength?
    Thanks!

  8. MotleyHealth
    April 25, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    Free weights are weights that are separate, i.e dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells etc. as opposed to cable machines that use ropes and pulleys. Functional strength means training for a specific purpose, such as to run faster, jump higher, punch harder, i.e. not bodybuilding (training to build bigger muscles with no purpose).

  9. Jason B - Boxing coach
    May 4, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    Thanks – this is precisely what I needed.

    Jason
    Toronto

  10. Michalah
    June 18, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Any recommendations for children that are focused on losing weight this summer to play tennis next year in 7th grade?
    If you could email me some tips they would be helpful. Would Wii boxing workouts help @ all with my needs. Thank you and I hope you can get back to me soon. God Bless You and have a wonderful day!

  11. Michalah
    June 18, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    4got to check the notify me box but u can still answer my question above

  12. MotleyHealth
    June 18, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    Hi Michalah. Plyometrics would help with tennis, but maybe our tennis workouts are more suitable. That article also links to the circuit training workout which is also very good at building functional strength and muscular endurance. But, saying that, the plyometric workout above will also be very good.

    Wii boxing will not help a lot really. For a boxing workout to be effective really you need to be hitting a bag (and wearing gloves).

  13. scott
    July 18, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    does MB stand for ‘mid body’?

  14. MotleyHealth
    July 18, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    MB = Medicine Ball

  15. Alex
    September 21, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    This info is great. I am losing weight to get back to fighting shape I haven’t boxed since I was a young teenager and now I’m 26. Until I get back into shape I am putting off going to the boxing. So I workout at the gym that has all the accessories needed that you mentioned above. I do have some questions, I workout by myself and want to have a customized boxing workout that when incorporated to my road work or cardio in the morning is about 2 -2 1/2 hours. What is the difference between a Mb chest pass, Mb over head pass, and Mb sit-up? What is a lat pulldown? What is the difference between a vertical jump and a step jump? Sorry I just have trouble envisioning all these procedures. I know I have all the right tools at the facility. Also a former boxer is it me or does the rest time between the boxer-specific workouts a bit excessive? I seem to remember shadow boxing and performing all the punches with a 5 -8 lb dumb bell for 2 or 3 minute rounds with a 30-60 sec rest. Anyhow thanks a lot for any information you can help me with it would be much appreciated.

  16. MotleyHealth
    September 21, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    Mb chest pass – stand opposite a partner and throw chest to chest.
    Mb over head pass – back to back, passing overhead
    Mb sit-up – see here: http://www.motleyhealth.com/fitness/15-minute-abs-workout

    For sit ups you do not need to add the throw. Just hold the ball. Also twists are good too. Simply twist from side to side, touching the ball to the floor on each side of you while holding your torso at about 45%

  17. H-Bomb
    September 27, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    hi i used to box a few years ago and am looking to get back into shape before i start it up again, i go to the gym 3 times a week, do you know a boxing specific workout i could do at the gym to keep me strong fast and powerfull?

  18. MotleyHealth
    September 28, 2010 at 12:11 am

    For strength, power and speed you cannot go far wrong in doing a Bruce Lee strength workout. A series of compound exercises using free weights. Plus train your core and work on endurance and increasing VO2 max (high intensity intervals). That should do it!

  19. Tolulope Adedoyin
    December 3, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    I am a Boxer in Nigeria and am Looking forward to become a Champion through you by supporting Me Materially.
    thanks

  20. MotleyHealth
    December 3, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Good luck Tolulope! We cannot support you materially, but let us know when you fight next and we will support you spiritually!

  21. BRENT
    December 6, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    what can i do instead of medicine ball workout and get good results.i dont have a partner.i workout by myself

  22. MotleyHealth
    December 6, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    You could just concentrate on clap push ups for the plyometrics and work a heavy bag instead, do you have a bag?

  23. joel
    December 27, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    jus b4 few days i have started 2 box . but am unable 2 run more dan 1mile ! could u help me ???

  24. MotleyHealth
    December 27, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    Just keep jogging every day. Walk / run if need be. Building your fitness each time.

  25. addam
    January 30, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    hi I box 2 times a week I use heavy weights 4 squatting but my legs are still week. I jog 2 times a week as well, please help me tell me wat to do.

  26. MotleyHealth
    January 30, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    As you are accustomed to squatting already, carry on, do more. Box jumps, or just squat jumps, will also produce more power. What rep range are you doing in squats? Lower reps, heavier weight (5-8 reps per set) help produce the best strength gains.

  27. addam
    January 31, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    could u give me all round circut trainin for boxin i can do specily for my legs i do light weights high reps for all my body is dat good THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR HELP

  28. MotleyHealth
    January 31, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    This circuit with strengthen your legs, but also add squats to your weight training routine, as well as squat jumps and box jumps for additional power.

  29. Jill Chuba
    February 3, 2011 at 12:12 am

    i was a personal trainer
    this awesome they do not offer a speedbag at my gym i put it in the suggestions _ I used to use a speed bag

  30. daniel
    February 3, 2011 at 1:15 am

    MotleyHealth, i noticed that on the youtube clip when doing the exercise they dont pivot the feet to copy a real hook.. to increase hand speed would you pivot the feet in the way you would do if throwing a real hook? because as you can see the feet dont twist, just there upper bodies?

  31. daniel
    February 3, 2011 at 1:21 am

    MotleyHealth, also when doing the mb technique would you be throwing it as fast as you can too make your hand speed quicker? same question for when doing the free weights (would you throw the hooks etc quick as you can to improve on fast twitch fibers)..

  32. daniel
    February 3, 2011 at 2:04 am

    also for the ‘Boxing Specific Complex Training’.. if i use a 2.5kg dumbbell for the jab what Medicine ball weight would i use? shouldn’t it be less then the dumbbell weight? or more?

  33. MotleyHealth
    February 3, 2011 at 2:19 am

    With the MB training you can mix up some speed and power, keeps your partner on his toes too. Just stick with a MB 3-5kg, try different balls if you have them, see what works best for you. As for the twists, this training is to get the waist moving too, so the feet are planted.

  34. matt
    March 4, 2011 at 2:53 am

    It’s missing burpees

  35. James
    March 11, 2011 at 3:42 am

    I like this work out, I was just wondering if these squats are with weights? And if they are, how heavy should the weights be?

  36. MotleyHealth
    March 11, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Yeah, they are weighted squats. How heavy depends on how strong your legs are. You should have a weight that allows you to do those 2 sets of 8, that is challenging enough to be hard, but not too heavy that you cannot complete them. So try a weight, and adjust. The idea with any form of weight training is the you increase the weight used over time as you get stronger.

  37. James
    March 11, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Thats a big help, thanks a lot.

  38. Rob Johnston
    April 8, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Do you perform each exercise one after the other, rest 60 seconds, and then do each exercise in a row again? Or do you perform each exercise with a minute of rest in between?

  39. MotleyHealth
    April 8, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    60 seconds rest after each set. The Plyometric Training for Boxers and Athletes should take about 1 hour to complete.

  40. Rob Johnston
    April 8, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    Sorry I’m still confused. So as an example, you would do one set of squats, rest 60 seconds, then do a set of vertical jumps and so on through each exercise? Or one set of squats, rest, another set of squats, rest, then vertical jumps, and so on? Thanks for your help.

  41. MotleyHealth
    April 8, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    Rest 60 seconds. If you feel that it is too long by all means reduce the rest, or go straight from weighted to plyometric then rest for 60 seconds before the next.

  42. Jack
    July 9, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    I was wondering if working out on a heavy bag will help as well, and if so how long should i use it for?

  43. MotleyHealth
    July 10, 2011 at 12:01 am

    Working a heavy bag in an important part of training. One method is to work in 3 minutes rounds to help prepare for fight fitness.

  44. john
    July 15, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    I like all that I have read here.. very enlightening. I am an upcoming boxer and I jog for about 30 mins every day and also shadow box I engage in some hard sparing once a week but do not have access to a heavy bag is there any substitute to this and what do I stand to lose by not training with one thank you.

  45. MotleyHealth
    July 15, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Not sure of a substitute for heavy bag training. Really it teaches you to develop more power, ensures that you always land a punch with good form, and is great endurance training.

  46. karl
    August 4, 2011 at 2:21 am

    hi, ive just spent hours reading all of your categories on your site,,absolutley brilliant, keep up the dedication , its very much appriciated, can you assist me in telling me the best excercises to strenghten my knees,,,ive been doing hamstrings ex,and squats, light weight,more reps,,,thank you for your time.

  47. MotleyHealth
    August 4, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Hi Karl, sounds like you are doing the right thing. Maybe also add elliptical workouts and cycling to your routines to develop the supporting muscles. Squats and leg curls are both good weight training exercises to strengthen the knees.

  48. kaley
    September 5, 2011 at 12:04 am

    Motley health can i just say great work out regime im a young mother of 4 and boxed a long time ago been doing this regime for a week now twice daily and its doing great :). The only thing i would ask is how can i get ready for a 75 mile walk i have in less than a month. I cannot spend all day in the gym as i have 2 very small children so any tips please would be fantastic.

  49. MotleyHealth
    September 5, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Hi Kaley. Training for a 75 mile walk, now there’s a challenge. Really the only way is probably to increase walking. Less than a month is a problem though. If you can quickly get a treadmill and start walking on it for 60 minutes a day at a slight incline this will strengthen those muscles. Probably a good time to start looking for a good pair of shoes or walking boots and get them worn in too (if you have not done so already) as you do not want to be wearing a new pair of shoes at the start of a 75 mile trek.

    If you can put your children in a double-buggy then pushing them for an hour or two every day will also help you a lot.

  50. akshay thakur
    March 13, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    hi i like u r tipes ,i am 20 year’s old i want to become boxing champ i an bignear in my gym can u help out by sending some time table………

  51. MotleyHealth
    March 13, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    Hi Akshay, speak to a coach at your gym, they can give you a timetable.

  52. jamie
    April 8, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    this site is amazingly helpful ive just started boxing back up and recently quit smoking im aspiring to become a real good boxer , this site has put me in the right directions for increasing my heart rate was very very helpful thanks alot !! . jamie

  53. Joel
    April 19, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    hi.. great information on these workouts tips. Im 21 years old and been boxing for about 2 months and realized this is what i’ve been looking for in my life and eat,sleep,train picturing myself as the next great boxer. before i started boxing i did alot of weightlifting and weighed 185lbs(6 days a week) and still do weights about 3 times a week(but weigh 170lbs) and i been noticing i feel kinda stiff on my bobbing and weaving is there any techniques or “sport function tips” you can provide me with for bobbing and weaving??

  54. MotleyHealth
    April 20, 2012 at 12:32 am

    Hi Joel – yeah, sparring and pad work!

  55. Tomy
    July 7, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    Hi there i would like to know if the program Plyometric Training for Boxers and Athletes is like the general phase Boxing Specific Complex Training is for 3 or 4 weeks before a fight or if you would just recommend to do both maybe each of them once a week please ?
    thank you
    tomy

  56. Tomy
    July 7, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    oh and i ve forget to ask wher could i put the dips in there please i would really like to include that exercise on my training but im not sure where to put it should it be better at the end of the program, or an other day or?
    thank you
    tomy

  57. MotleyHealth
    July 7, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    Hi Tomy, it can certainly be used as a part of your boxing training but really you are best chatting with your instructor / coach about the best routines and workouts for you to do in the run up to a competition.

  58. MotleyHealth
    July 7, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    Do dips as part of your strength training workouts.

  59. Tomy
    July 14, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    ok thank you and I was also wondering for the Boxing Specific Complex Training part , is it only 1 set ?

    Thank you

  60. MotleyHealth
    July 15, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    It can be, it really depends if you are doing this as part of a larger workout or a standalone session, and of course, how fit you are already. Do 1 set and then see if you want to do another.

  61. Tomy
    July 29, 2012 at 6:51 am

    Hi its me again, I have some concern about the vertical jumps, are they suppose to be made like squat jump, should i not use my hand to help me jumping, should i try to touch the roof or?

    thank you

    tomy

  62. MotleyHealth
    July 29, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Hi Tomy, you can do it either way really – not squatting though. Just try to jump as high as you can. Reach up with both hands or one hand (alternating).

  63. chris
    August 17, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    hello how many sets would it be ok to do in one session on the boxing plyometrics doing two sets now seems easy is three sets ok and how many sets would you work up to also can you put the boxing specific on the end of the plyometrics or is it two separate sessions thankyou

  64. MotleyHealth
    August 17, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    Hi Chris, you can do more if you want, there is no limit really and you can certainly do the two together. Remember, this is only one part of boxing training.

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