Boxing Workouts: Do They Help You Gain Muscle?

Written by
Andy Hayford
On
Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Boxing Workouts: Do They Help You Gain Muscle?

When you think about boxing, what is the first thought that comes to mind? Do you think of Rocky Balboa with a jab, cross, uppercut combo during an intense nail-biting battle against Apollo Creed? Or maybe you think about some of the boxing legends like Iron Mike Tyson, Sugar Ray Leonard, or Joe Louis, competing for the champ's belt. 

When you think about boxing, cardio and strength training in a boxing gym aren't necessarily the first thoughts that come to mind, but they should be.

Gone are the days where boxing is believed to only be for the fight-hungry men of the world. Today, boxing training and boxing exercises are a workout routine everyone can try, and they're an incredible way to gain muscle, too. It doesn’t matter if you are the meanest and strongest bodybuilder on the block, or if you're completely new to the exciting world of fitness--developing a training routine in boxing is an exceptional way to exercise for all fitness levels because it constantly challenges you to grow and become the very best version of yourself. 

If you're interested in learning more about the exciting sport of boxing and how it can help you to gain muscle, then fasten your seatbelt and keep reading - we’ve got all the information you need right below!


A Quick History Lesson

Did you know that boxing is one of the oldest combat sports in the world? Dating all the way back to the ancient Olympic Games, boxing was very different from the sport we all know and love today. In the past, fighters - also known as gladiators - wrapped their hands in tough leather, which was enhanced with special copper and iron brackets, essentially turning their fists into deadly weapons. In fact, the fights typically didn’t end until the demise of one of the opponents. With the spread of religion and the fall of the roman empire, boxing disappeared, only to make a comeback in Great Britain during the 18th century. 

As time went on, rules and regulations were eventually put in place, known as the Queensberry Rules, which are still used to this day. Established in 1867, some of the rules are:

  • No wrestling or hugging allowed.
  • Three minute round duration with one minute between each round. 
  • Gloves are required and to be fair-sized boxing gloves of the best quality and new. 
  • A man down on one knee is considered down, and if struck is entitled to the stakes.
  • No shoes or boots with springs allowed.

Thankfully, you don't need to be in tip top fighting shape for your first match against a punching bag--like we mentioned, boxing workouts are accessible to people of all fitness levels, even if you've only ever done home workouts and the boxing gym is brand new territory.


What Muscles Do You Need in Boxing?

When you train for boxing, you shouldn’t only take into account your muscle groups and boxing stance, but also your cardiovascular system. This system is made of muscles and organs like your heart and lungs that help you to sustain the force and speed of your punches by pumping oxygen through your bloodstream to fuel your muscles. With that in mind, it goes without saying that if you are looking to gain bodyweight in muscle, having a strong cardiovascular system is important. Why do you think TV and movies always show boxers working a jump rope or doing burpees? 


Some of the muscles that you will use in a boxing workout include:


Calves

The muscles that are located from the back of your ankles to the back of your knees are known as the calf muscles. They help you to press your toes into the ground and lift your heels up. In boxing, you use them every time you throw a punch by initiating a step in the direction of the punch--footwork is important and your calves play a big role when you step your left foot or right foot forward to throw a punch. 


Legs

All the power that you need in boxing comes from the ground, and since your legs happen to be connected to the ground, they are responsible for pushing it off the ground to generate power throughout your entire body. 

The quadriceps and hamstrings are the primary muscles used, and they're part of your thigh. After your calf muscles help you to lift your heels off the ground, your quads and hamstrings work together to move your body in the direction of a punch. Again, the legs generate the most power - not the upper body or the triceps, and definitely not the chest. Lunges help! In fact, if you look carefully at many of the most dynamic and strongest boxers in history, you will notice that they all happen to have great legs more often than great arms or huge chests. You won’t find over-developed pecs or massive triceps, but you will often find strong powerful legs. However, this isn't to say that pushups, pull-ups, and dumbbells should be shunned from your routine--balanced power is key!


Hips

Many people don’t really think about their hips when it comes to boxing, but the hips are actually very important! The hips are essentially responsible for holding your lower body and legs together. They also generate a massive amount of power by pivoting your entire body when needed. In addition, your hips play an important role in how well you are balanced. Since your hips are very close to your body’s center-of-gravity, having stronger hips means that you have better control of your balance, which is definitely one of the most important factors in boxing. Balance determines the efficiency and effectiveness of your defense, offense, movement, and overall fighting ability.  


Core

Arguably the most important group of muscles in the body is the core. The core muscles are a very powerful set of muscles that hold your entire body together. They run from the hips to the shoulders, and part of them are the abs and most of the back muscles. Every limb in your body generates a certain amount of power individually, but it’s your core that allows you to combine the force generated by each limb into one total force. Sit-ups are a classic means of preparing your core for sparring!

In addition to helping you breathe, the core muscles also help by taking frontal body shots. As for generating power, the ab muscles - more specifically the obliques - carry the energy that comes from the lower body. The muscles found in the lower back, which are also core muscles, are used for rotation and power, and helps in punch recovery. Lastly, the chest muscles work by connecting the arms, shoulders, and lateral muscles into one combined force, as well as generating punching power too. 


Shoulders

After a good boxing workout, you will definitely feel the burn in your shoulders. That is because all of the power that comes from your legs, hips, and core is filtered through the shoulder joints, meaning the shoulders are most important for punch endurance. Typically, when boxers’ arms become too tired to hold up their fists to defend their head or even to throw a punch, it is usually because the shoulders are tired. This is because the shoulder muscle sits on the edge of the arm and is relatively small, but has the large task of holding up the entire arm. From a physics standpoint, it’s not hard to see why the shoulder tends to get tired so fast! Aside from the boxing workout itself, weight training can help strengthen the shoulders to increase stamina in your actual boxing workout. 


Arms

The arm muscles are all about power delivery because their primary function in boxing is to connect the power to the opponent. We already know that the arms are not responsible for generating power - that’s what you have your legs for - however, the power that comes from your lower body that courses through your core to your shoulders is what drives your arms to throw each powerful punch. The arms don’t generate power, they connect it, and that’s why it is so crucial to have fast arms rather than powerful arms in boxing.


Small Muscles

Last on the list but definitely not least are some of the small muscle groups that make up the body. For example, the neck is for punch resistance. In boxing, you will notice many fighters strengthening their neck. They do this to help prevent whiplash and to avoid being left in a more vulnerable angled position when getting hit by punches. Another example are the muscles that make up your fists. Having a tighter fist means your hand will hit with a much more solid punch. At the same time, a tighter fist means your hand is also less likely to get injured since the bones won’t have much room to move around or get misaligned. 

 

In Conclusion

So, will a boxing training workout help you to gain more muscle? The answer is: YES! 

Boxing is an incredible full-body workout that can help you to build muscle in your legs, hips, core, arms, chest, and shoulders. It can also help with your strength, speed, hand-eye coordination, agility, endurance, and power. In addition, boxing is also an excellent way to strengthen your cardiovascular system by keeping your heart rate up, which can give your heart and lungs a great workout, too. Some of the other exceptional benefits that come from boxing are weight loss, reduced stress, improved self-esteem, and improved posture. 

There are tons of ways to get in shape, but it can sometimes be difficult to find an effective exercise regime that keeps you coming back for more. Another benefit that comes from boxing is that workout classes are always changing to prevent boredom and keep you on your toes. So, if you are looking for the ultimate way to get in shape to gain muscle all while having a little fun - boxing is for you!


External Sources:

https://www.espn.com/boxing/story/_/id/29166137/mike-tyson-boxing-legend-not-today

https://www.britannica.com/sports/Marquess-of-Queensberry-rules

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/core-exercises/art-20044751#:~:text=Strong%20core%20muscles%20are%20also,also%20help%20improve%20back%20pain.







Written by
Andy Hayford
On
Tuesday, July 28, 2020