In the first in a new series we select the very best from our VPT team to show you how to not only spice up your training schedule, but to take your fitness to new levels you didn't think possible. This week we have professional boxer 'lightning bolt' Lloyd Ellett show us how to train like boxer.
Shadow boxing rope
This drill is fantastic for learning to move your head, rolling underneath punches and making your opponent miss – and then make them pay! Tie a rope across the ring from corner-to-corner. Do this to each corner creating four squares in the ring. Using the whole ring, work your way up-and-down the rope rolling underneath, from side-to-side. Then again, using the whole ring, roll underneath the rope and come back with a minimum three punch combination before moving your head and feet again. Keep your hands up, and maintain your boxing while rolling to develop your head movement and defensive skills.
A moving target is a lot harder to hit, and it is very demoralising for your opponent punching thin air!! Complete 4 x 3 minute rounds as a technical warm up – or warm down – at either end of your session.
There is no greater preparation than having actual punches coming at you and dealing with a ‘real fight’ situation. However, too much ‘hard sparring’ can be counter productive to learning and building confidence. If the threat of getting hit by a big punch is there, we are understandably more reluctant to try something new!
Develop your technical skills and build confidence from ‘technical sparring’, setting conditions where the two boxers are only allowed to throw certain punches. This allows the boxers to practice new moves and relax while doing it. These moves will then become part of the boxer's repertoire, and something they use instinctively in an actual bout.
Depending on your ability level and level of fitness, build up from 4 to 10 rounds of technical sparring. Vary your sparring partners where possible. This is the most beneficial aspect of training, from building fitness, confidence and developing your skill set. This should be the focal point of all boxing sessions.
Cardiovascular conditioning is crucial to boxing, but gone are the days of long, slow fat burning 10 mile runs wearing army boots! Sprinting replicates a fight perfectly – high intensity, anaerobic intervals, followed by a rest period. Go to the running track and complete 800m (two laps, as fast as possible) to mimick the intensity and duration of a boxing round. Allow a one minute rest before going again. Depending how many rounds you are fighting for, build up to that number of repetitions (i.e. 10 rounds, 10 sprints!).
If you are feeling really brave, go to the treadmill and set the speed and incline to 11 and see how many three minute rounds (one minute rest) you can complete without dropping the intensity!
Punching power can be developed from strength training, and a number of different exercises. But, the most effective way to build power is to simply practice throwing power punches. The heavy bag is made for this. Cut your foot movement down while working the heavy bag, planting your feet for power. Maintain correct technique, twisting from the hips for every punch, and go through the full repertoire of punches, hooks, uppercuts and body punches. Twist from the hips and feet for every punch, and remember, no ‘arm punches’ (where you rely on just arm movement for power = no power!). Between 3-5 punch combinations, use a stiff jab to control the bag (please don’t hug it). Start at 4 x 3 minute rounds and build up to 10 rounds. Watch your punching power, cardiovascular conditioning, and speed grow.
As fantastic as boxing training is for all areas of fitness, stiff shoulders and hips is an extremely common problem for all boxers. This type of training is most definitely ‘new school’ and the polar opposite of the old fashioned 10 mile runs. But it's worth it. By incorporating some mobility training into your routine, you will release muscle fibres that were previously locked up, which will enable you to punch with more speed and power – and most importantly, less effort. The fluidity of your movement will also improve, allowing you to move around the ring and avoid punches more effectively.
Animal Flow training can also be incredibly helpful in improving fitness. This combines ground based movements with elements from bodyweight training to create a tough workout, with an emphasis on core strength, mobility and flexibility – perfect for boxers! The basic forms of Animal Flow are Ape, Beast, and Crab, and all movements and transitions stem from those. In every moving form and transition, the emphasis is on contralateral movement, movement across the body, specific full body stretches that start in an animal form and then move through a wide range of motion. This increases your mobility and flexibility throughout the entire body.
Lloyd Ellett, Welterweight Professional boxer 20-2, British and International Masters Champion, former England International Amateur boxer and Haringey Box Cup Gold Medalist.