If you’re new to the boxing world, you’re likely to wonder how the sport will change your body. It might seem like boxing would be too much cardio to help you gain muscle mass, and depending on what you’re looking to achieve, you’re hesitant to add it into your routine.
But the short answer is that yes, boxing does build muscle.
Boxers want lean muscle mass to develop strength, endurance, and power while also improving speed and agility.
A strong punch comes from the ground up. Strengthening your legs, core, shoulders, and arms using bodyweight will let you gradually increase muscle mass and have control over your progress.
There are ways that you can avoid killing those gains and still enjoy getting punches in. But you’ll want to be strategic so you can build muscle without having weights.
Exercises to Gain Muscle Mass While Boxing
Punching Bag Training
Use a punching bag to your advantage. It will not be the key to building muscle mass, but it helps improve your muscular endurance through repetition.
Some punching bag workouts we recommend include:
- Simple combinations of jabs, hooks, and uppercuts at a slower pace
- Fast punching combinations, hitting as heavy as you can
- Interval training, with high-speed training for 20 seconds and 10 seconds for rest
Along with training like a boxer, you can incorporate speed and strength training through ballistics, plyometrics, and occlusion in your regimen.
Ballistic training helps develop power by using the most force in the least amount of time, releasing that explosiveness into space.
Try including ballistic exercises such as:
- Jump squats
- Kettlebell swings
- Push presses
- Short sprints
- Medicine ball throws
These bursts of exercise should be done with more reps in shorter sets, aiding in the coordination and control of speed.
Also known as power training, plyometrics uses three phases: An eccentric, an amortization, and a concentric component. When combining the movements rapidly, you’re training yourself to boost your power output by 10-15% and enhancing your:
- Landing control and balance
- Change of direction speed
- Dynamic knee stability
- Agility and quickness
- Hitting velocity
Some plyometric exercises you can incorporate are:
- Box jumps
- Squat jumps
- Plyo pushups
- Reverse lunge knee up
Also known as blood flow restriction training (BFR), occlusion training is designed to decrease the amount of time to build strength and muscle. Essentially, this means you’re wrapping a band or cuff around the muscle you’re focusing on, to work out at a lower intensity while still giving your body the feeling of a more challenging workout. This signals your brain to release more growth hormones, although it’s important to properly size and align the band with your body and specific usage.
Tips to Build Muscle While Boxing
While it’s typical to hear that you don’t want to bulk up if you’re getting into boxing because it can hinder your agility, building up muscle is still critical.
- Don’t overtrain your shoulders
- Increase your protein intake
- Add more complex carbs to your diet
- Do weight exercises before cardio
Boxers tend to avoid large muscle gains for several reasons, all of which revolve around maintaining optimal performance inside the ring. Extra weight on the body means you must work harder to move around while boxing, which could slow down movement and decrease agility. Bigger muscles require more oxygen to function, and this could lead to faster fatigue and reduced stamina during bouts.
Agility, speed, and endurance are key attributes for a boxer, and carrying extra muscle mass might hinder these qualities. But as we’ve mentioned, that doesn’t mean you won’t still build muscle through boxing. The training involved in boxing can lead to lean muscle development, contributing to a strong and balanced physique without the bulk.
The benefits of boxing extend well beyond the physical attributes. It's a sport that demands not only physical prowess but mental resilience as well. Plus, it’s fantastic for your mind, whole body, and heart health. The intense cardiovascular workouts associated with boxing can improve heart function and boost overall fitness levels.
The strategic thinking and concentration required for boxing also help in sharpening the mind, improving focus, and building mental strength. The combination of physical and mental training creates a holistic approach to health and wellness, making boxing an effective exercise for those who want to improve not only their physique but their mental strength as well.
If you’re ready to build muscle and get fit through boxing, check out our different membership options! We can help you achieve your fitness goals – let’s hit it.