How Do Boxers Build Stamina?

In boxing and other combat sports like kickboxing, Muay Thai, and MMA, fighters need to have great stamina.

So, how do boxers build stamina? Well, there are many ways that we’re going to cover in this article.

The obvious ways are through boxing training such as heavy bag and pad work, running, jumping rope, and other high-intensity sessions.

The key thing is consistency, you can’t train six days one week and then only once the following. It takes time to increase your stamina, being patient whilst training enough times per week is vital.

Jumping Rope

Boxer Jumping Rope in a Gym

The question of why boxers jump rope comes up often with beginners and those that have never boxed. There are many reasons which we’ve written about in a separate article and one of the main reasons is to build stamina.

Jumping rope is usually a part of the warm-up in a boxer’s training routine and they’ll do this for between 15 and 30 minutes.

To push the limits to increase boxing stamina, you can skip faster with high knees for one minute and then back to normal speed for 30 seconds.

This is a great way to not only improve your stamina, but it’s also great to condition your body for boxing.

Heavy Bag Work

Heavy bag work is essential for all boxers, you should be training on it every time you’re in the gym. The heavy bag is great for learning combinations, but it also helps to build stamina too.

The way to do this is by putting all your effort into hitting the punching bag for two or three minutes and then resting for one minute. If you’re not going at it with 100% of your energy, then it’s going to take longer to have resilient stamina.

Tony Jefferies explains in this video a great heavy bag workout to increase your stamina.

HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training)

High-Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT for short, has become very popular in the past 5-10 years. This is partly down to people having less time in the day to work out.

Even before it became mainstream, boxers were using HIIT to help build stamina. As is explanatory in the name, it requires you to work at a high intensity for a period and then switch back to a normal pace or take a short break.

Boxing HIIT contains sprints, circuit training or to mix up your training from running either the use of an exercise bike or rowing machine.

The aim is the same whichever you do, to elevate your heart rate above 90% of the maximum heart rate and keep this up for the set time.

Running (Roadwork)

Man Running on Beach

Running which is also known as roadwork is a big part of boxing training that helps to build stamina. You don’t need to be running every day, but it’s good to be doing this at least three times a week.

Recent studies show that running can cause stress on the body if overdone. The same investigation from the Pit Journal explained the many benefits of running too. For example, it can help with anxiety and depression. Many boxers still add it into their training regime due to the physical and mental benefits it brings.

You don’t need to run for miles like a marathon runner, but running 5-10km, based on your fitness level, is a good distance. This, along with the other methods we’ve listed will help to increase your stamina in the ring.

Hill Sprints

We’ve already mentioned sprints when talking about HIIT, but we’ll touch on it again now looking at hill sprints.

More boxers now prefer hill sprints to roadwork as it’s more intense. When a boxer is a few weeks out from a fight, they’ll usually add sprints to their program as it’s key for anaerobic conditioning.

Sparring

Sparring is one of the best ways to build stamina as a boxer as it replicates the same length of time as in a real fight.

You might not spar for 12 rounds every time, but even if you do fewer rounds of three minutes, this will help your body get conditioned for the real thing.

Sparring won’t be 100% of your output as you’re not aiming to knock out your sparring partner. But, by sparring, you’ll understand if your stamina is at a good level already or if you need to improve.

If you’re a perfectionist, like many boxers, then you’ll always want to be getting better no matter your current level.

Pad Work

Like working out on the heavy bag, training with your coach with boxing focus mitts is something you should be doing in each session.

Pad work puts your entire body to work as you need to jab, cross, hook and uppercut all at a fast speed. Plus, you’ll need to duck and dodge the pads coming at your head and body.

A good way to increase stamina with pad work is to maintain a high number of punches for three minutes along with one-minute rest.

Shadow Boxing

Shadow boxing is another key part of the warm-up before getting on the pads or heavy bag. It’s not always seen as being intense as many boxers use it to perfect combos and practice defending too.

But, if one of your goals is to improve your stamina and you’re bored of running and other training, you can up the intensity when shadow boxing.

Again, do this for the same amount of time as a round in boxing so you can gauge your fitness level.

Some people will even shadowbox with weights to make it harder. But you don’t want to go above 2kg as you’ll risk getting injured.

A shoulder injury could keep you out of training for a while so we advise against it if you’re trying to build stamina with shadow boxing.

There are more shadow boxing benefits that we haven’t mentioned here but you can read about them via that link.

More Cardio

Running and jumping rope aren’t the only cardio exercises that you can do as a boxer to increase stamina.

If you enjoy swimming, cycling, or even rowing then why not add these to your training regime. No matter the sport, the key is to push your body to its limits so it can do more in the future.

What we would say though, is not to make these other cardio-focused exercises the only ones you do in a week. Use them as a way to mix up your training say on the weekend or one session a week.

Summary

Building stamina as a boxer is one of the hardest things to do, especially for beginners.

This is why it’s important to mix up how you aim to build stamina to keep your training varied.

Instead of only long runs, why not add hill sprints or HIIT circuits to your training?

Then, the other way you’ll naturally build stamina as a boxer is by heading to the gym enough times a week.

In every session you should be warming up with shadow boxing, jumping rope, and then pounding the heavy bag and pads with your trainer.

It’s important to find a good sparring partner too that can take as much as they give. This is the closest you’ll come to a real fight so increasing your stamina via this is crucial.

With all this boxing training to build stamina, you’ll need to make sure you’re fuelling your body with the right foods. See our boxer’s diet plan to see what we recommend for all meals of the day, plus healthy snacks.

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