There will always be days that you want to quit, that you will question if its all worth it and you’ll want to give up. Remember that these are the days that count the most. If you choose to miss a day because you have no drive, that’s the day you start losing, that’s the day the people who doubt you are proven right and the beginning of your defeat. If you’re like me than you find it hard to stay positive and try to seek inspiration where you can. Everyone has a lot of role models, many have successful celebrities. Although I have my celebrity role models, a fitting one being the great Muhammad Ali, I see soldiers as some of the best role models. If you can stare near defeat in the face and say I can do this than you’ve got that much more drive than the one who says lets call it a day. The key is to picture your goals and think of how your’re going to reach it. When you doubt yourself picture what you’re doing a remember why you’re doing it we all have our reasons. Whether it’s boxing related or not that’s a key thing to remember in life. Prove the people who doubt you wrong but more importantly, prove yourself wrong. You can do it.
When it comes to training, obviously practice makes perfect. You won’t become a champ overnight. When it comes to training you may not necessarily always have someone there with you to do pad work or to guide you. Because of this the bag is your best friend. He’s an inanimate object, you can’t hurt him, you can’t tire him and you can’t break his will. because of this the bag is one of your best training partners! I love the bag because you can’t get personal, you can unleash all your aggression and it isn’t going to hold a grudge against you where as you can’t unleash a relentless barrage against a light sparring partner. In addition to this, you can practice near enough any punch on a bad and due to there being so many different types you can master any technique. As well as the punch bag you can also put in some work on a speed bag. For those who do not know what this is it’s the small tear drop shaped bag that hangs from the side of a wall and you rapidly punch it in circular motions to help increase your hand speed.
To better show how to use a speed bag here is a clip of World champion ex-boxer Floyd Mayweather Demonstrating how to use one to increase hand speed:
Unless you’ve become Muhammad Ali over night or your opponent is abysmal, there will be times when you’re sparring or fighting that will require you to take a defensive stance as oppose to an attacking one. The basics are common sense, if you don’t want to take a heavy blow to the face you have to keep your hands up by your face to take the brunt of an impact. However, there’s more to it than this, you have to be able to bob and weave your opponent, to do this you need a good core as you will have to engage your whole body to move and avoid a blow. If your opponent is going for a body shot and it’s inevitable that it’s going to make contact than the best thing to do is to tuck your arms in tight to the body and twist your upper body so that your arm takes the blow instead of your stomach, which can in many cases be more serious than a hit to the face. In addition to this, if your opponent is lunging for a hit than you can put your glove out to contact it and divert the blow, resulting in the hit either missing or having the power removed from it. As seen in the picture above showing one of Ali’s many famous fights, he isn’t holding his hands up but this can be excused because of his speed and reaction times, if you have the speed to lean back or duck under a blow without being hit than you don’t need your hands up although for anyone other than pro’s I wouldn’t personally recommend it. With bobbing and weaving the key is to keep moving and bouncing around to dodge punches, and wait until your opponent leaves his or herself undefended momentarily and weave a hit to make contact.
To show how to successfully avoid punches, watch this clip of Muhammad Ali dodging 21 punches in 10 seconds showing textbook expertise in the art of avoiding punches:
Last time we covered the basics and how to build from the ground up with basic jabs and punches. This week we’ll build up on that and concentrate on hooks and uppercuts. As said last week, they key to learning these quickly and effectively is to start slow, forget about applying power to the swing and slowly build up the speed, adding the strength and power as you go.
If we start with the uppercut, the best way to get to grips with this punch is to take up the basic boxing stance discussed last time. Following from this you’ve got to consider what hand you’re throwing the punch with. If its your leading hand, your jab hand, that you’d drop your arm and rapidly bring it up with the aim of either sustaining a blow to your opponents stomach or head. As you raise your arm up you’d twist your front foot out slightly but quickly as it allows you to twist your body more, allowing a faster and more powerful punch. Its the same with your other hand although it’ll most likely be much more powerful, given that you twist the back foot out to allow the body to twist providing more power to the swing. An uppercut is arguably the most important punch when you’ve got your opponent against the ropes and you can unleash a barrage of blows to both the stomach and head while they try and protect themselves. Even if they put their arms around you to limit how many punches you can throw, it’ll be easier than a hook to successfully land a hit as you can go up the middle between the arms and hit critical areas.
Similarly to this, a hook is another type of throw that can have effective results on an opponent. It follows the same principle of the uppercut, if you’re swinging with your jab hand, you swing your arm out and twist the corresponding foot to allow more strength in the swing, if it’s your rear hand than you swing forward while twisting the rear foot. It’s best to try and keep your elbow bent at about 90 degrees, keeping your hand at shoulder height while throwing a hook as this will allow you to target either the body or the head, which ever is less protected and more vulnerable.
To show how effective uppercuts and hooks can be, here are 10 expert examples of world champion boxer Mike Tyson showing how they can be applied to devastate and knockout any opponent, arguably much more effective than any jab or cross:
When you think of the idea of hitting something or someone you probably don’t consider how to punch, you just do it. The problem here is a lot of people don’t know how to, and make a fool of themselves. If you can’t throw a punch correctly then this is where you need to be! We’ve covered a lot of cardio and gym workouts so far so that you can build yourself up but now we’ll delve into the fighting side of the sport. If we use my boxing club, Essex University Amateur Boxing Club, as an example, the first thing you do when you arrive for the session is a tough twenty minute warm up, this will consist of basic yet vital stretches and exercises such as jogging, short 20 second intervals of sprinting, press ups, sit ups and frog jumps. Regardless of what you are focusing on for that particular session it is vital that you include a full body warm up session before hand. After this you’re ready to get into the actual training. When throwing a punch it is vital that your footing and posture is correct. If it isn’t you’re either going to knock yourself off balance with the impact of the punch or you will simply do no damage to your opponent. To stand correctly, stand with your feet shoulders width apart with your front foot facing forward and your back foot outwards, keep your back straight and and your arms tucked in with your fists level with your cheeks. this will maintain your posture and allow you to pop your back and shoulders thus throwing faster punches. It is also important to keep on your toes bouncing and moving around, a moving target is harder to catch! When you go to throw a jab, it is always your hand that isn’t dominant, unless you’re more experienced and want to confuse your opponent. As you punch, keep your elbow facing down as it enables you to pull back your arm quicker to punch again, when you first go the throw the punch you fist should be sideways so your palm is vertical, once it’s extended it should be turned with the palm facing the ground.
Once you’ve grasped how to jab we can then include your dominant hand. The jab is more to keep them on their feet and to break up their defense, your dominant hand will cut them down. To throw this punch correctly once your jab has been withdrawn, twist your body all the way from your shoulder down to your back foot while extending your arm, again twisting your fist as you throw the punch. The tip is to simply carry on doing this until you grasp it, starting slow and building the speed and power up from there as practice makes perfect.
Whether you’re looking to take boxing seriously or just as a fitness hobby, it is important to take the work outside of the gym once your workouts finished! This is done in numerous forms, such as dieting, sleeping and mentality, fitness outside the gym and treating injuries. In this blog we will cover the simple, but important art of sleeping and mentality!
Now if you’re like me than you’re a night owl, a person who simple cannot sleep until its past 1/2 am. If you’re also like me… You hate that fact! Some people don’t get reap any problems with going to bed so early and getting up in 6 or 7 hours time but unfortunately not everyone can be the same. To make sure you get enough sleep and aren’t tired in the morning its important to ensure that you go to bed at a more reasonable time and don’t stay up once in bed. If you get enough sleep than you shouldn’t feel too tired or worn down when you wake up, given you wake up at a reasonable time, around 7-10 am. Not many people will put two and two together but by getting enough sleep you will positively influence your mentality and attitude towards working out, eating healthily and working hard towards your goals, whether they are financial, physical or academic! This is because if you’re getting up after a short night of bad quality sleep than you’re more likely to feel much less motivated to go to gym, will much rather stay in bed for longer and effectively waste more of the day, being much less productive. If you’re awake and refreshed after a long, great quality, nights sleep than you will be so much more likely to get up early, get things done and make sure you get as much productivity out of the day. Even if you manage to get down the gym while feeling fatigued, you’re not going to push yourself anywhere near your personal goals and much the session very productive at all and in terms of boxing or sparring, you will simply not have anywhere near enough energy to get in the ring and throw or take punches!
In essence, remember the importance of getting a good nights sleep as it’ll effect a lot more of the following day than you’d first think!
Just like all muscle groups, it’s important not to forget these muscle groups when you hit the gym! The back and shoulders can be a lot more complex as it consists of many more muscles than other areas of the body. For instance, you have the trapezius muscles which are your shoulders, and numerous back muscles such as the rear, exterior, and posterior deltoids, as well as Latissimus dorsi, much better known as the lats. Other than your legs your back is the most important muscle group located on the body, how else do you stand up straight?
With your shoulders there are numerous exercises you can do. I recommend starting off with some mobilisation warm ups, to do this simply rotate your arms in circular motions, holding with arms just past shoulder length if you have one at hand, this will warm up the lats and traps allowing more mobilisation and less chances of injury. The first shoulder exercise to do would be the shoulder press, you can do this in three ways, either with a cable machine, free weights or a bar. Simply sit or stand and push up with the weights level with your shoulders and push upwards so that your arms are just below fully extended. It is important not to fully extend your arms as serious damage can be inflicted if your elbows give under the stress and flex the wrong way, lets just say you wont be lifting again for a very long time if that happens! After this move onto shoulder raises, these are arguably the easiest exercise for the shoulders. It’s in the name, you hold two weights that are suited to your strength, hold them by your side keeping your arms straight, and then raise your shoulder. Once raised hold the position for a few seconds, then lower back down to the starting position, do this until you fail and are unable to push out another rep. Try to get at least 5 sets of 7 reps before you fail, if not, consider lowering weight. After this you can do arm raises. These will use the same and surrounding muscles as the shoulder raise, buy due to the different nature of the movement you will need a substantially lower weight. Start by holding the weights by your side or at your front, followed by raising your arms so that they’re at 90 degrees to your standing up body. Once again try to do 4 or 5 sets of 7 but carry on repeating the sets until you fail to obtain the best results, remember, no pain no gain!
Once you’ve done this you could move onto the back, the best part to start off with is the lats as it covers the biggest part of the back and contributes most to your back looking like a shield! To get gains in this region start with a t-bar row. To do this simply grab a bar and load it with weight to suit your level of strength. Crouch down in a half-squatting position with the bar in front of you, arms shoulder length apart, and pull the bar up towards your chest, squeezing the lateral muscles when you’ve raised the bar. Try to aim for 4 sets of 8 minimum, raising the weight if you feel you can do more. If you start lifting heavier weight all personal trainers would recommend you use a weight lifting belt to take some stress off of the spine, after all you don’t want time out with a slipped disk now! As well as this you can also go for back push ups as discussed in the previous blog, these work wonders for the lats and should be part of anyone’s gym schedule who’s taking it seriously! As well as these exercises I would recommend most cable machines that work the back, this is because most cable machines can carry out numerous exercises and are excellent for building muscle, although in many cases the free weight version of the exercise is better as it takes out the balance and support provided by the weights being attached to cables, if you’re having to support the balance of the weight yourself than you’re obviously putting in more work which in many cases is more beneficial. In addition to this dead-lifts are also an excellent exercise for the lower back and legs. Simply start in squat position with a weighted bar suited to your capabilities in front of you. Hold the bar at shoulders apart length, and go from squatting position to standing up straight with full extension of the back, it is important that you keep your knees behind your feet to maintain a good posture and avoid injury.
Your back and shoulders are vital for boxing because with a stronger back and shoulders you can pop your punches and bring your arms back faster. With faster. stronger punches comes a better fighter, given the right methods of boxing are used and you don’t just throw your arms around and hope for the best!