Fitness can win fights. Beyond the ring skills and whatever natural talent is possessed, often the fighter who can dig deepest is the one who comes out on top.
Boxing is the toughest and most demanding sport in the world. The daily training routines that a fighter goes through are already physically and mentally testing.
But there are specific training methods that can help boost a fighter’s fitness levels even further for entering the ring.
BOXRAW outline 10 of the best boxing cardio workouts that will help to improve overall fitness.
Boxing Cardio Workouts
Skipping has always been one of the main boxing cardio workouts for fighters throughout the history of the sport. While jumping rope can be utilised as a warm-up or cool down, it’s another great way to improve boxing fitness.
Workout: Using a Sokodu Speed Rope, skip at a steady pace for 15 seconds. Then increase the intensity by doing double-unders (or doubles) for the next 15 seconds. Slow it down for another 15 seconds then continue this interval drill for a three-minute round. If you can’t yet do doubles then simply skip faster with high knees for those quicker bursts.
A great boxing workout which has become popular in recent years is the use of battle ropes. These can help improve overall fitness levels and also condition the upper body, which is important for any fighter.
Workout: Take hold of the battle ropes and place your feet shoulder width apart so you have a solid base. To get the most out of this boxing workout, a fighter should push themselves to the limit for 30 seconds before taking a break in their set. The aim is to make a wave motion from your end of the rope to the other with the driving force from your arms. This can be done through alternating waves with each arm or double-arm waves.
There are certain aspects of training that fighters enjoy and others they don’t. Burpees are part of the latter for the majority. Burpees aren’t the most popular boxing workout but they are great for fitness and give the whole body a strong workout.
Workout: Add in bag work with burpees to help build greater stamina for boxing. Begin with one minute of burpees, followed by one minute on the heavy bag, then finish with another minute of burpees. Aim to do at least 32 burpees within each minute and maintain a steady output when punching the bag. These can be done as boxing workouts at home too.
As well standard treadmills, many boxing gyms today will have assault bikes as another means of increasing fitness in fighters. This is a great training method for boosting fight endurance and many top champions such as Tyson Fury have been regularly seen preparing for fights this way.
Workout: One of the most powerful tools for boxing cardio workouts, the assault bike has been a proven method of building stamina. Beginning with a three-minute set, push at a steady pace for 20 seconds before a 10-second burst of maximum output. Continue this routine for the entirety of the round and for however many sets are chosen.
Fights aren’t always just all-action or tactical stand-offs. Throughout the course of a match-up in the ring, the intensity will be constantly shifting. Bag intervals are a great boxing workout to help prepare for this.
Workout: Lightly tap the bag for a short period of time then unleash nothing but power shots in another short burst for the same amount of time. Start with 15 seconds of light punches then 15 seconds of all strong shots for a three-minute round.
Roadwork is essential for all boxers in order to help build their engine for fight night. But adding in weekly sprints as high-intensity training can be a huge advantage on top of the steady miles as well. Whether it’s on the treadmill, space within the gym, on the roads or up hills, sprints will help increase the ability to dig deep in the ring, as they directly translate to the changing pace of a fight.
Workout: Various times and sets can be done on a weekly basis for sprints. The key is to push yourself in short high intensity bursts followed by short breaks for the duration of an entire round or set. A simple way to do this is to sprint for 20 seconds then rest for 20 seconds for a three-minute round, for as many rounds chosen. These can be added into your usual roadwork, by simply sprinting at certain periods during the course of a three-mile run to increase intensity and heart rate.
Similar to the strenuous output that the assault bike or sprints require, the prowler is another way of really pushing yourself to the limit. While often used as part of a strength and conditioning routine, the prowler is another beneficial boxing cardio workout as well.
Workout: Within the gym or outdoor space, push the prowler as hard and fast as possible for 30 seconds straight through. After this high-intensity burst, have 30 seconds of rest to recover before pushing again for another 30 seconds. Continue this routine for a three-minute round and for the chosen amount of sets.
Sparring With Short Breaks
All the best drills and training methods can be utilised throughout training but, when it all comes down to it, there’s nothing better than sparring for fight preparation. Fighters at any level can relate to there being different levels of fitness; generally fit and fighting fit. To get to the latter stage and be able to perform in the ring, sparring rounds in the gym is the best practice.
Workout: Being able to bite down on the gum shield and dig deep through hard rounds is the perfect preparation for climbing through the ring ropes for an upcoming fight. Of course, not all rounds have to be frequently tough, but those hard sessions are what builds a better engine and mindset for fight night and adding in shorter 30-second breaks instead of one-minute breathers can help increase the intensity even further.
Medicine Ball Throws
There are many boxing exercises that can be done through the simple use of a medicine ball at home or in the gym. As well as building strength and explosiveness, this classic piece of equipment can be utilised as a boxing cardio workout too.
Workout: There are various ways to get the most out of a medicine ball for boxing. But medicine ball throws are highly effective for improving both fitness and conditioning. Get started by standing several feet away from a solid wall, which will act as your target. With your feet should width apart, shift your weight on to your right leg and throw the medicine ball at the wall with both hands. Collect the medicine ball immediately and throw again from your left side, after shifting weight on to your left leg. Carry out this routine for fast bursts of 20 seconds, followed by 20 seconds of rest, for a full three-minute round.
Sledgehammer Tire Slams
An old-school method of building knockout power for boxing, sledgehammer tire slams are hugely effective for overall fitness as well. The energy exerted when slamming the sledgehammer will help generate more rotational power for punching but also improve endurance.
Workout: Standing directly in front of the tire on the ground, lift the sledgehammer above your right shoulder and slam it down on to the tire with full force. Use the bouncing momentum from the impact, lift it again above your left shoulder and slam down again. Carry this out for bursts of 30 seconds, with 30 seconds of rest, for a full three-minute round.
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