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Running Routines for Boxers

Conditioning plays a significant role in the outcome of a bout, especially when two evenly matched boxers enter the ring. Your training at the gym must be consistent and intense in order to improve your conditioning, but you also have to include running in your routine if you want to take your conditioning to another level. This guide discusses running exercises for boxers.

Why We Run

“Roadwork” is a form of training that emphasizes running and high-intensity cardiovascular activity. Most old-school coaches use this term to refer to a 2- to 5-mile run, but advancements in training have proved that there are more effective ways of doing roadwork. Due to the anaerobic nature of boxing, fast-paced, high-intensity sprints should replace long distance runs several times per week.

Every sport involves aspects of both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. During activity, aerobic exercise uses oxygen as energy. Any type of endurance training is considered aerobic exercise. Examples of endurance training include long-distance running, swimming, and biking.

On the other hand, anaerobic exercise involves high-speed, intense training. Anaerobic exercise uses energy sources within the muscles because your body’s demand for oxygen exceeds the amount of oxygen available. Examples of high-intensity training include sprinting, heavy weight lifting, and jumping rope at a fast pace.

For boxers, sprints parallel the anaerobic aspect of a bout. During an intense fight, your lungs gasp for oxygen and your muscles burn as you throw quick combinations and avoid your opponent's blows. Sprints improve the way your body reacts under this pressure.

Sprints cannot be practiced every day, though, since your body needs time to recover. Low-intensity distance runs are a fantastic alternative for sprints. In addition, long distance runs can help you make weight for an upcoming match.

Former heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano used his pool when training. He would tread water in the deep end of the pool while throwing underwater punches. This exercise improved Marciano’s conditioning, punch fluidity, and power.

Interval Training

Sprinting in a predetermined interval routine maximizes your training. Interval training involves short phases of high-intensity activity, followed by brief periods of rest or low-intensity activity.

Hitting the Track

As a boxer, you should visit the track bi-weekly in order to improve your conditioning. If you have an off-day from sparring, include interval routines into your regimen. Sparring and interval training are the two most intense forms of training for boxers, and require sufficient recovery time.

Repeatedly sprinting the same distance is one of the most basic forms of interval training. For example, try six separate 200-meter sprints. Push yourself to run as hard as possible for the entire distance. A short walk or jog back to the starting point between sprints provides a sufficient rest. Another option is to separate each sprint by a predetermined time. For example, push yourself to recover and start your next sprint in one minute.

Instead of basing your sprints on distance, you can focus on time. For example, do five one-minute sprints. You can measure consistency by tracking how far you travel for each sprint within the allotted amount of time. It is realistic, though, to assume that you won’t make it quite as far for your last few sprints within your routine. You can walk or jog back to the starting point and count this as your rest period. Another option is to separate each sprint by a predetermined rest period.

Pyramid Intervals

Elite athletes also perform what are known as “Pyramid Intervals.” A pyramid interval can be done for time or distance, but requires a great deal of conditioning. Each sprint within the routine is followed by a brief rest period. It’s important to keep rest periods short, but give yourself enough time to recover so that you can run at full speed. Here’s an example of a distance routine – brief rest periods between each sprint are implied:

  1. Sprint 100 meters
  2. Sprint 300 meters
  3. Spring 600 meters
  4. Sprint 300 meters
  5. Sprint 100 meters

The routine is referred to as a “pyramid” because you begin the routine by running a relatively short distance, work your way up to longer distances, and finish by completing a shorter distanced sprint once again.

Here’s an example of a pyramid interval routine for time:

  1. Sprint for 30 seconds
  2. Sprint for one minute
  3. Sprint for two minutes
  4. Sprint for one minute
  5. Sprint for 30 seconds

Likewise, you can rest at your own pace, but try to make breaks short and consistent.

Don’t limit yourself to the distances or times listed in this guide. Be creative, challenge yourself, and vary your routines.

Step Up the Tempo

Inclined surfaces, such as hills or stairs, improve leg power and conditioning when utilized properly.

An inclined surface routine requires the same mental and physical approach as a flat surface routine. An inclined surface increases difficulty, however, so your distance and time should change accordingly. For example, it takes longer to run 200 meters on an incline than on a flat surface, so either shorten the distance or aim for a new, more reasonable time. Do your best to maintain a fast pace.

Rather than using an inclined treadmill, some boxers prefer to run up an outdoor hill near their house. Sprint up the hill as fast as you can, basing the number of sprints on the length of the hill. If the hill is 100 meters, do 6 to 10 sprints. If the hill is 600 meters, then three to six sprints is more realistic. Obviously, the steepness of the hill factors in as well. The walk or jog to the bottom of the hill can serve as your rest.

Additionally, stairs or bleachers are great alternatives for incline training. If you have access to a stadium, you can sprint up the stairs taking quick, precise steps. Walk or jog to the next set of stairs and sprint up that section. Be careful not to trip and fall when fatigue begins to set in.

Don’t Forget the Essentials

All the roadwork in the world won’t make you a great boxer. Roadwork is merely a supplement to your training in the gym. Incorporate roadwork in the morning if you box in the evening, but remember to rest. You body heals faster with sufficient recovery time between each workout.

Also, always stretch before and after any roadwork routine, and include a warm up and cool down that allows your body to adjust.

Roadwork is rarely fun, but has noticeable effects when integrated into an already disciplined training regimen. To find fellow boxers who also practice roadwork, check iSport's Boxer Directory.

Even a skilled and talented boxer struggles if he's out of shape. This guide explores useful running routines for dedicated boxers.
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