Should Boxers Lift Weights?

“Boxers Don’t Lift Weights” - FALSE

A boxer does need to lift, just not like a bodybuilder. Here’s a guide on how to lift weights and maximize performance without becoming big and bulky

Should Boxers Lift Weights?


Lifting weights is definitely the most overlooked component in boxing today.

Due to an outdated stigma that boxers dont lift weights 

There are still tons of old-fashioned coaches who will tell you “Lifting weights will make you big and bulky”

Even though there is tons of recent evidence showing that strength training is an effective way you can increase your power and flexibility while also decreasing your chance of injuries.

The truth is the old-fashioned coaches aren’t fully wrong but they also aren’t fully correct either.

You see, it’s not actually lifting weights that will make you big and bulky

It’s how you lift weights that will decide whether you become big and bulky or remain the same size and become more powerful

So how do you lift weights to get stronger as a boxer, without putting on a bunch of size?

Getting Strong, Not Big

In order to lift weights and increase strength without becoming big and bulky, you need to stop lifting weights like a bodybuilder.

Most people only know how to lift weights like a bodybuilder

The problem is that bodybuilders train purely to make their muscles look bigger, even if they aren’t as strong and functional

So training like a bodybuilder is why the idea of “weights making you big and bulky” is so popular.

But what's the solution to not lifting like a bodybuilder?

Lifting like an ATHLETE

Athletes prioritize functional strength, speed, and agility, as opposed to purely building muscle in order to maximize their performance in their chosen sport. 

While there is a big difference between lifting like a bodybuilder and lifting like an athlete, 

It is important to know that there can be some overlap 

As athletes, there are scenarios when athletes would want to build muscle. 

But this obviously depends on your individual goals, sports demands, and personal preferences.

For boxing, you generally want to increase your speed, power, and explosiveness without having to move up a weight class meaning you dont have to worry about actually building muscle.

Getting Strong, Not Big

So How Do You Lift Like an Athlete Instead of a Bodybuilder?

The proper term for lifting like a bodybuilder is hypertrophy training. 

Hypertrophy training typically means multiple sets of exercises with approximately 8-12 repetitions per set which is optimal for building muscle.

So in-inorder to train like an athlete you want to limit the amount of hypertrophy training and instead focus on strength and explosive training.

What is Strength And Explosive Training?

Strength Training

Strength training is a form of exercise focused on improving muscular strength and power by using resistance. 

It involves performing challenging exercises with progressively increasing intensity, typically in a rep range of 1-6 repetitions per set, to promote muscle growth, enhance physical performance, and improve overall strength.

Explosive Training

On the other hand, explosive training is about doing exercises that help you become faster and more powerful. 

It involves doing movements that require you to generate a lot of force in short amounts of time to improve your ability to move explosively and be more athletic.

How Do You Train For Strength And Explosiveness 


You must know that performing exercises incorrectly can lead to serious injury. 

For this reason, I am only going to make you aware of the different kinds of training and exercises 

Instead of telling you how to do them because when you are learning, you should be supervised by a professional

In order to make sure you are using the correct form to prevent serious injuries that may permanently end your boxing career


If you learn how to properly perform the exercise then this post will give you a full breakdown of how you can create an effective workout routine to maximize your boxing performance

So what are the different kinds of exercises?

Compound Lifts

What is it?

Compound lifts are exercises that work multiple muscles and joints at the same time. They involve movements where different parts of your body, like your muscles and joints, work together.


  • Increased punching power - Compound lifts engage the entire body, including the legs, hips, core, and upper body, resulting in improved force generation for more powerful punches.
  • Enhanced stability and balance - Compound lifts strengthen the muscles responsible for maintaining balance and stability during dynamic movements, aiding in effective footwork and defensive positioning.
  • Injury prevention - Developing overall strength through compound lifts can help improve joint stability and muscular resilience, reducing the risk of injuries during intense training or bouts.


  • Barbell Squats - Targets the lower body, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, improving lower body explosiveness and stability.
  • Deadlifts - Strengthens the posterior chain, including the back, glutes, and hamstrings, leading to increased power and core stability for rotational punches.
  • Bench Press - Engages the chest, shoulders, and triceps, improving upper body strength and punching force.

Kettlebell Training

What is it?

Kettlebell training involves using kettlebells, which are weighted, cast-iron balls with handles. 


  • Improved punching speed and power - Kettlebell exercises such as swings and snatches develop hip explosiveness, translating into faster and more powerful punches.
  • Enhanced core stability - The unstable nature of kettlebell exercises engages the core muscles, promoting better balance, rotational power, and defensive maneuvers.
  • Increased muscular endurance - Kettlebell training involves high-repetition exercises that simulate the demands of boxing, improving stamina during prolonged bouts.


  • Kettlebell Swing - Targets the posterior chain, including the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back, improving hip explosiveness for powerful punches and quick footwork.
  • Turkish Get-Up - Works the entire body, emphasizing core stability, shoulder strength, and overall body coordination, which are crucial for generating power and maintaining balance in boxing.
  • Kettlebell Snatch - Involves explosive hip and shoulder extension, engaging the whole body and enhancing overall power output for punches and footwork.

Resistance Band Training

What is it?

Resistance band training utilizes elastic bands with varying levels of resistance to provide resistance throughout the range of motion. 


  • Increased punching speed - Resistance band exercises mimic the resistance encountered during punches, helping to develop speed and explosiveness in the punching motion.
  • Improved muscular endurance - Resistance band training involves high-repetition exercises that target the muscles involved in punching, enhancing their endurance and allowing for sustained performance throughout a bout.
  • Enhanced agility and footwork - Resistance bands can be used for agility drills, lateral movements, and quick direction changes, improving foot speed, coordination, and defensive capabilities in the ring.


  • Band Punches - Performing punches with resistance bands adds resistance to the punching motion, increasing muscular power, speed, and endurance.
  • Band Rotations - Using resistance bands for rotational exercises strengthens the core and improves the ability to generate rotational force for hooks and uppercuts.
  • Band Lateral Shuffle - Sideways movements against the resistance of the bands enhance footwork, agility, and lateral quickness in boxing.

Plyometric Training

What is it?

Plyometric training involves explosive movements that utilize the stretch-shortening cycle of muscles. 


  • Increased punching power - Plyometric exercises enhance the ability to generate rapid force, translating into more powerful punches and improved knockout potential.
  • Improved speed and agility - Plyometric drills enhance the nervous system's ability to rapidly contract and relax muscles, leading to faster and more precise movements in the ring.
  • Enhanced reactive strength - Plyometrics develop the ability to quickly absorb and generate force, improving the body's responsiveness to sudden changes in direction and counterattacks.


  • Box Jumps - Explosive jumps onto boxes improve lower body power, explosiveness, and reactive capabilities for quick footwork and explosive movements.
  • Medicine Ball Throws - Throwing medicine balls with explosive force enhances rotational power and develops explosive upper body strength for powerful punches and quick counterattacks.
  • Depth Jumps - Dropping off a box and immediately jumping vertically or horizontally upon landing improves explosive power, reactive strength, and coordination for explosive movements in boxing.

Isometric Training

What is it?

Isometric training involves holding a static position without joint movement. In boxing, isometric exercises can help develop muscular stability, enhance isometric strength, and improve body control during punches, defensive maneuvers, and clinches.


  • Increased punching stability - Isometric exercises help develop the ability to stabilize the body during punches, maintaining balance and transferring force effectively.
  • Improved clinch strength - Isometric exercises targeting the upper body and core muscles enhance the ability to maintain a strong clinch, control opponents, and deliver effective close-range strikes.
  • Enhanced core stability - Isometric exercises engage the core muscles, improving stability and rotational power for generating and absorbing punches.


  • Plank variations - Holding plank positions with proper form builds core strength and stability for maintaining a solid base during punches and defensive movements.
  • Wall Sits - Holding a static squat position against a wall strengthens the lower body and develops lower body stability for powerful punches and maintaining balance.
  • Isometric Push-ups - Holding the midway position of a push-up with controlled tension activates the chest, triceps, and core, improving upper body stability and punching strength.

Training Routine

To get noticeable results and have a balance between weights and boxing

You want to lift weights twice a week and have at least a 48 hours period in between each weight session,

1 session focuses on your upper body and the other on your lower body.

With that in mind here’s an example of how you can structure your upper and lower body workouts…

Upper Body Workout

1. Warm-up 

Start with 5-10 minutes of performing a few sets of lightweight exercises targeting the muscles you intend to work on during the workout. For example, if you plan to work your chest and shoulders, you can do light chest presses or shoulder raises with minimal weight to activate those muscle groups.

2. Then Compound Exercises 

Perform compound exercises like bench presses, push-ups, or rows using moderate weights for 3-4 sets of 6-8 repetitions to target major muscle groups of the chest, back, and shoulders.

3. After that Isolation Exercises 

Move on to isolation exercises like bicep curls, tricep extensions, or lateral raises using moderate weights for 2-3 sets of 8-10 repetitions to focus on specific muscle development.

4. Followed by Plyometric Training 

Incorporate explosive movements like medicine ball throws, clap push-ups, or plyo push-ups for 2-3 sets of 4-6 repetitions to improve power and speed in your upper body.

5. Core Exercises 

Finish with core exercises like planks, Russian twists, or medicine ball slams for 2-3 sets of 30-45 seconds each to engage and strengthen the core muscles.

6. Finally Strech 

Conclude the workout with a series of static stretches targeting the muscles worked during the session. Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds and focus on the chest, shoulders, back, and core.

Lower Body Workout | BoxRope

Lower Body Workout

1. Warm-up

Start with 5-10 minutes of performing a few sets of lightweight exercises targeting the muscles you intend to work on during the workout. For example, if you plan to work your legs and glutes, you can do bodyweight squats or lunges with minimal or no additional weight to activate those muscle groups.

2. Compound Exercises

Perform compound exercises like squats, lunges, or deadlifts using moderate weights for 3-4 sets of 6-8 repetitions to target multiple leg muscles and prioritize overall lower body strength.

3. Isolation Exercises

Include exercises like hamstring curls, calf raises, or glute bridges using moderate weights for 2-3 sets of 8-10 repetitions to isolate and strengthen specific leg muscles.

4. Plyometric Training

 Incorporate explosive movements like box jumps, jump squats, or lateral bounds for 2-3 sets of 4-6 repetitions to improve lower body power and explosiveness.

5. Core Exercises

Finish with core exercises such as bicycle crunches, leg raises, or standing cable twists for 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions each to enhance core stability and strength.

6. Stretching

Conclude the workout with a series of static stretches targeting the muscles worked during the session. Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds and focus on the legs, glutes, and core.

Things to Keep In Mind

Resistance and Kettlebell Training

You can still incorporate resistance bands and kettlebell training as alternatives or additions to the upper or lower-body workouts. Generally, you want to put these somewhere in the middle of the workout and aim for 2-3 sets of 6-8 repetitions for each exercise.


I understand Stretching at the end of the workouts can be a pain but it does help improve flexibility, reduce muscle soreness, and promote recovery. 

So make sure to take your time stretching and perform each stretch with the proper technique by avoiding bouncing or jerking movements. 

Stretching should be done in a controlled and relaxed manner.

Adjusting Weights

Remember to adjust the weights and intensity based on your fitness level, 

Also ALWAYS focus on maintaining proper form and technique throughout the workout as opposed to just trying to lift heavier

As lifting extremely heavy is dangerous and if it isn't done properly, it can lead to injuries that permanently end your boxing career. 


Resting for 1-2 minutes between sets allows your muscles to recover, replenish energy stores, and clear waste products. This enables you to lift heavier weights and maximize the effectiveness of your workouts.


Strength training holds numerous benefits for boxers, yet it often goes unnoticed due to the outdated belief that lifting weights will make you “big and bulky” 

In reality, it all depends on how you lift weights and if you are able to lift like an athlete as opposed to a bodybuilder. Meaning you focus on functional movements such as strength and explosive training. Instead of muscle-building/nonfunctional movements such as hypertrophy 

By adopting an athletic approach to lifting weights, you can optimize your strength, your explosiveness, and minimize your risk of injury

To Maximise your overall boxing performance without any risk of becoming “big and Bulky”




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1 comment

Love the content!

Johny June 29, 2023

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