Boxing will increase your functional strength but it certainly won’t turn you into a weightlifter. The key characteristics of a boxer are explosiveness, athleticism, and movement. Not raw power. So if your goal is to lift heavy and feel strong then boxing will almost certainly do nothing to benefit you. However, if you want to be able to fight, stay lean, and develop good functional strength, then boxing can do wonders.
While your lifts may not increase, your general movement, core strength, and explosiveness will almost certainly increase. This means that you’ll have increased functional strength and you’ll become much stronger for your weight. In real life, this will translate into speed and fluidity. Plyometrics and bodyweight exercises will feel natural and you’ll be limber and explosive. But not strong. At least not in the traditional sense.
Boxing Strength vs Gym Strength
Everyone knows that people who lift weights on a regular basis are strong. This is because they intentionally use muscular hypertrophy so that they increase the size and strength of specific muscles in a particular fashion so that it looks aesthetically pleasing. This means that their muscles are larger and stronger than they were before because they targeted their muscles with exercises until they reached muscular failure. This causes the muscle fibers to become thicker and thus stronger.
Boxing strength doesn’t work like this. Functionality comes first so having a big chest and arms isn’t really a priority. Instead, much more work will be done to improve core strength. This means that compound movements will typically be a fighter’s strong point while they may struggle with isolated movements. So while fighters will be able to create explosive movements and throw hard punches, they won’t be much good at lifting weights in isolated movements. For instance, bicep curls or lateral raises.
Will Boxing Increase Muscle Mass
Minimally. And that’s assuming that you’re not already in shape. For someone who is already fit and healthy, the aesthetic benefits of boxing will barely be visible. In fact, if you’re already in shape and carry a good amount of muscle, boxing could be bad for your physique. This is because boxing involves so much cardio that it will naturally slim down your frame.
However, if you have little to no muscle mass, you can expect some increases from boxing training, particularly if you focus on plyometrics and bodyweight exercises like pull-ups and push-ups. You can expect to gain a lean, toned physique from boxing, but not a large one.
You see many professional boxers with particularly impressive physiques. They will be fit and in shape but they will usually only have functional amounts of muscle mass. Heavyweights are the most muscular boxers that you’ll typically find but even then, they usually aren’t very aesthetic. Look at Tyson Fury for instance.
Why Boxing Is Good For Developing Functional Strength
Boxing is so good for developing functional strength because everything is linked. What I mean by this is that fighters will use the entirety of their body in order to produce the best result. This means the form is often quite the opposite of what you’ll be taught when weightlifting.
Whenever you’re weight lifting, you’ll want to have slow, controlled, isolated movements repeatedly. This means that your individual muscles are incredibly strong. However, if you don’t work on compound movements, you’ll find yourself becoming stiff and struggling with strength-related exercises that require several muscles. Whereas in boxing, movement, and functionality are prioritized.
So while fighters may not be particularly strong in individual exercises, they will often prove to be strong in practical situations. People also often say this about farmers and old men who’ve worked for a lifetime. This is because their job has required them to be strong which has made them so functional despite usually being out of shape.
Why Boxers Need To Be Strong
Boxers have to be strong because the sport is so physically demanding. Where strength is particularly important is in the clinch. The clinch is where the two fighters are almost grappling with each other in close quarters. Here, strength and size will become apparent as the fighters will lean on each other and use their weight and strength to hurt their opponent.
Having a strong core is also incredibly important for fighters as it is the connective tissue between the power generated by your legs and your arms through which the punches are delivered. If you have a weak core, you won’t be able to link your punches which will mean that you’ll only be punching with your arms resulting in a weak punch.
The other body part that needs to be particularly strong in boxing is the neck. Obviously, you want to avoid absorbing punches but that is part of the game and if you don’t a strong neck, you could be more susceptible to knockouts and whiplash. Having a strong neck will prevent your head and thus brain from rocking so much when you absorb a punch meaning that you’ll be more likely to remain conscience. Having a strong neck can also prevent you from suffering from injuries like whiplash as well you keeping you well-planted and stable in the ring.
Do You Need To Be Strong To Produce Knockouts
One of the biggest misconceptions people is that knockout artists are inherently strong. This is completely incorrect, knockout artists hit hard because of a variety of factors. Firstly, knockout artists will typically have speed behind their punches allowing them to land quickly without their opponents noticing. It’s always the punch that you don’t see coming that knocks you out.
Secondly, the power behind a punch will largely be down to your technique and the type of muscle fibers you possess. If you have fast twitch muscle fibers you’re going to be more powerful but fatigue quicker whereas if you have slow twitch muscle fibers you’ll be able to keep the pace for a longer amount of time but you won’t be as powerful. This is purely genetic.
Lastly and most importantly, the power of your punch will be strongly linked to your weight. Heavier people hit harder hence why there are more knockouts in the heavier divisions.
How Boxing Makes You Strong
Not only will boxing increase your physical functional strength but it would also greatly benefit your mental fortitude. I can’t think of many things that are better for mental toughness than boxing. Combat sports are the most demanding in the world, which is a bold statement but I stand by it. The determination and grit required to box is something that most people do not possess.
The sport pushes you to your limits both physically and mentally and you need a big heart if you want to box competitively. Honestly, I don’t think it’s comparable to weightlifting. I have a tremendous amount of respect for weightlifters and bodybuilders but fighting is a completely different level of strength. If you’ve never boxed before, head down to your local gym and have a sparring session I guarantee you’ll have a newfound respect for the strength that fighters possess.