Boxing requires quick reflexes, anaerobic endurance, power and balance to perform several minutes of striking and maneuvering around your opponent. Since the power of the punches initiates from the rotational movement of your hips and trunk, core strength conditioning is an essential part of boxing training. With some space at home or at the gym, you can perform several exercises that build you core muscles before you begin your boxing drills.
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Functional Anatomy of the Core
When you throw jabs, hooks and uppercuts, your shoulders and arms aren't the only body parts that are working. You must rotate your hips and trunk to provide the power behind the strikes. The core refers to the muscular system in your abdominals, back, hips and parts of your thighs that bridges the upper and lower body. The outer core musculature, which includes the rectus abdominis, buttocks and external obliques, moves your trunk and hips, while the inner core -- the deep muscles in your hips and abdominal region -- stabilizes your body to control your movement, posture and balance. You don't need to consciously tighten or activate your core because it runs on a reflex base, or subconsciously, says physical therapist Gray Cook.
Snapping, Not Crunching
Strengthening your core doesn't mean exclusively performing situps and crunches. Because throwing a punch is a snapping and rotating motion like a whip in a standing position, traditional ab exercises do not train your core to move like the way it needs to in the ring. Train your core in a standing position, or least in an upright right position, such as kneeling. Sample core exercises that simulate a quick, snapping motion include medicine ball rotational throws and chest passes with one hand. If your core is unstable or weak, perform the cable chop and lift exercises in the kneeling or standing position. These exercises work on the rotational movement and build stability in your core.
Chop and Lift with Power
Use a cable column machine for the chop and lift exercises, which serve as a warm-up for more dynamic power exercises. To do the chop, grab the handle of the machine and adjust it to the top height setting. Stand with your feet about shoulder-distance apart, and exhale as you quickly pull the handle down and across your body toward your opposite hip with minimal rotation in your torso. The lift is simply a mirror image of the chop. Set the handle to the lowest elevation, stand in the same position and pull the handle up and across your body to above your head. Perform one to three sets of eight to 10 reps per side.
After your chop-and-lift warm-up, proceed to the main course of your workout. Since boxing alternates between short bursts of power followed by longer periods of lower-intensity activity, perform workouts in the same fashion. For example, perform 10 to 12 seconds of medicine ball chest passes or rotational throws with a heavy ball followed by 30 seconds of jumping rope or lateral hops, with minimal rest in between. This process is repeated for three to five minutes. You may choose other throwing exercises and similar lower-body moves for your boxing workout.