Boxers work tirelessly to be in the best possible shape. When they're in the ring they need to be able to perform at peak physical condition, or they risk getting hit and losing their match. Some of the greatest boxers of all time incorporated push-ups into their workouts, including Floyd Mayweather, who was rumored to have done around 1,300 push-ups per day at one point in his career.
It makes sense that boxers would incorporate push-ups into their workout. Push-ups work some of the same muscles that boxers use to punch such as the chest, shoulders and triceps. Push-ups are also very easy to incorporate into a boxing workout because they can be performed while wearing boxing gloves and the only equipment you need is your body.
Push-Ups for Endurance
Since boxers need to have so much punching stamina, the first thing that they might want to focus on is building up the amount of push-ups they can do in one set. In fact, according to CompuBox, a boxing statistics website, some fighters have even thrown around 150 punches in a three-minute round! Performing sets of push-ups with high repetitions will condition the punching muscles to last longer without losing energy.
To build up endurance, a boxer should focus on doing as many repetitions as possible in a set for two, three or four sets in a workout depending on how much energy he has. The guidelines below show how many push-ups you would need to complete to pass an army basic training test for your age. Use them as a rough guideline for the amount of push-ups you should be able to do in each one of your endurance sets.
- Ages 17-21: 35 push-ups
- Ages 22-26: 31 push-ups
- Ages 27-31: 30 push-ups
- Ages 32-36: 26 push-ups
For females the guidelines are:
- Ages 17-21: 13 push-ups
- Ages 22-26: 11 push-ups
- Ages 27-31: 10 push-ups
- Ages 32-36: 9 push-ups
Push-Ups for Power
While having a lot of stamina in your punching muscles will help in a fight, it's only part of the equation. A boxer not only has to punch a lot, they have to punch hard. Increasing the endurance of your pushing muscles will only get you so far in a boxing match if you don't have punching power.
Push-ups can also be used to develop explosive power if you use the right variations. Clap push-ups are an example of an explosive, or plyometric push-up. If you have trouble performing clap push-ups you can try them with your knees on the ground rather than your feet.
When you start an explosive training program the type of workout that you do will be different from an endurance workout, which involves a high number of sets and repetitions to build as much stamina as possible.
In a plyometric workout, limit the amount of repetitions you do because the exercise will be so taxing on your muscles. You can still do two, three or four sets of explosive push-ups during your workout but limit the number of repetitions in each set to five to 10.
According to a 2015 study in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, judge when your set should end by the quality of your explosive push-ups. If your form starts to break down, or if you start to feel significantly slower, then you should stop the set because explosive push-ups should be done as fast as possible.
Putting It All Together
To get the most out of your push-up workouts they should be spaced out, with at least one day of rest in between. This day of rest will give your muscles a chance to relax and heal from the previous workout.
Even though you use the push-up muscles in boxing training, you can perform push-ups the day after a boxing workout or on the same day as one of your boxing workouts because push-ups work the muscle in a different, more strength-based way.
If you do one day of endurance-style, high-repetition push-ups per week and one workout with plyometric push-ups then you get the training benefits of both types of push-ups with plenty of time to rest during the week. Over time, you can add in more push-up workouts during the week if you notice that you are no longer making progress.
By combining explosive push-ups and higher repetition sets for endurance training a boxer can become more explosive with their punches and maintain that level of explosiveness for longer. Whether you're a professional boxer or simply looking to participate in a local cardio boxing class, push-ups can help improve your boxing game by properly conditioning some of the biggest upper body muscles involved in a punch.