Becoming a boxer is not an easy feat. It requires strength, stamina, and agility to move the body quick enough to block, slip and react appropriately. It’s essential that boxers develop their cardiovascular endurance in addition to strengthening the muscles in their upper and lower bodies. Two of the best exercises to condition the body for boxing is skipping and running, as both offer major benefits to outfight and outlast an opponent in the ring.
Walk into a boxing gym and you’ll immediately hear the familiar rhythmic sounds of skipping ropes repeatedly striking the ground. There’s a reason skipping is internationally recognised as a boxer’s key conditioning exercise. Skipping engages the wrists by turning the handles of the skipping rope while focusing on hopping both feet over the rope as it reaches the floor again and again. Speed and other variations can be added to skipping to challenge the body in different ways. Try turning the handles faster, adding a second hop between skips, or getting the rope under the feet twice in one hop. These variations are key to increasing boxer’s ability to time their movements in their footwork and their punches while maintaining balance. Without timing punches in coordination with the correct placement of footwork, empty punches lacking force and power will result.
Ultimately, skipping helps boxers develop the technical footwork vital for ring movement. It’s one of few conditioning exercises that improve both aerobic and anaerobic energy pathways simultaneously as it elevates the heart rate while recruiting several different muscles groups throughout the lower and upper body. Skipping builds speed, quickness in the feet, endurance, and agility.
Running is the most popular form of exercise according to an American study on common exercise habits. Just like skipping, running helps build both physical and mental endurance and stamina, which comes in handy in the later stages of each round. The biggest benefit to running is that it doesn’t require any equipment and can be done virtually anywhere. Although great for stamina as it increases athlete’s aerobic capacities, running doesn’t offer boxers the same technical footwork conditioning that skipping does to improve quickness on the feet.
Long distance runs are responsible for improving endurance, but short duration, high intensity sprinting intervals will recruit the fast twitch muscle fibres to condition the muscles necessary to win boxing rounds. Sprinting strengthens the anaerobic energy pathway that is used during boxing, as muscles are stressed at high intensities for short rounds.
Since both skipping and running offer unique benefits to boxing conditioning, it’s best to include both exercises into your training techniques. However, if time constraints have left the option of choosing one exercise over the other, jumping rope will deliver the sport specific techniques, agility and endurance necessary to dominate the ring.