A Look Inside Boxing Training

Boxing Team Training from Lisa Creech Bledsoe on Vimeo.

The above is a short video with some clips from our boxing team training sessions. (I have one tiny cameo on the speed bag: I’d like to thank the Academy). There’s some nice sparring footage at the end — the guy with no shirt is Will, one of our pro boxers, working with some of the other guys on the team.

Probably one of the most-asked questions has to do with how I train. This post is a longish answer to a short question, and it doesn’t address the way I eat, but I’ll get to that in a future post.

How many hours?
I work out with my boxing team twice a week for two hours each time, and I work out on my own another four times a week for an hour. That’s about eight hours per week of hard workout time. You can certainly get in shape with much less, but 8 weekly hours of training is critical if your goal is to go a few good rounds. It’s amazing how much power and energy — not to mention mental fortitude and focus — it takes to box three rounds of three minutes each.

This is totally my own invention, so buyer beware. I try to focus on four areas in my training: Form, Aerobic, Strength, and Timing. I have specific goals in each area, and I do whatever it takes to meet those goals.

The thing that helps me most here is shooting video of myself, particularly in the ring or on the heavy bag. Then I can really see what my trainer is saying to me over and over and over again (sorry Bonnie) and practice to correct it. My current top goal here is to keep my guard up higher in the ring, rather than dropping my gloves when I throw punches or when I’m fatigued.

Boxing goes nowhere without great cardio or aerobic training. In fact our trainers will sometimes tell the guys to decrease weights in their strength training; you want to be powerful but also light and fast. We go through dead-rotten cardio workouts as a team; we do more of that than anything else. The win here is in interval training. Nobody cares if you can run five miles, what you need to be able to do is sprint hard for three minutes, recover in one minute, sprint three more minutes, recover, sprint three more. Everything is in in the standard boxing round of three minutes, and whatever you do cardio-wise, you need to be able to do it hard and fast for at least that long. I do intervals on jump rope, running, rowing, or elliptical every time I work out. When I do two sets of 15 cardio minutes in a single workout on my own, I try to do one near maximum heart rate (for me, about 180 bpm) and one at 60-80% of that rate. But when I train with the team I’ll do much more than that.

I do some arm, shoulder, chest, back and ab exercises in almost every workout, typically with light weights and high reps. I have my favorites but try to mix it up so that I get good overall strength. I’m not a huge “exercise toy” person, but our gym has several of the CrossFit tools (the long heavy rope, kettleballs, etc.) and we use them in team training. I don’t currently do many leg exercises other than my aerobic training, although I’ve been adding lunges recently because the coaches are calling for millions of them during training and my quads lock up if I haven’t been doing any. This equals misery for two days following, but I’m getting up on the curve.

This is primarily work I do on the speed bag, half bag, and double-end bag. Timing is area is where I suck the most, no lie. I couldn’t see a punch coming if I got four emails in advance. My trainer says this just takes long, long practice and experience in the ring. Meanwhile, watch me eat punches.

How do you have time for that??
Truthfully, boxing is the only “other” thing I do. I work full time and I’m a mom. Pink mold has a permanent home in my shower stall. About twice a month I attend late, late rock gigs after my kids are in bed, during which have a few drinks, sing my heart out, dance, and drag my sorry ass in at 3 am, hoping I’m not too tired to box the next day.

, , , , , , , , ,

12 Responses to A Look Inside Boxing Training

  1. Tom June 24, 2010 at 8:56 am #

    Dear Lisa: I like the F.A.S.T. thing. This may come in handy when you start the “motivational speaking” part of your career (which, if its as good as your writing should be great!) Excellent advice.

    At the risk of messing up the acronym, you might consider adding an “R”. All athletes (especially newbies) tend to train by the old adage: “If a little is good, more must be better.” And, that’s true up to a point. Adequate rest/recovery between bomb sessions is important too. Sometimes taking a few days off (eh ghads!) is the ticket to stronger legs. (Especially for the 40+ crowd.) Sometimes I do this on a 4 week cycle. Train progressively harder for 3 weeks; then go lite in the 4th week. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

    The “R” word is also a mental game. How can I be improving when I’m resting? My opponent is probably bench pressing a Ford F-150 right now while I’m getting a massage. Am I getting soft? Don’t get fooled. Your muscles break down in the ring. They grow stronger while you sleep.

    What about F.A.S.T.E.R.?
    Energy (or something else with an “E”)

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe June 24, 2010 at 9:22 am #

      Outstanding addition, Tom. The “rest and recover” lesson is one I only learned in the past year or so.

      One day I went to get my body fat percentage (http://www.theglowingedge.com/fat-vs-muscle-its-gonna-be-a-showdown/) and was talking to the guy there about how he is able to win so many marathons.

      He gave me a one-word answer: rest. He said ANY time he has a big test of his skill and endurance coming up (a “bomb session” as you so perfectly put it) he is adamant about resting beforehand. Total rest. He cited watching TV while his friends do “light” workouts. He said his friends think he’s crazy until he wins at the end of the week!

      I find this is especially true with regard to weight training. You literally tear down muscle fiber during training, which needs time to rebuild into your new, stronger muscle fiber.

      Since I know I’m going to be in the ring every Friday, I weight my workouts toward Sun-Mon-Tue-Wed. Then I take every Thursday completely and totally off so that I can perform well Friday night.

      I totally dig your “hard for 3 weeks, lite for 1 week” plan. My body can’t sustain the “always in high gear” mode, and this gives me a better way to plan for and support my training.

      Great comment. Come back and visit again!

  2. Tom June 24, 2010 at 11:05 am #

    Yes! I was thinking the same thing…. “E” for Eat Right.
    Work + Food + Rest = Performance
    And who says I wasn’t paying attention in physics class!

    For most fitness/boxing junkies “Work” is the easy part of the equation. We love the gym. We like to sweat. “Rest” is the trickiest part especially if you have a demanding day job, a spouse, and kids. I have three girls (ages: 5, 4, 2) and I feel like I won the Lotto if I get one or two complete night “sleeps” during the week. Too much “Work” without enough “Rest” can lead to injuries and diminished performance. So, like everything, the trick is finding the balance.

  3. niamh August 22, 2010 at 5:29 pm #

    Looking good on the bag! And would agree with what you’re saying above with Tom about complete rest before intense competition. It really makes a difference, as long as you’re sure you trained well and are happy with what you’ve done.

  4. Tom August 24, 2010 at 8:58 am #

    Yes… and rest is part of the mental side of training. Our brains (and egos) equate progress with action and work. If I train just a little harder, do more push ups, run one more mile, then I’ll reach my goal. Sometimes the best thing a warrior can do is sit in silience. Sometimes this takes more strength than anything else.

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe August 24, 2010 at 10:03 am #

      “Sometimes the best thing a warrior can do is sit in silence. Sometimes this takes more strength than anything else.”

      I love this; I had to write it on a post-it and stick it on my monitor.

      As a “type-A” person, I definitely need reminders about the practice of silence and stillness, and how they do not negate, but rather require, strength.

      If you ever feel moved to write up a blog post Tom, let me know. I’d love to post it here. niamn just did one on Boxing and Brains: http://www.theglowingedge.com/boxing-and-brains

  5. Tom August 24, 2010 at 9:04 pm #

    Sure…. I’d love to write a post for TGE! FYI… partially inspired by your blog I’ve recently started my own blog. One.More.Notch.

    I’m new to the blogosphere so I don’t really know what I’m doing. But, I can write something interesting from time-to-time. By the way, I gave TGE a shout out and link in my past blog posting. Welcome your comments, thoughts.

  6. austin foden October 9, 2010 at 4:00 pm #

    I what to be in boxing. i love it. i work hard and i’m good at boxing i what to be in boxing so bad………

  7. Amy Scheer April 1, 2011 at 3:32 pm #

    Thanks for pointing me to this post, Lisa, after I risked sounding like the person who shows up at a site and asked to be spoonfed. This is good, and a good reminder to me to keep working on the c-v endurance (my weak spot). I can’t let go of my heavy weights, but I think all will even out in the end.

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe April 1, 2011 at 4:04 pm #

      Honestly, Amy, I’ve moved toward heavier weights myself. I know you are a weightlifter, and in the two years since I wrote this post I decided to begin building some muscle mass myself. And yes, every boxing trainer will tell you “use big weights!” or “never use big weights!” but the fact is there’s a happy middle. A bodybuilder or champion weightlifter will be after different goals than a boxer, but a boxer can certainly work to build muscle. Build on your strengths!

      • Amy Scheer April 2, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

        Yep, it will be a long while before either of us is “muscle bound,” the big fear. I take refuge in the fact that when I look at pro women boxers my size, they’re often shaped like me. Now if I could only get that speed/agility/power stuff down, I’ll be good to go!

        All the best to you as you continue to figure this stuff out, both inside and outside the ring.

Leave a Reply