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For 10 years I’ve helped beginners build muscle fast.
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Boxing. The sport that literally turns you into a punching bag but requires you to throw punches back — is fun. Whether you’re Mike Tyson or Tyson Fury, you better be ready to build muscle, lose weight, do a ton of core workouts, and above all, have insane boxing techniques.
Let’s dig in.
Here’s how to get ripped from boxing:
First of All, What Is Boxing?
How old do you think official boxing is? 300 years? 1,000 years? Try more than 200 years old!
The first time boxing appeared as an Olympic sport was in 688 BC at the 23rd Olympiad. No protein shakes back then…
That said, boxing can be found in the scribblings and engravings of people living in 3000 BC. In case you’re wondering if professional boxers were any different than they are today, they were not. In fact, boxing was described as “a boxer’s victory is gained in blood” by ancient Greeks.
The Romans were the first to use a “glove,” and they (obviously) boxed in fights held in the Colosseum. Throwing punches has come a long way since before Christ, and the average boxing session has evolved from a means to just entertain folks to a massive international sport.
Today, boxers earn millions of dollars in revenue, so it’s common practice to have insane workouts to ensure they’re the best fighters around.
Long gone are the Rocky workouts, and in comes the training that’s precise. Foods are measured. Muscle mass is tracked. Everything is to the T.
A good boxer might train up to 20 times a week — spread across cardio, strength training, speed bag work, pad work, and shadow boxing. Yes, boxing has become a full-time job, but you and I can steal some of their high-intensity interval training ideas and use the boxing diet plan…
* Note: I’ve actually boxed semi-professionally. It’s going to suck. Just a fair warning.
Step 1 – Start Boxing Training
Before you even think about setting up a diet plan, get behind a bag and just start punching. Doesn’t matter the speed, rhythm, or velocity. Just start boxing and punching the bag. The sooner you get used to pushing your body past what you feel like, the better.
Done? Feeling like you wanna throw up?
Good. Now, let’s get scientific with it.
The goal of getting ripped is technically not needed in boxing. Sure, the fat mass would make you slower, but it’d absorb blows better. As Tyson Fury has proven time and time again, you can get by with a bit of timber.
That said, if the goal is to get ripped with boxing training — as opposed to an unconventional alternative like rock climbing, for example — you’ll need to ensure you do a bunch of different training styles to ensure you lose body fat and retain lean muscle.
Here are the non-negotiables:
- Strength training: While boxers aren’t the strongest around, doing strength training allows them to retain muscle mass. Make use of compound exercises and aim to make the muscle stronger rather than tiring it out. Track each exercise, and ensure you get stronger in the movement.
- Bag work: Bag work is what boxing training is all about. You have to be boxing, and you won’t always have someone to shadow with. Shadowing is great, but in a pinch, the bag will do just fine (this counts as cardio).
- Bodyweight exercises: Bodyweight training like pull-ups and push-ups isn’t essential to training, in general, but it’ll come in handy as a boxer. It’ll lead you to get to know your own body, and this kind of workout will also increase your cardiovascular capacity.
- Aerobic and Anaerobic Cardio: Two significant terms that basically mean jogging and sprinting. Low for long or high for short.
How many of these would you need per week? It depends! Your recovery capabilities will largely dictate what’s the best split for you.
Start off by doing 2 – 3 strength workouts per week, 4 – 5 bag sessions per week, and 2 – 3 bodyweight or cardio sessions as well.
They don’t all have to be at the intensity a professional boxer would do them. Remember: they do this as a job. You do this because you want to burn calories and lose a bit of fluff.
Be vigilant about your recovery. A full-body workout will beat the crap out of you, whereas training arms might not… If you feel the volume above is a bit much, cut some of it off until you feel your energy levels are somewhat good throughout.
Or, if you feel like doing something other than that, get a boxing coach!
* Note number 2: Boxing coaches have zero mercy. Just a fair warning.
Step 2 – Follow A Boxer’s Diet
The boxing diet is about as clean and precise as well. You’re not about to eat like a bodybuilder, but you sure as hell ain’t going to be surviving on processed foods and sweets.
Like all athlete’s diets, a boxer’s diet is rich in:
- Lean meat (chicken, white fish, beef, etc.)
- High-quality carbs (oats, whole grains, rice, etc.)
- Healthy fats (olive oil, macadamia nut oil, avocado, etc.)
- Plenty of fruits and veggies (leafy green veggies and other colorful options)
- Any other foods that help the athlete perform
- Certain supplements, such as whey protein and creatine (not needed, but they do certainly help — especially creatine!)
Gone are the days of orange slices between bouts. Most boxers have an extremely regimented diet and only eat the best diet possible. Since you have the goal of getting ripped, your diet might be ever so slightly different from that of a “normal” boxer.
When the goal is to strip fat from the body, you’ll need to be in a calorie deficit. This means you need to eat slightly less than what your body needs to sustain your current body weight. Thus, for your body to provide energy to the muscles and organs to work, it’ll need to use stored fat.
For a quick reference, follow the guide below to see how much you need to eat:
|Calories Needed||150 – 250 less than maintenance, which you can calculate here|
|Protein Needed||1 – 1.2g per lb of body weight|
|Fat Needed||At least 0.3g per lb of body weight|
|Carbs Needed||Remainder of calories|
There are many apps that can help you calculate these things and help you track macros and/or calories. However, if you’re in the mood for some math, here ya go:
- Both carbs and protein have 4 calories per gram, while fats have 9.
- Subtracting the calories from protein and fats will tell you how many calories of carbs you still get to eat during that day.
- Dividing the remaining calories by 4 will reveal how many grams of carbs you should be eating.
- And, Bob’s your uncle — macros calculated!
In the beginning, this might be hard to follow, so allow for some wiggle room. Try to be within 10% of all your calculated numbers.
More Diet Tips for Boxers
Now, a boxing diet will also have you eat certain foods at certain times.
Generally, you’ll be following these guidelines:
- Try to consume protein every 3 – 4 hours, as this will help you retain muscle mass (and might even help with fat loss!).
- Eating most of your carbs around your workout might help you have more energy during those sessions.
- Boxing workouts can be hard on the stomach, so try not to eat meals too large before you do intense sessions.
- Try to keep your fat intake lower pre-workout, as this could slow digestion and make you feel nauseous while boxing. For instance, stick to lean meats rather than fatty meats (chicken breast vs. chicken thighs).
- Don’t go to bed starving. Try to eat protein 1 – 2 hours before bed, as it’ll allow you to retain muscle — even a protein shake will do!
- Boxers eat a bunch of fruits and vegetables, as these are high in micronutrients that are essential if you sweat as much as they do.
- How many meals should you eat? Well, it doesn’t matter nearly as much as fitness influencers would make you believe. Ensure you get all your macros in, and if you can, spread protein evenly during the day to allow for the most muscle retention.
- Workouts that can be described as “high-intensity” could benefit from a drink infused with amino acids and easy-to-digest carbohydrates.
- One or two days a week, allow yourself a little treat. Don’t go too crazy, though, as this might undo all the hard work you’ve done in training.
Step 3 – Live in the Boxing World
The easiest way to do something is to obsess….(cue overly attached girlfriend meme from 2012)
Now, I’m not saying quit your job and take up boxing as a job, but live as a boxer would.
Before you pick up a pie, ask yourself, “Would a pro boxer do this?” Before you stay up till 2 AM scrolling on Facebook, again, “Would Muhammad Ali have done this knowing full well his 6 AM training session would suffer as a result?”
A boxing workout can be unforgiving, especially with little rest. What’s more, if the goal is to lose weight, you should be resting even more!
The body will only allow change if it’s in the right environment, and while a calorie deficit is hardly a pleasant experience, an environment that’s too hostile won’t allow for any weight loss.
At the risk of sounding a wee bit direct, the change will be a reflection of how hard you’ve worked. Boxers are some of the most intense athletes on the planet, taking each exercise incredibly seriously. Each push-up counts and each meal is essential.
Thus, the easiest way to lose weight is to approach it as a pro boxer would. Making the necessary changes in your life regarding your workouts, diet, and rest will result in the biggest changes.
What’s the easiest way to do this? Join a boxing gym.
Boxing gyms have grown massively over the past decade, and all other arts of combat have as well! The community in a boxing gym will allow you to pick up tricks of the trade, meet smart people, make great friends, and create unforgettable memories.
Get Ripped from Boxing Conclusion
Boxers aren’t always ripped. Tyson Fury is estimated to have around 20% body fat, and he’s the heavyweight champion. The idea that you will get ripped isn’t true unless you follow the correct diet. Do all the sit-ups you want — it ain’t happening.
To get ripped from boxing:
- Start boxing training.
- Follow a boxing diet.
- Live in the boxing world.
Ultimately, getting ripped comes down to your diet and your ability to train in a manner that will allow for muscle retention and fat loss. That certainly is possible with boxing, granted, you throw in some resistance training — yes, even if it is bodyweight training.
You also wouldn’t want to gain muscle beyond a certain point as a boxer, as that could lead to you being too slow. Training should be a good combination of weights/body weight, cardio, and, of course, boxing!
Get out there and give each boxing workout your all. Be patient with your fat loss, and try to make fitness a big part of your life. There is no best diet nor the best training plan.
There is, however, the best diet and training plan for you. And the only way you’re going to find it is by looking, experimenting, and dodging punches thrown at your noggin’.