Strength Training and Striking

Discussion in 'Standup Technique' started by Pugilistic, May 27, 2018.

  1. Pugilistic

    Pugilistic Red Belt

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    I haven't posted in the standup forum for some times but as some of you may know, I trained boxing for quite a while and had a few professional bouts before I retired due to a serious injury. While I was boxing, I lifted weights to assist my boxing training. So I did research and put a lot of thought into how strength training carries over to fighting. Nowadays since I don't training boxing as seriously, I am focused mostly on lifting for general health and to impress the ladies at the beach (I have for compensate for my height). Honestly, I'm obsessed, almost as much as I was obsessed with boxing when I was active in it. So I have been thinking even more about how lifting and fighting are related, hence I made this thread to share my thoughts and questions.

    I follow powerlifting style programs and I have been reading articles and watching youtube videos ad nauseam. I've learned a lot about squatting, deadlifting, and pressing, and realized how counterproductive these movements are to boxing and perhaps striking in general. I'm wondering if I spent too much of my effort training these lifts when I could've been doing something else to make me a better fighter.

    Most of the uneducated populace are impressed by big muscles and assume a jacked dude can fight. Even in this forum, I have seen many threads asking if lifting can give you punching power. Most experience people know that big muscles have very little correlation with fighting prowess, if at all. But it surely doesn't hurt to be stronger. If you have two fighters who are equal in everything else, we can assume the stronger guy would have an advantage.

    There are many ways to strength train, but I tend to think about three "styles" of lifting: powerlifting, bodybuilding, and Olympic lifting.

    Powerlifting
    I've come to the conclusion that to a certain point, deadlifting or pressing heavy weights is not only pointless for fighters, but may even be counterproductive. By watching videos of high level powerlifters (monsters who can lift +800-900lbs) nonstop, I've picked up a lot of different cues and set ups to make lifts more efficient so I can lift more weight. One of the main elements of set ups for all the main compound lifts is that you want to make your body as tense as possible. You want to contract your glutes, your abs, your lats, etc. because any looseness means a loss of power in the movement. You have be tense throughout the movement, which is completely the opposite of what you want when throwing a punch!

    We all know you should snap your punches, not push. And in order to facilitate snapping, you have to be loose until the moment of impact. I was always a bit too tense and my trainer had me do a lot of drills to loosen me up. Being tense would mean you wouldn't be able to fire off your punches as fast and snappy, taking away speed and power. Being tense also spends energy, meaning you'd gas quicker. Learning these lifts may train fighters to contract their muscles when they shouldn't. As a fan of powerlifting myself, I have admit it doesn't seem all that helpful to fighters.

    While I was an active fighter, I did squats, deadlifts, and overhead presses to increase my 1 rep max. My idea was that if I can squat more than my body weight, my opponent, who weighs the same as me, would have a harder time pushing me around on the inside. I certainly did feel the difference in the clinch; I could push around guys in sparring even if they were in a bigger weightclass than me (But, I also have to add that it did not help me against more experienced fighters who knew how to position themselves for more leverage, even if they were smaller).

    I'm not saying deadlifting or squatting should be avoided at all costs. Being strong certainly aids athletic performance, but only to a certain point. That point depends on the sport and the individual. In a sport like boxing, it may also depend on the weightclass. The question is, where is that point for fighters?

    Bodybuilding
    I know less about bodybuilding than I do powerlifting, and I'm a noob at powerlifting. But from what I know about bodybuilding, it seems even more counterproductive than powerlifting. Because the point of bodybuilding is aesthetics, people train more for hypertrophy. They do a lot of reps with more time under tension, meaning they also practice being tense, but for longer periods of time. It seems like an inherently nonathletic activity. The old adage that big muscles make you slow and inflexible isn't true, but they way you train could make you slow and inflexible.

    Now I have to add that there's bodybuilding, and there's "bodybuilding" in the sense most people understand working out. Most people who know nothing about lifting, start off by doing 3 sets of 10 or whatever because they heard it somewhere or read it in a fitness magazine. I started off that way too when I was in high school.

    The thing I would add is that doing more reps for hypertrophy adds to muscle endurance. So a purposeful workout where a fighter lifts a lighter weight for high volume could help with muscle endurance in theory. Although I'm of the personal opinion that simply training more boxing will develop the muscle endurance you need for boxing.

    Olympic lifting
    I also know very little about the details Oly lifting technique but I believe it is possibly the best form of strength training, not just for fighters, but perhaps athletes in general. Because Oly lifting is an inherently an athletic movement for it requires explosive and speed.

    When I think of sports, the movements are dynamic; you have to adjust on the fly to changes in weight, direction, speed, etc. There's running, jumping, throwing, etc. The moments are much more complicated than simply picking up a weight in one direction. I think Olympic lifting is the best way you can stimulate dynamic movements under load.

    Since you are picking up a heavy weight from the ground to over your head, lifters can't just pick it up; they have to jerk the weight up and be loose so it can travel over their head and then tense up at the right moment to catch the bar and hold it above their head. This is much more similar to throwing a punch.

    Now there are other ways to train explosiveness like with plyometrics. You can do box jumps or throw a medicine ball or swing a hammer onto a tire. These are all legitimate ways to train. The thing about Oly lifting is that you can progressively increase the load. A medicine ball can only get so heavy.

    A conclusion?
    When it comes to lifting, Olympic lifting seems to have the best carry over to fighting. Now how much of it will carry over in what ways? I am not exactly sure. It will certainly develop explosiveness which can help in suddenly going in for an attack or change in direction. Theoretically it can add to punching power but I think there needs to be a study on this. From what I know, the soviets implemented oly lift training to all of it's olympic athletes, and to success.

    So how should this be applied to people like us? I think a fighter should have a certain level of strength. Squatting at least his own bodyweight seems like a good start as being too weak to push against someone in his own weightclass won't be good. And these compound lifts should be trained more for speed rather than on increasing the fighter's 1 RM. But the focus within strength training should be on developing explosiveness through oly lifts.

    The problem with oly lifts is that they are highly technical movements and it won't be easy for most people to learn from legitimate coaches. Not to mention you would need specialized equipment for it. A substitute would be the aforementioned plyometrics. Things like jumping, sprinting, hammer swings, etc might be more suitable for most people.

    Is it absolutely necessary? I do not think so. Plenty of great fighters did well without ever learning how to snatch their own bodyweight. I don't think Floyd Mayweather was cleaning 147lbs. But I think learning these lifts would be beneficial to most people. At the very least you would be much more aware of certain parts of your body and improve your posture, which is also important in fighting. But of course all of this should come after actually learning how to fight. Technical training comes first, then conditioning (may even come first at some points of a training camp). Strength shouldn't be that high on your priority unless you are really really weak.

    Thoughts? Any of you implemented lifting to your training? Did it help?
     
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  2. Bdolf

    Bdolf White Belt

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    I disagree. I do a lot of box squats and deadlifts, over 300lb working sets. I believe the kinetic energy available directly correlates with muscle density.
     
  3. eternaldarkness

    eternaldarkness Brown Belt

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    damn good read. i agree completely with your overall assessment. i sometimes do a bit of olympic style lifting, but i mainly use knuckle push ups, clap push ups, bag work and a bit of shot putting when i'm interested in working power.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2018
  4. eternaldarkness

    eternaldarkness Brown Belt

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    if you want to improve stamina drop some of the lifting and do more bag work and sparring (past the point of gassing) i used to spar with a bloke that was heavy into bodybuilding, he used to flurry with shit punches for about 1 minute and then want a break. he was since lots ten kilos and gotten seriously into kickboxing and is actually pretty dangerous. we can spar continuously for quite a while now and he can actually hit.
     
  5. Bdolf

    Bdolf White Belt

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    What about this guy
     
  6. William Huggins

    William Huggins Green Belt

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    Look, we get it, your a Manlet and you want a jacked body but with the average Sherdogger at 7', 250lb and 8% body fat, your only going to get sand kicked in your face.....

    Stick to 5's that live in the ghetto......
     
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  7. eternaldarkness

    eternaldarkness Brown Belt

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    it's really about finding what works for you. you mentioned having dubious stamina earlier when sparing. i was just offering a ideas. i have been boxing for years. and we always get a good laugh when some really serious lifter walks in thinking they are going to smash holes in walls, only to get the shit hammered out of them by some 145lb sixteen year old kid.
     
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  8. Bdolf

    Bdolf White Belt

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    Well you make a few assumptions about me if you imply the same scenario. I've had a lot of experience in street altercations, thousands of hours in bagwork as a hobby and some success grappling.

    Honeslty I think I gas out because I fire my shots with the same speed and power as a fight scenario, but I make sure they either fall short or impact at less than 50%.
     
  9. eternaldarkness

    eternaldarkness Brown Belt

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    don't get he wrong i'm not knocking lifting, i'm just saying too much can be counterproductive and the time could be invested into more useful training. even if you want to lift heavy for a while then have a break. the week or two off allows the muscles to relax and work more efficiently. some of the biggest gains in punching power i have made are after time off.
     
  10. eternaldarkness

    eternaldarkness Brown Belt

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    it can only ever be two things the cause you to gas easily, having really shitty cardio or having inefficient punches. i have crappy cardio, smoke, and can still spar rounds at the drop of a hat. i wasn't making assumptions just saying how lifting can mess with boxing cardio and overall punching ability if you do too much. either that or you just waste a lot of energy missing punches?
     
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  11. zapataxiv

    zapataxiv Brown Belt

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    well @pug
    i think you are overthinking this quite a bit.
    powerlifting is mainly for improving your strength with the main lifts that you will be competing with. No becoming stronger will improve your athletic performance and with he right instruction correct postural mistakes etc.. it won't be a 1 to 1 transfer.
    Looking at top guys like Spoto who can bench over 700lbs or Kostinovs who can pull 800-900+ is not the best comparison because they are specialized completely in what they are doing so their body types, routines, etc.. reflect that.


    also 1 thing that your post mentions that i disagree with is separating powerlifting and oly lifting. i am not saying there aren't differences but they are not mutually exclusive many powerlifting programs utilize oly lifts and oly lifters should have respectable time under the bar on the big 3.
    For example if you look at a guy like Bill Starr (the innovator of 5x5 training) he thought that the power clean was the best indicator of what an athlete would be capable of on the field (american football). In his original variations of 5x5 training Cleans (high pulls etc..) were a big part and even replaced heavy deadlifting in some of his programs for athletes.

    not to put any words in your mouth but i feel like this divide of only lifting and powerlifting really only comes up because of the availability of proper equipment and teaching of the oly lifts. its much easier to follow a routine in most gyms if your just hitting Squat, Bench, Dead followed by accessory work compared to finding the right place to do some serious cleans, jerks, etc..
     
  12. Noodles03

    Noodles03 Blue Belt

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    For boxing, the best carry over that I found was the kettlebell swings. I notice very minor benefits from doing the front squats, deadlift and bench. However again, that's been my experience and your experience will differ from mine.
     
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  13. Bdolf

    Bdolf White Belt

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    I'm not sure what my 3 mile run time is anymore, but I'm sure it's not anywhere around 18 minutes. If someone can strike a balance between that level of aerobic fitness and ~500lb powerlifting numbers, I would say that's ideal. I wonder what guys like Connor can box squat or deadlift and if hiding those numbers are part of his secret.
     
  14. eternaldarkness

    eternaldarkness Brown Belt

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    i was in agreement up until the conor part. conor is successful because he is a great showman and a reasonable fighter. how was his conditioning in boxing?
     
  15. Bdolf

    Bdolf White Belt

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    The "timing" Connor's opponents talk about might have to do with however he developed his fast twitch fibers, less in the stamina tree and more an accessory excercise.
     
  16. eternaldarkness

    eternaldarkness Brown Belt

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    could be right. i doubt we will see to much more of him though.
     
  17. Pugilistic

    Pugilistic Red Belt

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    How does it actually help in fighting? Does it translate to more striking power, explosiveness, speed, or stability in the clinch? Like for me, I felt stronger in the clinch but I don't know if it made that big of a difference.

    Anthony Joshua is one example of a fighter who lifts a decent amount. The guy is also huge. He's seen a lot of success in the ring but how much of it is due to his lifting? Who knows.

    There obviously is a technical divide between oly lifting and compound lifting (I only used to powerlifting for convenience, but we can include the overhead press and row for the sake of the discussion). I cannot speak from experience as I've never had a proper oly lifting coaching and I never really incorporated it into my training. But from what I could gather from youtube videos comparing the two, there is obviously from overlap but training both can conflict with each other as well.



    But you're right, we're talking about the "regular" person, not deadlift specialists. A lot of regular people assume big muscles equal fighting skill and many ask if lifting weights can increase punching power. Being stronger will help of course, but how much time should one spend on strength training is the question. Putting too much effort on it makes little sense because like you said, you have to specialize and spend a lot of time on it to be able to pull 900lbs. Lifting that much is useless if your goal is fighting.

    It's funny after I posted this, I saw a Rippetoe video about power cleans. He says one cannot increase natural explosiveness but power cleans can be used to translate more of your strength into explosiveness. I am not sure what that means in terms of athletic performance.
     
  18. Pugilistic

    Pugilistic Red Belt

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    I'd think more dynamic movements like kettlebells or hammers have more carry over as well. Can you recall specifics on how it carried over?
     
  19. Robocok

    Robocok Brown Belt

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    2 things..
    1. You should try to mimic the movement of the strike like Anthony Joshua does with the cable machine
    at 2:36 of the video



    2. You should always do some striking immediately after the weight workout like shadowboxing or heavybag to help adaptation for functional strength.

    I think that 'non-fighter' exercises like deadlift and squat can still be beneficial to an extent for developing overall muscle balance but too much emphasis on these exercises can burn energy that could be used on more fight specific training.
     
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  20. Noodles03

    Noodles03 Blue Belt

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    The kettlebell swings helped me to utilize more of the hips behind the punch.
     
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