by Fran on September 27, 2010

Boxing Training for Fitness – Week 1

So I decided that I needed to make some key changes in order to develop at least a moderate level of fitness and provide the basis for a healthy and happy lifestyle.  I am now 38 years old, have a lovely wife and 2 young children and work in an office all day every day. On arriving home from work, I am thrust headlong into family life which culminates in the kids being tucked up in bed by about 8.30pm. I’m sure that this ‘groundhog day’ type existence sounds very familiar to many reading this post. It’s a life that I could not be without, but it does leave little left in the tank to think about keeping fit.

I needed to do something… I’m 5″6′ and at the start of last week weighed in at a rather chunky 12st 1lb.   I wanted to make some small changes that will make a big difference.  To this end over the next 12 weeks I’ll write a post a week which will detail the journey I have taken in order to deliver those changes that I feel are necessary. Now, I do have a slight advantage to some extent in that I have been involved with boxing since the age of 6 and am therefore in a very good position to define the types of boxing training to carry out and to understand the types of food that I can (and should) eat.  This said, there’s nothing getting in the way of anyone making a similar undertaking by doing just a little research and showing the right commitment. So, what will you get from this series of posts?

Well, if you are looking to drop some weight and improve you overall levels of fitness, then you will definitely get some workable ideas in terms of boxing training. These posts are not geared toward a competing boxer, they are intended to give some ideas/inspiration to you as someone who wants to make small changes for big results.  You may also get some encouragement from seeing that you don’t have to become a health-nut who holds their abstinence from any kind of food enjoyment above their head like some kind of battle banner!  Life is all about balance.

By the way, if you are intending to undertake a fitness program (any fitness program), it is vitally important that you visit a Doctor/Physician and get a full check.  I have been around boxing for over 30 years and as such am in the position to undertake such activities from a higher level of effort.  If I were coaching someone totally new to fitness, then we would start at a much more steady and sedate level than this!  Go to a Doctor, get checked out and then think about undertaking any fitness once you have all the facts.  OK, sermon over.

Boxing Training for Fitness – So it Begins!

I made it to the gym twice this week, once on Tuesday and once on Thursday. Given that it’s my first week back in quite a long time, I tend to have a particular approach in order to develop core fitness and stamina that will provide a good base to push on.  The routine may look a little peculiar, but there is method in the madness.  Also, I went to the gym straight from work.  Getting home and then getting out of the house again is a real challenge for a number of reasons!  Going straight to the gym just makes it easier. OK, I’ll describe the boxing training that I completed on each visit to the gym and then pick out some key points on the approach (both identical sessions for this week): Tuesday:

  1. Warm-up – 10 minutes
  2. Shadow Boxing – 3×3 minutes (hand weights in round 2)
  3. 15 minute heavy bag round (slow, steady and work through the breaks)
  4. 10 minute jumping rope (final 30 seconds sprint)
  5. Ton-up (100 ground work exercises)
  6. Warm down (stretches etc.)
  7. 3K run home from gym.


  1. Warm-up – 10 minutes
  2. Shadow Boxing – 3×3 minutes (hand weights in round 2)
  3. 15 minute heavy bag round (slow, steady and work through the breaks)
  4. 10 minute jumping rope (final 30 seconds sprint)
  5. Ton-up (100 ground work exercises)
  6. Warm down (stretches etc.)
  7. 3K run home from gym.

You may be wondering “15 minute bag round, who does that?”  Well, this is part of my approach to building the core fitness required to develop the training routine as the weeks progress.  And by the way, this is week 1.  I can assure you that when on the heavy bag I felt like I was punching whilst under water.  During the 10 minutes of jumping rope, my feet seemed to weigh as much as a small family car, and during the Ton-up I began to see double.  Suffice to say, I have some way to go!

Boxing Training for Fitness – Diet?  What Diet?

Having many years ago competed as an amateur boxer at a high level, struggling to make weight became part and parcel of my existence.  Having been through some very dark and challenging times (it was always my least enjoyed aspect of the sport), you’ll understand my reluctance to embark upon any kind of strict diet; it just ain’t gonna happen! Rather than rigorously plan a calorie calculated eating plan, I decided to define a few principles that I would enforce alongside my gym work.  These principles are:

  1. I will eat 3 main meals a day and will avoid snacking in between these meals on anything other than fruit.
  2. I will aim to have a substantial breakfast that will carry me through to lunchtime; porridge seems to fit the bill perfectly!
  3. I will aim to eat balanced meals, incorporating pasta, rice, fish, meat and vegetables.
  4. I will focus on ensuring that from Monday to Friday these principles will govern my eating habits.  On Saturday and Sunday, I shall relax a little and eat some more of what I like!
  5. I will drink tea….lots of tea (not that tea is particularly good for you it’s just that, well, I am English!)  I will also drink lots of water but will avoid carbonated sweet drinks (not difficult as I don’t really like them!)

So, following on from these principles, below are the main items of food that I ate last week:

  • Monday
  • Breakfast – Porridge
  • Lunch – Tuna and sweet corn pasta, crisps (potato chips) banana and apple
  • Dinner – Ham and Eggs
  • Tuesday
  • Breakfast – Porridge
  • Lunch – Tuna and sweet corn and Tomato  pasta, banana
  • Dinner – Chicken Curry with Rice
  • Wednesday
  • Breakfast – Sausage sandwich (yum yum)
  • Lunch – Tuna and sweet corn Pasta, crisps and orange
  • Dinner – Pasta Arabiatta
  • Thursday
  • Breakfast – Porridge
  • Lunch – Chicken Sandwich
  • Dinner – Fish, Vegetables and Rice
  • Friday
  • Breakfast – Sausage sandwich (again!)
  • Lunch – Mixed pasta salad, banana
  • Dinner – Chicken Soup
  • Saturday
  • Relaxed a little (well, maybe a lot).  Food included a Chicken Teriyaki sandwich, roast chicken dinner and an Indian Take-away (Chicken Biryani; very nice.)  Just thought that when put down in writing, that’s a lot of chicken!
  • Sunday
  • More relaxation, at least in terms of food.  S0me fantastic food including Chilli Con Carne and chocolate pudding and custard!

As you can see, given my approach of relaxing ‘a little’ at the weekend, there was an interesting (if a little unsurprising) progression in terms of my body weight!  Check out the results below.

Boxing Training for Fitness – Week 1 Results

I tend to avoid taking too much notice of my weight, particularly if I am getting to the gym regularly and watching what I eat.  I find weight-watching quite dull actually, and again I probably have some deep, sub-conscious aversion to such activities due to my days of competition.  For the purposes of these posts though, it’s a necessary evil. OK, the key results following week 1:

  1. I started the week at 12 stone 1 lb.  I weighed myself this morning and was 11 stone 10 lb.  Interestingly before my weekend of ‘enjoyment’, I had made it down to 11 stone 7lb!
  2. After only 2 sessions in the gym, I have noticed an improvement in muscle tone around my abdomen, ribs, lateral muscles, upper chest/shoulders and back. This does however correlate to the considerable lactic acid build up in those same places (as well as my legs.)  Throwing technically correct punches and moving around the bag in a controlled manner is the reason for these muscle areas being ‘hit’.  Holding the boxing stance, throwing a correct boxing jab and right cross etc.
  3. I have more energy and pushed on much more strongly during my run home on Thursday.

I’d be interested in any views that you have on this undertaking.  Leave a comment below (encouragement, disparaging remarks on my wimp’s workload etc.)  Why not jump straight in to Boxing Training for Fitness Week 2! Cheers Fran

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike March 10, 2013 at 7:33 pm

What I find really helps my fitness and weight cutting is an early morning run on an empty stomach. While running, you start with 30 seconds jogging then a 10 second sprint and continue in this fashion. I learned this tip from clinton woods who was also known for having outstanding fitness.


Fran March 15, 2013 at 9:23 pm

Great weight loss tip there Mike, I’ll be giving that a go myself. Thanks


lewis June 26, 2011 at 9:47 pm

okay thanks fpr the help, good to know i can still stick at the weights if i change my workouts a little bit.


Lewis June 20, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Hi I’ve been looking a lot at this website mostly at the skill side of it and since i have just recently started boxing I was wondering how some boxers seem to be quite big because it seems to me like it is mainly if not all cardio work that boxers focus on and was curious as to if i should bother with lifting weights or not? I’ve been lifting weights for about two years before i started boxing and wasn’t sure if i should continue now.


Fran June 21, 2011 at 8:24 pm

Lewis. It is a fact that when you see some boxers, they appear incredibly big for the weight at which they box. This is particularly true of top flight internationals. In terms of the size and weight, there are lots of factors to consider in a short response here. However, boxers need strength training. This comes in the form of either groundwork (ton up, resistance, plyometrics etc) or weights. In my opinion the former is by far the most important and effective, so I tend to ensure that these are a part of every session. This said, weights can work well, although we tend to hit lighter weights for more reps. You’ll naturally find I think that you will drift away from big weights, as major bulk for a boxer ain’t good. Keep up flexibility work and don’t look to build muscle mass and you’ll be fine.


Chris-W October 23, 2010 at 3:27 pm

Well, where to start! Visiting this site as a complete novice, to both boxing and regular exercise, I need something to give me the focus. Focus? Yes, on getting myself fit and this website appears to be just the trick.
A few health scares recently have given me that ‘wake-up’ call and it didn’t take much for me to sit down and examine what’s wrong. Poor (extremely as it happens, try : permanent junk food diet complemented by an average of 10 x 30g potato chips EACH day!) diet and little exercise, only brisk walking each day. I’m 44 years old and have a demanding (well I think it is!) office job working on average 11 hour days. Now, in your mind, you are picturing someone probably very overweight and extremely unfit. I’m actually 5′-8″ and weigh 138lbs and don’t feel unfit. Recent tests show a below average BMI, low cholesterol, excellent blood pressure levels, average weight for height and build and so on……..
So why am I here? Well, I wanted to embark on a fitness programme (maybe not so much a programme, but certainly structured and disciplined. What better way to understand discipline than the sport of boxing). I’m aiming to use as my inspiration, but certainly don’t have the confidence any more to attend a gym. This is my gym from today.
Sorry, that was all about me, me, me, but I do get the community feel here and it’s good to get to know fellow fans of a site such as this. to learn from them and hopefully receive some encouragement during those times when we question is this really worth it.
Ok, if you’re still with me, I’m about to go and plan my diet for the next week and follow it with my first run in probably 5 years. Nothing too heavy, nice and gentle and create some baselines (benchmarks) so I can see how unfit I actually am! I’m just waiting for it to get dark before pounding (probably walking!) the local canal paths!
Thanks for listening, would like to keep you posted of progress but don’t want to clog up this superb website with the ‘life of Chris!’ I’m interested in your views on this.


Fran October 24, 2010 at 9:07 pm

Hey Chris

First of all thanks very much for taking the time to record your thoughts on the site. I’d like to think that this is a community and not only I, but others I’m sure, will be only too willing to offer some practical advice and encouragement as you move through your change of lifestyle. I call it a change of lifestyle because that’s exactly what it is. And by the way, a brisk walk is a fantastic start. In fact, during the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s some of the greatest fighters of that (or any other) era used walking as a core part of their training regime. I’m going to assume that your 11 hour days are not a matter of choice. If they are, then shit cool it a little man! We work to live, not live to work! No, the reality is that many people these days are in the unfortunate position of having to do massive hours. The first step, and a very important step it is, is to get a grip of what you are eating. It’s not a complex equation and there’s plenty of advice out there that will help. Over the next few months, I plan to check out some of the nutrition options out there, so keep an eye.

In the short term mate, make sure you maximize the number of brisk walks you do, they will definitely help. The next step would be to develop some structure about a short workout (20 mins maybe) that you could do after you’ve done your run. This would consist of some technique building with a mirror and some shadow boxing and some light groundwork exercises. I’m going to put together an article on the ‘Ton-Up’, 10 basic exercises used by fighters the world over, so check back and these may provide some all-round development options for you.

In the meantime, stick with it Chris. Take it slow and steady as this is something you want to aim at over years rather than weeks. Thanks again!


svenjamin September 30, 2010 at 4:01 am

What is a ton-up? And I’m guessing you must have someone drop you off at the gym then?

That is a pretty intense starter program! Just about right for someone who has been in excellent shape in the past, but has slacked for a while. I certainly wouldn’t recommend that to someone who has never been in great shape at some point before though!

I have found that its actually possible to make pretty good progress doing only one light run a week for maintenance. So twice a week with skipping and running plus working on the necessary muscle endurance for proper form should get you back into it in no time! Watching your progress will be interesting.


Fran September 30, 2010 at 9:13 pm

Hey svenjamin

A ton-up is 10×10 ground exercises and they can form the basis of any number of activities; I’ll put a video post together at some point. I work in Liverpool City Centre and when going to the gym I get a bus (45 minute ride), nice bit of quiet time before starting and gives me a chance to read a book (currently one on Sonny Liston, a real good book as it happens!)

You’re right on the intensity. Thankfully I’m telling people what I do and am not recommending anything to anyone (to all you lawyers out there.) Obviously if someone is embarking upon a fitness regime, they need to visit a Physician/Doctor and get checked out before they start! Thanks for pointing that out.

Take care


Karl September 28, 2010 at 5:13 am

That’s great work. Keep it up!

You will need to go to the gym more then twice a week eventually, but I’m sure you already have plans to do that and are just in the warmup phase. That is a good approach. Keep it enjoyable and don’t burn out by trying to do everything at once. I like that you at run home after your workout, I guess you take the tube to the gym?

It certainly is a challenge when you have young children. Family is the priority after all, but part of the upside to keeping fit is that you’re setting a good example for your children. Someday they’ll be jogging along beside you!

I’m like you when it comes to food. I’ll never be a calorie counter. I enjoy food and plan to keep on enjoying it. I do eat much better now that I train as a boxer. My coach is very strict with his food and has been, without any breaks, for years and years. I ask him what a meal is for him and he says something crazy like “half a can of tuna and a tomato”. He’s not kidding either.

One thing that works for me is – don’t stress, just do your best. There are weeks when I don’t give a full effort at the gym and there are times when I eat whatever I want. These moments are rare but they do happen. When I was younger that kind of thing would make me feel guilty and then I would train extra hard to make up for it. It didn’t work. Trying to be super intense all the time just burns you out. It’s better to be a little forgiving with yourself and just get right back to work. Boxing is fun. Fitness is fun. If we keep it that way we’ll stick with it and reap all the benefits. When I started at my present club last November I was 38 years old and I weighed 216 pounds (I’m 5’9), tonight I weigh 176. All through boxing training.


Fran September 28, 2010 at 9:08 pm

Some really good points there Karl. As usual you’ve added great value to the post!


Lawrence Horry September 28, 2010 at 12:03 am

Congratulations! I often wonder how full-time working parents find the time to do anything. The work out looks intense. What exercises are you doing in the ton-up? Are you planning on adding any variation to your routine? Say adding sprints do your run or varying your ground exercises? Keep up the good work, sounds like you’ve already made some great gains!


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