The act of punching something is much more complicated that most people realize. It is a process that involves everything from the weight shift in your feet, to the rotation of your hips and trunk, to the transfer of force through the shoulder, and finally the position of your hand as it strikes the target. It only gets more complicated if someone is trying to punch you back in the process, and a three minute round can be the longest three minutes you ever experience. That makes the concepts of balancing training power and endurance, and making sure you train the entire body extremely important.
Most people think punching only involves the chest and shoulders. That couldn’t be any further from the truth. Current research demonstrates the lower body is the primary contributor to the punch. The shoulder and arm is just a conduit to transfer the power generated from the much larger muscles of your legs and trunk to your opponents face. Without a strong lower body, and core it significantly places more stress on the structures of the shoulder and elbow like the rotator cuff or elbow ligaments. In fact most injury research reports more orthopedic injuries occur from throwing a punch versus getting hit by one. Exercises like squats and deadlifts are great to train these muscles.
The muscles in your back are also crucial to controlling the forward acceleration of your arm as you punch. Everyone thinks to punch harder you need to do push-ups and bench presses. However rowing or pulling exercises help you strengthen the muscles that retract your arm quicker. This allows you to impart more force on your target, allows you to get off punches faster, and decreases the time you are open to a counter punch.
Finally boxing requires a unique balance of power as well as endurance. Jogging for long distances has been shown to bias muscles toward endurance, and can decrease their ability to generate power. A three minute ten round fight only lasts for a total of thirty minutes, but a fighter’s work rate can vary significantly. High intensity interval training can be more beneficial, and sport specific than running 5-10 miles to build up your “cardio”. An example would be punching a bag for 3 minutes followed by some wind sprints. HIIT or high intensity interval training more closely mimics an actual boxing match.
Injuries in boxing can range from something as minor as a bruise to catastrophic head injuries, and everything in between. Recovery from a boxing injury can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to mean just sitting around and waiting for things to heal. Sports physical therapy can be done to not only speed up the recovery of the injured tissue, but also keep the surrounding muscles and joints from getting weak from inactivity. This down time can also be used to asses any other impairment a boxer might have, and address those as well. All of which only serves to get fighters back into the ring faster, and can also prevent future injuries from occurring.