Packing More Punch - The Impact of Strength Training on Boxing

woman in boxing ring

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Key Takeaways

  • A new study demonstrates the positive impact strength training can have on boxing.
  • Experts recommend women incorporate both strength training and boxing into their exercise regimens.
  • Beginners can reap physical and mental benefits from boxing.

Cross-training, or incorporating various fitness modalities into your overall regimen, can benefit your body, mind, and schedule. But can different types of training have a positive impact on one another?

The latest research from Brazil, published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, shows promise that as little as one week of strength training can impact performance in the boxing ring. Here's why you should consider adding both workouts to your routine.

About the Study

Eight competitive boxers from the Brazilian National Team completed three workouts over the course of one week. Exercises included a jump squat, half squat, and bench press. The power output of their punch was assessed during both the pre-training and the post-training intervention.

Researchers noted a significant increase in power of both the jump squat and half squat during the course of the week. The training also had a significant impact on punch impact.

While previous studies have highlighted the benefits of boxing on cardiovascular health, this study is the first to specifically examine the potential for a mutually beneficial relationship between two highly recommended training modalities.

Boxing and Strength Training—A Perfect Match

Taking a quick scroll through social media reveals that more and more women are engaging in lower body strength training. In fact, the hashtag #glutes is connected to 6.9 million posts, and #glutesworkout to over half a million posts on Instagram.

Amber Trejo, MS, CPT, Boxing Coach

[Boxing] is not just an arm workout like most people assume; it's mostly your legs, back, core, and shoulders that are being used to generate power and speed.

— Amber Trejo, MS, CPT, Boxing Coach

Spending ample time training the biggest and most powerful muscles in the lower body is a sound fitness strategy with evolutionary roots. For instance, the squatting position is where humans used to spend most of their time. If you are already working your lower body at the gym, experts say boxing is a natural addition.

"Boxing and strength training go hand-in-hand because certain types of strength training exercises can actually help improve overall boxing skills and form," says Amber Trejo, MS, CPT, and boxing coach. "It is not just an arm workout like most people assume; it's mostly your legs, back, core, and shoulders that are being used to generate power and speed."

While strength training, in general, can lead to improvements in the ring, it is worth noting that the aforementioned Brazilian study focused on the impact of optimum power load (OPL) training on punch power. Given the focus of powerlifting, it may be the best fit in a schedule that includes boxing.

"In boxing, you have to be quick but your punches need to be powerful," says Trejo. "This is where strength training comes into play. Exercises such as deadlifts, kettlebell swings, and pull-ups can help strengthen your grip, shoulders, lats, and hip drive leading to a stronger punch."

These specific movements also help to strengthen the lower core, she adds. This is important to have not just in the boxing ring, but also so that you move better in everyday life and prevent injuries.

Boxing Benefits For Women

A 135-pound woman can expect to burn anywhere from 350 to 800 calories during a 1 hour-long boxing session. By comparison, a spin class would result in a 225 to 900 calorie burn, depending on effort.

Amber Trejo, MS, CPT, Boxing Coach

Boxing builds confidence you cannot get from anywhere else. It's a special type of confidence that you take with you throughout life.

— Amber Trejo, MS, CPT, Boxing Coach

Both boxing classes and spin classes can fit into your cross-training regimen. But boxing, in particular, has benefits for women that extend well outside the boxing ring and into other facets of life.

"Boxing helps strengthen our cardiovascular system but women should incorporate boxing into their fitness regimen for two other important reasons," says Trejo. "One is self-defense. It is always a good idea to know how to protect yourself. The second reason is boxing builds confidence you cannot get from anywhere else. It is a special type of confidence that you take with you throughout life."

Getting Started

Just as it is not advisable to take a yoga class with an instructor who isn't certified, it's equally important to seek boxing instruction under the tutelage of an actual boxer.

While it might be tempting to take up boxing at your local big-box gym, learning the fundamentals with a pro is crucial in preventing injury and maximizing the benefits of good form. Trejo encourages beginners to get comfortable being uncomfortable and put on some gloves.

"Be open-minded when trying boxing," she says. "You will feel intimidated and uncomfortable at first but keep with it. You will begin to feel more comfortable and confident with boxing after a few sessions as you learn the terminology and form."

What This Means For You

Strength training and boxing are ideal pairings for cross-training, and they can have a positive impact on your sports performance. If you are interested in reaping the mental and physical benefits of boxing, seek guidance from a trained professional to minimize the potential for injury. You also should speak to a healthcare provider before starting a new exercise regimen.

4 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Loturco I, Pereira LA, Kobal R,et al. Transference effect of short-term optimum power load training on the punching impact of elite boxers. J Strength Cond Res. 2021;35(9):2373-2378. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000003165

  2. El-Ashker S, Chaabene H, Negra Y, Pireske O, Granacher U. Cardio-respiratory endurance responses following a simulated 3 x 3 minutes amateur boxing contest in elite level boxers. Sports. 2018;6(40):119. doi:10.3390/sports6040119

  3. Raichlen DA, Pontzer H, Zderic TW, et al. Sitting, squatting, and the evolutionary biology of human inactivityProc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2020;117(13):7115-7121. doi:10.1073/pnas.1911868117

  4. University of Rochester Medical Center. Calorie Burn Rate Calculator. 2021.

By Nicole Rodriguez, RDN, NASM-CPT
Nicole Rodriguez, registered dietitian and certified personal trainer, resides in the metro New York area, where she offers nutrition counseling and fitness coaching to a diverse clientele. A consultant to the National Cattleman’s Beef Association and New York Beef Council, she’s on the eternal quest for the best burger. Nicole proudly serves on the Bayer L.E.A.D. (leaders engaged in advancing dialogue) network, and as a partner in kind with the Produce For Better Health Foundation. Eager to inspire the next generation of bold, active, and compassionate entrepreneurs, Nicole serves as leader of her daughter’s Girl Scout troop. In her spare time, you’ll find her browsing the grocery store aisles and working on her deadlift technique.