When we watch fighters weigh-in, everyone is always in awe of the level of shape that they’re in, and that’s before we see them fight against another world-class athlete. They’re some of the best looking, and best performing athletes on the planet. So if you want to look like a fighter, the best thing to do is to train like one.
Aesthetic and Function
The one thing that separates fighters from typical fitness enthusiasts is that their guns are not just for show.
In fact, just the opposite, most fighters are actually able to perform much better than they look. Even fighters at the lower weight classes are much stronger than they appear to be.
Manny Pacquiao, a small 147-pound fighter, was able to bench 315 like nothing, and that’s without being a lifter. This is what makes training like a fighter so appealing. With that said, let’s dive into the workout that can help you tone up, become more explosive, and a much fitter version of yourself.
How to Look and Feel Like a Fighter
Surprisingly, being fit as a fighter revolves around the same things as most fitness programs do, except a much more intense focus on endurance, both cardiovascular and muscular endurance. But first, like any fitness program, it starts with food.
Start With Food
One thing that a lot of fighters do is follow a strict eating plan, at least when they are in training camp. This usually involves eating smaller meals, of the right kind of food. First, you will have to decrease your portion sizes dramatically. This will be very similar to a “cut” phase of your program.
Basically you want to do about 5, fist-sized meals a day. If you rather focus on calories, try to get no more than 1,500-1,700 depending on your size and activity level.
When it comes to what you eat, you will have to cut out most processed foods from your diet that are heavy in oils, fats, and refined carbs. Instead, focus on lean proteins and whole foods like organic fruits and veggies which are low calories but nutrient-dense.
A Fighter’s Workout
Once you get the food in order, it’s time to do some fighter training. While you probably don’t have 5-8 hours to train like a pro, you can still reap the benefits of some of the key workouts fighters do to get in shape. Here is what a typical workout can look like for you whether you’re a boxer or not.
Most people don’t realize how beneficial, and intense, jump roping is. In fact, it can burn up to 25% more calories than running and up to 300 calories per 15 minutes. It is also a great way for people who skip calf day to work their calves.
The reason fighters do it is because it can condition your legs for a 12 round affair and is also one of the best cardio exercises to strengthen your lungs, heart, and overall endurance. If you use a weighted jump rope, you can sneak in a shoulder workout on top of that.
Jump rope for 10-15 minutes straight, no rest, other than random breaks in momentum.
This is everyone’s favorite workout, and that’s because there are few things more fun than punching things that don’t hit back. All you will need for this workout is some hand wraps and some gloves.
This workout will help you work on muscle endurance, lat engagement (boxers have wide backs for this reason), and core engagement. It will also be a great strain on your shoulders due to punching with the weight of the gloves.
For this workout, punch as hard as you can and as fast as you can each time. Move your head between combinations and don’t forget to move your feet around the bag, don’t stand in one place.
Do this for 3-5 rounds, at 3 minutes per round, and 1-minute breaks.
High-Intensity Strength Training
This is where a lot of magic will happen in terms of body development. The way boxers strength train has a lot to do with keeping the heart rate up, the lungs working, but also developing functional strength, which you don’t usually get from isolated movements.
A lot of what you do will be bodyweight exercises in super high reps. According to Brawl Bros., most boxers are known to do 400-500 pushups, pull-ups, and bodyweight squats per workout. This will help you both lose weight and build muscle. You don’t have to go to those extremes, but you can do a 5 circuit run.
Here is how it works, do these exercises back to back:
Pull-ups to failure
Push-ups to failure
Squats to failure
Dips to failure
1 Minute Rest
Rinse and repeat 5 times.
Try this out and you will feel the burn.
This will also give you more of an ape-like strength that can be better implemented in real-life situations (like a fight) than something like a bicep curl.
If you want to continue to lift weights, that’s fine, but you will have to change up the game a bit. The first thing you want to do is go from 5-10 reps to 20-30 reps and rest less than one minute per break. In fact, it always helps to do a calisthenic set right after a lift to truly burn your muscles out. It may sound hard, that’s because it is supposed to be.
Do it Your Way
Boxing is no easy sport! You can do this workout all at once, which I recommend, or sprinkle one exercise a day into your workout if you rather not change everything at once.
Either way, implementing this into your routine will help you shift your body to look and feel more like a fighter, rather than just another lifter. Remember, work works when nothing else works!