Amateur boxing is often called "the hardest nine minutes in sports," and how to condition for boxing is even more demanding. How do you condition for boxing when it requires moving your feet and upper body constantly, keeping your arms up continuously, throwing dozens of punches a round and eating more than a few hard knocks on top of it? The answer is a lot of hard work.
Boxing demands top cardio-vascular conditioning, or "wind" as its known in many old school gyms. It is also a leg sport, as a good fighter needs to be mobile and all hard punches start on the balls of the feet. That means to condition for boxing, you need to run. A "white collar" fighter who boxes for fun can get by with two miles a day of running, or "roadwork," five days a week. A pro boxer typically runs five miles, and that is just for starters. Since an opponent should never allow you to plod along at a predictable pace, your running regimen needs periodic shaking up. Every few days, switch to wind sprints or running up stairs instead. Run in bad weather too, as it toughens you up psychologically.
As a rule, conditioning for boxing means doing a lot of those exercises you learned in high school gym class. According to Ned Beaumont, the typical work-out for an amateur fighter could include 4 sets of 50 push-ups and 5 sets of 100 crunches, and that is just for starters. A few rounds of jumping rope is a standard feature of almost every boxing work out. For the sake of cross-training and variety, one additional exercise like tossing the medicine ball, neck-strengthening neck nods or pull-ups should be rotated in.
Punching the heavy bag is to many what conditioning for boxing is all about. Five or six rounds on both the heavy and double-end bags are a minimum, with eight to ten rounds being routine for a pro's work out. That does not include two or three rounds hitting the speed bag.
Mitts and Sparring
Nothing conditions for boxing quite like the real thing, which translates into first mitt work and then sparring. Working with a partner on the punching mitts simulates the demands of a real fight in terms of movement and hitting a moving target. Sparring adds the element of getting hit back. By the time a professional fighter in a real training camp reaches the last couple of weeks before a fight, they are sparring every day.
Of course, most people with day jobs do not have the time and energy to condition for boxing like a pro fighter. Still, if you run two miles every morning, five nights a week, and tack onto that a proper boxing work out three or four times a week, you will be in fighting trim in no time.
Sources: Ned Beaumont. Championship Streetfighting. 1997.