By Bryanna Fissori
Your “core” consists of all the muscles in your abdomen and lower back, which include muscles associated with your spine and hip flexors. Not only do they look sexy when defined, but they are also one of the most important muscle groups for virtually any athlete and especially crucial for boxers.
A strong core workout is essential to provide stabilization for your entire body and is the conductor that transfers power from the legs to the upper body and vice versa, essentially adding power to your punches. Boxers aren’t walking around with six-packs just for the photos!
Why Core Muscles are Crucial for Boxers
• Provides proper defense from body shots
• Maximizes rotational torque when delivering a punch
• Enhance transfer of energy during explosive movements
• Increases total body stabilization and balance
• Supports a higher degree of energy transfer from larger muscle groups
Here are a few methods to increase your core strength in conjunction with your boxing workout:
The plank is one of the simplest exercises for the stomach and is easy to do. . . well, for the first 10 seconds or so. It is a good place to start especially if you are new to core workouts and not sure where your fitness level is. There is no equipment necessary, but make sure you are not on a slippery surface to avoid a belly flop or face plant.
- Place your forearms on the floor, stretch the rest of your body out and support yourself on your toes. The only parts of your body touching the floor should be your forearms and toes.
- Keeping your torso straight, try not to have a bend in your back. Stay straight as a board (a plank to be exact). Hold the position as long as possible or set a timer.
- Once your hips start to drop and your form starts to slip, take a rest.
- To modify the move, you can also just hold the top part of a push-up position rather than having your forearms on the floor.
If you want to get fancy and really work those abs, raise one leg upwards slowly and back down, then repeat, maintaining the plank position.
For all you yogis out there, this position is basically an ab burning version of “boat,” which can be modified to a position in the gymnastics world, called “Dish hold.” It is a great stabilizing core workout.
- Create your boat by lying on your back with your legs straight and your arms by your sides.
- Lift your shoulders, upper back, and legs off the floor, ensuring that you lower back and middle back do not arch, and remain in contact with the ground. Your arms can either be stretched above your head for “dish” or in front of you (as if you are trying to reach your toes) for “boat”.
- Maintaining balance, hold this position for as long as possible or set a timer. We recommend you start with boat and work to dish. Once you have those balance moves mastered, you can turn the move into a crunch by touching your fingers to toes from either position.
In order to properly slip out of the way of a punch or to throw a popper body shot the oblique abdominal muscles are crucial. They are located on the sides of the body. One of the easiest ways to work the obliques when just starting a new core workout routine is to return back to our friend, the plank. This move is exactly the same in principle to the normal plank, but is performed with the body in a side position to place more of a demand on the muscles on the side of the torso.
- With your body facing the ground as if you were laying on your side, place one forearm on the ground directly below your shoulder.
- Stretch your legs out straight, placing the side of your foot on the ground with the other foot resting on top of it.
- Keep your body as straight as possible and then hold this position. Keep your core engaged to prevent your hips from dropping.
- If you want a little extra burn to sculpt those oblique’s even more, try raising your outer leg upwards slowly and then back down, then repeat. You can also hold your top leg and top arm straight up in the air. This is called the “star” position. Who doesn’t want to be a star?!
The core is not only engaged from the front of the body and if you work only the front and not the back, you are going to find yourself weak in a number of areas of your boxing practice.
- Lay flat on your stomach with your arms in front of you. Your palms should be facing the ground. To start, have your elbows bent so that if you were standing, your arms would be in the shape of a football goals post.
- Lift your arms, chest and legs off the ground. You should feel some tension in the lower back fairly quickly. If you don’t, pick your chest and legs up higher.
- Without touching your arms, chest or legs to the ground, pulse the elevated areas as if you are doing a crunch (obviously an upside down crunch).
- You can add variation by changing your arm position to straight out in front of you, to the sides like an airplane or at your sides facing behind you with your palms up.
It is important to make sure your core workout is well rounded for stability. Boxing on its own is a great workout for your core, but abs are not built in a day. Keep with it. These moves coupled with your boxing class and good nutrition will have you showing off that six-pack in no time.