Boxing as a sport requires an individual to be in top physical shape. Contrary to popular belief, the main power and endurance of a boxer is not in the upper body, but it involves the lower body most specifically the legs.
When a fighter throws a punch, the strength of the lower body helps to transfer energy to the upper body and how that technique is implemented, ultimately determines the punching power. The strength of the calves, quads, hamstrings and glutes work together to produce energy no matter what punch you throw.
Slipping punches and bobbing and weaving also require strong agile legs for effective movement and endurance. The importance of having strong legs should be a topmost priority to any boxer. The following is an overview of some exercises that can help you build powerful leg muscles.
Squat jumps are so simple but are still considered as the best exercise for building explosive power and increasing muscle strength. This exercise targets all the muscles within the leg area with emphasis being laid on the calves.
- 1) Stand with your feet hip length apart while keeping your knees relaxed. Inhale, contract your abdominal muscles and stretch your arms forward.
- 2) Slowly lower yourself into a squat position. While doing this, you should rest your weight on the balls of your feet and emphasize on moving your behind backwards as opposed to simply lowering your body towards the ground.
- 3) Hold your body in this position for at least 3 seconds (increase once you improve) then slowly power up to a standing position while exhaling.
- 4) Repeat this exercise for 10 times for 3 sets. Once you feel improvement, you can increase it to 15 x 3 or 10 x 5 etc.
There are also other variations of squats that can be performed to further build leg muscles; this includes squat jumps (exactly the same as normal squats but includes a slight jump when rising up) and performing squats while holding weights directly in front.
2) Depth Jumps
This exercise focuses heavily on all the leg muscles and also increases your vertical jumps. It does however, put stress on your knees so you should perform it while on a soft surface.
- 1) Position a stable platform with a height of around 0.4M to 0.7 M firmly on the floor and stand on top of it.
- 2) Take a slight jump off the platform to the ground.
- 3) As soon as you hit the floor, jump as high as possible lifting your hands upwards so as to attain the maximum height you can reach.
- 4) Repeat this exercise for 5-8 times for 3 sets.
Gradually increase the height of the box each week. Not only will you see steady improvement to the endurance of your legs, but you will notice that you will increase your spring technique will allows you to jump higher (or bounce around more effectively in the ring).
3) Swiss Ball Hip Raise and Curl
This an excellent exercise to work not only your hamstrings, but also your glutes, abdominals and lower back muscles which gives you a strong core.
- 1) Lie flat on your back (preferably on an exercise mat) with both your arms stretched out by your side with your palms down. Put slight pressure into the ground to engage your upper body.
- 2) Keep your legs together and put your heels on the swiss ball (top center) with your toes pointing straight up.
- 3) Squeeze your glutes and then drive your hips upwards (not from the lower back), so that you’re in a perfectly straight position.
- 4) From that point, you’re going to perform the curl by squeezing your glutes and moving your hips towards your upper body. Your knees should bend and point upwards and your feet should be flat on the ball (which rolls towards you as you perform this step).
- 5) Lower your hips and resume back to the straight position (step 3), and hold it there for a few seconds before lowering your hips again so that your back is flat on the ground.
- 6) Repeat this process 10-15 times for 3 sets.
If you want to work the outside of your hamstrings, then instead of pointing your toes up (step 2), point them outwards at a 45 degree angle while keeping your heels together. To work the inside of your hamstrings, point your toes inwards with the heels apart. You can check out some top rated swiss balls here.
4) Box Jumps
This exercise revolves around the use of a plyometric box, or a stable platform that resembles one.
- 1) Position the plyometric box securely on the ground. There are various heights available, but you should start off between 0.3 – 0.4 metres and raise as you improve.
- 2) Assume an athletic-stance about an arms-length away from the box and lower yourself into a quarter squat.
- 3) Using your knees, ankles and leg muscles, explode from the ground upwards and land gently on top of the plyometric box. Your leg muscles should act as shock absorbers and your knees should be slightly bent when landing on the box.
- 4) Drop down from the box to your original position and repeat this exercise 6-8 times for 3 sets.
5) Lateral Leg Push-Offs
This exercise is amongst the best vertical plyometric box exercises. It entails the following:
- 1) Stand by the side of a raised platform with one of your legs resting on the platform.
- 2) Propel yourself upwards using the resting leg and land on the other side of the platform with your other leg. Be sure to always push to your heels and land as close to the edge as possible without losing balance.
- 3) Repeat this 8-10 times for 3 sets.
As a rule, proper nutrition should be observed when performing exercises to build strong leg muscles. It is also advisable to acquire the services of a trainer when performing these exercises.
Written by: Steve Wright
To get the most out of your training, I highly recommend the following articles:
► How to Increase Punching Power
► 10 Tips to Improve Boxing Footwork
► Boxing Basics
► Top 10 Best Heavy Punching Bags
► Top 10 Best Boxing Gloves