Does Boxing Build Muscle?

building muscle with boxing

Getting into great physical shape is something boxing can do as part of a well balanced exercise routine. Many boxers have extensive training that last hours a day to get to their health goals. I was wondering where they mostly spend their time on for muscle growth and if you could actually build muscle with boxing.

As part of a boxing routine, many boxers have different exercises to build on their strength, conditioning and endurance. In terms of building muscle, boxing alone will likely only tone your muscles and increase endurance more than giving actual muscle growth.

Whether boxing as a fighter or for fitness, it is important to keep you workouts well balanced and be mindful not to overload in one area.

If your goal is just to gain muscle as a boxer. Too much weight training could hinder your boxing mobility in the future. Rounding out with exercises that help mobility and endurance will help with your flexibility while improving strength.

Can You Build Muscle With Boxing

In order for your muscle to grow, it would need to encounter a certain level of outside resistance such as from weights or your own body weight.

The level of resistance determines how much work your muscle needs to exert. Which would ultimately determine the amount of muscle built. And for boxing specifically, if you’re only hitting a heavy bag, shadowboxing or speed bag. The resistance there just isn’t great enough to encourage muscle growth.

If only doing those exercises, you’re likely to only tone muscles and get a cardio workout of it. Which is not a bad thing, many boxers and fitness enthusiasts take advantage of those exercises for that specific reason. And to improve their fighting movements.

When building muscle for boxing specifically, you may want to consider training that complements both muscle exertions as well as promotes physical mobility.

Although extensive weight training or even heavy lifting would get larger muscles. Doing too many of these types of exercises could hinder your movements as a boxer.

Building strength does not mean you would need to sacrifice speed though. Find workouts that complement your goals is possible.

How Do Boxers Build Muscle Without Lifting Weights

Boxing is a sport that requires a lot of physical strength and endurance and because of this, boxers build muscle in order to improve their performance. While lifting weights is a popular way to build muscle, boxers can also achieve muscle growth through a variety of other exercises and techniques.

One of the primary ways boxers can build muscle without lifting weights is through bodyweight exercises. These exercises, such as push-ups, pull-ups, squats, lunges, and planks, work multiple muscle groups at once and can help to build muscle mass and improve overall strength. Bodyweight exercises are also convenient because they can be performed anywhere, without the need for any equipment.

There are also a variety of workouts that can build muscle without the use of weights. They’re also easy to incorporate into a boxers lifestyle and can be complimentary for a boxer overall.

Resistance bands are versatile tools that can be used to perform a variety of exercises, such as bicep curls, tricep extensions, and rows. Resistance bands provide constant tension throughout the movement, which can help to build muscle.

Shadowboxing should already be a consistent part of your boxing workout. With the involvement of active movement and punching combos, it can help to improve technique, footwork, and overall muscular endurance. Shadowboxing can also help to build muscle in the upper body and is a type of exercise that can be amplified with the use of weights.

Heavy bag training is also effective and involves throwing a variety of punches and combinations at a punching bag. Over time this can help to build muscle in the upper body and core. In addition to building muscle, heavy bag training can also help to improve punching technique and power.

Boxers should look for ways to build their explosiveness in movement as well as attack. Plyometrics involves explosive, high-intensity exercises such as box jumps and jump squats, which can help to improve speed and power.

While these exercises and techniques can help boxers to build muscle, it’s important to note that a proper nutrition plan is also essential. Boxers should aim to consume enough protein and calories to support muscle growth and recovery. Eating a balanced diet that includes lean protein sources such as chicken, fish, and tofu, as well as complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and vegetables, can help to fuel the body and support muscle growth.

In addition to exercise and nutrition, rest and recovery are also essential for building muscle. Boxers should aim to get enough sleep each night and allow their muscles to rest and recover between workouts. Overtraining can actually hinder muscle growth and increase the risk of injury, so it’s important to listen to the body and take breaks when needed.

Calisthenics VS. Weights For A Boxing Workout

Building muscle and gaining strength for boxing is a continuous effort. But there are some workouts that I find to be more effective than others. For example, deadlifts and curls are great in building muscle and foundational strength.

However, the translated results into boxing is not ideal. Although you gain muscle strength and quite a bit of it. The movements you make when doing these exercises are not functional to boxing. Committing to this kind of strength training could effect your mobility and flexibility in the long run.

Finding other forms of strength training, that involves more mobility in my opinion more beneficial if you’re going to be boxing. A great form of muscle building with mobility is calisthenics.

Calisthenics is a type of workout that on involves your own bodyweight as the form of resistance. In other words your bodyweight takes the place of barbells, bench presses and other equipment you would have in your home gym or local gym.

You are likely already doing some sort of calisthenics. Whether it be push ups, pull ups, sit ups etc. Having these workouts are great, but as you get stronger they might not feel as effective any more.

And what makes calisthenics great, is that almost every workout has a progression. Meaning you’re essentially doing the same work out but with a variation that makes the workout more challenging.

You can check out our articles of push up and pull up progressions by clicking the links.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t include weights at all. Keeping the workout balanced is what we are looking to strive for. Including weighted exercise and calisthenics exercises should keep you building strength and mobility in the long run.

boxing workout routines

What To Include In A Boxing Workout

There are a couple of key categories to consider when looking for a beneficial boxing workout or even for overall fitness. Like mentioned earlier for any boxer, you would want to have a balanced mixed outside of your boxing training.

Workouts that improve strength, cardio, mobility and your boxing ability are all areas of your workout that should be given the proper attention.

  • Cardio. Workouts such as jogging, shadowboxing and skipping rope are great sources of cardio to be part of boxers routine. Giving focus to this area of your workout will help with endurance, health and longevity in the boxing ring. It’s also a great way to warm up or cool down before or after the main workout.
  • Strength Training. Building muscle is not all thats necessary when trying to increase force in your punch. Form and technique play a large role, however having a weighted exercise in order to get stronger does help. Strength workouts that fit the range of a boxers movements are places you want to start.
  • Mobility. Using workouts that encourage mobility and movement gives your body the work needed on your joints and flexibility in your boxing movements. This area is often overlooked and not included enough in a boxers training. Yoga and other exercises that focus on flexibility and joints should be included in your boxing exercise. However, if you find that its adding too much time to your workout. Choosing a workout like calisthenics can help you kill two birds with one stone.
  • Boxing Skills. It’s not really a boxing workout if you don’t include any boxing. Sparring or making use of a punching bag and speed bag should round out your exercise completely. Shadowboxing will help in working on your form and combos and give you a sense of what it would feel like inside a ring.

If you’re looking to build muscle for boxing or enjoy boxing for fitness but would still like to build muscle mass. Section off your workout to work on each aspect individually.

In other words, do workouts that focus on cardio, strength building, mobility and boxing for a complete well rounded boxing workout.

building muscle after boxing


Getting stronger and building muscle mass coupled with working on technique and form can give you a harder punch. And ultimately give you a bigger physique.

However, boxing alone likely would not increase muscle mass the same way weights and calisthenics would. The resistance simply isn’t there.

Having a set routine or schedule to focus on the different aspects will help you get to your health and boxing goals in the most beneficial way.

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