“One of the first things you realize when you learn how to throw a punch is that the strength of your arms doesn’t matter nearly as much as the strength of your legs, core, and posterior chain,” says former professional boxer Ed Latimore. This, he explains, all comes down to the basic principles of “force.”
For those of you who are a bit rusty on their high school physics, know that “the stronger your core, the more effectively you’re able to transmit the force generated by your legs,” says Latimore. “The path of transmission is the core, but the method of transmission is the twisting motion done by your core, and strong core allows you to effectively transfer force from your legs via the twisting motion of your internal obliques, serratus, and latissimus dorsi muscle.” Your body operates as a single system, and the proper movement of your core is what translates the power from your legs into your punch.
A strong core isn’t just critical for throwing punches, it’s also important for avoiding the ones from your opponent. A strong core provides a better center of balance, which makes it easier to control your body quickly over the short distances that optimize slipping, bobbing, and weaving around punches,” says Latimore. While your usual crunches and sit-ups can be great for building core strength, Latimore has a few other go-to moves from his boxer abs workout that he uses to keep his muscles ready for the ring. Read on to try them for yourself.
Boxer abs workout
1. Ab wheel extensions
Before you write off the ab wheel as an infomercial gimmick, you should know that it’s great for building core strength. “This is my top exercise,” says Latimore. “It’s very tough and works your entire core. Kneeling on the floor with your hands on either side of the wheel and your core engaged, slowly roll the wheel out in front of you as far as you can go. Be sure to keep your back in a straight line, and focus on rolling your entire body out with your hips leading the movement. Then, crunch your body back in with your butt and abs tight.
An oldie but a goodie, there’s a reason why planks are a staple in every sort of fitness training—including boxing. “They do great things for your posture,” says Latimore. Stack your hands directly below your shoulders and your neck out straight, and set your feet shoulder-width apart. Push your belly button toward your spine to engage your core, and squeeze your glutes to keep your body in a parallel line to the floor.
You may not realize it, but sprinting is a great way to work your core while also spiking your heart rate—and is an important part of any sort of boxer abs workout. “The major reason boxers do so much running isn’t to improve their aerobic capacity—it’s to build the endurance and functional strength of their legs,” says Latimore. When sprinting, be sure to hold your core and utilize diaphragmatic breathing to keep it engaged. If you’ve got limited space, try some high knees to reap the same benefits, or follow along with the sprint workout above.
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