Applied Physiology – Boxing Fitness

Whether you’ve watched a fight or a Rocky film, it’s well known in the sporting world that it requires skill, courage and a whole load of fitness to be a boxer. A common perception of boxing training is that you need to use specific boxing drills and clock up the miles on long, early-morning runs, however we know that reaching optimal physical performance is much more complicated than that.

This Boxing Science section will provide information of how applied physiological science can be used to optimise performance.


What to Expect:

  • High intensity interval training
  • Planning Your Training
  • Physiological Testing

The Nature of Boxing

We know that boxing can last 3-12 rounds of 2-3 minutes sperated by 1 minute total recovery in their respected corners. Fight duration depends on fighting level, and the intensity is dictated by the tactics and strategies of boxers involved.

What Do We Know?

Data regarding physiological demands and exercise to rest ratios in professional boxing are not available in scientific literature, however based on our experience it is reasonable to assume, along with data relating to punch volume and intensity, force-velocity and impulse-momentum relationships, that boxing involves repeated high-intensity actions with brief periods of low intensity actions or recovery. This means that to be successful in boxing, athletes need to have a well-developed aerobic and anaerobic systems.


Boxing Science - Physiology

What Does This Mean For Conditioning in Boxing?

Of primary importance for many professional boxers is the development of aerobic capacity. Athletes with well-developed aerobic capacities are likely to recover from high intensity activity faster or be able to perform at high intensities for longer. Precise quantification of aerobic capacity and an understanding physiological characteristics of a professional boxer is important to monitor changes and programme individual training intensities.

Data derived from assessments might assist in identifying strengths and areas for improvement relating to energy system dominance, running economy, substrate utilisation and provide heart rate and rating of perceived exertion data required to prescribe and monitor training intensities. It is important that conditioners understand the physiological characteristics of their athletes, develop methods to assess characteristics and use information derived from these tests to design specific programmes to develop these qualities.


Guiding you to your peak

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The Boxing Science Team

Sport Psychology Authors

Alan Ruddock CSci MSc BSc (Hons.)


Alan is a physiologist at Sheffield Hallam University with a wealth of experience in sport science. He has has worked with a range of individual athletes and teams, including FIFA World Cup referee Howard Webb and Commonwealth games medalists England Table Tennis. Alan has worked extensively within Boxing at the highest level, having a huge influence on Kid Galahad’s British, Commonwealth and European Title wins and most recently Kell Brook’s IBF welterweight world title victory. Alan is a BASES accredited sport & exercise scientist, doctoral researcher and one of the UK’s first chartered scientists in sport science. Alan will be throwing some knowledge bombs into Boxing Science drawing on his experiences of working in sport at the highest level.

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