Archive for April, 2013

Strength Training for Boxers

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

Strength Training for Boxers

This question came up the other day on the military forum and while it’s not military specific I do get a fair few martial artists contact me for training and there is obvious crossover to military applications (hint, don’t fight boxers, unless you can get them on the ground they’ll beat the S@#T out of most people)

Anyone have a good workout to increase power and strength for boxing. I am boxing three times a week doing glove work, sparring, bag work and floor stuff. But I would like to do another three days in the gym working on power and strength. Also I have plateaued on pull ups for ages, stuck on 13. Would love to get to 16 if any one has any tips?


In answering this I’m going to make some assumptions

1. The boxing sessions probably involve plenty of cardio in various forms of interval training like skipping and also the glove and bag work so I’m not going to add any extra cardio.

2. The boxing sessions are going to be fairly demanding on recovery so the aim is going to be to add strength and power with the minimum volume of extra training.

3. Boxing is a weight class sport so the best outcome is for only a moderate increase in muscle mass, restricted to the upper body as much as possible.

4. The main focus should be on maximizing the strength and particularly the power of the upper body muscles lien.

So with that in mind I would recommend the following two workouts for boxers alternated over the 6 workouts of a 2 week cycle so the first week is ABA and the second week BAB.

Keep in mind that this is assuming a minimal base of strength training and once a couple of months of this training has been completed we can switch to a more power based program which I will detail in a later blog post.

Workout A

Deadlift 3 sets of 5 reps with the heaviest weight that can be handled with good form.

Bench press 5 sets of 5 reps working up to one maximally heavy set on set 3 and then 2 back off sets at 20% less focusing on speed.

Pullups 5 sets of 75% of max reps

Medicine ball chest pass 8 sets of 5 reps focusing on reactive speed (have someone pass the ball to you and return it as fast as possible).

Workout B

Barbell power snatch or dumbbell hang snatch 5 sets of 3

Double kettlebell or barbell jerks 5 sets of 5 reps

Weighted pullups 5 sets of 5 reps start with 5kg and add weight each set if possible.

One arm row 5 sets of 8 reps

You will notice an absence of squats. To be clear I love programming heavy squats but boxers are the one exception to this rule. Squats tend to add too much mass to the legs which then means a fighter can carry less upper body mass in the same weight class.

The deadlifts and power snatch here provide enough strength and power stimulus to the legs and posterior chain while keeping muscle mass gains down.


Ok so that’s our plan for an intermediate boxer. In a week or so I’ll post part two with some more advanced routines.


Octogen’s Latest Commando

Saturday, April 13th, 2013

The other day I received my favorite type of email.

Here it is

Hey mate

How’s it all going?

Just a quick email to say a big thanks and to let you know I made it through selection!

Job well done!!!

Hope all is well and have an awesome rest of the year.

This email is from my latest client to pass selection for Australia’s elite Commando Regiment.

It’s always a slightly nervous wait when one of my clients heads off on selection as it’s generally the culmination of months of coaching and a huge amount of time and effort on their part to complete the programs I write.  Then, as the course runs for several weeks they just disappear and i’m left in the dark until I get an email like the one above.


So far since 2008 I’ve received a heap of emails like the one above and out of everyone who has completed programs with me through to the selection course not a single person has failed to make it all the way through and be selected.

If you want the edge in your training for SF you know where to find me…


Military Fitness Q and A #1

Saturday, April 13th, 2013

Military Fitness Q and A

I keep an eye on the forum at and answer a lot of questions that are asked on the forum or sent to me as personal messages.

Because some of the questions are quite relevant I thought I’d start a regular section here where I take questions on military fitness and answer them in a bit more details.

If you have any questions on military fitness please email me at with the subject “Military Q and A” and I’ll answer them here.

This one comes from the Aus military forum


I am going to basic in 6 weeks, and for preparation my friend/trainer has swapped my programming around from 5×5 to 10 sets of 15-20 reps. at ~70kg to help with endurance apparently.

Is this a good idea, or should I be returning to previous/different programming?


The short answer is no, this is a bad idea for a couple of reasons.

1. The basis of any military fitness program should be strength. By dropping the 5×5 you are missing out on this critical element. This close to enlisting you may want to drop the volume of strength training to make way for additional endurance training but switching completely is not ideal. I suggest keeping 3×5 or even switching to 5×3.

2. Sets of 20 squats with 70kg is not very specific to anything you will do in basic training. A far better approach is to keep the heavier squats as above and add some sessions of higher rep kettlebell swings to build leg endurance. 10 sets of 15 – 20 swings with a 24kg kettlebell will give you what you need.


I read both of your articles in the newsletter about squatting and running but now I’d like to know what is the best way to schedule the two types of training. If I do squats and then go running will this cause problems with my knees etc?


One of the challenges facing military personnel and any other athlete who needs to develop a broad range of fitness abilities is the timing of the different types of workouts for optimum efficacy.

The first principle to keep in mind here is that any combination of endurance running and strength training will be in some way counterproductive to both abilities. The interference may not be a huge amount but it will definitely occur. No one has ever set a world record in a strength sport and endurance running. This is not to say that you can’t develop a fairly high degree of both strength and endurance, just keep in mind the interference.

The second principle is that the closer to each other these activities are performed the more prominent the interference.

In general reasonable strength work affects endurance performance less than the other way around (although I’ve done squat workouts that have left me unable to walk) and therefore strength work should preceed endurance work.

In an ideal world you would perform leg strength work on one day and then run the next day. Less than ideal but still very good is to perform leg strength work around lunch time (early morning is bad for squatting heavy as the muscles and nervous system are generally not primed) and then perform running later in the day after a 4-5 hour rest.

Slightly worse again is to run in the morning and then perform strength work in the afternoon.

Finally the worst combos are to perform heavy strength work followed immediately by running or a hard run followed by strength work.

Having said this sometimes doing everything in one session is unavoidable. If this is the case you just have to go back to our first principle and reduce your expectations of the outcome of the session. For example if you have to squat a solid 5×5 at 80% of your max and then go out on a 2.4km run don’t expect to run close to your personal best time.

In terms or doing damage to your knees, ankles, hips etc there are no issues unless you really overdo it on squats, miss one very badly and cause yourself and acute injury.


Getting Back Into Running

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

Disclaimer – this post is not about ME getting back into running. As I explained earlier I try not to run unless I absolutely have to!

I spend a bit of time answering questions on the Ausmilitary Forum and one of the most frequent questions is about how to develop a basic level of running fitness from a position of having done little or no cardio in the preceding months or years. These days for a lot of people the last time they may have done a beep test or timed run was in high school and that could be years ago.

If the furthest you’ve run in the last year is 50m to catch a bus then there are some specific considerations you need to keep in mind before you start a running program and there are several specific guidelines I recommend you follow so that you don’t get hurt or discouraged.

Pre program considerations

You are going to be very out of shape, you might be able to run for 5 minutes without a break or it might be 30 seconds. No matter where you start you have to accept that level and understand it’s going to take time to improve.

You are out of shape and when you start running things might start to hurt. Knees, shins, various muscles that are more used to the comfort of your couch, all of these things could start to hurt. In running pain is not weakness leaving the body, it’s an indication that you need to recover more.

If you haven’t done anything for a year or more don’t think that you are suddenly going to be able to follow a 4 or 5 day a week program without running into point two in a major way. Be satisfied with 3 days a week of running and if that hurts be satisfied with 2 days of running and another cross training workout.

Get new shoes, yours may look fine but the foam will be compacted and useless. I’m not a huge fan of really cushioned shoes but I’m also not a fan of pure barefoot running for any type of distance work. I would suggest getting some in between shoes and trying to do all your running on grass.


There are lots of running programs out there and lots of them work. The program below is my very simple, idiot proof program for getting started in running. It assumes that you have almost no fitness. While all the distances are meant to be run, if you can’t run a full 400, 800m or 2.4km then the aim is to run/walk the distance in the shortest possible time.

The program is 6 workouts over 2 weeks with a very simple structure of a short interval run, medium interval run and a “long” slow distance run (I put “long” in parentheses as long is a relative term)

Monday – Run 6 x 400m with 2:00 rests

Wednesday – Run 2 x 1.2km with 4:00 rest

Friday/Saturday – Run 2.4km

Monday – Run 4 x 400m with 1:00 rests

Wednesday – Run 3 x 800m with 2:00 rests

Friday/Saturday – Run 3.2km

After 2 weeks repeat the cycle but add 800m to the long run

After 6 weeks and 3 cycles you should be able to run approximately 5km and you will be ready for more advanced programs.


Still too much?

If it’s been a REALLY long time since your last run then you can do the same pattern of runs but do 50% of the distance in each interval in the first two weeks and 75% in the second two weeks.


If you want a comprehensive series of programs as well as heaps of other info on how to achieve your best ever results in the beep test and 2.4km run test go to my other site and get the world first book written specifically about the Beep Test for Just $37!