Archive for the ‘deadlift’ Category

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.


The Octogen Philosophy

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

The Octogen Philosophy

With the relaunch of my blog and websites I want to take a minute to define a simple training philosophy so that everyone here is on the same page.

Training philosophy is one of the most contentious issues among exercise professionals and enthusiasts today.  True professionals and knowledgeable athletes understand that there is no one “Way” to achieve fitness and they constantly seek new knowledge to refine their methods.

Unfortunately for many people a lack of deeper understanding leads to adoption of dogmatic principles and a rejection of other methods and philosophies because they have been told by a guru that such and such a system is bad for one reason or another.

I’ll get to some of these dogmatic groups in future posts but for now let me lay out my current (and I say current because it is always open to change based on new evidence) training philosophy.

  1. You can be whatever you want but you must be Strong First! – Ok I have shamelessly stolen this line from Pavel Tsatsouline and his new organization StrongFirst but for me this statement captures what I’ve been trying to tell people for years.  Strong is a relative term and the level of strength that person requires is different depending on their goal but a foundation of basic strength prevents injuries and allows for more sophisticated and complicated fitness qualities to be developed.
  2. Training must have goals – If you don’t know where you want to go then how do you know what methods might be helpful to get there.  The best training plans I’ve ever seen have a specific goal at the end that motivates people to apply the correct methods and deal with the discomfort to achieve that goal.  In the last few years my best clients have been without exception military members who are attempting Special Forces selection.  These guys will do 12 workouts a week and don’t blink when I tell them to do a 7 hour long workout (yes you heard right, your 40 minute workout is nothing)
  3. Unless you have a very good reason to do it don’t bother doing shit you hate.  It took me 15 years to figure this one out but basically if you hate doing something and don’t have a great reason for doing it then you are going to do a half arsed job of it and miss half your sessions, you’ll get demotivated and then your plan will fall apart.  I had this for over 10 years with running.  I always did some running because its part of fitness but honestly I fucking hate running.  It’s boring, it hurts my knee and it interferes with my strength gains.  This year I resolved that I’ll never run again as part of a fitness program unless I absolutely have to.
  4. Only do as much as is necessary to continue to progress.  If you only need to do basic barbell exercises, a few bodyweight drills and some cardio to continue to improve your fitness and move toward your goals then don’t complicate your life with every latest and greatest gadget and exercise.  It ends up being distracting and leads to what I call exercise ADD where you do a little bit of everything and suck at them all.  As you get deeper into training complexity will inevitably increase but don’t jump the gun.

That pretty much covers it for my overall philosophy but of course this says nothing of methods.

Here is a list of the general methods that I utilize on a regular basis to help my clients achieve their goals.

Powerlifting – In keeping with the theory of being strong first I believe that everyone needs a good basic barbell program.  Squat, bench press, deadlift, overhead press, rows and their variations cover this.

Kettlebells – Good for strength (up to a point) and great for making a body bullet proof against injuries and also the single best tool for fat loss and conditioning I know of.

Olympic weightlifting – for athletes Olympic weightlifting teaches the transfer from strength to power like no other modality.  When I say Olympic lifting I am NOT talking about throwing 40kg for 20+ reps.  I’m talking reps under 5 and weights close to 1RM, anything else is stupid.

Crossfit – having just taken a swipe at Crossfit above I have to admit that some of the basic principles of crossfit such as functional movements at high intensity have some merit.  I just don’t subscribe to the theory of flogging yourself senseless every day and honestly some of their exercises are just dangerous and look stupid. (kipping handstand pushups WTF)

Strongman – If you want to get strong in a practical sense then do some strongman.

Running and all that crap – single mode cardio is my least favourite form of exercise, both to participate in and to program.  Long periods of that stuff inevitably lead to overuse injuries through postural imbalance which then takes ages to fix.  My opinion is that if you need to run then you can get most of your conditioning through doing kettlebells and other stuff and you can then practice the skill of running in a limited number of sessions a week.  In particular I hate military programs that have people out pounding the pavement 5 days a week, it’s just asking for shin splints and knee issues.  If you look like a concentration camp victim (ie like most great runners) then you can get away with that.  Normally muscled people are going to break.

Ok so now that we are all on the same page we can get down to looking at different training methods and programs for various goals!

Jim Wendlers 5-3-1 for maximum strength

Monday, November 2nd, 2009
Pulling 240kg in April

Pulling 240kg in April

In my experience the vast majority of athletes are always on the look out for the magic program that is going to boost their performance into the stratosphere while making them 10X sexier to the opposite sex.

They are normally impatient for the performance and sexiness to arrive and try 4, 6, 8 or 12 week super cycles that promise the world but often deliver overtraining, frustration and injury instead of results.

While it may not provide instant results or sexiness (your mileage may vary) Jim Wendlers 5-3-1 system is a definite antidote to the endless skipping through radical plans.

It’s more of the slow cooker approach to strength development and if you’ve got a tiny bit of patience for the first few weeks then you’ll reap some big rewards.

I’ve been using 5-3-1 now for a few months, testing out variations of the program in my own training and want to share some observations so that you can decide if it’s a good option for your training.


An Excellent Article on Simplifying Training

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

Just a quick link today to an excellent article on simplifying your training and improving the efficiency of your workouts.

The article is by Pavel Tsatsouline and was posted on Tim Ferriss’ 4 hour Work Week blog. (I highly recommend getting a copy of Tim’s book)

The main thrust of the article is that many people do too much fluff in the gym and that you can eliminate much of the crap, work hard on the basics and achieve better results.

The article outlines a plan to cut powerlifting training down to bench, deadlift and squat. Of course you may not be into powerlifting but I think that the principles outlined in the article are sound and could easily be applied to other fitness areas. For example an Olympic lifter could choose clean and jerk, snatch, pulls and squats and apply the program, or a kettlebell lifter might cut back to snatches, turkish get ups and presses.

I’ve kind of being doing this for the last few weeks anyway. I’ve been squatting heavy, doing either pullups or military presses and then a short conditioning workout at the end of each session. It allows me to squeeze in a workout before my clients and athletes turn up to the gym and i’m hitting rep PBs on back squat.

Anyway check out the full article here

Tim Ferriss – Pavel Tsatsouline Blog post

Training without Training

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

In strength training routines it’s fairly common to do a program specifically tailored to improving one lift or one area of training. Often theses routines call for high intenstiy or a high volume of specific work on a certain area and often they are pretty effective at boosting personal bests.

The problem is that sometimes after you finish a high intensity deadlift routine or a high volume squat routine you enter a period where even looking at those exercises is enough to make you want ot leave the gym and because of that you may start to slide backwards!

One solution to this problem of temporary mental burnout is to avoid the exercise in question and focus on a variety of related exercises so that you can maintain your newfound strength or fitness gains but also maintain your enthusiasm for training.

As a quick example if you’ve just done a heavy deadlift routine and set a new personal best take 2- 4 weeks and focus on the following exercises

Partial deadlift pulls from above the knee
Power cleans or power snatches
Clean pulls with 50 – 70% of your best deadlift.
Good mornings
Kettlebell Swings

If you include a couple of those exercises in place of Deadlifts you may even find that you work on weak points in the deadlift and when you return to full deadlifts that your numbers jump up again!

Here is a short video from my training of some partial deadlifts.

Remember if you are interested in Olympic lifting or serious strength training, we are running a workshop on the 30th of November at Olympic park in Sydney!