A boxer’s bulging biceps (say that three times fast!) are a commonly desired feature, but biceps aren’t the only body part that makes a boxer.
Boxers are strong all over, and the shoulders and back are particularly muscular.
A boxer’s body is desirable because of the looks, strength, and endurance that come with it.
Thankfully, it’s a body that anyone can achieve even if you’re starting from scratch.
So how do you get a body like a boxer?
Boxers train their entire bodies and do a lot of conditioning. To get a body like a boxer, you’ll need to improve your endurance and strengthen your legs, core, glutes, and upper body.
You should follow a routine that includes running, jumping rope, squats, pull-ups, and overhead presses. Planks, knees-to-elbows, and Pallof presses are also good exercises that will help strengthen your core.
The expert tips below should help you go from average to jacked or scrawny to brawny in no time.
What Are the Hallmarks of the Boxer Physique?
To fully understand the hallmarks of the boxer physique, you need to dig a little deeper.
Not everything that goes into getting a body like a boxer is visible to the naked eye.
Emily Stork, co-founder of Worth the Fight Boxing with wtfboxing.com, says,
“In spite of the misconception that many people have that boxing is all about your arms, boxers actually have super strong legs and a killer core.
“All the power in a punch is driven by power from your legs and generating torque through your hips and core.”
So, while large biceps and sturdy fists are the most obvious hallmarks of a boxer’s physique, the core and legs shouldn’t be ignored.
Boxers also have sculpted torsos with lean waists and strong shoulders.
The shoulders pack a lot of power behind the punches; they can’t be neglected either when training for this physique.
A lot of the hallmarks of a boxer’s body are hidden: namely, the endurance factor.
Anyone with a ton of muscle will have brute strength. However, not everyone with muscles has impeccable endurance.
For example, bodybuilders may be able to lift hundreds of pounds but struggle to run a mile without stopping.
Boxers, on the other hand, have the stamina to fight round after round for the duration of a match.
As such, boxers have optimal cardiovascular systems that can withstand hours of fatigue-inducing activity.
This hidden hallmark of the boxer’s body is beneficial to anyone for general health reasons as well as for achieving their desired physique.
9 Training Tips for a Boxer Body
It can take a long time to build the muscle mass that boxers have.
However, with some patience, you can see results a lot sooner than you might expect.
Kate Meier, a personal trainer with garagegymreviews.com points out,
“Of course if a boxer’s physique is what you covet then the best thing to do would be to do boxing workouts.”
But there are other guidelines you should follow in order to get a body like a boxer.
1. Get Lean
According to Emily Stork:
“Generally boxers are pretty lean for their frame because they have to hit certain weights although that’s not as true in the heavier weight classes.”
Of course, you don’t have to hit a specific weight if you’re not training to become an actual boxer.
However, you’ll still want to be lean to achieve a boxer’s physique.
Training will help you burn calories, but the most important component of fat loss is diet.
There are two important things to keep in mind when it comes to nutrition:
- Fad diets don’t work
- You can’t outtrain a bad diet
Instead, you need to change your lifestyle and follow healthier eating habits.
Start by cutting out processed foods and sugary treats. Limiting alcohol is a good idea, too.
Aim to switch to a diet made up of whole grains, low-fat dairy, fruits, and vegetables.
Avoid empty carbs and liquid calories that your body doesn’t need.
If you’re trying to lose weight, make sure you’re in a calorie deficit. Use an online calorie calculator to figure out how many calories you burn in a day, and eat 500 fewer calories than that.
Ensuring you stay full by eating nutritious foods and a lot of protein will make it easier for you to maintain the calorie deficit.
In addition to helping you feel full for longer, protein helps your muscles grow and acts as fuel for your body.
When you train, you create micro-tears in your muscle fibers. Protein is responsible for repairing those tears and allowing the muscles to grow.
It also takes a long time for protein to break down in your body.
Eating lots of chicken, steak, eggs, and other protein-rich foods is an excellent way to make sure you have enough energy to get through your training sessions.
2. Train Your Arms
Weight training is the best way to build your arm muscles. You can train your arms with either dumbbell or barbell movements.
Start with a light weight and add more until the reps are challenging but doable.
Aim for three sets of 10 reps with at least a 30-second rest between sets.
It’s tempting to want to train to failure, but unless you’re going for max effort sets, you should end each set with 2-3 reps left in the tank.
Increase the weight when your workout starts to become too easy. This will allow you to grow your muscles and get stronger.
For some variety, you can change up your weight routine with different exercises, but I recommend sticking with the same movements for at least 4-6 weeks before trying something new.
The following movements can all help strengthen your arms and upper body:
- Bench presses
- Overhead presses
- Lateral raises
- Tricep extensions
If you don’t want to continue bulking once you’ve achieved your desired physique, you can train for muscular endurance instead.
For this, you should aim for three to four sets of 12-20 reps.
3. Develop Your Core
Ab work is essential for developing a strong core.
According to Kate Meier, “Weighted situps and cable rotations will work to build muscle around the midsection.”
Other great exercises that strengthen the core include situps, crunches, and Russian twists.
And while pushups primarily work your shoulders, back, and arms, they also work your core.
You’ll kill four birds with one stone if you incorporate them into your routine!
You can perform any of the above exercises in reps and sets, just like lifting weights. Set a challenging number of sets and reps for each move and aim to reach or beat it every time you work out.
Another effective exercise for core strength is planks.
There are several variations of planks, including regular planks, side planks, and reach planks.
If you’re new to planks, start by holding them for 30 seconds and build up to a minute as you develop more stamina.
4. Do Some Leg Work
Earlier in this article, I quoted Emily Stork speaking about how boxing requires a lot of power from your legs.
If you want to develop a boxer’s physique, you’ll need to work on exercises that target your leg muscles.
Squat variations of any kind are excellent for developing leg strength.
Consider doing a variety of squat movements such as back squats, goblet squats, prisoner squats, single-leg squats, and any other variations you find challenging.
If you want to work your legs and your upper body at the same time, combine dumbbell squats with arm exercises.
You can try doing a bicep curl or shoulder press every time you do a squat.
If you hate squats, other effective movements for your legs include:
- Glute bridges
- Running (hit the treadmill as your warmup!)
(If you hate leg day altogether, click to read some tips!)
5. Aim for the V Shape
To get a V-shaped body, you should aim to develop broad shoulders and a small waist.
Staying lean and broadening your back muscles will give the illusion of a V-shape.
For this, Kate Meier recommends doing lots of pull-ups.
She says, “Boxers typically have well-defined shoulders, a V-shape back and thicker abs and obliques.
“The main thing I would suggest someone do if they wanted a similar body type is lots of pull-ups. This will build the muscles of the shoulders and back.”
Another great way to build your lats and traps is to use the rowing machine, so consider incorporating rowing intervals into your routine.
This will also help build up your stamina and endurance.
7. Do Lots of Cardio
According to Emily Stork, “Boxers spend a significant amount of time doing strength and cardio training that doesn’t involve boxing.”
She points out that boxing is a form of cardio, but boxers supplement their workouts with running and jumping rope as part of a HIIT workout.
Emily recommends this style of workout for anyone who wants to get a boxer’s body.
If you want to work out at home, look up some HIIT exercises that you can follow along to on YouTube, or use a HIIT app.
You can also go to an in-person class if you need the motivation.
Doing cardio for at least 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week will help you build a healthy cardiovascular system.
It’ll also build your endurance and help make high-intensity exercises easier.
Plus, burning all these calories will make it easier to get lean like a boxer.
8. Build Muscular Endurance, Especially in the Shoulders
Joshua Lafond, a personal trainer with healthygymhabits.com, says,
“When you think of a boxer’s body, most people don’t realize the important part shoulder muscles play in the kinetic chain of a punch.”
He cites a study from 2018 that backs this up.
He goes on to note that your shoulder muscles help with your endurance while punching, and they’re the first part of your body to tire while working out.
Anyone who works out regularly will attest to this.
Joshua says, “This is because it is a small muscle on the edge of your arm tasked with holding the weight of your limbs.”
Here’s what Joshua recommends for increasing your shoulder endurance:
- Start with 10-pound dumbbells in each hand at your side. You can try less or more depending on your strength.
- Bring your arms upwards with a natural grip by bending your elbows.
- Extend your right elbow outwards until your arm is straight in front of your chest (similar to shadow boxing).
- Bring your right arm back towards your chest and repeat with your left arm.
- Complete 10-15 repetitions on each side and repeat for three sets.
- For more variability do three sets of uppercuts afterward.
9. Use Pilates for Recovery
Joe Pilates, a boxer, invented Pilates exercises to help himself bounce back from tough workouts.
Everyone needs a rest day or two, but you don’t have to skip working out entirely.
Engaging in some low-impact Pilates is the perfect way to help your body heal and recover.
Not only does Pilates stretch your muscles and soothe your aches and pains, it’s beneficial for your training, too.
It helps you develop strength and endurance so you’re working out even if you don’t feel like you are.
(See more about the benefits and results from Pilates here.)
Getting a body like a boxer takes time, and you need to focus on endurance as well as strength.
But even if you look like a boxer, you won’t truly have the physique of one until you have the stamina of one, too.
Keep up with your training regimen, and you’ll soon build the stamina you need to achieve this body type.
Plus, if you box regularly, you’ll develop amazing confidence from your newfound self-defense skills!
For more physique guides, check out:
Hope this helps!