The thing about boxing is that it encompasses a whole variety of different shapes and sizes, from the flyweight to the heavyweight divisions there is every weight imaginable. Weights can start from as little as 47kg (104lbs) all the way to 100kg (220lbs) plus (Nikolai Valuev weighed 146kg (322lbs)). At the lower end of the spectrum all of the boxers have very similar bodyfat percentages, but when it comes to Cruiserweight or above the shape and sizes of the boxers can vary massively.
One of the most well-known parts of boxing is making the weight, this is the process of losing or gaining weight so that you can compete at the desired weight for your class. In years gone by this could become quite a dangerous process with fighters desperate to lose weight before the fight.
These days, most of the more professional boxers out there have a team of nutritionists and trainers who can ensure that they easily make the necessary weight. This leads to better performance and much less extreme weight fluctuations between fights. Anyone who saw British boxer Ricky Hatton (nicknamed Ricky Fatton by the tabloids) between fights will understand the issue.
Boxers these days will try and stay relatively lean year round but will cut down to their leanest just before a fight. So how does this help you? Well, as most of you are aware having six pack abs year round is quite challenging! It is also very difficult to eat healthily 365 days a year. The holiday period around Christmas and New Years is all about food, drink, friends, and family. Even the most dedicated of bodybuilders isn’t going to be operating at 100% on Christmas Eve.
Dieting like a boxer, in this case, doesn’t mean eating 12 raw eggs “Rocky style” it means learning when to peak, it means identifying events you want to look your best for, a long time in advance. A boxer will start preparing for a fight at least 3-4 months in advance, which is why you should be treating your best friend’s wedding like your main event. Train hard for your “fight”, track your calories and increase your protein. Importantly, when your main event is completed you need to make sure that you don’t swing from one extreme to another. Too many people treat their main event like the last event they’ll ever have.
The Traditional Diet
You come back from holiday after 3 weeks of eating nothing but carrot sticks and hummus in the run-up and suddenly you can’t stop eating. You are so happy to be off the diet that you don’t think twice about a second serving of dessert. You’ve already taken all of the beach photos of you in your swimsuit so what does it matter now? Then 3 months later you remember that you have your sister’s engagement party to attend and you can’t fit into your outfit, but there’s still two weeks left so time to go on another crazy diet!
The Boxer Diet Strategy
But this year is going to be different, you’re now following the boxing diet strategy. In this strategy, you are going to eat normally for most of the year. High protein, high fibre, lots of fruit and vegetables and two to three training sessions per week. Or at least a lot of walking. You are also going to map out the big events of the year. A holiday, weddings, the office Xmas party. These events are going to be your priority and 6 weeks prior to each of them you are going to take your nutrition and training more seriously.
Slowly lower your calories, increase your step count, add in an extra weight session, or even take up boxing! Might as well right? Once the event is over you can go back to your previous state, still eat healthily still keep protein high, eat your greens, and exercise a lot etc … But don’t count your calories or at least increase your calorie target range (i.e. instead of trying to hit 2,000 calories per day aim for between 1800 and 2200).
This will allow you to enjoy your year, drink alcohol, eat out at fancy restaurants etc … But without the huge weight fluctuations that most people experience when they try to lose weight super fast and then completely stop caring 6 weeks later.
Four Ways To Lose Weight Like a Boxer
So now that you understand what it takes to diet/train for a main event, let’s look at four ways that you can lose weight like a boxer.
1.The perfect combo: strength training and cardio
Lift heavy weights, perform deadlifts, squats, bench presses and many other exercises. Add to this some cardio, whilst we’re on the subject of boxing we might as well stick with it. Boxing, pad-work, or hitting a heavy bag for 20-30 minutes will burn more calories than just about any other form of cardio. It works both the upper and lower body and will really help lower your body fat.
2. Rest like a pro
You can’t train 7 days a week forever and expect to stay healthy, most boxers have at least one or two days off per week, and they’re professional athletes. As a non-athlete, you will need at least 2-3 days off resting.
The trick is to lower your calories slightly on those days to try and match the lower amount of calories expended. Another trick would be to increase your step count by walking more on your rest days. This will keep your calories ticking over.
3. KO fat by increasing your protein
The higher your protein intake, the higher your metabolism. This has been proven in numerous studies. Halton& Hu (2004) found that high protein diets increase thermogenesis (metabolism) and improve weight loss . The study also found that high protein diets increased satiety – also known as feeling fuller for longer after a meal. This will prevent snacking on high-calorie snacks.