Book Review : THE BOXER’S BOOK OF TRAINING AND CONDITIONING

I picked this book up about a month ago because, as a boxing coach, I was getting sick of putting my students through the same conditioning drills at every work-out. I wanted some variety, some new exercises, and some new challenges for my athletes.

I didn’t totally expect what I got: the work-out sections were predictable but good. The exercises were described with easy-to-understand pictures. At the end of the book, Hatmaker has various work-out menus that address different muscle groups and types of strength/endurance. These were used and make the book worth the money for coaches and boxers looking to supplement existing training.

But the book’s power punch, for me, was the intro. Mark Hatmaker spends a few pages debunking some of the old myths that haunt conventional boxing gyms. In a few efficient pages, he puts the finger on some of the things that have annoyed me for years in the sport. When I was still boxing, my teammates and I used to deride the ‘communist Russian’ approach to boxing that sees many athletes ground down with boring, repetitive work-outs and over-training such as mindless road-work and sets and sets of push-ups.

I especially like the author’s take on road-work. As a boxer, I ate many, many, many miles on the tarmac. Most of these miles were at a comfortable pace. They gave me tendonitis, ate lots and lots of time, took lots and lots of energy and brought me away from the gym where I might better spend my time working on technique. Hatmaker’s philosophy on roadwork is that boxers don’t run marathons. As amateurs, boxers train for 3 x 3-minute rounds or perhaps 2 x 4 minutes. Pros fight longer bouts, with 3 x 12 is the longest championship fights.
For amateurs, super-intense 9 or 8-minute bouts require explosive power and some endurance, but nothing near the type of endurance that is built by running 5+ miles per day. For boxing, sprints, interval training, hill running, and power-building exercises are best in terms of conditioning. His message: stop wearing out your cartilage running miles and miles.

The fast-and-efficient work-out plans offered in the book, if followed, will help save time that can be applied to learning the actual art of boxing. The sprint-and-lift-heavy philosophy also gives a new perspective on the fact that many coaches continue to prescribe rounds and rounds of monotonous and even-paced banging away at heavy bags. Your athletes won’t do marathons of hitting punching bags either. Hatmaker’s book begs the question: why train boxers as if the goal were an epic 40-minute even-paced bout with the bag? He presents his reader with alternatives.

I would recommend this book to coaches and boxers looking to develop new training habits. I would highly, highly recommend it for many practitioners who have been in the sport for a while. In the era of Crossfit, its high time for the debunking of some of the Rocky-era ghosts that continue to haunt boxing!

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