By Nat Wilkins, Brooklyn, NY, 8/6/2015–This week, Brooklynfights caught up with certified personal trainer, strength and conditioning coach, Danielle Burell. She has worked with a wide range of clients and professional boxers. Burrell specializes in preparing athletes for competition, and shared with us some inside tips.
“Boxing is the number one conditioning sport hands down. It’s the hardest workout anyone will ever have. You’re working literally every muscle group and every energy system.”
As anyone who has participated in the sport knows, boxing is among the most demanding activities there is. It’s marked by periods of intense exertion followed by brief, active recoveries. With pro matches lasting up to 12 rounds at 3 minutes a pop, with only a one minute break between each, conditioning is second-to-none in its importance for boxers.
When we asked Burrell what the boxer’s conditioning mix should look like, she observed, “Because boxing works a variety of energy systems and muscle groups, I would recommend keeping conditioning workouts very well versed by including high intensity interval training (HIIT), long duration cardiovascular exercises (running, biking, swimming), muscular endurance exercises and muscular strength exercises.”
Burrell continued, “Boxers need to be explosive but also need the endurance to last 6, 8, 10 and 12 round fights. Baseball players can’t only rely on field practice to be in game shape, they need to get in the weight room. Same as boxers can’t rely only on the ring to get in fighting shape. There needs to be other forms of training involved to be a well rounded athlete.”
The role of proper nutrition cannot be underestimated, continued Burrell: “Nutrition plays a key role in being a great athlete. Boxers should look at food as fuel. You need fuel to drive, without it – you’ll drain yourself and eventually burn out. Your energy system relies solely on the breakdown of food to give you the power and endurance you need to get through vigorous training.”
As for what exactly boxers should eat, she adds, “With carbohydrates being our bodies’ main source of energy – you’ll need 45-65% of carbohydrates as part of your daily diet to ensure high energy levels and exercise performance–not sugars, big pasta dinners and white flours, but complex carbs such as whole grains, brown rice, fruits, oatmeal and vegetables. I would recommend as well a balanced diet of protein and dairy. A multi vitamin is also great to ensure you’re getting the proper nutrients to sustain an athletic lifestyle.”
Boxing requires both strength and agility. As for how Burrell approaches this delicate balance, she noted, “My first session with a client, no matter their exercise background, is always the same. I assess their balance and coordination first, their flexibility second, their strength third, and their power last.”
She continued, “To build power, a boxer needs to be all the above. Agility comes with being balanced and coordinated. You can have all the power in the world but if you can’t move your feet in the ring, you’ll suffer. They are both equally important tools to have. Agility and power should both be a priority when training.”
We asked Burrell about the recent surge in popularity of boxing as a fitness regimen or non-fighters. She observed, “Boxing is the number one conditioning sport hands down. It’s the hardest workout anyone will ever have. You’re working literally every muscle group and every energy system. For myself, I’ve always loved the sport because it makes me feel accomplished, strong and confident. I think women especially have latched on to the sport because of the same thing. The results I get from boxing exceed any other training I’ve had.”
We inquired about core work and why it’s so important to success in the ring. She noted, “Your core is your rock and foundation in every physical thing you do. To throw a decent punch you need a strong core – to slip, duck and block you need a strong core. Boxing training already involves your abs a ton, but it’s great to include ab and core training circuits to have the best solid core possible.”
In closing, Danielle shared with us her favorite boxing exercise: “I love pad work because it’s the closest thing to sparring.” She added, “I enjoy being able to move around the ring and let my hands go. I always feel much more exerted after pad work than any other boxing exercise. I also love sprints as a boxing conditioning exercise. While doing sprints, you can envision the things you need to work on in life and in ring. Sprints really test your physical and mental capability to surpass comfort levels.”