Interval training is the heart and soul of conditioning for boxing. Boxing itself is comprised of intervals, short bursts of speed throughout three minute rounds spread out among long arduous workouts. It makes sense that if you want to be a top boxer, meaning you want to have the conditioning and skills to hang with the best, you must incorporate intervals into your training.
My favorites are 3 mins of high intensity with a 1 min break (heart rate at around 80-85% max), 400m sprints at 90% effort with a minute break, 30 sec full speed sprints with 30 sec off doing shuttle runs at a tennis/bball court, and I also love doing Tabata sets (sprints and heavybag punchouts). Nevertheless, what to do is quite simple, the hard part is getting out there consistently and just doing it. Two common mistakes that boxers make, myself included at times in the past, not thinking long-term about your intervals and not understanding their purpose.
Your intervals are not just to prepare you for an upcoming fight, they are preparing you for further training. When you train today, you are training for the workouts of tomorrow, and next week, and next year, your ultimate goal is to be the best boxer you can be, and that doesn’t happen overnight no matter what your interval program. Every workout should raise the bar by 1 inch, that’s how you have to think about your training. You are not training today to fight tomorrow, if you train like that you’ll burn out fast. Rather, you are training today to train better tomorrow, and to be your best come fight time, only to go back to training and be even better for the next fight. It’s easy to lose focus on this perspective and rush, the key is to believe in yourself, trust your motivation, trust your commitment and your desire. If you trust in those you have nothing to worry about, you can relinquish the pressure of ‘now’ to your benefit.
There comes a time to go all out, to train like every workout is your last, it’s an unbelievable feeling. When this time comes you walk out your door on your way to the gym and you are thinking, ‘I’m gonna destroy myself today, I’m gonna run myself into the ground until I have nothing left’. You have to earn this type of attitude from your self, it comes from day-in day-out training. When you have put in the work you will start to have this type of hungry inner-dialogue, and not a dialogue that says, ‘shit, intervals today, I hope they go well’.
So, you’ve put your interval program to paper or at least have it clear in your mind, it should have some middle distance efforts (1:30 mins – 5 mins), and some sprint efforts (typically 15 – 30 seconds), now what? Your goal is simply not to miss a workout and this is no easy task, everything from injuries, fatigue, negative self-talk, women and friends will try to get in your way. Forget about your opponent, he wants you to train hard, he wants you to be in shape, as far as he is concerned it will be all the better for him when he dumps you on your ass, there’s no glory in beating an easy opponent. Your biggest obstacle is not your opponent, he only shows up at the end of the story, your ability to focus and stay motivated is personal enemy #1.
The best way to not miss a workout is to stay hungry and motivated, in the beginning of your interval training phase I recommend taking it easy and not going all out. This advice is counterintuitive, after all, we are talking about intervals here. At the end of your workout, you should feel like you have some steam left in the tank, like you could come back tomorrow and do it all again. Do this for a couple months, don’t miss a workout, stay hungry and stay positive.
You have a long way to go in the sport of boxing, intervals are the gateway to the next level, but don’t try to get there all in one workout, slowly groove your way into shape, steadily. Trust me, there will come a time when you’ll be flying across the track, or barrelling down a 3 minute interval at 85% of your max heart rate like you were born for this. Your mind and body will tell you when you are ready, in the meantime, take the pressure off, go a bit easier and be consistent!