Why Do Boxers Hit Their Abs? 10 Benefits

Boxers are notorious for their intense training programs. From skipping for minutes on end, to going all out on a punching bag, they do it all. A boxer should be able to maintain a well-rounded training schedule. This allows them to ensure that every aspect of boxing is covered.

One of the many exercises that boxers do, has to do with conditioning their abdominal muscles. Boxers often hit their abs during training. This may be done either while standing or while they are doing crunches and sit-ups. There are various reasons to do this exercise and also the benefits attached to doing this.

Weight Loss

It is best to first consider the most obvious reasons why boxers hit their abs. Often we see training footage of the all-time great, Manny Pacquiao, training his abs. Boxers like Manny would stand up straight while doing these exercises. The legendary Freddie Roach would either hit him with a medicine ball or a small stick. This is not the most common variation.

Most of the time we see boxers doing crunches or jackknifes. Someone would then stand next to them while delivering the blow to the abs. These ab exercises cause a significant increase in the boxer’s heart rate. This is due to the toll put on your abs and will result in burning some serious calories.

We will also later look into how various exercises can be combined, by using supersets. These supersets are especially good for increasing your heart rate. This will not only lead to improving your fitness but also help you lose weight. It may be of great use to boxers who need to cut weight before a fight. Anyone that wants to lose weight will stand to benefit from these exercises.

Building Stronger Abdominal Muscles

There are two ways to get a six-pack. The first is to reach a low enough level of body fat. Secondly, by building strong abdominal muscles. We have already established that ab-hitting exercises are a good way to lose weight. Crunches and jackknifes are excellent for building stronger abdominal muscles.

The contraction of muscles will cause these muscle fibers to grow stronger. There are various ways in which these exercises can be combined. The only thing that all of the exercises have in common is that they incorporate a blow to the body.

Let’s say for example you are doing this whilst lying down. You and your partner might decide to do an intense ab-superset. A superset can consist of doing a few crunches, followed by Russian twists. The set then concludes with medicine ball throws to the abdominal area.

Supersets are excellent for increasing your heart rate and also for burning more calories. These ab exercises are excellent for building a strong core. Which is crucial for any boxer. Your core allows you to rotate with every punch and get the greatest amount of power. That is why hitting your abs proves to be a well-rounded, excellent exercise.

Becoming Used To Absorbing Punches

The sweet science is all about hitting and not being hit. Whether you are a heavyweight or a featherweight, there is always a chance that you will be punched. Thus, boxers need to be used to the impact of a punch on their body. When you are not used to being punched, you flinch.

Flinching can be a boxer’s Achilles heel. A boxer who flinches does not keep his eyes locked on his opponent. So it can be said that boxers hit their abdominal muscles during training to ensure that they are used to the impact of being punched.

A boxer must be cool, calm, and collected while facing a flurry of punches from their opponent. It works in their favor. Your ability to focus during defending an attack can be the key to landing the perfect counterattack.

As boxers train to take punches to their body, they also practice control and timing. These aspects are invaluable in the greater picture. It adds to a fighter’s credibility as a counter-puncher.

Mental Conditioning

When we say that boxing training is intense, it is an underestimation. Training programs often include a variety of high-intensity interval training exercises. This is a taxing and intense way to go about training. This is one of the many difficult endeavors boxers face daily.

It should be obvious that having a 10kg/22lb medicine ball smashed against your abs is also not the most convenient exercise to do. That is exactly where the age-old saying of ‘train hard, fight easy’ comes in.
Boxers often put themselves through difficult training circumstances. During training camps, they push themselves to their very limits.

Vasiliy Lomachenco is an excellent example. He trains using 4-minute rounds, to build more endurance. Other boxers such as GGG spend 30 minutes in a session training their shoulder muscles. The reasoning behind this is that they will face difficult circumstances.

Once they fight, they should already be accustomed to it. That is why boxers expose themselves to these, ab-hitting, types of exercises during training. They condition their minds to become accustomed to the pain and learn how to focus through it.

Regulating Your Breathing

The first thing you will be taught in any combat sport is how to breathe. Boxers are taught to make use of short, brief exhalations while they are fighting. This is simulated during training, as boxers imitate this during these abdominal exercises.

It is important to regulate your breathing. Your so-called ‘tank’ is what carries you throughout the fight. It will determine whether you will still have energy left by the end of the fight. Every single punch is supposed to throw whilst there is a sharp exhalation by the boxer.

There are various reasons for this. One of the most prominent is that when one exhales, it forces your diaphragm to contract. Two birds with one stone! On the one hand, you are saving energy by breathing. Firstly, you are also bracing your abdominal area for that counter to the body.

That is why, whenever you see someone doing this form of exercise, you will see them exhale with every blow to the body. These exhalations are similar to how boxers are supposed to breathe during a fight. These exercises are first, good breathing exercises.

It also builds muscle memory to ensure that boxers use this during a fight. The exercise teaches a boxer the finer skills of breathing and builds stronger abdominal muscles at the same time. It is beneficial and a great exercise to work into your training schedule!


There are various training exercises that boxers can follow. Whether it is burning those shoulders up by working the battle rope or lifting weights. Many of these exercises ask boxers to have equipped training facilities. This is something that is not always practically viable.

Boxers often squeeze in 30-minute workouts or live far from boxing gyms. That is why they commit to doing roadwork and high-intensity interval training workouts. Alternatively, they do shadowboxing. These exercises are simple and need almost no equipment at all.

Ab-hitting exercises are another example of an exercise that requires very little equipment. There are great variations to these exercises. Almost anything can be used to inflict a punch on your abs. One of the techniques used the most involves a medicine ball.

If you are training alone, you may do crunches while holding the ball, and throw it down on your abs when you come down. It also works if you are two or more boxers that are training together. One of you can lie down and contract your abdominal muscles.

The other one can then stand next to you whilst throwing the ball down on your abs. This is preferential as the standing boxer may then be able to target different areas of your abs. Other variations include punching each other’s abs whilst wearing gloves.

It can also be done while hanging from a pull-up bar. Regardless of which method you choose, this is an easy to do exercise. It also is clear that it provides excellent results!

Preparing For Impact

You can ask any person that has absorbed that big knockout punch before – the punches that hurt the most are the ones you do not see coming. That is why it is so important for boxers to keep their guard up at all times. It allows them to protect themselves, see punches, and brace for impact.

This is especially important when it comes to body shots. Some of the most useful combinations in boxing revolves around high-low combinations. These combinations distract opponents by throwing punches high. A counter follows it with powerful body shots down low.

Boxers should be able to tuck their elbows and block body shots as well as punches aimed at the head.
A well-placed shot can wind an opponent, causing them to struggle to breathe and making it very difficult to continue fighting. That is why boxers need to be able to brace for impact, in time.

This contraction of abdominal muscles needs to happen within a few split seconds. There is no better way to train that instinct than by doing this exercise. It forces the boxer to brace for impact, contract their abdominal muscles and breathe all at the same time.

It Is A Well-Rounded Training Exercise

Regardless of how often you train various techniques, if you do not know how to combine them, they will prove to be of little value. This is what makes this exercise one that is so beneficial to boxers. We have outlined the various important elements that it incorporates above.

The exercise forces a boxer to have mental stamina. They are tasked with breathing while contracting their muscles. They also have to brace for impact and push those abdominal muscles to their very limit, all at the same time. These are all elements that are of cardinal importance in any fight.

A boxer should be able to have the majority of these elements flow naturally. Everything should happen without putting too much thought into it. The importance of muscle memory cannot be understated in boxing. The basic combinations are trained thousands of times, over and over again.

You might wonder why? Well, the answer is quite simple. In a sport where choices have to be made within a mere matter of seconds, one cannot take the time to think before throwing every single combination. Some combinations need to flow naturally. A boxer should be able to do various things long before stepping into a ring.

This includes breathing, bracing for impact, and enduring some form of pain. That is why a coach would often have their boxer do these training exercises. It forces the boxer to incorporate these elements at the same time. It allows them to push their boxers to their very physical and mental limits.


Who are some of the greatest boxers of the past few years? Names like Mohammed Ali and Floyd Mayweather are always part of the conversation. These boxers achieved celebrity status due to various reasons. It was not only because of their excellent boxing skills.

They also became well-known for their notoriously high levels of confidence. Boxing is as much a mental game as it is physical. Boxers that fight hesitantly are scared to throw punches. Additionally, they are also uneasy when absorbing punches.

This opens up great areas which opponents can exploit and capitalize on. Confidence is key when it comes to boxing. A certain confidence is built when you know that your body can take a certain amount of punishment. When a boxer steps into the ring and knows that their body is well-conditioned, they can move forward.

They know that regardless of the body shots they may absorb here and there, they will still be able to push through. This allows them to continue fighting to the best of their ability. Fighting without fear will prove invaluable to them.

Community Building

Anyone who has recently taken up the sport of boxing will be able to tell you about how supportive the community is. Training together for boxing is different from training together for other sports. Boxers are renowned for pushing themselves to their very limits during training.

You and your training partners go through intensive training sessions together. This creates a different type of bond between the community you train with. Your fellow boxers see you at your most vulnerable point. Together you endure the hardships of training.

This mutual relationship of growing together leads to building friendships that last forever. Your friends eventually become your support structure. They keep you accountable every step of the way. The ab-hitting exercise is metaphorically similar to this journey.

One training partner would do crunches while the other throws his abs with a medicine ball. This will usually be done while one partner continued to motivate the other, urging him to not give in to the pain. Training together in such an intense environment can be difficult when done alone.

Part of the reason why this exercise is extremely beneficial is because of the supportive environment it places you in. It is an unrecognized benefit of this exercise, and boxing training in general.


As we have mentioned earlier, boxers are renowned for their intensive training routines. Adding these ab-hitting exercises to your program is essential. There are various health and boxing-related benefits. These exercises are a shortcut to the optimal training program!

Gregori Povolotski

I have been practicing martial arts since 2007. For as long as I can remember, I have always had a huge passion for combat sports, especially Muay Thai and boxing. Helping people on their martial arts journey is what drives me to keep training and learn new things. Read More About Me

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