Exceptional athletes learn to look at other sports, see what works and adapt that to their own training approaches. One instance of this could be in relation to the sport of bodybuilding. Bodybuilders employ a style of weight training called supersets. During super-setting, lifters work opposing muscle groups. For instance, they will do one set of bench presses, for the chest muscles, followed immediately by a set of rows, which are for the back muscles. Bodybuilders understand that opposing muscle groups work in direct correlation to each other. They correctly and naturally balance each other out so that when they are worked simultaneously they strengthen and support each other. They also experience a similar work load. This beneficial and time-tested methodology can be applied to your boxing training.
Every fighter has one side that is naturally weaker. This side or “set” of muscles have to be worked in the same fashion as the stronger, more dominant side in order to balance things out. Having an equal or similar amount of power in both hands, legs and in both sides of your body will naturally make you a more powerful, well-rounded fighter.
There are several negative aspects to being unbalanced or relying on one side of your body more than the other. When one set of muscles does the majority of the work, it can lead to potential injury. Having a very strong right hand, but a week left-hand, for instance, creates an imbalance. When one group assumes the lion’s share of the workload over the antagonizing muscle group, it creates a muscular imbalance. It produces stress on your joints, muscles and ligaments.
Since most boxers are primarily right or left-handed, their daily training routine centers-around training their dominant sides. With a routine that seldom changes all that much, this imbalance of muscles invariably grows and grows, leading to numerous muscular imbalances. In order to break this pattern and vicious cycle of depending on only the stronger set of muscles in your body, there’s a simple training solution.
The first thing you can do is simply change your boxing stance from southpaw to a right-handed stance or from a right-handed stance to southpaw. This is not to make you ambidextrous or give you the ability to switch boxing styles in an actual fight. It’s also not meant to be done on a regular basis, but doing this periodically will make you rely more heavily on your weaker muscle groups.
This is not meant to change your style, but it will create a greater awareness of where your weak spots are. It will also make you more aware of your boxing technique by breaking your normal routine and really force you THINK about the moves you’re making. You will have to concentrate more fully on what you’re doing from a technical perspective. If it’s not something you do regularly, you have to really focus in order to execute the basics properly.
Going through these motions on the opposite side will also have some reciprocal benefits when you switch back to your regular boxing style. You will find yourself thinking more about technique and how you’re delivering punches than if you were just going through the motions like you normally do. So, in essence, it is making you both, physically more balanced, more mentally and physically stronger.
Balancing out your game is part of your job as a fighter. As in anything, there are many ways you can approach it. Switching up your stance is one way. Another is in actual strength-building exercises. To explore this alternate or additional approach to training your weaker side, stay tuned for the next installment, Part Two of Balance isn’t Just About Coordination.