You’d be forgiven for assuming the training of a high-level pugilist like light-heavyweight boxer Joshua Buatsi would be all about boxing: built around bagwork, combinations and speed drills. Not so. Having recently vanquished fellow light-heavyweight, former WBA International champion and rival Craig Richards, Buatsi has lifted the veil on the diligent training routine that has seen him earn no less than 16 victories on the bounce.
As you’ll see below, there’s no bro-splits or disco-muscle training here. Each exercise has a very specific purpose that translates directly to Buatsi’s efforts in the ring. Under each of the coaching cues below, Buatsi explains why each move is vital for his prep ahead of a fight and how you can apply it to your own training.
- Grab the rope at both ends.
- Use your wrists to flick it around your body, jumping to clear the rope as it hits the ground.
Why: “It’s the best way of combining the cardiovascular and technical aspects of training to be a boxer; skipping is essential for me,” explains Buatsi. “It works on my footwork and coordination, as well as the ability to go on for long periods of time to increase my endurance when fights go late. I have to maintain good footwork to set up punches and make it hard for my opponent to get hit.”
Resistance Band Stance Work
- Double up a resistance band and step into it, so it’s wrapped around your ankles.
- Keep your legs shoulder-width apart and sink into a half squat.
- Walk to the left, then change direction after a few steps.
Why: “This is great for practicing maintaining your stance under pressure and moving forwards and backward. It translates great in a fight scenario, as that’s what being in the ring is like: the best fighters maintain a disciplined and strong stance as much as possible.”
- Sit holding the weight plate with your arms extended and feet off the floor.
- Quickly twist at the torso, turning from side to side.
Why: “This is an exercise that works the core, obliques and spine areas. Very important for a fighter to have good strength in these areas as this is the base where punches are thrown from. You also need a strong core in case we have to brave any body shots from the opponent during the fight,” says Buatsi.
Medicine Ball Slams
- Stand with your knees slightly bent holding a medicine ball above your head with your arms extended.
- Bend forward at the waist and use your core muscles to slam the ball against the floor about a foot in front of you. Let your arms follow through so you don’t fall forward.
- Catch the ball on its way back up and repeat.
Why: “Again, great for explosive power in your arms, which translates to improved power in your punches in the ring. You can mix it up as well and do a very heavy medicine ball and low reps, which will help increase your muscular power or make the ball slightly lighter or do more reps to increase your muscular endurance,” says Buatsi. “You can also vary it by throwing the ball up (similar to an uppercut in the ring) or throwing the ball straight (similar to a straight right hand or cross).”
Single-arm Kettlebell Swing
- Stand with feet set wider than shoulder-width and bend your knees to grab the kettlebell with one hand.
- Drive your hips, keep your back flat swing the weight up to shoulder height.
- Return to the start position and repeat without losing momentum.
Why: “This exercise I use mainly to maintain and improve my shoulder stability, which is important for holding the power in all my punches but particularly my power punches. Very key for shoulder injury prevention, as well as there also being benefits for your core and back muscles.”
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