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Kettlebell Conditioning for Boxers

October 20, 2004 01:11 PM

The following article will show you how I have integrated Pavel's training methods into my boxers' training. This exercise program fits boxers well because the exercises are easy to learn, they require simple equipment, and there is a low risk of injury.

PART 1: Joint Mobility Drills

These are the so-called 'recharge' or 'readiness' exercises you can find in Pavel's book Super Joints. We do 10-15 each morning, if you do a morning run not only will it get you ready for that but it will also prepare you for anything else that comes your way.

PART 2: Slow Strength Work

We do this prior to skill work such as hand pads. Most coaches would consider this unconventional training for a boxer.

Pavel explains in his Power to The People! book, slow strength work using heavy weight, low reps and an adequate rest interval has a tonic effect on the nervous system and will actually improve your skill.

This circuit is two exercises both done with Kettlebells; see-saw presses followed by a one to three minute rest interval, then front squats. We do three sets of five-reps in each exercise. I have also incorporated Turkish getups and windmills into the slow strength day workouts with my more advanced athletes.

Part 3: Strength /Endurance Circuit.

This circuit is done after sparing; it is a short simple two or three exercise circuit. One arm snatches, followed by a one-minute interval of jump rope. An example: perform the one arm kettlebell snatch ten times with each arm. Immediately follow up with by one minute of jump rope. Alternate these two exercises for six to ten minutes. This circuit is great for cutting weight and developing strength/endurance and cardio for a fighter.

An important note: skipping rope is extremely easy for my fighters, this is not the case with most fitness people I have seen. They may want to substitute the jump rope
with jumping jacks or running in place.

Later you can add or alternate bottom up cleans into the circuit. Any fighter who does this exercise will see its benefits immediately.

Here are 7 different circuits that I have used with many different fighters. I have more but the following are the most tested.

Basic strength endurance circuits for boxing

LEVEL 1 Beginner

first two arm swings x10-20
second 30 seconds of shadow boxing

Alternate the two exercises for 3-6 minutes.

LEVEL 2 Beginner

first one arm swings, switch after every 10 reps
second 1 minute of shadow boxing

3-6 minutes.

LEVEL 1 Intermediate

first one arm snatch x10 per arm
second 1 minute jump rope

Repeat for 4-6 minutes.

LEVEL 2 Intermediate

first bottom-up cleans; switch after every 5 reps, so the form does not break down.
second jump Rope

This circuit focuses on the hand, wrist, and forearm strength. It also helps to reinforce the contract/release sequence. This drill imitates the kind of contraction you need to snap a punch.


These circuits are 3 minutes of work followed by 1 minute of passive rest. Just like a boxing match.

One arm snatch, switch after every 10 reps.
Bottom-Up Clean. Switch after every 5 reps.
Jump Rope (1 minute)
Rest 1 minute
Start back at the top
Repeat 2-3 times


This next advanced circuit I use with one of my pro's, Shaun Creegan. I wanted to focus on his neck, traps, and explosiveness!

Jump Rope 1 minute
One arm snatch, 40 reps, switch after every 10.
Jump Shrugs 20-25 reps

He does this circuit 2 times with no rest. He calls it '6 Minutes of Heaven' ? We do the rope first, because it works better for Shaun. He is able to do more snatches if he is warm. But you can change the order if the rope takes away from your snatches. Do the rope last?

Here is what Shaun himself has to say about his new way of training:

"Got to express the phenomenal difference the Dragon Door mentality and training has made for this 14-1-2 Professional Boxer climbing up the ranks as well as for the South Shore Police Athletic League. Since competing for over 7 years as an amateur and 5 as a professional, I've truthfully never felt better or stronger. For 2 months, I've been periodically practicing joint mobility drills, one-arm snatches, jump shrugs, see-saw presses, and front squats. There is a jump rope, jump shrug, and one-arm snatch combination I've nicknamed "6 minutes of heaven". One should see how I feel as well as the puddle of sweat beneath me afterwards in just 6 minutes.

"But wait, there's more! The Warrior Diet is in a sense biblical to me. The changes I see and feel are inexplicable. Being a hunter/warrior and soaring like a falcon is how I want to live?

"There are no words for what Steve Baccari (and ultimately Pavel Tsatsouline) has incorporated into my training regimen. Six words, however, immediately come to mind: Thank you, thank you, thank you!"


The third advanced circuit I put together for a fighter with a high punch output. It is very intense and uses an active rest period.

One arm snatches 20 reps, switch arms every ten reps.
Alternate Cleans 20 reps, non-stop
Jump shrugs 20 reps, from a ? squat.
Jump Rope or shadow box as an active rest.

Repeat 2-3 times. You may reduce the reps on your second or third time through.


This is the next circuit in my progression... We have had the time to test it and it is the best one so far.

1) One arm snatch, five times per arm
2) Two KB Clean and Push-press, five times; you must clean the bells before each press
3) Alternating clean, ten times non-stop
4) Jump shrug, ten to fifteen reps from a quarter squat.

Do 1 through 4 nonstop, followed by one minute of passive rest. Repeat 2-4 times.

I would like to leave you with a piece of advice my first boxing coach gave me?before entering the ring, get your self in the very best shape possible, because you opponent is a tough guy too.

Steve Baccari, RKC is a Medford, MA based boxing coach and certified Russian kettlebell instructor. To inquire about training under Steve e-mail