Should You Shadowbox With Weights?

Should You Shadowbox With Weights?
Boxing Tuesday

Shadowboxing with weights has been a controversial topic among boxers for years. The controversy stems from the false belief that shadowboxing with weights increases your punching power. That is simply not true, but that doesn’t mean shadowboxing with weights doesn’t have any benefits. Boxers like Gennady Golovkin shadowbox with weights and get excellent results inside the boxing ring. 

This article will take a closer look at the pros and cons of shadowboxing with weights to give you a better understanding of how this practice might affect your development as a fighter. 


Everything You Should Know About Shadowboxing With Weights

As far as the question posed in the title is concerned, the answer is yes. While many boxing trainers are against weighted shadowboxing as a way to increase your punching power due to the loading and mechanics not transferring into punches, weighted shadowboxing can be beneficial when using light weights. 

Having weights in your hands forces you to slow down as you throw and focus more on technique. Many boxers have a terrible habit of throwing punches as fast as possible when shadowboxing, typically at the expense of technique. A dumbbell in each hand prevents you from throwing punches too fast and using poor technique like opening your hands as you throw. If you do that, you’ll drop a dumbbell, reminding you of your technical mistake. 

The key to getting the most out of weighted shadowboxing is to stick to lighter weights, around 0.5 to 2 kilograms. Anything more than that can negatively impact your punching technique, which won’t do you any favors inside the ring. 


Why Shadowboxing Doesn’t Improve Punching Power

Shadowboxing with weights isn’t an effective way to increase punching power since any weight you use won’t be enough to overload your muscles and increase your rate of force development (RFD). Also, the weight of dumbbells in your hands exerts a vertical force on them, while the forces your hands have to resist while throwing a punch are horizontal. 

Weighted shadowboxing only engages the upper body, particularly the pectoralis major and the anterior deltoid. Punching is a full-body movement that requires an effective and quick kinetic chain to transfer power from your foot through your body to your fists. You’ll need to incorporate sport-specific exercises into your training routine to improve your punching power. You want exercises that overload your trunk and lower body while performing actions similar to throwing a punch. Examples of such exercises include medicine ball throws, barbell raises, and heavy bag drills


Weighted Shadowboxing As A Conditioning Tool

Weighted shadowboxing helps to increase endurance in your pecs and shoulders, but it’s not exactly an effective way to improve strength and conditioning for boxing. There are countless exercises boxers use to increase their punching power, like running, air bikes, high-intensity interval training, and heavy bag drills. Shadowboxing with weights provides some endurance benefits, but you must combine it with an appropriate strength and conditioning routine to enjoy them. 

Shadowboxing with weights isn’t enough to give muscles in your upper body the stimulation they need to grow stronger. 


Improving Your Punching Power For Boxing

To increase your punching power, you’ll need to improve a handful of attributes that work together to generate power for your punches:

  • Kinetic Chain Sequencing: This refers to your ability to efficiently transfer forces from your feet via your body to your fists.
  • Rate Of Force Development: This is your ability to generate significant force in a short period.
  • Hand Speed: This refers to how quickly your fists reach their target.
  • Double Peak Activation: This is your ability to generate force quickly and relax your muscles to optimize the speed. Poor double-peak activation leads to stiff punches.

Some of the exercises you can use to improve these attributes include:


1) Landmine Punch

This sport-specific exercise develops effective mass, strength, and speed. It also helps to build the kinetic chain that generates power for punches thrown with your rear hand. The exercise promotes forceful core and hip rotation, vital for generating power from the floor through your hips and core to your fists.

You’ll need a landmine attachment secured to something solid like a rack to perform the exercise. Here’s what It looks like:

  • Load up the barbell with an appropriate weight. If you’re new to the exercise, use only the barbell for resistance.
  • Raise the barbell over your shoulders, holding it with your rear hand as you get into your fighting stance. Ensure you’re in a proper boxing stance before starting the exercise.
  • Now, push the barbell upward explosively as if you were throwing a straight punch. Use the same form you’d use while throwing a punch. Generate power from the ground, pivot your lead foot, and turn your hips and torso into each rep.
  • Aim for 15 to 20 reps and switch stances so you can repeat the exercise with your other hand.


2) Shadowboxing With Resistance Bands

Shadowboxing with resistance bands provides your upper body muscles with horizontal resistance that helps to increase speed and explosive power. You won’t be as mobile when performing this exercise, so it’s not a replacement for conventional shadowboxing.

The only equipment you need for this exercise is a resistance band that comes with handles. Find something solid like a post or tree to anchor down the resistance band right in the middle and face away from the anchor point. You can then shadowbox like you usually do. The horizontal resistance will give your upper body a nice burn while improving your punching power. Throw all your punches explosively when performing this exercise, and use proper technique at all times. 


3) Heavy Bag Drills

Heavy bags are explicitly designed to help improve punching power by providing resistance when your punches connect. Add a few heavy-bag drills to your training routine if you want to throw harder punches. 

Here’s a basic heavy bag power drill:

Throw each punch in the circuit as hard as you can. Don’t try to speed through. Take your time, reset, and make every punch as powerful as the last one. You’ll be punching harder in no time. 


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