Boxers get hit with a medicine ball to condition their bodies to receive punches. And the medicine ball offers an easy-to-execute but very effective method of doing that.
If you watch just a few clips of pro boxers training, chances are you will see many of them get hit in the stomach with a medicine ball (such as the one here on Amazon). If you’ve wondered what that is about and you’re not sure about the answer, here it is.
We’ll go over why this apparent masochism is so important, as well as what other methods boxers and other martial artists use to achieve abs of steel.
Why is conditioning the body essential in boxing?
In the game of fighting, receiving blows is inevitable if you want to ever hit back. Even defensive geniuses in the ring like Floyd Mayweather, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Pernell Whitaker took blows in their fights. And while the head cannot be conditioned to take punishment, the rest of the body has the ability to adapt to the constant stress and deal with it better over time.
Punches that fold a person in two start to feel light after the muscles, bones, and other tissues, as well as the nervous system, get used to them. And the only way to reach that point of conditioning is through repeated exposure to strikes. This is why boxers and other fighters willingly take punches and medicine balls to the stomach, so they can later tolerate hard blows to the body in fights or sparring sessions.
Medicine ball exercises for body conditioning
The medicine ball is definitely not the only way of conditioning the body, but it’s a very accessible one. This very simple training tool can be found in almost any boxing gym as it serves multiple purposes in boxing-specific training. And one of the fighter’s specific applications is to use it for smashing the body. It’s heavy, hard enough without being too rigid, and it takes no skill to slam it into another man’s gut. I would say it’s a perfect candidate for the job.
Here are a couple of different exercises for body conditioning with a medicine ball.
Standing slams– Just as the name suggests. The boxer stays upright and gets hit with a ball in the body. Mike Tyson made famous this exercise all the way back in the 1980s. with his. with his apparent disregard of the visibly very hard blows going into his core.
Lying slams– If you want to combine core strengthening with core conditioning, a great way to do it is with crunches and slams. Perform a crunch or contract your abs while the happy partner slams the medicine ball into your stomach.
You can probably go about it a little more calmly than Tyson Fury, but you don’t become a world champion by training easily
Other methods of developing an iron body
Conditioning the body for taking punishment has always been a key part of martial arts. The reality of combat is that if you buckle from the first serious impact you will have very slim chances of winning.
Boxing has just a short list of possible targets, and as we said, the head is too precious to be battered around until it gets “conditioned”. So only the body is worked on in this regard. The most reasonable way to condition it to take punches is by taking punches. The key to conditioning any part of the body is to do it gradually. The simple explanation of the process is that tissues get damaged, then recover and become more resilient. Damaging them again without a recovery too often or too hard leads to the opposite result. The process occurs incrementally and should not be rushed, or it can lead to the opposite result.
Kyokushin karate, for example, is a full contact style of karate that prohibits punches to the head but at the same time doesn’t use any protective gear in competition. So you can only imagine what punishment the whole body has to endure in a competitive fight. Here are some interesting karate exercises that many boxers can surely benefit from as well.