The Fight Camp | How To Train Like a Fighter

There is nothing harder in the world than a good, old fashioned boxing fight camp. My name is Aaron Swenson, and I have been through 34 of them. Throughout that process, I have trained with different coaches, with different philosophies, and discovered that everyone takes a different approach to getting ready for a fight.

What Is a Fight Camp?

A fight camp is traditionally a 6-8 week training camp leading up to a fight. The camp can be shorter or longer depending on how much notice a fighter gets in advance. Usually, a fighter uses that time to cut weight, get in peak conditioning, and spar people that resemble their opponent. Fighters use a variety of tactics to accomplish this. In this article, I will share a few.

Fight Camp Training

Depending on your goals and your schedule, you and your coach or team will adjust your fight camp training accordingly. Here are the basic elements and parts of a fight camp that fighters do to stay in fighting shape and ensure they’re ready for their next big bout.

Roadwork For Boxing Training

Running is essential for fighters because it conditions your legs and your lungs. Some people believe in sprinting, while others prefer running long distances. There are pros and cons to each. Short sprints work your fast-twitch muscles and resemble the short spurts of action in a fight. Long distance running helps condition your legs, which is necessary, especially for long fights that last 8-12 rounds. Running long distances is also good for your mind because it builds mental fortitude which is key for boxers before and during a fight.

Jumping rope
FightCamp Trainer Aaron Swenson Jump Roping

A jump rope is a staple piece of equipment in most fight gyms. Skipping rope is a great way to warm up your legs and calves both for boxing workouts and before for a fight. Plus, it’s amazing cardio. I love it too because it gives you the opportunity to express yourself with tricks and different rhythms.

Here is a quick 10-minute jump rope workout you can do at home for cardio training.

Aaron Swenson Shadowboxing

Shadowboxing is crucial for a fighter to warm up and perfect techniques in the mirror. When you shadow box you watch yourself in the mirror as you refine your punches and kicks. Shadowboxing is also a tool that fighters use to simulate a fight with an imaginary opponent, and warm up.

Aaron Swenson & Tommy Duquette Sparring

Sparring is essential for a fighter’s timing. You can hit a heavy bag and use focus mitts all you want, but a punching bag does not move that much or hit back. When you spar, you really get an idea of where your strengths and your weaknesses are, and it is the closest thing you can get to simulating an actual fight.

Aaron Swenson doing padwork training with Coach PJ

Fighters will hit focus mitts with their coach to practice different boxing punch combinations, defense, and footwork. Hitting mitts is a good way to resemble sparring without taking all the damage from getting punched in the head.

Heavy bag training
Aaron Swenson Punching a Heavy Bag

Hitting a heavy bag is for developing power and conditioning your punch muscles. That's one of the reasons why our product is called FightCamp, our gym takes bag work to another level with it's punch tracking technology, where you can actually measure your output as you hit the bag, and compare your score with other users.

Speed ball or double end bag training
Speed Bag

The speed ball is great for conditioning the shoulders. The double end bag is for practicing speed, timing, and head movement. Just a few minutes a day training on the speed ball or double end bag is enough to build up the muscle memory needed to tackle any situation in the ring.

Strength and conditioning
Aaron Swenson Doing Strength & Conditioning Exercises

Every fighter has a different philosophy on strength and conditioning. Some fighters prefer just doing bodyweight movements like push-ups, sit-ups, and pull-ups. Others love functional movements with weights like clean and jerks and snatches. It really depends on what your weaknesses are and what you need to improve. For instance, if you are fast but lack power, you might want to consider adding some weight training into your regimen to get stronger.

Aaron Swenson Taking An Ice Bath On Recovery Day

People often overlook the importance of recovery. After a tough training session, your muscles are inflamed and the faster you can recover, the faster that you can get back to work. There are many different recovery modalities like ice baths, massage, hyperbaric chambers, foam rolling, lots of sleep, etc.

What Does a Day In a Fight Camp Look Like?

Fight camps are generally a combination of all of these training modalities that are scheduled out in advance. Here are two examples of what a day in a fight camp might look like.

Fight Camp Schedule 1

6am - 3 mile run
7am - 4 rounds of shadowboxing + 4 rounds of padwork + 4 rounds of heavy bag work
6pm - 3 rounds jump rope + strength and conditioning + abs
8pm - Massage

Fight Camp Schedule 2

9am - 3 rounds of jump rope + 4 rounds of shadowboxing + 8 rounds of sparring + 1 round of speed ball + abs and core work
6pm - 3 mile run + strength and conditioning
8pm - Ice bath

Usually, a striking coach would work directly with a strength and conditioning coach to curate this plan for the fighter and adjust accordingly.

Not everyone can work with a personal coaching team, and a true fight camp might not be for everyone. Whether you’re looking to compete in boxing or just want to level-up your at-home boxing and kickboxing training, myself and the other FightCamp Trainers can be your guides. We can show you how to stack your workouts and get started training fight camp style. Check out our YouTube videos and Blog for workouts, tips, and technique tutorials.

Related Articles

Fight Camps: How To Train Like a Pro Boxer at Home
Inside a Boxer's Mind: How To Mentally Prepare For a Fight
How To Start Boxing Competitively
Life of a Boxer: How a Boxer Trains To Fight
How to Train Like a Boxer 🥊 (COMPLETE BEGINNER'S GUIDE)

The Author: Aaron Swenson, aka ‘Speedy,’ began his Martial Arts journey under his father’s guidance in the family’s dojo in Chicago. By 2013, Aaron was an accomplished fighter with two National Kickboxing titles and a USA National Kickboxing Team spot and fought for the prestigious GLORY Kickboxing organization. Since then, Aaron has become a sought after trainer in LA known for his technical approach to teaching, fancy pad-work, and utilizing music to make the workout fun and engaging. Aaron is a Founding Coach at FightCamp, where he leads boxing and kickboxing workouts and plans to make his return to the ring. Aaron is also USA Boxing Coach certified.