It seems odd to think that Pilates and boxing would compliment each other. However, a fact known to Pilates enthusiasts more than to boxing enthusiasts is that Joseph Pilates was a boxer in England in the early 1900s. He opened a boxing gym in Germany in the 1920s before moving to the United States in 1926. The first Pilates studio opened in New York City, and boxers were some of Joe’s first clients. After the fighters started training, ballerinas entered the scene, and the rest is history.
How Are Pilates and Boxing Related?
The principles of Pilates are balance, flexibility, muscle symmetry, and core strength. These principles can also be applied to boxing. In fact, according to an article in 1934 about a fight between Jack Dempsey and Charlie Massera, Joseph Pilates was credited for getting Massera’s core so strong that he could endure a punch to the stomach from Dempsey without flinching.
As a classically trained Pilates instructor with 20 years of experience, my core is strong, but I wouldn’t want any FightCamp Trainer to test it out. You’ll have to take my word for it!
Pilates Exercises For Boxers
Here are five (5) Pilates exercises for boxers to incorporate into their training routine.
Swan Dive (level one)
Boxers tend to have tight chest muscles and shoulders that round forward. Opening up these muscles will help to prevent injury and help to maintain correct posture.
Start lying face down on a mat with your elbows bent in at your sides and your hands in line with your shoulders
Pull your belly button in and off the mat to engage your core muscles
Straighten your legs and tighten your gluteal muscles
Inhale as you push the floor away from you, lift your chest off of the mat, and come into a back extension
Exhale as you lower your chest back to the floor and extend your legs off the floor while maintaining an arc shape in your spine
Repeat 10 times
Flexibility and mobility are essential for boxers. Rotation comes naturally, but lateral flexion needs work to become natural.
Start seated on one side with your weight on your hip
Press your hand on the floor as you lift your body into a side plank position
With your opposite/free arm, continue reaching up and over your head as you slightly lift your hips, creating lateral flexion in the torso
Repeat 10 times on each side
This exercise will help to build core strength and spinal rotation.
Start seated on the mat with your legs extended in front of you about hip-width apart
Your spine is tall, and your core is engaged
Open your arms out into a T position
Rotate your torso to one side
Exhale as you lean forward to “saw off” your little toe with your fingertips as your opposite hand reaches behind you
Inhale as you return to center
Repeat on the opposite side
Repeat sequence 10 times
Double Leg Stretch
This is a classic core strengthening exercise that targets the rectus abdominis and improves shoulder flexibility.
Start lying face-up on a mat
Bend your knees and bring your legs toward your chest as you lift your chest up and off of the mat
This is your starting position
Inhale and extend your arms behind you and your legs in front of you while maintaining the chest lift
Exhale as you return to the starting position
Repeat 10 times
This dynamic exercise lengthens the back of the body and builds core and upper body strength.
Stand with your feet together
From the top of your head, start to roll down, one vertebra at a time, until your hands reach the floor
Walk your hands out in front of you until your body is in a high plank position
Perform one push-up
Walk your hands back to your feet and roll up slowly, to the starting position
Repeat 10 times
Never Stop Training
Pilates can help a boxer, and any athlete, build core strength, flexibility, and mobility--and help prevent injury if you are ever punched in the stomach by a professional boxer! If you haven’t already incorporated Pilates into your at-home boxing routine, you should try it. Over time, you’ll see changes in your muscle tone and fitness that regular boxing training may not give you. If you already love ending with abs, you’ll enjoy these Pilates exercises.
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