February 2006
Andy and Jamie We hope you've gotten 2006 off with a bang in your workouts. In this edition for the Balazs E-Letter, we step it up a notch and offer some advice for stepping into the ring. Andy and Jamie give some tips on avoiding the dreaded "plateau" in your training. In "Ask the Trainer" they offer a bit more information to a reader who has hit that "plateau" and really wants to break through it!

The Balazs Team - Knock Yourself Out!


Boxing Drill #27: Stepping in the Ring
If you've been reading our letters for some time, maybe you've been working out and working with a trainer and have some interest in stepping in the ring for some sparring. Here are some things to keep in mind as you step in the ring:

In the Ring Tip #1: Find a partner who is on a similar skill level.

If you are going to spar, try to spar with someone that is at your own skill level. Sometimes beginners are thrown in the ring with veteran fighters who aren't willing to "take it easy" on the new boxers; breaking them in, so to speak. This is not to say you should only spar with someone at or below your skill level; you will want to be challenged.

When you do spar with someone with more experience, make sure it's with someone who isn't going to use you for a punching bag and knock you around the ring. Make sure every aspect is a positive experience. Sparring should be highly controlled learning sessions. Often your coach or trainer will be aware of potential sparring partners who will complement your training while reducing the risk of you getting hurt.

In The Ring Tip #2: Make sure your work combinations.

If you are a beginner amateur boxer, practice throwing 3 punch combinations. For example, throw a jab to the stomach, which may force your opponent to drop an arm to guard himself, then a quick jab to the forehead. Then quickly and powerfully throw a straight right to the chin. Your first punch is bait to open up for a two-punch assault.

Many professional boxers use four punch combinations, but 3-punch combos are a good place to start. Punches in Bunches!

In the Ring Tip #3: BREATHE!

Many boxers new to sparring hold their breath during their sparring sessions or fights. The working muscles need oxygen to function. You should practice exhaling when you throw a punch. This also helps a lot if your opponent counters with a blow to the midsection because a blow to the body with your lungs full of air can be very painful. It will tighten your core and you'll be able to bear the brunt of a midsection punch better.

Focus on having a natural breathing rhythm. If you've trained properly, your breathing should almost return to normal during the one-minute rest between rounds.

In the Ring Tip #4: Give it your all in the ring.

When training in the ring, work as though you are training for a championship fight! Give it your all. Are you training harder than your opponent? What you do in the gym is a reflection of how you'll perform in the ring when it really matters.

Step into the ring confident that you've trained as hard as you possibly can. Muhammad Ali once said "I run on the road long before I dance under the lights".

Andy and Jamie's Health and Fitness Tip: Avoiding the Training Plateau
If your workouts have you in a rut, and you are not seeing the incremental improvements you think you should, here's a few suggestions how to break free and keep your training moving to the next level. And remember, plateaus in all training regimens are normal, so relax and keep working out, follow some of these tips and you'll feel back in motion soon enough.

Weight Training Plateaus:

Try mixing up your workouts to include a range of activities at different intensities. So rather than always using weight machines also engage in other types of strengthening activities such as resistance training that uses elastic tubing or your body weight as resistance (such as pushups). Vary the number of repetitions and sets you do. All of this allows the body to recruit different muscle fibers, providing a better-rounded workout.

Cardio Training Plateaus:

On the cardio side, if you like to bike, for example, you can set the stationary cycle for varying intensities. You might also pick a day or two a week to take a spinning class or bike outdoors on different types of terrain. Try mixing in other activities like yoga, swimming or jogging. Try a boxing or kickboxing class.

In addition to cardio and strengthening exercises, don't overlook other areas of fitness like flexibility, balance, agility and coordination.

  • Exercise at the right time for your body. Work out when you usually have the most energy, rather than putting your workout off until a time when you might not feel your best.
  • Get a workout buddy. Exercising with a partner makes you accountable to someone else for each workout and can improve adherence to a program. A partner also can inspire you to push yourself a little bit harder when your energy level is flagging.
  • Focus on your breathing. When strength training, take full breaths during each exercise, exhaling on the exertion and inhaling as you release. During cardio activities, full breaths will deliver as much oxygen as possible to the working muscles, making them more efficient.
  • Listen to music. Music can make a workout more fun and give you that extra burst of energy you need to work harder.
  • Incorporate mind-body training. Yoga and other types of mind-body fitness have been associated with improved muscular strength, flexibility, balance and coordination.
Ask the Trainer:
"I am a 43-year-old person who has lost over 60 lbs during the past year and I have hit a wall. I am currently 5'6" and 195 lbs at present. My training regimen is three days of intense weight training and two days of 7-mile treadmill runs. How can I get my body fat lower than the 23% I am at now?"

Try increasing your aerobic activity. You could add one more cardio workout in place of the strength workout for a short time. It is a great way to help decrease your fat percentage. Or just add more aerobic work. Try jumping rope, starting with 5 minutes, increasing to 10 minutes before your weight-training workout and then finish up with another 5 to 10 minutes of jumping rope after your workout.

Remember your food intake is also important. Try not to eat 3 to 4 hours before going to bed. Restrict sugar intake and eat plenty of fruits, vegetable and proteins. Reducing caloric intake will also help you reduce your overall weight.

- Andy Dumas

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Endorsed by the World Boxing Council
Balazs fitness tips are endorsed by the World Boxing Council.