January 2008
Andy and JamieHappy 2008! By now, you are accomplishing all your New Year Resolutions, right! What's that? You need to get motivated? Balazs has just what you need to get in the swing of working out and moving towards accomplishing your 2008 fitness goals. In this issue, Andy and Jamie detail a footwork drill that will get your heart pumping. In the Fitness Tip, Andy and Jamie dip into tips to help you achieve your personal best in 2008. In Ask the Trainer, Andy reviews three type of stretching techniques to help keep you loose and stave off injury. Now go get started making 2008 the year to get in the best shape of your life!

"Knock Yourself Out!" The Balazs Team


Boxing Drill #46: Fancy Footwork for Fitness 
Good footwork is essential in any sport. It helps you maintain balance, center of gravity and prevent unlikely injuries due to overstraining. With boxing training, one of the most common mistakes when working the heavy bag is using poor footwork. Training on the heavy bag requires you to be light on your feet, allowing for quickness, balance and proper placement of the feet for stability and power. Powerful punches start with good foot placement. A punch starts at your feet, moves up through your legs and hips following through to your back, shoulders and finally arms. When shifting on the balls of your feet, circling the bag, make sure your feet are placed solidly on the ground before you throw the punch. This will increase your punching power to 60% or more. Ensure the foot placement duplicates the classic boxing stance, the body and core is strong, shoulders relaxed, permitting an easy flow. Smooth footwork combined with sharp punches makes for a dynamic training session on the heavy bag.

When moving like a boxer, start from the basic boxer's stance, lead with the foot closest to the direction you want to head. If you are moving left, lead with your left foot and slide the right foot over. If you are moving right, lead with your right foot and slide the left foot over. If you want to move backwards, lead with your back foot and slide your front one back. Keep your knees flexible. Stay in the basic boxer's stance. Shadow boxing in front of a mirror is a great way to practice and improve footwork. REMEMBER, NEVER CROSS YOUR FEET!

Here is a footwork drill to practice with a partner or two:

Partner Footwork Drill: This drill works best with two people or more and lots of room to move.

Equipment: One medicine ball, 6-8 pounds. A heavier ball will provide more challenge but make sure everyone in the group can handle the chosen weight.

Start with everyone standing in a circle facing one another. Imagine you are in the ring facing an opponent; keep your hands up and stay in the basic boxer stance. Begin moving in one direction (left or right) using proper foot placement. As you move around in a circle, toss the medicine ball back and forth to your partners using a chest pass. Keep the circle tight and pass the ball with enough momentum to reach your partner, but not too hard. Focus on moving your feet smoothly across the floor surface. Once you have thrown the ball, get back in your boxer stance. Have one partner call out "Switch" every 15 to 20 seconds. At that time, everyone switches direction. Continue to pass the ball as you move in a circle. Make sure your footwork stays smooth, that you lead with the proper foot and don't cross your feet. Maintain your balance as you catch and throw the medicine ball. Try this for a 2 minute round, eventually working up to a full 3 minute round. You can add other calls such as "Back" - to have everyone practice moving back and "Front" to work on stepping forward. As you get used to the proper foot placements, increase the speed of movement and the distance apart from each member.

Andy & Jamie's Health & Fitness Tip: Achieving Your Personal Best
Tips for improving your sports performance:

To take your training to the next level you need to do more than just put in time, you need to have a plan. A plan prevents plateaus and burnouts and requires your program to make continual adjustments throughout the year. It keep you aware of when your training is not giving you the expected results and that its time to make some changes.

The body and its muscles adapt very well to consistent training becoming very efficient at performing the same exercises. Form follows function so it is important to place different demands on the body over time, often significantly increasing the training intensity to get more out of your muscles. Overloading, or training an extreme intensity, your muscular system by working out longer, harder, faster or by lifting more weight or lifting more often will accomplish this overloading and will promote an improved fitness level. At the same time, gradual increases and smaller changes are a safe method of placing new demands on the body, if you have the time to slowly improve fitness.

Introducing a cross training - alternating between two or more types of activities- regimen to your standard workout routine reduces the risk from overtraining once set of muscle systems. The effect is constantly surprises and forces the body to adjust to the different demands. Interval training also challenges the body by performing at higher levels of intensity for short periods of time interspersed throughout the workout. (Interval Example: Try running three 90-second high intensity (90% effort) sprinting intervals with a two-minute rest between each sprint once per week.) This overload is for a short enough time not to cause injury, but long enough to promote an improved fitness level.

Ask the Trainer:
"What are the best types of stretches to do?"

Using proper stretching techniques can improve flexibility, and help prevent injuries. There are four basic types of stretches: Static, Passive, Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF), and Ballistic.


Static stretching involves the gradual lengthening of muscles and tendons. It is a safe and effective method for improving flexibility. Start stretching your muscles slowly until you feel a slight tension. This lengthens the muscles without causing a reflex contraction in the stretched muscles. Hold each stretch at least 20-30 seconds. This allows the muscles to lengthen and adjust to the stretch without causing injury. The longer a stretch is held, the easier it is for the muscle to adapt to that length. Static stretching should not be painful.


Passive stretching involves the use of a partner or equipment, such as a towel, pole, or rubber tubing, to help perform the stretch. This produces a safe stretch through a range of motion that could not be achieved without assistance. Ensure that each muscle is stretched safely through the entire range of motion.


PNF stretching uses the neuromuscular patterns of each muscle group to help improve flexibility. This type of stretching should be done with a certified trainer. The trainer performs a series of intense contractions and relaxations using a partner or equipment to assist with the stretches. The PNF technique allows for greater muscle relaxation following each contraction and increases the ability to stretch through a greater range of motion.


Ballistic, or dynamic, stretching involves movements such as bouncing or bobbing to attain a greater range of motion and stretch. Although this method may improve flexibility, it often forces a muscle to stretch too far and may result in an injury. This form of stretching is not recommended.

(For more tips on stretching technique check out these newsletters in the archives: Flexibility 2: Stretching Techniques June 2004)

- Andy Dumas

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Balazs fitness tips are endorsed by the World Boxing Council.