“Wladimir Klitschko (64-4, 53 KOs) has been lifting a lot of weights in getting ready for his fight this month against IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (18-0, 18 KOs) on April 29 at Wembley Stadium in London, England. Wladimir usually takes it easy on the weights, but he appears to be really bulking up for this fight knowing that he’s got to deal with the 250 pound Joshua.”
— Wladimir Klitschko hitting the weights for Joshua bout*
The Science: STARTING STRENGTH: THE KEY TO POWER SPORTS
Former World Champ and Boxing legend Wladimir Klitschko recently got the Boxing media and fans interested in his training routine when he tweeted a photo of himself in the gym holding a pair of huge dumbbells. Some writers believe Wlad is attempting to add some muscle mass to his frame to deal with his heavy upcoming opponent IBF Heavyweight Champion Anthony Joshua. I doubt this is what Wlad is actually doing, and for his chances on fight night, I hope so.
Any kind of warfare whether on a real battle field with thousands of troops or in a ring, cage, or mat one-on-one as in combat sports, relies on three (or four) things: Force, Power, Technique, Tactics. Success in combat is determined by the total force a fighter (or an army has), the power they can develop (applying that force with speed), technique (ability to apply this power with correct control and direction), and tactics (knowing exactly when and how to use the power and the right technique for it situationally).
For Boxers, technique and tactics are designed and developed with a skills coach. Force and Power are most efficiently developed with a barbell.
For decades Western Boxing aficionados believed any weight training was negative for fighters. In the west, weight training was overly linked with bodybuilding in peoples’ minds. Since pure hypertrophy training minus any serious strength component does tend to bind an athlete up and hence slow them down, fighters were advised to completely avoid lifting.
In the East, (Russia and it’s influenced sphere) this was not the case. What Russian scientists knew decades before Western Boxing coaches would, was that Barbell Training is essentially FORCE (Mass x Acceleration) training. The weight of the barbell multiplied by 9.8 meters per second (gravitational acceleration) is the barbell’s force. To lift the barbell you must produce a greater force to overcome it. Heavy maximal and sub-maximal weights engage the athlete to develop very high force. The competitive lifts of Powerlifting (Bench Press, Squat, Deadlift) are the most efficient exercises for force development. The Powerlifting Squat or Deadlift is the movement in which human beings can display the maximum possible force our bodies are capable of. Maximal Force capability is the basis of maximal Power capability.
Power ((Force x Distance)/Time) is best developed using Power Snatches and Power Cleans. In these versions of the competitive Weightlifting movements, the bar moves very far very fast with a moderate load. These exercises are the movements in which a human being can display the maximum raw power he/she is capable of. Power with good technique is what determines the effectiveness of a punch. Maximum Force ability is what determines the possible amplitude of power, and the duration with which it can be used. The more force an athlete is capable of producing, the longer he can produce powerful efforts.
Wlad should leave the dumbbells alone and not focus on building unnecessary mass. He and all other fighters should however spend a few sessions a week focusing on Force and Power, and a scientific approach to barbell work is the only way to get this done.
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