Competitive boxing involves two combatants, matched in both mass and fight experience, with the aim to stop the opponent by technical or full knock out, invoke concussion, by striking with the upper extremities to the body or head to score points to win. Army boxing competitions are sanctioned by England boxing and consist of three rounds of two minutes with one-minute restorative periods. The Parachute Regiment (PR) are renowned for their mental aptitude and robustness as an elite infantry fighting force; this may be the reason for their continued success in the army boxing championships. Other studies have focused on civilian demographics, where it shows for the need for superior physiological attributes for success in competition. This study aimed to collect and identify the physiological parameters that are required to produce winning performances in an army boxing competition.
15 male participants (mean ± SD age 28 ± 6 years, stature 178 ± 4 cm, body mass 79.3 ± 11.8 kg, BMI 24.9), all fighters had a minimum of 1-year fight experience with the British Parachute Regiment. Body fat % was measured using the Seca mBCA body composition analyser. V̇ O2max was measured using the Cosmed K5; using the Wingate protocol on the Wattbike trainer, 1RM max test protocols used for back squat and bench press, impact punch power measured from rear hand cross strikes, using the PowerKubeᵀᴹ. Punching velocities measured using a linear positional transducer. Countermovement (CMJ) and repetitive (10) jump data were collected using a jump mat. Ethical clearance passed by the University of East London ethics board.
Subjects (n=15) physiological parameters in mean scores; Body composition showed 11.8% ± 2.8: CMJ height 35.5cm ± 5: 10 repetitive jumps 28.5cm ± 5.6: Wingate peak power (body mass to power ratio) 11.5W ± 1.6: Wingate average power (body mass to power ratio) 8.1W ± 1.4: V̇ O2max 53mL.kg-1.min-1 ± 4.8: Back squat (body mass to power ratio) 1.15 ± 0.19: Bench press (body mass to power ratio) 1.1 ± 0.1: Jab strike velocity 7.15m/s ± 0.86: Rear cross strike velocity 8.48m/s ± 0.78: Impact power 15227.4W ± 225.
Strength training may be perceived by boxers to be detrimental to performance; however, muscle stiffness improves punching performance, exercise economy and injury resilience, where the boxers in this study have demonstrated similar levels of strength to previous studies. Strike velocities and impact power are above average to civilian studies, where they aim to cause injury to their opponent. CMJ and repetitive jumps results were in line with previous studies, the latter showing muscle stiffness allowing the boxer to move continuously more efficiently using the stretch-shortening cycle, the CMJ improving the triple extension, to generate more significant force transfer to the upper body.
Boxing involves all three energy systems that are in play at any one time, but a strong emphasis should be on strength training for muscle stiffness to improve exercise economy and enhanced punching power. Targeting high-intensity lactate training zones for the boxer will promote continued sustained high-power output during the fight; with aerobic training to improve EPOC recovery between rounds.