Can Boxing Alone Build Muscle? If So, How?

A man deadlifting

Learning boxing is a suitable way of learning how to fight while getting into superb shape. Its intensity exceeds most other exercises; you actually can burn more calories in an hour of boxing compared to trail running. However, building muscle with it—isn’t as simple as you may think.

Boxing alone does not build muscle. To build muscle, you must cause micro tears in your muscles. That eventually leads to the process of hypertrophy occurring, the process of muscle building in the body. Boxing doesn’t cause micro tears, since it’s not resistance training. That’s why boxers lift weights, to gain muscle.

While you may still believe that you can build muscle through boxing, constant punching won’t fire-up hypertrophy. As a result, there’ll be no way you can increase muscle size only by going at the heavy bag.

Professional boxers lift weights to ensure their performance is top-notch. They want to have a solid amount of muscle size while having low body fat, so their weight will be reduced. Eventually, they must train with weights, as they want hypertrophy to commence in their bodies.

Boxing isn’t resistance training. You won’t find resistance by punching or sparring, even if there’s impact returning to you. If, however, you combine exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, or any other of body weight or weight exercises in your boxing session, you’ll be capable of causing micro tears.

Nevertheless, boxing alone will not build muscle. Before we dive in, if you want to learn more about whether VR boxing will build muscle, follow the link to read an article of mine revealing the answer.

Can boxing alone get you in shape?

Martial arts are a superb way of getting in shape. Not only will they improve your endurance and aerobic shape, but they’ll also help you burn more than enough calories. This will help you balance your body fat percentage and reduce it.

Boxing alone can get you in shape if you remain consistent and dedicated to training. An hour of vigorous punching sessions can burn up to 800 calories. Such a number can be the difference between losing or gaining weight, depending on your diet. Likewise, it’ll improve your endurance and aerobic shape.

Similar to running, your aerobic shape is vital for your long-term health. Scientists have proved the correlation between your cardiovascular health to your aerobic shape. This is just one example of a study that proved the link, nevertheless, there are others.

When you punch, you use many muscles, such as the legs, hips, biceps, triceps, shoulders, and your back. For that reason, when you execute the punching motion, you’ll also strengthen and stretch said muscles, which is fantastic for both your short and long-term health.

Concluding, boxing alone can get you in shape. If you remain consistent and trust the process, soon your body will start listening and responding to all the intense training it went through.

Will boxing help me build muscle?

Building muscle is one of the fundamentals of becoming a pro boxer. If you want to hit harder, you need to increase your size in both your upper and lower body. In fact, the legs are the driving force of the power you’re capable of generating with your strikes.

Boxing can help you build muscle in both your upper and lower body. However, even the best boxers in history, such as Mike Tyson, combined strength training with their boxing sessions. As a result, they were able to build muscle, as boxing alone isn’t sufficient for hypertrophy.

Boxing fight
Photo by Nemesia Production on Unsplash

You should combine strength training in your schedule too. It’ll be best not to have both boxing and weight lifting on the same day, however. That’s because boxing will be fatiguing for your body. You won’t be able to lift nearly as much, unless with performance enhancing substances.

I do encourage you to consult either a professional coach or a fitness instructor to help you with your schedule. Nevertheless, you won’t be capable of building muscle with boxing alone; you have to combine something else as well, such as calisthenics or weight lifting.

In the resistance training context, hypertrophy occurs when skeletal muscle tissue enlarges, because the resistance stimulus increases the size of the muscle’s component cells. Achieving hypertrophy puts you in a muscle-building state, but you won’t get there by lifting light weights.


How to build muscle through boxing

Building muscle with boxing alone, as we previously saw, is impossible. Therefore, we must combine additional exercises, such as weightlifting or body weight exercises. This can even include just dips, pull-ups, and push-ups.

To build muscle through boxing, you must combine other exercises that are more likely to cause hypertrophy, such as lifting weights or calisthenics. Likewise, you must consume more calories than what you burn, combined with proper sleep. I do encourage you to consult a dietician before starting your journey.

Unfortunately, while boxing will better your physical shape, it won’t be sufficient to constantly increase your muscle size. For that reason, it’ll be best to include in your training schedule at least a few training sessions where you cause micro tears in your muscles.

Moreover, you must have your diet on-point. Consuming more than you burn is a fundamental in increasing size. If, for instance, if you burn, with the boxing training, 2500 calories a day, you must eat somewhere between 2700-2900 calories daily. If you don’t, the muscle building process—won’t be successful.

And, lastly, you must have your sleeping habits intact. Your body recovers while you sleep. As such, it builds itself, well, while you recover. For that reason, consult a professional that can help you correct your sleep, if it’s not solid already.

Sleep enhances muscle recovery through protein synthesis and human growth hormone release. If you want to grow or lean out, stop procrastinating and get to sleep!


Do boxers lift weights to build muscle?

If you’ve ever seen a boxing match, you’ll notice how all the boxers pack plenty of muscle mass with low body fat percentage. That’s because they want to be as powerful as possible while also being in the best shape of their lives. Carrying 12 rounds in the ring—is tougher than what you think.

Boxers do lift weights to ensure they’re capable of packing muscle size. But, they don’t lift weight with the intent of building muscle. Rather, all they want to achieve is to increase their punching power. As such, their training will differ from that of a bodybuilder, who solely wants to pack more muscle.

Likewise, most boxers perform various body weight exercises, such as pull-ups and push-ups. This may be enough to pack on a sufficient amount of muscle, especially if they wish to remain as lean as they can.

Tips on building muscle through boxing

To build muscle through boxing, you must ensure you treat your body right. That includes proper diet, sleep, and training. It’ll be best if you avoid overtraining as well, as it’ll ruin your results and ensure you don’t step foot in the ring in the near future.

  • Get 7-9 hours of sleep
  • Eat more calories than what you burn
  • Eat clean and healthy foods
  • Consume enough protein
  • Involve weightlifting or calisthenics with your boxing training
  • Supplement your body accordingly
  • Stay as consistent as possible
  • Weigh yourself and take progress pictures
  • Set well-defined goals

I do encourage you to consult a professional before starting your journey. Start asking questions; whenever you see someone with the physique you aspire to have, ask him what he or she does and start learning.

Final words

Building muscle can be difficult, especially without weightlifting or calisthenics. As a result, professional boxers include such exercises in their training routine. Thus, they’re capable of building muscle and remaining lean while practicing their boxing technique.

Boxing alone won’t build muscle, as you need to cause micro tears in your muscles through intense training. Boxing won’t help you do that because it doesn’t have any resistance training involved in it.

If you enjoyed reading this article, you’ll also enjoy reading about the best boxing shoes you should buy to improve your skills immediately. They’ll help you be more stable and slip less; so do follow the link to learn more.


I've served in the military as a special forces operator for 4-years. In that period, I've trained in many martial arts, including karate, MMA, BJJ, boxing, and even Krav Maga. I want to share my passion with you, so here it is!

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