I first got into boxing for fitness and to lose body fat, but I also wanted to know if boxing might reduce muscle mass. Here’s what I found.
Boxing can reduce some muscle mass if you don’t adjust your current diet to support your new boxing schedule, while still being able to maintain your current muscle gains and weight lifting. If boxing makes you miss weight lifting days because of time or fatigue, you could also begin to lose muscle.
In this article, we will look at how boxing can impact your muscle mass, including your nutrition, workout schedule, and more…
Will boxing make your arms bigger or smaller? Check out my other article to see how boxing will affect your arm size.
Boxing Vs Your Muscle Mass
If you already have a fairly big and muscular physic, but you want to start doing boxing, then the best place to start is to ask yourself why do you want to start boxing?
If the answer is to learn some boxing techniques for self-defense, then the best way to ensure it won’t impact your muscle gains too much is to keep your boxing training light and technical. Drill the techniques while practicing the correct form, positioning, and footwork, while keeping your heart rate low. Try not to turn it into a heavy workout session.
If however, you want to implement a few boxing sessions into your weekly training schedule just for some extra cardio, then you may be better off jumping on the gym bike or elliptical machine or even just going for a 15-20 minute walk after each lifting session instead.
This is because boxing can very quickly turn into a heavy, high-intensity workout which if done often enough during your weekly workout routine, could begin to impact your muscle mass for a number of reasons as you will learn in the rest of this article.
3 Types of Boxing Training Vs Your Muscle Mass
Boxing training can be categorized into three different parts which you will encounter if you choose to add some boxing into your training, they are:
- Boxing technique (punches & footwork etc)
- Bodyweight training (pushups, sit-ups & squats, etc)
- Cardio training (running & skipping etc)
Depending on the type of training you do while boxing will determine how much of an impact boxing will have on your muscle gains.
For example, spending more time learning specific boxing techniques and drilling them on the pads or heavy bag at a low intensity, is less likely to have a big impact on your muscle mass than if you spend more time running and doing cardio to support your boxing endurance.
Because learning boxing specifics and techniques, doesn’t have to be an intense workout which could affect the rest of your weight training over the week. It can simply be drilling and practicing your jabs, hooks, footwork, and head movement, all while barely breaking a sweat.
Alternatively, if you take your boxing more seriously and mix it up in training to do all three (boxing technique, bodyweight training, and cardio) – then now you are getting a good full-body workout and hitting your muscles hard.
However, that can easily turn into an intense workout and will ask a lot of your body and muscles, making them work much harder and burning up more energy which will all need to be replenished after training. Now the issue becomes your nutrition, and whether or not you’re able to maintain your current muscle mass with your current diet.
For example, if you’re now increasing your weekly energy exertion and calorie burn with boxing while still trying to maintain your weight lifting schedule, then this is likely going to affect your current muscle mass and will require you to adjust how much you’re eating to maintain your mass.
“Use boxing to drill and practice technique, NOT as a heavy workout, and it will have less of an impact on your muscle gains.”
Boxing Vs Muscle Reduction
According to healthline.com there are a few ways that you can lose muscle mass, they are:
- Diet: Eat fewer calories, protein, and carbs
- Reduced weight training: Lift lighter weights and lift less frequently
- Cardio training: Do more cardio-focused training
But wait, we don’t want to lose muscle mass with boxing. That’s not the goal! The goal is to maintain your muscle mass but still do boxing. Well, that’s where these three issues (the 3 ways of losing muscle mass) can actually help us understand how we can maintain our muscle gains while still being able to train in boxing.
So, let’s take a look at each of the 3 issues and how they can relate to boxing affecting your muscle mass.
1. Diet vs Boxing & Muscle Gains
When it comes to your diet, there are two things to think about 1) maintaining your current gains and 2) supplementing and supporting a new program of boxing in your training.
By adding boxing into your workout schedule, you’ll be burning more calories, meaning you’ll need to factor that extra calorie loss into your daily diet to maintain your muscle mass. If you’re able to continue your normal weight lifting routine AND add boxing into your schedule BUT DON’T factor the extra energy consumption into your daily diet, then you could see a reduction in your muscle mass.
This is because your body needs to recover and replenish your muscles from the same nutritional intake that you have been consuming before you began boxing.
However, it is more likely that adding boxing into your workout schedule would lead to replacing something else due to a lack of time in the week to fit it all in, or due to feeling low on energy because of the extra training. For example, you may remove one day of weight training to replace it with a boxing class.
2. Weightlifting vs Boxing & Muscle Gains
If boxing means you’re not able to maintain the same weightlifting routine your body is used to because you’re more fatigued, then according to the doctors at Healthline.com, you may start to see a reduction in muscle mass over time. This makes a lot of sense because boxing itself doesn’t provide the weight overload required to break down and build back up muscle, known as hypertrophy.
To build muscle, the best type of training you can do is weight lifting. So, by adding boxing into your training it adds two potential risks which could cause you to miss out on your weight training, and therefore, begin to reduce muscle mass. These two issues are fatigue from boxing, and not having the time to fit it all in.
3. Cardio Training vs Boxing & Muscle Gains
When it comes to cardio vs your muscle gains, it can affect everyone differently and there is an interesting discussion to be had in this area. And it all depends on balancing the impact the cardio (in this case boxing) will have on your nutritional intake and the benefit of your improved cardio helping in your weight training.
For example, if you find it hard to eat enough to build muscle alongside your current workout routine and weight lifting schedule, then adding boxing into the mix (and the extra calorie burn), could potentially make it even harder for you to build any mass at all.
On the flip side though, by adding boxing into your workouts you will see an improvement in your cardio endurance over time, which can help you out when you get back into the gym to start lifting weights. This is because it can help you push further past your point of fatigue to complete an extra set and push your personal best.
Here’s an interesting video from the Mind Pump Show which goes a little more into this same discussion:
“Discover more about boxing for fitness in my article: Boxing Fitness: What to expect (Complete Guide)”