Where I live in the UK, I have seen a rise in the number of academy level clubs participating in boxing training and, more specifically, pad work. Pad work is a training method used in boxing and martial arts to improve hand speed, reaction time and punching power.
However, the benefits flow outside the ring or cage, and can be applied to other sports and even for weight loss because of the intensity of the exercise.
You only have to consider the rise in popularity of global brands such as Tae Bo, Boxercise and Body Combat to realize that anyone can use combat-based fitness.
Here are the 5 reasons why pad work is not just for boxing. They may surprise you.
1. Builds a solid base
Boxing requires fighters to be light on their feet while holding impeccable balance. This is an essential skill that will benefit almost every athlete, since being light on your feet means you can quickly react and change directions.
2. Improves use of ground reaction force
The power of the punch does not come from the arms. It comes from the legs. Boxing is the best way for an athlete to learn the relationship between the lower body and upper body, and to understand that the legs and hips do most of the work.
3. Develops incredible core rotation
For the upper body to use ground reaction force, the mid-section must hold solid like a brick wall. Furthermore, the stomach muscles play an essential role in dispersing the force toward the punch. Your stomach isn't twisting; rather, it's bracing to ensure that all the force from your lower body goes into a punch.
4. Improves evasion skills
What's easier to see, the opposition running at you during a soccer game or a small pad being swung at your ear? Evasion skills require great shoulder movement coupled with lightning-fast reaction time.
5. Promotes faster hands
Power is the multiplication of speed and strength. Lift for strength, do pad work for speed, which adds power to your throws and your swimming stroke and helps you battle opponents on the line in football.
So how do you put this into practice?
To start, you need a set of pads and boxing gloves. Find a partner to work with, and go through various punching combinations, such as jabs, crosses and upper cuts. Have your partner occassionally jab back at you to force you to evade.
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