Russian Boxing Training

Below is a video that I first shared a few years ago. The original clip was removed from Youtube but fortunately it has been uploaded again.

In case you missed the original entry, the video was created in 1981. It includes almost 20 minutes of training footage from several former Soviet boxers. Ironically, despite being filmed over 30 years ago, you will see many techniques that have become quite popular in recent years. For instance, you can see the fighters perform a variety of bag drills, upright barbell exercises, medicine ball throws, and bodyweight movements. You will also see circuits performed where the athletes work for 20 second intervals which are separated by 10 seconds of rest.

The take home lesson therefore is quite simple. Successful training strategies for competitive fighters have been around for a long time. Those who believe otherwise are those who have ignored the past. In addition, these Soviet amateurs offer yet another example of successful fighters who have thrived on the basics. So often the public confuses Russian training strategies with what they saw the fictional Ivan Drago perform in the Rocky IV movie.

The reality however is that the old Rocky IV film came only a few years after the video above. If you wish to see what real Russian training looked like, don’t look to Hollywood. Instead take a look at what really happened. As you’ll see, fighters have always thrived on the basics. Elaborate facilities and methodologies are not necessary. History confirms this observation beyond any reasonable doubt.

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“Don’t reinvent the wheel, just realign it.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo

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22 comments:

  1. Our coach used to have us do similar drills, except it wasn’t the same exercises. one station would be lateral jumps over a cone, another would be punch-out drills on the heavy bag, another on the double-end, etc.

    However I like the exercises at the station. Real good mixture. Thanks for sharing Ross

  2. Thank you for sharing, Ross. This leaves one fundamental question, though. If all that is new is actually old, then is there any room left for innovation (in training) ? If training is fundamentally universal, then does that only leave genetics and desire as variables?

  3. Keith – Just because something has been around for a long time does not mean that everyone knows or applies it. It is more a matter of origin, as opposed to widespread application.

  4. The top clip at 3 minutes looks like a crossfit gym just in black and white LOL, guess is not much new under the sun ….great vids

  5. Interestingly it’s not only the exercises, it’s also how they do those exercises…at 6:51 of part 2… the time they train at each station is 20 sec with 10 seconds break between the stations ( Tabata intervals :)??? ) for 3 minutes, totaling 9 stations (9 squares of the scheme), then 1 minute rest (square 10), then repeating the whole cycle twice to model a 3-round boxing match(remember, they didn’t have professional 12 or 15-round matches back then… only 3-round)

  6. thank you very much Ross, this is awesome, actually without knowing I was training correctly focusing on exploisivity.

    Very very nice vid, for lovers

  7. Clearly the Soviets had a more varied training system than their American counterparts as far as boxing in the early ’80’s. I can’t recall seeing many other fighters training by leaping over a pommel horse or even lifting light weights in sports related exercises in the early ’80’s. Weight training is still not accepted in many boxing circles and many trainers and fighters believe they are better off not lifting weights at all. I’ve heard former contender Earnie Shavers did some weight training and I’ve seen clips of Victor Galindez lifting light weights but for the most part in that era and before the weight room was off-limits to fighters, even light weight training. Clearly the Soviets and other Eastern European countries were on to something with their unique training methods given the recent domination by Eastern Europeans in boxing’s heavier weight classes and most notably by the very underrated Klitscho brothers. I do recall Frazier and Foreman beat Soviet fighters in the Olympics either in the finals or semi-finals, but I still have to wonder if many of these Eastern Europeans and Cubans had been allowed to turn professional if they would have flourished in the Seventies and Eighties. Many thought the Cuban Teofilo Stevenson would have given Ali a good match and a lot thought he would have beaten Frazier. Of course the class of 1976 with Sugar Ray Leonard, the Spinks brothers, and I believe Howard Davis Jr., and Willie Randolph all beat Eastern bloc or Cuban fighters but these were the cream of the crop American fighters and arguably the best Olympic team ever assembled.

    1. Hello

      Belated comments but applies. Some significant differences exist between
      the athletes of the USSR and present day “Russians”. What is missing is the “system”. The Soviet system had an organized,systematized pharmacology
      plan (at least for track and field and weightlifters as i have seen these plans).
      The system provided these drugs and supplements as well as the “experts” themselves(pharmacologist). Also where are the “support” personal-masseuse,biomechanist(technique expert) etc . Two article apply-http://www.nsca.com/uploadedFiles/NSCA/Resources/PDF/Education/Articles/NSCA_Classics_PDFs/If_the_Soviets_Had_Football.1.pdf
      file:///C:/Users/brandon/Downloads/Word_count__9554_Pharmacology_and_Sport__Sport_Ph%20(3).pdf

  8. Whoops, that’s Leo Randolph and not “Willie Randolph.” Sorry but it’s baseball season and I was thinking of the wrong Randolph.

  9. Ross, this is why I love your blog. You continue to show simple and diverse ways of training. I love it. Thanks for the post mate.

  10. These guys just revolutionized my Tae Kwon Do “basics” training! Notice how in almost all their drills they are in motion as opposed to standing somewhere and lifting a heavy weight? They are always moving, developing explosive power and coordination. I dare say that old Chinese masters would approve of this as well. I’m stealing it all! Thanks, Ross. I just became a fan.

  11. I recently watched a youtube video of a Gennady Golovkin training session and it looked almost identical to the above video. GGG is one of the most dangerous men in the sport, if anyones performance shows how effective this type of training is it is Golovkin. Thanks for the video Ross.

  12. I have been taking teams to Russia, Ukraine and Belarus for Judo and Sambo training on a bi-annual basis since 1987 with the most recent May 2013. The exercises shown in this video truly represents how the former Soviet Bloc countries train their athletes. Very basic, old school (which is now “New School” in the USA). They use a great deal of body weight, partner, resistance band exercises in their training.

  13. This REAL training would’ve been too boring for the film Rocky and the sequels, and would’ve never played along well with “Gonna Fly Now.” The REEL life training of one-arm pushups, hitting sides of beef, and dragging sleds through thick snow in Russia is more appealing at the box office.

  14. To answer your question about innovation. The Coach/trainer’s job is to choose, sequence, periodize, and monitor progress and progressive resistance (which could be variables like time, volume etc.) to put together the right combination for that person depending on their goals and activity. Coaches also need expertise in combining the exercises in ways that makes sense and to account for recovery etc. In short, we should pay more time to programming rather than trying to keep coming up with ever more complicated Bosu ball moves!

  15. To answer your question about innovation. The Coach/trainer’s job is to choose, sequence, periodize, and monitor progress and progressive resistance (which could be variables like time, volume etc.) to put together the right combination for that person depending on their goals and activity. Coaches also need expertise in combining the exercises in ways that makes sense and to account for recovery etc. In short, we should pay more time to programming rather than trying to keep coming up with ever more complicated new Bosu ball moves!

  16. Hello

    Some of the exercises are GPP (general training)
    and some specific. The circuit concept is cool
    but if we are far away from competition i think
    that longer rest power exercises need to be performed.
    Med. ball thrown backward and perhaps the Olympic Jerk.
    They of course would be GPP. I wonder if there were more
    special or specific exercises than displayed in the video.

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