boxing Goal Setting Mindset

Fat Loss Tricks From Old School Boxing Workouts

Written by Chad Howse

Walk into a workout with the mentality that you’re waging war against your body fat. You’re breaking your body down, beating it to a pulp, to build it up, strengthen it, forge it into the shredded, iron body of your future.

To fight fat is to beat it to a pulp. It isn’t a venture or goal for the feint of heart. It’s a mission for the fighter, the warrior in all of us.

Age isn’t an issue, nor is physical condition, but mental toughness is. You have to be mentally tough to work hard in the gym. You have to be mentally tough to get in great shape, just like you have to be mentally tough to step into the ring, and fight.

When I first walked into a boxing gym and started training, I knew it would be tough physically, but I didn’t understand the mental wars I’d engage in during the training. When I brought these mental battles to my workouts post-boxing, I transformed my body into what it is today; my personal ideal.

You don’t have to be a fighter to take the heart of a fighter into every workout.

Intensity is what will help you get shredded. Great programs are in front of you, they’re on this site. The right way to eat is here. You don’t lack information, what you lack is that fighter’s mentality that fat is your enemy, when you train and workout, you’re beating it up, and destroying it.

How to Train Like a Fighter

When I ran a boot camp – filled with primarily women – I used to put them through the timed drills that we used in boxing. The biggest complaint from them was that there was no rep count, they didn’t know when to stop, instead having to wait for the buzzer to finish.

That’s the beauty of a timed set; it becomes a test of mental toughness as much it is a means to get in better shape. Will you quit before the bell rings, or will you push forward?

Taking these mental battles into a workout can help us create a fat burning furnace. Here’s how it’s done…

1. Make each set a fight.

Go in to each set as if it’s a singular fight, standing alone, with nothing before it, and nothing to come after. Wage war against that set. Perform as many reps as you can, as best you can.

shutterstock_109230338Hit failure.

Those last few reps before true failure is where the magic happens. It’s where more lactic acid is brought to the muscle, which raises growth hormone, which in turn helps us burn a lot more fat.

Those last few, painful reps is where more muscle damage happens, which helps create more microscopic tears in the muscle, that we then repair and recover from, building more lean, metabolism-boosting muscle mass.

Pain isn’t fun. Most people quit when pain comes. But those who push through that pain create real results. They also develop mental toughness that will serve them well in other areas of life.

Make each set a fight, welcome the pain, then push through it to your ideal body.

2. Don’t be held down by a rep count.

Each set has a rep count; that is, a goal number of reps that you’re aiming for. Treat these as suggestions and guidelines that help you choose the correct weight, but not as firm numbers that you can’t venture past.

A rep count for a set is a suggestion. If you can perform a few more reps, then perform more reps, and choose a heavier weight for your next set so you fit in that “suggested” rep count. But don’t treat the rep count as the ‘be all end all’.

Pain and intensity will do you more good, than quitting prematurely.

The reps provided in a set should give you a good idea as to what weight you should choose. Once the weight is chosen, perform as many reps as humanly possible.

This is how you fight fat. Stopping short, following the rules to a tee, that is how you hold on to it.

3. Leave nothing in the tank.

Treat each set as its own individual match, leaving nothing in the tank for the next. Then treat that next set, again, as it’s own fight, and so on.

Each workout is a test, both a physical one, and a mental one.

Every time you’re in the gym, try and improve.

Lift more weight than the workout before, for more reps. Run longer, sprint faster.

But also break down those mental barriers. Quit less, and slay the dragon.

Walk out of the gym with nothing in the tank. It doesn’t matter if you’re in your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, or 70’s; hard work will get you results. The right program is a must, but combine any program with hard work and you automatically make it a better one.

Most ‘fat loss guru’s’, or ‘fitness guru’s’ fear speaking about hard work. It isn’t sexy. It doesn’t sell. But it is a reality – we need it, we all need to work hard if we’re going to forge the body we want. Heck, we need to work hard if we’re going to build the life we want as well.

Train Like a Fighter to Fight Off Fat

In training for a fight, I learned that each workout was its own individual battle, both on the planes of the physical, but also the mental.

With each workout I had to push myself harder physically, but also quell the voice that told me to quit. The more I pushed down that voice, the harder I worked, and the better condition I got in. Pushing through pain got me my ideal body, just as much as the right workout did: truth.

About the author

Chad Howse


  • interesting comparison to middleweight fighters and under. not so good a comparison to a george foreman sized fighter

  • This may be the missing link for me! I’ve read and attempted HIIT but always felt I wasn’t doing it right or wasn’t really sure how to approach it. No one at my gym was working out that way — they were sticking to their old, ineffective routines. I, for one, have needed this mental approach. Thank you!

  • I’ve tried HIIT and other high intensity workouts in the past and they leave me drained, so much so that I have to wait at least two or three days to exercise again. I’ve been getting good results with a four day per week lower intensity cardio and weight lifting routine. If I go high intensity, especially in the hot and humid summer months, my body repays me by saying “Oh hell no!” the next couple of days. High intensity isn’t for everyone. There’s only so long you can do high intensity workout before your body takes over and shuts you down.

    • Hey Jan – that may have something to do with how you’re replenishing your body post workout. Nutrition-wise, what’s your routine?

      Also, how long did you stick to the intense stuff before going back to the slower tempo’d workouts?

      They can be something you need to build up to, for sure, so maybe some progression is in order.

      • Chad – I’ve tried Craig Ballantyne’s Turbulence HIIT program where I did like one minute of walking, then 10 seconds of sprinting on an incline, then repeating for seven or eight times. The next day, I didn’t have any energy to work out again.

        As for nutrition, I drink a protein shake with added fiber after I exercise, then I eat dinner (a typical meat and vegetables type of meal), then I’ll have a granola bar later in the evening as a snack. The next morning, I’ll have another protein shake with fruit (usually an apple or some melon), then a granola bar as a mid-morning snack, then lunch is usually a salad with either chicken or steak. I’m not into weighing your food and all of that other typical diet stuff. I normally eat around 2,000 calories per day, sometime a little more, sometimes a little less. I also take multivitamins/minerals.

        My normal routine is doing four days per week where I hit each body part once per week. Monday is my chest and back day, Tuesday is my deltoids and traps day, Wednesday I rest, Thursday is my biceps/triceps and forearms day, and Friday is my abs and legs day. I run 2.5 to 3 miles at a slower pace before I do the weights to warm up my entire body. If I do the weights first, like is usually suggested, I tire out really fast.

        This routine has worked for me for a long time, so I’ve stuck with it. Any suggestions on how I might improve?

  • I have tried Craig Ballantyne’s HIIT program also. I really liked it, however, I could never lose the weight. The only weight loss that worked for me in the past was calorie counting, and that is very hard to do and takes lots of dedication. I have struggled for years with weight, and I have always worked out. I have tried the Tae Bo videos, the Tabata style workout videos, etcetera. I am a mother and a wife, I do not have a lot of money. I am always very cautious about buying into a new program. This is another reason calorie counting worked for me. Every time I pay for something like this I find out afterwards that I cannot afford the diet that goes along with it. You have to purchase outrageously priced protein shakes 67.00 a bottle for 30 servings and the 77.00 a bottle supplements that go along with it. I also do not want to make separate meals for my family and myself.

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