The Value of Boring Old School Roadwork

Circuit training is popular these days in preparing for judo, bjj, mma, etc. You basically pick 3-5 exercises and repeat them in a circuit at high intensity, taking timed short breaks in between. The goal (in terms of time and intensity) is to simulate a competition match. I’m a big proponent of this kind of strength and conditioning, because it’s fun. A lot of programs are effective, but not all are effective and fun. The variety of circuit training makes it fun.

Same goes for simple interval training on the track. It’s quick. It gets the job done. And in a sick kind of way it’s “fun” as well.

Okay, now to the topic of this post…

The term “roadwork” is something I’ve heard boxers (and no one else) use to refer to the old school jogging of 3 to 5 miles done early in the morning by many great and not-so-great boxers of the past. It’s boring as hell, but that’s why it’s good. I feel like in all the craziness of kettlebells, ropes, hammers, tires, etc, people might forget to train patience as well, in the quiet of the road where you are left alone with your thoughts.

From my conversations with people, the reason roadwork has been and still is popular is because so many people did it in the past and in the movies. That might seem like a ridiculous reason to continue doing it, but not to me. To me, I just think of guys like Rocky Marciano that religiously did 7+ miles per day, and dominated many 15 round fights.  Not to mention the wrestling greats such as Dan Gable.

There is something to be said about building not just the kind of toughness that gets you through an intense workout, but the kind of toughness that gets you through a long boring workout day after day after day. This prepares you mentally not just for the years of brutal training, but for the long tournament days where you may wait hours between matches.

0 thoughts on “The Value of Boring Old School Roadwork

  1. lubo

    Hey Lex, the good ol’ early morning running torture creates some sort of aura of nostalgia; all of those old boxer guys underwent the same torture. I used to love running myself until my bones said – no more due to wear and tear which progressed (everyone gets there). Another issue with running though is that it has to do with cutting down on muscular strength due to slow twitch muscle fiber I engaged. I experienced it on my own and now, going through CSCS certification, I also read about the scientific reasoning for it.

    Article briefly explains it the other way around as that it “may not always maximize your muscular strength” but to me it sounds like the same thing; in my case, after I incorporated interval running (couple months ago) into my conditioning – I felt a drop, weaker in bench and squat. So instead for my cardio I decided to replace running with rowing and/or riding a road bike for extended period of time.

    Per article:

    “Running is commonly associated with improved fitness, including improved cardiovascular function and a decrease in body fat. While there are numerous benefits of running, it may not always maximize your muscular strength or the ability to exert maximal force. However, with a specific running training program, you can improve your overall fitness level without sacrificing your muscular strength, speed and power.

    The traditional approach to running is long, slow distance where you run for consecutive miles at a comfortable pace and intensity level. While this approach to running improves cardiovascular health and endurance, it can actually diminish your muscular strength along with your speed and power. This change in muscular strength is associated with slow-twitch muscle fibers that are activated during long-distance running. As a result, your fast-twitch muscle

    1. Big Ted

      Well said. No doubt running helps get your wind in check. But it also gets your body used to the pounding that comes from a real boxing match. If your not actually planing on competing I wouldn’t run near as much. Lots of boxers now days are carrying more weight for power and not doing the traditional roadwork. Also as boxers age they can sometimes find the roadwork wears their body down. Several of today’s top heavyweights don’t do traditional roadwork anymore. I work some with heavyweight John Guthrie and he replaces roadwork with extended periods on a bike and interval training. He’s a known heavy puncher and doesn’t want to risk losing power with too much running. Plus as a big heavyweight the extra weight he carries translates to more punching power when proper form and technique are used. I still believe Guthrie is one of the hardest punchers in the division.

      1. Lee Haynes

        Guthrie might still be one the most powerful punchers but that won’t do him any good without being in shape.

  2. Dustin "big easy" Dupree

    Great article. Interval training is the way to go. And….Guthrie?? Didn’t know he was even boxing anymore.


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