By Dean Stattmann
Last week I realized that I needed to up my endurance. I’ve been strength training for years, neglecting cardio for the most part, and when I got in the ring for four-plus consecutive rounds, I felt it.
So I started running again. In addition to my usual 15-minute run before work, I’m now back to weekly long-distance runs and had my first one on Friday – an hour-long run spanning eight miles along the southern point of Manhattan. I’m doing it again today and hope to make my new habit stick.
I got to the gym a couple minutes early on Monday to wrap my hands before training. Last week Jason seemed surprised that I didn’t know how to do this by myself, so I took the weekend to make sure I had it down.
Wraps on, I started with my usual jump-rope warm-up. This is getting noticeably easier. After just two sessions I can already maintain my rhythm for much longer than I could on my first day.
For the conditioning portion of the day, Jason wedged a barbell into a corner on the floor so that we could do supersets of overhead trunk rotations and overhead punches with rotation. These are great exercises; the trunk rotation blasts your obliques and gets you in the zone, bobbing and weaving like you’re in a fight. The overhead punch with rotation was my favorite. It mimics the motion of a right hand, right down to the twist of the back foot, and the added weight from the barbell feels great when you knock out a punch with solid form.
After about four sets of each, we put on gloves and headed to the bags.
As we walked over, Jason explained that today would be a much lighter day with a focus on coordination and form. We started off with a familiar drill; two jabs followed by a right. Jason says my right is improving fast, but I’m still flaring my elbow out on my jab. Even though it’s just my third day, I’m disappointed that I haven’t corrected this yet.
Next, Jason introduced me to the left hook, my favorite move so far. We started out by tacking the hook onto the end of a typical jab, jab, right combo. I executed the combo slowly to make sure I had it down, and then started adding speed. Then we lost the jabs and honed in on the right-to-hook combo. The most interesting part of this, for me, is the way in which you generate power for the left hook. It’s not a typical punch.
“Imagine that someone is catching your right whenever you throw it,” Jason explained. “You want to pull it back hard, crunch your core, rotate your shoulders, and use that torque to explode with the left.”
In other words, a good portion of the left hook relies on the right side of the body, something which I would have never guessed. Either way, I caught on pretty fast.
“Your left hook is almost perfect.”
Jason seemed about as surprised saying it as I was hearing it. Maybe there’s hope for me yet.
I worked on the heavy bag for a couple more minutes, trying out my new right-to-left hook combo with a little more power. And man, when you land that left, it feels good.
With only about ten minutes left, Jason got me onto the speed bag once more. Now, as I wrote in my first entry, I can’t hit the speed bag for shit. So when Jason told me that he wanted it sounding good in five minutes, I figured this would surely end with a couple sets of incline crunches. But just like with the jump-rope, I found that my coordination on the speed bag had improved since my first session. I mean, it’s not a blur when I’m hitting it or anything, but I’m hitting it!
That wrapped up our training for the day. Overall, the left hook was the highlight of the session, but seeing improvements in other areas of my game, like my right hand, was extremely rewarding. It was also nice to get some positive feedback from Jason, who seems to be a strong proponent of tough love.