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01/05/2005 Archived Entry: "Doctor Stoxenís Training Table: Whatís Your ďExcuseĒ This Time?"

Doctor Stoxenís Training Table: Whatís Your ďExcuseĒ This Time?

By Dr James Stoxen DC
Team Doctors Treatment &Training Center

I hated every minute of the training, but I said, "Donít quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion."
-- Muhammad Ali

[Editorís note: Although Dr James Stoxen is not a boxing trainer, he has treated and advised top amateur and professional boxers, as well as hundreds of other top amateur and professional athletes. On top of treating these athletes, he manages their diet, strength and conditioning training in his office Team Doctors Treatment and Training Center in Chicago. In addition, he speaks at national and international physicians conventions on his cutting edge treatments for pronation-related injuries of the foot and is frequently published in health and fitness periodicals.]

Stoxen (19k image)
Dr. Stoxen (L) works with a boxer at his clinic

We all know that you need to make every boxing-training session and do some cross training a few times a week to stay on top. But itís a challenge. It can even be disheartening when we create these goals but canít stay on schedule to achieve them. Even the top professional boxers athletes we treat and train in strength and conditioning at Team Doctors miss treatments and training now and again.

I am amazed when a boxer turns pro and gets the knockouts in their first fights, then decides they donít really need the strength and conditioning training after all. It's ironic that when an athlete that has a knockout rate of 100%--or seven fighters kayoed in seven fightsódoing strength and conditioning, they abruptly stop the training that brought them success! When they quit, the knockouts donít come--they are now at two knockouts in eight fights--yet they still feel that they donít need strength and conditioning training! Ever heard of the phrase: If it works, keep doing it? Hello!

If you desire to be a champion and your career as a professional boxer is your only source of income then there is no excuse you can give me for not training. Thatís right: THERE ARE NO EXCUSES FOR NOT TRAINING!

I remember when Chicago Cubs homerun hitter, Sammy Sosa, missed opening day of practice because he had obligations in his charity work. The media had his head on a silver platter! I read each story in the paper as the writers ripped him up and down for not being a team player.

Boxers are team players. They have a team represented by the trainer, cutman, sponsors, strength and conditioning coach, doctors, lawyers, agents, promoters, sometimes TV contracts, venues, the opponent and their family of course. You miss a training session and you are letting the entire team down.

Iím going to go over all the common excuses I hear all the time. And Iím going to give you a way to overcome each one. But first:


Of course, in order to break training, you need to have a training schedule to break. If you donít have a written and carefully planned schedule you arenít even ďin training.Ē The first step to getting in training is determining your goals. Everybodyís goals are different but there are some fundamental components that have to be in place for your goal to work for you. After determining your goals you need to draw up a schedule IN WRITING that will allow you to achieve these goals. The first thing I see the more serious boxers do is look at the tapes of the last fight or sparring sessions and have a 30 minute meeting with all your team members to get the game plan together for the next fight. I see some guys after a fight ďjust chillĒ in the house eating and getting fat on the time off. The most time off I have seen any professional athlete take after a season is a week or two and then they are back in the gym strength and conditioning and sports specific training.

All these characteristics must be in place for a goal to be a goal:

1. A training goal has to be measurable. You have to be able to quantify the goal so you can monitor your progress.

2. The training goal has to be attainable. Your goals have to be realistic because if you set your goals to an unattainable figure you are assured to fail.

3. Training goals have to have a time limit, with a definite date attached to them.

Now, to the excuses.


I didnít have time today.

Where the hell are your priorities? What youíre saying is everything else you wanted to do that day was more important than training. You need to sit down and have a meeting every night for 15 minutes with a pen and paper that has all the time slots on it and put sleep in first, breakfast lunch and dinner, work (if you work) then boxing training and the assistance exercises necessary to be a champion. After those are scheduled then you can schedule the rest of the other things you have to do.


I hate training!

- Maybe you hate training but you like winning, the money, being in the ring or something. It could be time to get yourself a different trainer, new sparring partners or a total change of scenery. A good trainer will give you structure and come up with workouts you donít have to hate quite so much. A trainer is an even greater authority than your own conscience. A great workout partner should help to encourage you not to skip a workout with him or her if they care about you enough.

- Sometimes you are doing boring workout routines. Do something different next time! Read this web magazine, go to the library or a new gym for some ideas.

- You may hate exercise but love the result. Focus on the result and treat it like a necessity. So you loved going to school and work every day? Sometimes you cannot like it and donít have the motivation and on those training days get there and treat it like work. You could be working in some boring office, factory or a doctorís office like the rest of us stiffs somewhere so stop whining and just go!


I have to look after my children.

Kids have bounding energy and would rather run around the park than sit home so do what they do! If your children are overweight then you should be working on that solution immediately!

My 9-year old daughter, who weighs 60 pounds, walks into my training center one day and knocks off 10 pull downs with 50 pounds. I never told her or taught her to do that! She learned at the local Chucky Cheese and those indoor tube park places. I take her there on the weekends and play hide and seek.

She and I have to meander through different obstacles all day as we scurry after one another. Iím always the only adult in the tubes, which is pathetic if you ask me. I see parents in gym shoes and a warm up suit sitting on the sideline lounging and talking about how hard it is to find the time to work out or how wasted they got the night before. When asked on Monday what they did over the weekend they said they spent time with their kids. HA! They did nothing but sit on their butts again and made excuses. For those guilty of this, listen: Get in those tubes next time and really spend quality time with your kids and not just time!

All the bobbing and weaving through those obstacles will help your balance and agility as long as you are moving fast. Sure it was tough at first and I ached all over the next day but I got better and next time, my daughter didnít think Iím an out of shape old man. She loved it and so did I!

If your kids are toddlers or preschoolers or early grade-school age, then take them to the park for a game of tag. Find out what kind of tag they play. Remember, sometimes they will cheat and force you to run around more than them, but donít complain and quit like a big baby! You are playing to get in shape and this running around will help your footwork and balance.

Also running or walking forward all the time builds the same muscles in the same direction, and you hardly get the lateral stabilizers or the groin muscles involved. Your body will soon get out of balance and more vulnerable to injury and soon you will have fallen and cant get up! Have your kids chase you and allow them to change the rules, run zig-zag and circles around them to get away. Bust your best move. If they want to gang up on you, let them so you have to run harder and faster. What ever you do donít make excuses in front of your kids. They will turn into excuse makers too.


I donít have time.

Then ask yourself this:

- Do you have a written schedule of your daily tasks planned in advance or do you just run by the seat of your pants?

- What kind of time will you have to train if you cant make enough money to train full time. If you donít train consistently and effectively you will be spending time at a job or two.

- For athletes time is limited to make enough money to retire or live off. For boxers its even less than other professional athletes. When you are at the height of your career there is no time so you need to train as hard as you can and never miss a training session.


I have an injury and no insurance.

Why donít you go to a sports doctor and ask him if he can help you treat your injury and maybe give him sponsorship in return from your next fight or wear your gear with the centers name on it. We do it! Some of our athletes we see have good potential and treat and train them in exchange for sponsorship. Go visit the best and find one that is into creative accounting.

As for injury recovery: I always recommend a sports doctor that is connected to a great rehabilitation team preferably based out of a health club to make the transition from injury to rehab to training without a break or in a seamless fashion. Thatís what we do with our athletes and patients. One day they are rehabbing the part and soon they are training without realizing it. These specialists will help you with your limits and help you to set measurable and attainable goals.

Also I have found that doctors for professional sports teams usually have more experience and tricks to get you on the training field faster. Many times there are professional athletes in the rehab and training facility, and just seeing them can motivate you train harder too.


Iím too out of shape to start.

HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? Many fighters take these long ďchilliní outĒ breaks. The break is so long time that it is even difficult to even train the first day back. This plan of chilliní so much that you can barely get back the level you were the last fight doesnít fit the plan if you want to get better fights and eventually make some decent money does it? Now what are you going to do? Get your ass kicked in front of a few thousand spectators and your girlfriend too? Yikes!

Donít be discouraged Ė the results can come quickly. If you plan on increasing the talent, strength, power, and skill level of each opponent so you can increase your paycheck then you better increase your talent, speed and strength at a better rate than your opponent. If you keep this in mind you may get to the level of world champion.

Remember: If you are too tired to train and you donít train you will only lose more stamina, the more tired you become, and the less likely you are to get back into training. Sooner or later you have to get off your butt and make this happen. You must break the cycle.

Let me tell you my true story. After a very long layoff, one of the fighters I worked with would run across the street, and then literally couldnít catch his breath. He was 15 pounds over weight with 2 months till his fight. Thatís bad! I knew that if he wanted to achieve his goal to win the fight, it would be easier if he worked his legs hard and long. The bigger engines burn bigger amounts of fuel and the legs are the biggest muscles of the body. I knew that if we could get to the point where he could run for an hour that he could burn a lot more fat per exercise time.

What we decided to do in or meeting was run to have him run for as long as he could and then stop and walk until he caught his breath. Heíd start running again, and then after a period of time catch his breath again. I set out a course of three miles. He had to stop 27 times the first time he ran! It was quite discouraging but he finished. Two weeks later, he was running a little further each stretch and only had to stop 14 times. Hey! He was gaining stamina! Encouraging!

At the one-month mark, he ran the three miles without stopping. After that we added miles and sprints. One month is nothing in the long scheme of your life. After 15 months he is still undefeated and now he runs miles and feels and looks fantastic in the ring! You can do it too!


I should get up an hour earlier and run but Im giving up need that an hour of sleep.

If youíre not getting enough sleep, you must find a way to get that sleep. Your longevity in the ring depends on it, just as it does exercise. But boxers without stamina donít win. They get knocked out in the ninth or 10th round. You canít compare an hour of roadwork training to an extra hour of sleep. - You get energized, increased stamina, increase your metabolism, burn fat, stabilize and protect your frame, get motivated with one hour of training a day and you cant get any of that from laying in bed an extra hour. Put a chart of the positive effects of training on the wall or in an 8x10 picture frame in front of your alarm clock.

- If you get up one hour earlier and do the roadwork you will get a more restful sleep that night and chances are you will find it easier to get up an hour earlier then next day and thus you have your clock reset. Now, get out of bed!

- When you train in the morning, the pumping action brings blood to the tense stressed muscles and flushes them of tense aches. You will feel more relaxed in the ring. Can you get that by lying in bed another hour? NO!

- When you train in the morning, you will feel like you got the one of the dayís most difficult tasks out of the way, and a sense of accomplishment. You can fit sparring sessions in easier because your roadwork is out of the way.

Here are my tips to sticking to morning workouts:

- If you are constantly resetting your snooze, just open your eyes and keep them open even if you are staring into space. Turn the light on and soon the life will come back to your body enough to get out of that bed and do your thing.

- Tell your girlfriend or wife to kick your ass out of bed. No, sex for an hour is not road work!!! Go run!

- Set your workout clothes out the night before. Plan an extra 10 minutes into your training time because you have an extra clothing change Ė into your work/daily clothes.

- You donít need a shower in the morning before a workout. Especially you guys. OH MY GOD, YOU CANT BE A BOXER! Splash some water on your face put a hat on and wherever you need and get out there fast!

- If you get sidetracked for 10 or 20 minutes, donít blow off the entire training plan. Remember even if you walk five miles per hour at that pace you can walk two miles in 30 minutes. Do something! Run to the Starbucks! Youíll feel good for overcoming the adversity and not missing a day.


What if the weather sucks?

- Go to a gym and run the treadmill, bike or one of those other cardio machines. Play some indoor soccer or floor hockey.

- Have an area set aside with a boxing video from a fight and be the opponent to the guy who won and act like you are really fighting him. Get some motivating music on the stereo in advance. Do home workouts on the low motivation days Ė consider them a gift to yourself that keeps you on your schedule.

Hey, I really know about excuses. I have used them myself. While I am not a boxer I have worked with hundreds of top amateur and professional athletes and the bottom line is if you donít train hard you will always loose.

There is something to be said for heart and soul but when the 9th round comes and you are feeling some heavy arms then you tell me where the heart injection doctor went. The secret to being a great anything is showing up and giving your best effort. If you want to be a world champion and I have worked with many you have to have the cutting edge everything. You need the cutting edge, nutrition, training, ergogenic aids, medical care, boxing trainers, cut men, promoters and even a cutting edge wife or girlfriend.

If you find yourself missing a lot of training or sparring sessions you need to stop one day and say ďThatís it! No more excuses!Ē NOTHING is going to get in my way again. Personally, I learned how to say ďNOĒ to insignificant distractions from myself and others that took me away from my goals and put my energies behind my task. Can you sayÖNO? Practice it!

You know your individual fights and career will be made easier with all the extra energy and stamina that you have to put behind your boxing career, personal and professional life. Now, stand up like a man, look in the mirror and say NO MORE EXCUSES! Time get to work!

HernandezStoxGonzales (50k image)

Dr. Stoxen, center, is flanked by clients and boxers, "Macho" Miguel Hernandez
on his left and Al "Speedy" Gonzales on his right.

Training photo courtesy of Dr. Stoxen; photo with Hernandez and Gonzales courtesy of Juan C. Ayllon

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