Strength and conditioning for kickboxing, an interview with Jarrod Boyle

Hi Jarrod, thanks for doing this interview.

Pleasure, James – thanks for having me.

What is your current job?

I’m a personal trainer and freelance journo / writer. I’m on the editorial staff at International Kickboxer Magazine and Blitz Martial Arts Magazine.

I started in Kyokushin full-contact karate and fought in a number of national and international tournaments before going into kickboxing. I won the Victorian super-heavy kickboxing title in 2007 and was on contract (briefly) at Golden Glory in Holland, where my trainers were Cor Hemmers and Ramon Dekkers.

Jarrod Boyle

What sort of strength and conditioning training methods would you use to get ready for a fight?

I tend to split my S&C into heavy weights and plyo. I stick to the major compound movements and tend to break my heavy weight training up in terms of

Squats with chins

Deadlifts and push ups

Bench and abs/core.

I train my twist with a Torsonator, as well as cable woodchops every session.

At a fitness level, I would do one of these workouts per seven-day cycle. I fought at super-heavy and tend to weigh in between 105-100kg and I find that the deadlift and squat make you a solid, cohesive unit in terms of strength. I also found that training 5 reps a set and doing two or three warm up sets with five working sets for squats and deadlifts was best for warming up (I think my nervous system switches on quite slowly and therefore I need it).

My five working sets were pretty heavy – at my best I was squatting 165kg for 5, so you have to work yourself into that gradually (I learned the hard way when I injured my glute attachment being stupid one day and I thought, at the time, I had injured my back for life).

I work in push-ups somewhere once a week. Push-ups tie your arms into your legs, via your core. I believe (and I have come to believe over two decades that there is more than a little bit of mystery in S&C) they are a puncher’s best friend. They develop your punching more than any other activity short of punching itself.

If training for a pro fight, during my strength phase, I would have done these three workouts three times in a seven-day cycle. It’s a massive workload, and makes you slow and fatigued. You have to up your workload VERY slowly and progressively.

I’d hit the plyo phase about 4 weeks out. I’ve used several methods, but the one I came to settle on was something I picked up from a Chuck Liddell training tape. He’s an MMA fighter (who has different requirements), but he trained a certain set of movements for a certain number of reps in the round and rest structure of the fight he was prepping for. By this approach, I set out a push, a jump and an explosive twist one after the other and basically run it as a circuit.

Clean and Press
Dead ball slam
Box jump
Single arm medicine ball wall bounce
Cable woodchop
Bench split jumps

The loads are almost irrelevant; it’s all about the swiftest, cleanest execution of the movement. Firstly, speed is power and secondly, a striker must go from being absolutely still and reaching maximum acceleration as close to instantaneously as possible. If you’re can’t, you’re telegraphing what your intentions are.

The real barometer is heart rate; I train with a HR monitor and gauge my progress in terms of how comfortable I feel with a screaming HR, and how quickly my HR drops to normal between rounds.

Do you believe integrating technique training with strength and conditioning, or would you do separate sessions?

You can’t help it to a degree, but I try and keep them entirely separate. Conditioning technique, as I understand, is best practised at 70% of your maximum heart rate. Abs are often a good one to finish a technique session; it’s almost too much to ask after plyometrics.

How many sessions would you dedicate to strength and conditioning?

For a pro, technique and sparring in the afternoons; cardio and weights on alternate mornings, 5 to 6 days a week. And I would sleep for an hour, every day at noon.

What do you feel are some of the benefits of kettlebell training for combat sports?

You have to perform your movements in the ‘hard-style’ manner, where the action is driven by your legs, through your core and then expressed through the hand because a punch is thrown from the legs, through the core. The ‘soft style’ hip hinge breaks the link.

Kettlebells are sensational because they are unilateral and that co-ordinated drive develops your striking ability like nothing else.

They are also simple, easy to use, durable and take up very little space, which is very important if you’re trying to do all that jumping, throwing, heaving and screaming in a busy gym.

I also love the renegade man-maker; it’s a really useful movement, but if you try and run that continuously for a three-minute round, it’s really going to hurt you.

How would your training change between general training and training for a fight?

It’s more a matter of volume than anything else. I find a lot of the jumping plyo movements aggravate my plantar-fascitis, so I tend to avoid them now I’m retired.

Would your training change a lot for different opponents?

Not in the S&C component. It would in the technique and sparring – and always should.

What are the major differences between the training and S&C approaches in other countries, compared to Australia?

It depends where you go. Most fight training in Australia is primitive, and needs to improve across the board.

Where can people find your services or blog?

They can email me at

I blog at




My name is James Ross, I’m a qualified personal trainer, strength & conditioning coach and sports scientist. I am a founder and coach at The Richmond Gym in Melbourne and started the website

One comment

  • This is a very insightful interview. As a fan of martial arts a few of these concepts have opened my mind about training, particularly the idea of “tying” different muscles together, eg arms and legs with pushups, to achieve maximum effectiveness in a fight.

    P.S. I would not like to be kicked by Jarrod.

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