Background: Muscle power (MP) plays a determinant role in boxing performance. Therefore, coaches and sport scientists have been using different training approaches to develop this
capacity in boxers. More recently, the “optimum training load” (OTL) (i.e., the load capable of maximizing the power output) has been used to increase the MP in top-level athletes. Additionally, it
was showed that the OTL is strongly related with punching impact in elite boxers. Therefore, this study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of this range of loads as a specific strategy to enhance the
MP ability in this group of combat athletes.
Methods: Eleven male and female boxers from the Brazilian National Team (mean ± SD, age: 21.6 ± 4.5 years; height: 171.8 ± 9.0 cm; body mass: 71.5 ± 15.8 kg; practice time: 7.8 ± 4.7
years) volunteered to participate in this study. The athletes were evaluated during their specific preparation to the Olympic Games (Rio-2016), pre and post a 7-week training program. During this
period, the athletes performed 2 power-training sessions per week (amounting 14 sessions), as follows: 6 x 6 jump squats (JS) and 6 x 6 bench press (both at the OTL) per session. MP was evaluated
using a linear position transducer (T-Force, Dynamic Measurement System; Ergotech Consulting S.L., Murcia, Spain). For testing, the athletes were instructed to execute three repetitions at maximal
velocity, with a 5-min interval provided between sets. The test started at a load corresponding to 30% of the body mass (BM) for BP and 40% of the BM for JS. Increments of 5% of BM for BP and 10% of
BM for JS were gradually added in each set until a decrement in the MP was observed. The load correspondent to the highest value of MP achieved by each athlete was defined as the OTL. To avoid
misinterpretation of the data, the outputs were normalized by the individuals’ BM and expressed as relative values of MP (MP REL). The mechanical measures related to the propulsive phase of the lifts
(i.e., mean propulsive power) were considered for analysis purposes. The differences (pre- and post- intervention) were tested via magnitude-based inferences.
Results: It was observed a very likely improvement in the MP REL for both exercises (JS and BP) (pre: 8.35 ± 2.54 W.kg-1 vs. post: 9.07 ± 2.62 W.kg-1; 96/04/00, for JS; and pre: 6.07
± 1.44 W.kg-1 vs. post: 6.84 ± 1.64 W.kg-1; 99/01/00, for BP).
Conclusions: Training at the optimum power zone (i.e., using the OTL) may be an applied and practical strategy to elicit positive changes in MP capacity in elite boxers. Coaches and
sport scientists who work in the field of combat sports are strongly encouraged to adopt this novel neuromuscular training approach.