Boxer Ramla Ali is no stranger to digging deep in the gym. She trains 5-6 times per week, twice a day, in the hopes of competing at the 2020 Olympics. But she wants you to stop the gruelling gym sessions where there's no plan, just pain.
Why? The English champion believes that being smarter with your programme is far better than running yourself into the ground.
‘Training smarter, i.e. shorter, sharper sessions working on specific areas of weakness, is all it takes to improve’, says Ramla, who won both the British and English titles in 2016. ‘Poor coaches (of which I’ve had many), will have you do 2-3 hours of 60 consecutive 100 metre sprints with the belief that beasting you will make you better. It just isn’t true.’
What does ‘training smart’ mean for a boxer at the top of her game? In a nutshell it's sessions tailored to a specific skill to ensure her AM and PM workouts tax the body differently.
‘My morning sessions will be working on anything from plyometric work to sprint training, in either an athletics track or altitude centre,’ says Ramla. ‘Separately I will dedicate two sessions a week to strength training, which involves at least one compound lift and possibly one Olympic lift.’
Evenings aren’t an opportunity for a Deliveroo in front of the TV, either, as these are spent boxing: ‘2-3 sessions a week will be theme-based sparring,’ says Ramla, ‘focussing on a particular area of weakness and a couple will be open sparring.'
She also prioritises recovery too by going to hot yoga and seeing Nike’s internal physiotherapist, she tells us.
For such a varied training week, it’s important Ramla has kit that keeps pace: ‘I love wearing the metallic Nike Metcon 4 trainers for my weights sessions, and the NSW collection of jackets and tracksuits are amazing for outdoor sessions – not too heavy, but warm enough for brutal London winters.’
As the first Muslim woman to win an English boxing title, Ramla hopes to inspire other women to take up the sport, and is keen to prove that it isn’t just ‘for men’: ‘Your gender, race or religion should play no part in whether you should train in a sport.’ Ramla asserts. ‘Boxing has changed my body and mind for the better (before taking up boxing, Ramla was clinically obese and lost 24kg in weight through training), and everyone should have the opportunity to try it.’
Should you be inspired to take up boxing but not sure where to start, Ramla advises looking for a good coach. Together, you will work on your skills and fitness and when the time is right, begin sparring. But, if you want to stick to your local boxercise class instead of braving white collar? That’s fine too.
Read on for Ramlas must-have kit from Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ collection: