I have always been a big proponent of utilizing boxing as a part of your training regimen. There’s just something about the rhythmic thump of the bag and the release of aggression that feels good. But the benefits of boxing go way beyond punching as a vehicle for stress relief.
Since as long as I have been lifting weights I have been using boxing as part of my workout. As a teenager I would shadow box or do a little work on the heavy bag, primarily to loosen up my torso and shoulders. In my late 20s I decided to take the sport seriously for a couple years and train/compete exclusively as a boxer for a few years. It was during this time that I experimented with and developed different boxing workouts and I began to really notice the physical benefits of this grueling sport. Although I no longer compete or even spar (a decade of regular sparring and shots to the head was enough for me), I still hit the heavy bag or do a boxing based workout at least once per week. Not only is boxing one of the best ways to build your cardiovascular endurance, it is also a great way to build explosive power.
I’m going to teach you some ways to incorporate boxing into your routine, but first let’s break down the benefits of throwing down.
1. Cardio, Cardio, Cardio.
Boxing is one of the best forms of exercise because it allows you to build and expand your aerobic base while still doing anaerobic type sprint work. The natural ebb and flow of a round as you dance, slip, move, and fire off combinations is the ultimate form of HIIT because it varies so much round to round.
2. Total Body Strength
Like swimming, boxing is one of the few forms of conditioning that utilizes your entire body in a dynamic way. Because proper movement involves staying “on your toes” and keeping your legs bent slightly, your legs will develop great endurance from any boxing workout. The lats also get a ton of work by having to snap your punches back from the bag. The act of throwing a punch requires incredible rotational force throughout the core. Which brings us to…
3. Core Strength
Most common ab exercises that people utilize fall into one of two categories: either an isolation movement such as a crunch variation or a stability based exercise such as a plank. Boxing builds the two most neglected aspects of core strength - rotational strength and dynamic concentric power across the entire midsection. Every muscle from the hips to your rib cage is actively involved in each punch.
4. Footwork and Balance
Throwing a proper punch requires a complex chain of muscles to fire starting from the ground up. I always tell my athletes to “punch with their feet”. It might sound counter intuitive, but the transfer of weight from one foot to another is where your punching power comes from. The arms are just along for the ride as you whip your fists into the intended target. Learning to shift your weight properly and to step with crisp footwork will improve your balance and overall athletesism.
5. Stress Relief
Is there any better way to get over a frustrating day than to exhaust yourself by punching something?
6. Weight loss
Due to it’s full body benefits and your own ability to push the pace when needed, it’s possible to burn up to 1000 calories per hour doing a boxing workout.
I truly believe that anyone - particularly women or people who are non-confrontational - will feel more confident by boxing regularly. There is something about knowing that if you had to defend yourself you are capable of it that makes you feel more confident in certain situations.
Now that you are now convinced that you need to start boxing, here are a few ways you can utilize it regularly even if you have no experience:
-Dynamic warm up. Use shadow boxing to get warm and get your muscles firing. I always spend 5-10 minutes moving around and punching before I lift weights. It helps to loosen up my hips and shoulders and gets a good sweat started.
-Sprint work. Try doing this simple interval workout on the heavy bag. Move around and throw light jabs for 20 seconds, then “sprint” and attack the bag all out for 10 seconds. Repeat for 5 minutes if you are a beginner or 5-10 minutes if you are experienced as a boxer or are in excellent condition.
-Circuit training. Set a timer for 3 minutes of work (2 minutes for beginners) with 30 seconds of rest between stations. Rotate thru 3 stations: heavy bag, speed bag, and jump rope for 3-5 rounds.