Punch Up Your Fitness Routine with Boxing
By Amanda Mahler, Fitness Specialist—Virtua Fitness Center, Moorestown
Boxing, or kickboxing, for fitness is an exercise trend that packs a serious punch. In addition to giving you a total body workout (especially your core), boxing provides cardiovascular benefits similar to running or cycling. In fact, many celebrities and models use boxing to tone up, build strength and relieve stress. If you're tired of the same old cardio and strength-training routines, boxing might be the new challenge your body needs.
Who can benefit from boxing workouts?
Almost anyone can benefit from boxing workouts. Boxing provides strength training, cardiovascular exercise and stress relief all at once. This makes it a great choice for busy people who are looking for an efficient workout that also helps them relieve tension. Additionally, boxing helps improve balance, coordination and agility, and it can be useful for self-defense should you ever need it.
Typical boxing moves (that can be performed with or without a punching bag) include:
- Arms: jabs, crosses, upper cuts, hooks, back fists
- Legs: front kicks, back kicks, side kicks, roundhouse or round kicks, crescent kicks
Perhaps the best thing about boxing is that workouts can be tailored to your needs and fitness level. For instance, beginners can start with shorter intervals and lighter jabs, gradually intensifying their workout as they become stronger.
Boxing for weight loss
If you’re looking to lose weight, boxing torches calories at a rate that is comparable to a high-impact aerobics class, jogging or rowing. Although boxing provides a full-body workout, it’s especially effective at helping you tone and firm your upper arms, core, chest and calves. If you’re suffering from a lower body injury, boxing is a fantastic cardiovascular alternative to running or cycling.
Who should avoid boxing workouts?
If you’ve had an upper body injury that affects your back, neck or shoulders, you should avoid boxing workouts. Also, avoid boxing workouts if you have a health condition that affects your ability to perform cardiovascular exercise.
Do I have to take punches or hit other people?
No, you don’t need to make contact with people. You can get all the benefits of boxing simply by performing the moves—no need to go head-to-head with an actual opponent (unless, of course, you want to!). Again, you don’t even need a punching bag to complete an effective boxing workout.
If you’re a boxing beginner, start slow. Talk to the trainer and make sure you’re in a class suitable for your level of fitness. Before starting, you may want to consider increasing your cardio routine and strengthening your core with planks or crunches. However, it’s also OK if you want to jump right in. Talk to your instructor to find out what you can do outside of your sessions to improve your fitness level.
What equipment will I need?
To get started, all you need are wrist wraps and boxing gloves. The gloves can be the large, traditional boxing gloves or lighter, finger-less kickboxing gloves. Talk to your instructor to learn what type is appropriate for you.
How can I get the most out of my boxing workout?
In order to get the most out of your boxing workout, it’s important to start slow. Begin with 30-second intervals of one upper or lower body move, and gradually increase the time as your fitness level increases. During your intervals, you should safely push yourself, focus on good form and work against the clock. You should also alternate legs and arms every other workout to avoid overuse injuries. Once you master individual moves, you can combine punches or kicks, or combine punches with kicks.
If you’re looking to try something new and break out of your fitness rut, boxing for fitness is an inexpensive and efficient way to knock out stress and improve your physical fitness. Virtua’s fitness centers offer kickboxing classes that can help you torch calories while having fun.
Updated June 1, 2017