Boxing has become a popular form of exercise for women looking to get into fitness, even if they have no intention of ever putting their pugilism to the test in a ring. After all, boxing is a combat sport and not everyone likes the idea of getting punched in the face (with or without gloves).
The good news is that just because you don’t want to actually box another individual doesn’t mean you can’t still reap the benefits of training like a boxer. Boxers are arguably some of the most elite athletes in terms of condition and agility because of the sport’s inherent demand to master so many movements with the body.
Whereas, activities like running and biking are generally just about pure endurance, boxing requires intermittent phases of dodging and striking with speed and quickness, making it quite challenging. If you’re not sure about the benefits of boxing, or how to go about implementing a boxing routine into your exercise regimen, read on as we break down boxing workout benefits, where to look for informative boxing tutorials, and what to expect if you take a boxing fitness class.
The Benefits of Boxing Workouts and Fitness
Boxing has built-in high-intensity interval training (HIIT) — with the constant movement speckled with intermittent intense bouts of punching and dodging. For those who are unaware, HIIT is a form of cardiovascular exercise where you exert yourself as hard as you can until exhaustion kicks in (e.g. sprinting for 15-20 seconds), recover for a few seconds, then go hard again . This forces your body to rely on a combination of aerobic and anaerobic metabolism (since oxygen is depleted) and you end up taxing a variety of energy systems in the body. In turn, HIIT elicits a variety of metabolic adaptations that traditional low-intensity cardio (e.g. walking) does not.
Weight Loss and Fat Burning Potential
Boxing is an intense form of exercise that combines anaerobic (the intense bursts of activity) and aerobic (30-60 minute workouts take some serious endurance) activity. This forces your body to rely heavily on glycolytic (carbohydrate) and oxidative (fat) metabolism for energy. Literature actually suggests that forms of HIIT, like boxing, are superior for sustained, long-term fat loss when compared to traditional low-intensity, steady-state (LISS) cardio.
The nature of a boxing workout promotes fat-loss beyond just the time you spend in the gym. Some people refer to this as the “afterburn effect” of HIIT. Basically, your body will burn more calories for up to 48 hours after your training session even when you’re just chillin’ on the couch (assuming you work hard enough and push yourself a bit).
Lastly, boxing is a superb way to burn fat and keep it off because it stimulates a process in your cells called mitochondrial biogenesis. The reason that process is so crucial is because it increases metabolism—your body essentially requires more energy to perform daily functions.
Muscle Building and Toning Potential
Boxing also enhances muscle gain in active individuals, whereas traditional low-intensity cardio can actually be detrimental to muscle building (and retention). Moreover, the dynamic total-body effort that boxing requires is great for toning muscles from head to toe.
Once you master the striking techniques and footwork, you will notice that your arms, legs and trunk become stronger and more agile; this, in turn, promotes muscle tone and leanness.
Instructional Boxing Videos and Training Tips
Below are a few video resources to check out that walk you through how to actually incorporate a simple boxing workout into your exercise regimen. Be aware that proper movement patterns and technique are crucial for safety and maximize your workout.
As with most any form of exercise that you’re not familiar with, be sure to start slow and gradually work your way up to more advanced workouts. Ten to fifteen minutes is a great starting point for your first workout. Make sure you stay well hydrated and have the proper equipment needed to safely and effectively perform the workout (more on this in the coming sections).
Classes: What to Expect; Should I Take Them?
If you’re interested in taking boxing classes, the first thing to do is to determine whether your current gym offers group or public classes. Most commercial gyms with fitness studios have a variety of classes that they schedule, and they are often free to partake in as long as you’re a gym member.
If that’s not an option, then the next best bet is to search for local fitness studios or possibly a dedicated boxing gym to see if any trainers teach a boxing workout class. Generally these studios and gyms will have all the equipment necessary (gloves, punching bags, etc.). Check out the TITLE Boxing Club website for boxing gym locations.
A final option is to work one-on-one with a trainer and have them teach you the mechanics and footwork for a proper boxing workout. This will likely be the most expensive option, but can also be the most rewarding since you’re getting all of the attention.
Generally, you should expect to workout for at least 30 minutes to an hour if you are taking a public boxing workout class. If you are completely new to boxing workouts and not sure if you can keep up with a class, it might be best to start in a more personal setting and just get used to the motions before diving into a class.
Proper Attire and Clothing
Boxing attire is rather similar to the attire you would normally wear to a gym, but special attention should be paid to the footwear you use since you will need good traction but also shoes that are lightweight and don’t hinder your agility. You don’t have to invest in actual boxing boots, but just some shoes that are light, breathable and easy on your feet.
As far as clothing goes, it’s generally advised to wear articles that are breathable, stretchable, and not too heavy. Remember, boxing is not a walk in the park so be prepared to work up a nice sweat.