Boxing For Fitness: The Original And Still The Best

By: Gavin Stone

When we look at fitness and training much has changed over the years. Gyms have become more accessible for all fitness levels, with the benefits of a personal trainer being used by many. One area which has not changed is the use of boxing as an effective training technique, and in more recent times the introduction of non contact boxing for fitness.

The origins of boxing date back to 4000BC where archaeological evidence suggests boxing existed in North Africa, with the earliest visual evidence for boxing appearing in Sumerian relief carvings from the 3rd millennium BC. Boxing, also called prize fighting (when referring to professional boxing) or the sweet science (a common nickname among followers) is formally structured for competition at both amateur and professional level. The highest level of amateur achievement is the winning of an Olympic gold medal, and as a professional winning a world title from one of the four main sanctioning bodies (WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO). Bouts are categorised through weight division classifications.

Through its strong history and puristic nature, boxing provides a solid platform for exercise. The benefits of boxing for fitness are a plenty, with cardiovascular function, muscle tone, speed, power, agility, reaction time, strength, flexibility and coordination all variables of fitness which are trained.

Before starting any exercise a full warm up should be completed to activate muscles and joints. The three main purposes of a warm are to increase body temperature as warmer muscles have more elasticity; elevate heart rate to allow as much oxygen rich blood to reach the muscles; lubricate the joints to increase range of movement. A good warm up for boxing is 2 minutes jump rope along with dynamic stretching.

Basic technique principles will need to be followed to enable an efficient workout.

Establish a comfortable position with body slightly side on, knees slightly bent, head facing forward with chin tucked in towards sternum. Feet will be 12 to 24 inches apart, back heel off the ground and weight on the balls of both feet. Toes should be pointing towards the left shoulder (for an orthodox- right handed boxer) of pad holder, bag or opponent. Both hands are at ear height, with left hand slightly more forward and elbows tucked into sides.

The jab for an orthodox boxer is a punch thrown with the left hand. Conduct an extension of the left hand, with the fist and forearm rotating, striking your target and then returning to the defensive position. Rotate at the waits with the left hip turning to the right, and back heel rocking off the ground as you throw the punch. Remember to keep your right hand up when throwing a jab, as it will have a natural tendency to drop. A focus should be placed on speed when throwing a jab.

The cross for an orthodox boxer is a punch with the dominant right hand. Conduct an extension of the right hand, (like the jab) rotating your first and forearm, then hitting the intended target before returning to the original position. Rotate as the waits with the right hip turning forward and swivelling of the ball of feet. Try not to drop the right shoulder, producing a powerful- long punch which is established from a snappy hip turn. Remember to keep your left hand up when throwing a cross.

Uppercuts, both left and right hand, are produced via coming out of a squatting like position, with arm flexed and palm of clinched fist facing the boxers own chest through the duration of punch.

Hooks are predominantly thrown with the left hand of an orthodox boxer. The arm conducts a hooking motion with a focus on an almost full extension at the elbow- to create leverage- whilst maintaining the elbow in a high position. The fist maintains its position throughout the punch with attention being paid to the knuckle part of the glove connecting to the intended target- rather than an open hard, or slap.

The use of boxing for fitness can be completed through a series of drills and exercises, either completed on a heavy bag or with a partner using hand pads.

A combination is a series of punches- or moves- conducted in a consecutive manner. Combinations are a great way to training for coordination improvements- being a neurally challenging movement(s) - a quality of fitness quite often forgotten about, despite is vital importance. Combinations can start with a simple Jab-Cross, and build up to a five punch succession of Jab-Cross-Left Uppercut-Cross-Left Hook. Here are some more suggested combinations:
(All combinations in relation to orthodox boxer)

Jab- Jab- Cross
Jab- Cross- Left Hook
Jab- Cross- Left Uppercut- Right Uppercut
Left Hook- Right Uppercut
Jab- Cross- Duck- Left Hook
Duck- Cross- Left Hook
High Left Hook- Low Left Hook- Cross

A boxing pyramid relates to a pyramid in volume of punches, for example: 10, 20, 30, 20, 10. You can do this with any number, as well as variations of punches such as straights, uppercuts and hooks. Pyramid drills will not have an intense focus on technique as the combination punches would; due to the high volumes of punches making a pyramid drill an aerobic based endurance exercise.

Circuit training can be easily applied to a boxing style of training. It can include exercises not directly related to boxing or exclusively boxing exercises. An example of a boxing circuit would be:

Dumbbell punches x 20
Burpee x 10
Bag punching x 20
Star jumps x 20
Shadow punches x 20

Depending on session plan and time, you would be able to complete the circuit 2 to 5 times, with a 30 to 120 seconds break between laps.

Freestyle boxing fitness training is best done with a partner who acts as the boss by calling the shots. Your partner will randomly- as it is freestyle- state a certain exercise through rounds of 1 to 3 minutes in duration. An example of this style of training would be: 30 straight punches, 10 squats, 4 uppercuts, 10 hooks, 8 lunges, 10 straight punches, 10 star jumps, etc for completion of round(s).

Including the lower body
For an all over body workout it is simple to add lower body exercise to your boxing routine. Include 10 squats or star jumps between sets of combinations, or a 10 meter lunge walk with 10 start jumps at the end between levels of a boxing pyramid. While you are conducting the leg exercise your upper body is recovering, and vice versa.

Facilities & Equipment
An advantage of boxing fitness is the minimal facilities and equipment that is required. Equipment can start with your bare hands- doesnt get any easier or cheaper than that- with the above listed drills and exercises conducted through shadow boxing. Further equipment can be utilised in boxing gloves, heavy bag, handwraps and hand pads. Facilities used are generally a boxing gymnasium, aerobics room or undercover shed, however if these facilities are not readily available then training can be equally effective at an oval or car park.

Whether you are training to be a boxer, an elite athlete, general sporting enthusiast or just looking to begin a form of training for cardiovascular improvement, weight loss and general wellbeing then boxing fitness is your ideal solution. It may be seen as old fashioned; however boxing fitness training is the original and still one of the best.

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