You just have to look at a boxer’s body to know that their training regime is perfect for sculpting a lean, toned and fat-fighting body. Boxers are known for being toned in all of the right places, especially their upper-body and mid-section. But a boxer isn’t only interested in looking good: boxers need to have the cardiovascular and muscular endurance to fight for 12 straight rounds. In my opinion, this makes boxing one of the best forms of functional exercise for toning your entire body.
Admittedly boxers, like all other professional athletes dedicate hours upon hours every day to training their body and perfecting their boxing skills. They must also focus on following a careful nutritional plan, especially when they are preparing for a big fight. In the world of professional boxing, getting rid of excess body weight and fat in order to make a set weight class is an essential part of the sport.
Now, I’m not suggesting that you take up this sport in order to box away your excess fat, I simply want to share with you four common exercises that seem to be a staple in boxing gyms around the world. Boxing training can get you fit, sculpt your upper-body and of course help you work toward obtaining that oh so desirable six-pack tummy.
This simple punch is great for working out your shoulders, it’s a punch that can be intensified to build strength by using dumbbell weights or be kept simple in a fast cardio style to burn fat.
Simply stand in a staggered stance with one foot in front of the other. Your feet should be slightly wider than hip-distance apart. If your right foot is forward you will punch with your right arm, so bend your arm at the elbow and tuck your elbows close into the side of your body. Then make a fist at chin height; start with your palm facing toward your body and, as you extend your arm forward to punch, rotate the wrist so that your palm is facing the floor. Try to keep your arms up and punch at shoulder-height.
– If you are using weights, try to do 12 punches with each arm and repeat for three sets.
– Without weights, punch continuously for 60 seconds before switching arms.
In just five short minutes you should feel the burn.
Crunches (or sit ups) in a boxing gym have a slight edge to them – you need to sit up slightly higher to make sure you don’t strain your neck. For this exercise, as you get to the top of your crunch, do 10 rapid punches then slowly lower your body back to the starting position.
I particularly like working out with a friend for this move – try putting on a pair of boxing gloves and asking your buddy to hold out a pad for you to hit. Alternatively, try using a light set of dumbbells – this move will work your abs and your arms at the same time.
Jumping rope is a classic, for many people it’s the exercise that comes to mind when they think of a boxer – I bet your mind either went to a speed bag or skipping when you first started reading this article, right?
Jumping rope is also a perfect fat-burning cardio exercise as it works your entire body and it will make you sweat. Try jumping rope in an interval style (for really effective fat burning results take a short rest in between intense periods of jumping). If you don’t have a rope or if you are lacking the co-ordination, simply jump without the rope – in the sports world we call it “ghost rope”.
Aim to jump continually for 60seconds at first. The rhythm, or speed, you set will determine whether you can follow your first minute with a 30 second rest and then complete another 60 seconds.
The cross punch is similar to a jab in that you punch at shoulder height and start with your hands in the same position at chin height. The key differences are that you are punching across the body instead of straight out in front of you. You should also position your feet in an athletic stance, rather than a staggered stance, with your feet a comfortable distance apart and keep your knees slightly bent.
It’s important to remember that whenever you are performing a rotating- style movement. Always allow your lower body to naturally follow your movement by pivoting your feet to protect your hips and knees. This cross cross body punching action makes your abdominal muscles – especially the obliques – work extra hard.
Try to complete 30 seconds punching to the left and then 30 seconds punching to the right.
I saved my favorite move for last; this boxing-inspired move could also be confused with an old-school dance move!
Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart and sit down into a squat position as if you are sitting in a chair. Ensure that your knees are behind your toes and your chest is high. Bend your arms at the elbows and lift them up on line with your shoulders, then make a fist with your palms facing the floor and put one hand above the other. To complete the move, simply roll your hands one on top of the other in a circular motion (think of a funky70’s style disco move).
Try to hold in a squat position for 20 rolling punches, then stand up and repeat for a total of 20 squats. This move works your legs, butt, arms and abs.
BOXING FIT WORKOUT
The most important thing when trying a new exercise is that you have fun, listen to your body and always exercise safely within your own personal comfort zone. I always say before teaching a fierce kickboxing class that “I’m a lover, not a fighter” but I must admit that when it comes to fighting to be fit and healthy, or boxing away unwanted fat, I’m always ready to put on my boxing gloves and build up a sweat.
I hope that after reading my boxing fit article, you’re ready to fight fat with me too. So tell me, what are you fighting for? Share your goals in the comments section below – I love seeing everyone’s thoughts. Are you fighting to get a six pack for summer or to lose a few pounds, maybe? Whatever your reason, remember that good health is always worth the fight.
Written by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA. Samantha is Director of Fitness Education at Herbalife.