You don’t need to start a fight to throw a few punches. Think of boxing as your go-to stress-relieving workout. You’ll not only knock out frustrations by releasing some feel-good endorphins, but you’ll also get a blend of hardcore cardio and strength training. In just 30 minutes, the fighting moves squash more than 375 calories and sculpt your back (lats, in particular), shoulders (or deltoids) and core.
Before you step into the ring, though, you’ll want to follow a few pointers on technique. Enter Rob Piela, owner of Gotham Gym in New York City and creator of Gotham G-Box (a group exercise class) in connection with WellPath. Heed Piela’s tips on how to pack a serious punch, then tackle one (or all!) of his three beginner-friendly boxing routines. Whether you want to kick up your cardio, build stronger muscles or do jab-cross combos with a buddy, there’s a plan for you.
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Boxing Basics: 5 Steps to Look the Part
Step 1: Master the Boxing Stance
Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart (a). Step your left foot forward. Turn both feet 45 degrees to the right and bend knees slightly (b). Bring your fists up to your cheekbones, keeping your elbows in by your sides. Your left shoulder should be in the front and the right shoulder behind. Get ready to punch (c).
Step 2: Practice Your Main Punch, The Jab
Start with the left hand. Keeping your elbow in by your side and your right fist up by your face, extend your left hand straight out in front of you (a). When your arm is almost fully extended, turn your wrist so your thumb faces down toward the floor. The jab should be quick (b). Snap your fist in and out, like a whip, with your hand coming right back to your face after you execute the punch (c).
Step 3: Put Power Behind Your Cross
For the right cross, starting from the bottom: Pivot your right foot so it turns inward and you’re on the ball of your foot (a). Your right hip and shoulder should turn forward with it, while you push your left shoulder and left hip behind you (b). With your left fist up by your face, move your right arm forward (keep your elbow in) and punch it straight out (c). Turn your wrist at the end of the punch, so your thumb faces down toward the floor (d). After you fully extend your right arm, snap it back to your boxing stance (e).
Step 4: Add Upper Body Oomph to Your Hook
For the left hook, from your boxing stance, turn to your right as you bring your left elbow up (bent 90 degrees) to about shoulder level (a). At the same time, your left heel pops up off the ground, as you pivot on the ball of your foot and shift your weight back onto your right leg (b). Bring the punch back to your face, resetting into your boxing stance (c).
Step 5: Attack from a Different Angle with Uppercuts
For the right uppercut: From your boxing stance, turn your right hip and shoulder forward. Keep your elbow in as you punch upward, thumb facing you (a). Bring your fist back to your face and return to your boxing stance. Bend your knees if you need to reach a lower target (b). For the left uppercut: Follow the same steps as the right uppercut, except this time, turn your left hip and shoulder forward and punch with your left hand, thumb facing you (c).
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3 Boxing Workouts to Make You Sweat
Boxer’s Cardio Workout
You’ll get your heart rate up for this cardio routine, designed by Piela, which also tones your entire body. Perform the combinations below for one minute each. If you’re up for the challenge, Piela suggests using light weights while you punch.
2-minute warm-up: 30 seconds each of jumping jacks and high knees. Repeat a second time.
Jab and cross: Alternate jabs with your left hand and crosses with your right and continuously and as fast as you can. Make sure your punches go straight out and back to your face. Engage your core and turn your shoulders and hips toward your target.
Jump rope: Do this with an actual jump rope or just mimic the movement by rotating your wrists. Jump with feet together up and down or side to side.
Jab, cross, squat: Do a jab with your left hand and a cross with your right, then perform a squat. Pause briefly between each combination.
Burpees: Jump straight up with your hands in the air. Then, put your hands on the ground and jump your feet back to a high plank position. Jump the feet back up to your hands and explode back up off the ground. (Hate burpees? Try this variation.)
Uppercuts: Perform right and left uppercuts as fast as you can. Make sure to keep turning your shoulders with each punch and engage your core the entire time.
Forearm plank: Keep your back straight and flat, and hips in line with shoulders. Position elbows directly underneath your shoulders. (Here’s how to fix the most common mistakes.)
Repeat the entire sequence one more time, skipping the burpees and planks on the second round.
Boxer’s Strength Workout
Feel the burn from head to toe with these toning moves that Piela put together. You’ll use boxing as the warm-up to fire up your core muscles and get your heart pumping.
2-minute warm-up: Do one minute of a jab-cross combo as fast as you can. Immediately follow that with one minute of right and left uppercuts, as fast as you can.
Lying hip raises: Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift your hips, creating a straight diagonal line from knees to shoulders. Straighten one leg, holding it just above the floor. Then lift it straight up, about 45 degrees (or more, if you can) off the ground. Engage your abs the entire time and keep your hips up. Lower the extended leg back down and repeat. Do three sets of 20 leg raises. Lower your hips back down to the floor briefly. Repeat on the other leg.
High plank: Get into a push-up position and hold for one minute. Keep abs tight and body in a straight line — don’t drop or raise the hips. If you want more of an abs challenge, extend one arm and the opposite leg and continuously alternate sides.
Bicycles: Lie on your back with your legs in tabletop position and your hands behind your head, elbows wide. Straighten your right leg out to a 45-degree angle, as you lift your left shoulder off the ground and move your left elbow toward your right knee. Switch sides and continue alternating. Do three sets of 25 reps on each side.
Crunches: Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your hands behind your head, elbows wide. Tighten your abs as you raise your head, neck and shoulders off the floor. Return back to the floor. Repeat for three sets of 25.
Donkey kicks: On all fours, extend your right foot up toward the ceiling, keeping your knee bent at 90 degrees and toes flexed. Your knee should be at hip height. Push your right foot up toward the ceiling a few inches, then lower it back down to hip height. Do 20 reps, then switch sides. Perform three sets.
Boxer’s Partner Workout
30 sec jog in place
1 min jumping jacks
30 sec mountain climbers
1 min jump rope
Partner push-ups: Hold a high plank position facing your partner — you should be head-to-head. Each of you perform a push-up and when you reach the top of your plank, slap hands. (Alternate hand slaps after each push-up.) Do three sets of 10 to 15 reps.
Partner sit-ups: Lie on your backs, facing toward each other with feet flat on the floor and toes touching. As you come up to perform a sit-up, slap hands. Do three sets of 15 to 20 reps.
Jab-cross and squat combo: One partner continuously performs jabs and crosses, with a pause between each combo. The other partner simultaneously squats down, so as to dodge the punches. Continue for two minutes, then switch.
Partner leg lifts: One partner stands with feet hip-width apart, while the other lays down on her back (legs out straight) and holds onto the other person’s ankles. The partner on the ground lifts her legs straight up in the air (avoid bending the knees), as the standing partner pushes the feet back down toward the ground. The partner on the ground should tuck the pelvis upward, pushing the lower back onto the mat. Perform three sets of 12 to 15 reps, alternating partner positions.
Glove-to-glove punches: Stand facing your partner. Keep your hands up at your face as each person performs jabs, crosses and hooks with the same hand, so they hit each other. (If you don’t have gloves, step farther apart to avoid contact.) Make sure to turn shoulders and hips with each punch and to engage the abs the entire time. Repeat for one minute. Up the challenge by using hand weights (sans gloves).