One of the fastest ways to lose weight and tone up is boxing. You don’t need gloves and a heavy bag or a boxing instructor; you just need to learn the basics.  Boxing is a great workout, ranking among the top exercises for burning calories, building strength and endurance, and developing muscle tone, aside from just being a great cardiovascular workout.  Boxing can also boost self-esteem, build confidence and release stress.

Depending on your fitness level and body weight, burning calories from a boxing workout can range from approximately 350 calories for a 125 pound person, to 650+ calories for a 200 pound person. Jumping rope is an integral part of boxing, often used as a warm-up, and helps burn even more calories.  In fact, jumping rope alone ranks among the top calorie burning cardio activities.  Consider this: 10 minutes of jump rope is equivalent to approximately 30 minutes of running on a treadmill.  Start your boxing workout by jumping rope.  Beginners should do 50-150 jumps and work towards 500-750 consecutive jumps.  If you do not have a jump rope, just pretend you are holding one and jump!  

Shadow boxing is also a great way to warm up. This can be done in front of a mirror; throw the punches at your reflection. Beginners should stick to basic punches; straight jabs and crosses are best.  For the more advanced boxer, throw a combination of punches and move. For example, throw a combination of six-punches then move to a new position. Try to shadow box for 1-3 minutes per round, for a total of 3-5 rounds. To make shadowing boxing more challenging, try holding light (2-5 lbs) dumbbells.

Knowing the basics is also key to knowing how to throw punches. Your “fight” stance is the foundation in which you should stay balanced.  Tighten your abs and keep the knees slightly bent.  Hands are up to protect the face and elbows are in to protect the body.  If you are right-handed, stand with your left foot in front and keep your feet shoulder width apart. Your left foot should point forward while your right foot points out to the side at about 45 degrees. If you are left-handed, your right foot will be forward, with your left foot back. Once you have established this stance, stay light on your feet and prepare to throw some punches.

Keep your punches simple when starting out boxing. A left jab, the punch most often used in boxing, followed by a cross is a basic punch combination that is great for beginners. To throw your jab, take a small step forward from your fight stance with your left foot and punch. Extend your left arm as your foot steps forward and rotate the hips into the punch, then return to your fight stance.  It is very important that you do not “arm punch," that is, the punch should not come from the elbow, but rather from the left shoulder as you step into the punch and rotate the hips.  If you are right-handed, then use the right jab. To throw your right cross, pivot off the back right leg, turning the hips to the left and throw your right hand forward as you punch from the shoulder, just as you did with your jab.

You can have a great workout with just the basic jab and cross punches.  More advanced boxers should incorporate hooks and upper cuts into their shadow boxing and drills.  If you are a beginner but want to try more advanced combinations, go for it; taking a boxing class at your local gym is a quick and easy way to get a better understanding and develop basic skills.

Learning to duck will make for a better workout as well as burning more calories. From your fight stance, keep your hands up to protect your face.  Imagine that someone is throwing a punch at your head then bend your knees and squat to avoid the punch. Try not to bend forward at the waist and remember to keep your head up – the basic duck is simply an up and down movement.  Once the duck is established, you can mix in some punch combinations for several rounds of boxing. If you have access to a heavy bag, put your gloves on and hit the bag.  If you do not have a heavy bag, then use light weights (2-5 pound dumbbells) and throw your punches. Get ready to sweat!

Here are a few combinations for beginners.  After each, either move to a new spot on the heavy bag or if you are not using a heavy bag, move to a new spot in the space you are using:

  • Jab – cross – duck – move to a new spot.
  • Jab – cross – jab – cross – move to a new spot.
  • Jab – jab – cross – duck – move to a new spot.

More advanced boxers should use all your punches.  Throw a six-punch combination and move.  For example, throw a jab, jab, cross, left hook, right hook, ending with a left upper cut.  You can repeat the same combination for the duration of the round or switch it up.

Be sure to include a warm-up of jump rope and shadow boxing.  Hit the bag or use light weight dumbbells to perform the simple combinations described above. Depending on your level of fitness and ultimate goals, complete 3-5 rounds, with each round lasting 1-3 minutes.  Finish your workout with a set of pushups and crunches; these are a standard component of most boxing workouts.  They are a great way to cap off your workouts, helping to strengthen and tone the muscles of the upper body and core.

To get the most out of your boxing workout, practice proper technique. Remember – do not arm punch and keep your shoulder and core engaged in your punches. Don’t forget to breathe and exhale each time you punch. Consider using a mirror when you start boxing – this will help you develop good form.  Jump rope can be challenging for beginners.  With practice and patience, jump rope will become easier and you will develop cardiovascular endurance.

Spending 30 minutes a day on boxing will help you release stress, burn a ton of calories, tone up and get fit fast. Boxers are considered to be among the world’s fittest athletes.  You too can benefit from their training.