Boxing is one of the best activities for all-round fitness. Whether it is boxercise classes or a punching bag workouts, it provides a high-intensity workout that helps with weight management as well as aerobic and anaerobic fitness. Not only do the shoulders and chest area get worked but also the abdominals and legs.
Boxercise is a great way to get into boxing. The instructor will teach you the moves, the punches and how to get the most from your workout, but if you cannot make a class, then consider using a punchbag.
Yes, the humble punchbag, the piece of equipment that often hangs forlorn in the gym is actually one of the best bits of fitness equipment in the gym – you just need to glove up and get started.
For people who are unsure about using a punchbag, here is our guide to getting started:
Do a warm-up
There is a reason that boxers skip and that is to get their bodies and minds ready for boxing. A few minutes with a skipping rope will raise your heart-rate, warm up the major muscle groups, get your feet moving and kickstart your nervous system into a greater level of coordination.
Three x 1 minute on the skipping rope is a good start and this can be built up over time as you get used to the activity.
The jab. This quick punch comes from the lead hand and should dent the bag. The jab comes from chin height and the hand returns quickly to the start position. As you punch, dip your head slightly and tuck your chin in. As you grow in confidence, do two or three jabs in quick succession.
The cross. This comes from the rear hand. If your left foot is forward, drive off your right foot and rotate your right hip and shoulder and throw your right hand out. The cross should travel in a straight line across your body and strike the bag at chin height. Your back foot twists slightly while staying in contact with the ground.
Combine a cross with two jabs.
The Hook. Hooks are thrown with the lead hand. bring your elbow to face height and rotate your entire body in the direction the punch goes. Keep your elbow bent at 90 degrees. Your fist can be horizontal or vertical – that is personal choice.
The uppercut. This involves an upward punching motion. Bend you knees and tilt your body to the left or right depending upon which hand you are using. Keep your elbow close to your body until the last minute, then raise your heel and thrust your hip upwards in the same direction as your arm – right hand punch, means right hip and right calf thrust upwards too and vice versa.
Combining the moves. Using 1,2 and 3 to signify certain punches, boxing trainers will call out combinations. As you train, you can do your own boxing by numbers. Here are some combinations to get you started, add your own later.
• 1-2 (Jab-Right cross)
• 1-1-2 (Jab-Jab-Cross)
• 1-2-3 (Jab-Right Cross-Left hook)
• 1-2-3-2 (Left Jab-Right Cross-Left Hook-Right Cross) …
• 1-2-5-2 (Left Jab-Right Cross-Left Uppercut-Right Cross)
• 1-6-3-2 (Left Jab-Right Uppercut-Left hook-Right Jab)
• 2-3-2 (Right Cross-Left Hook-Right cross)
You can also adapt punchbag training for a HIIT-style workout, it works the whole body across multiple planes of motion.
Here is a sample session: Punch the bag with alternating hands as hard and fast as you can for 15 all-out seconds.
Move around the bag for 90 seconds, shadowboxing at an easy pace.
Do the above at least three times. For a tougher session, go for six.
For a Tabata-style session do 20 seconds of boxing, rest for 10 seconds and then repeat eight times.
On important point to emphasise. Boxing is not just about punching the bag as hard as you can. You must also keep your feet moving. Visualise a boxing match as the two combatants dance around each other, light on their toes. Make sure you keep your feet moving as you are throwing your combinations. Not only will you look like a pro but you will give your calves a great workout too.