Strong muscles throughout your body are imperative for boxing, but having rock-hard abs is about more than just a stunning physique. Solid abdominal muscles help protect such organs as the liver from body shots, which can be every bit as devastating as punches to the jaw or temple. While running and other boxing workouts help develop your abs to a certain extent, a series of specific exercises will give you results quickly.
If you visit any boxing gym, you're almost certain to see at least one fighter performing crunches on a mat. To execute a crunch, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Hold your hands behind your head or cross your arms over your chest, and use your abdominal muscles to lift your back off the ground. As an added challenge, try crunches while holding a dumbbell or medicine ball, or try throwing a punch with either hand after lifting your torso.
A set of Russian twists will give your abs a healthy burn feeling in short order. Sit with your knees bent, your heels touching the ground and your torso slightly leaned back. Swing a dumbbell or medicine ball back and forth over your waist, touching it to the ground on each side of your hips. You don't need to overdo the weight; a 10-pound medicine ball provides ample challenge for most people. For an added burn, hold your feet off the ground.
Plank poses are common in yoga, although in that context, practitioners use the pose to improve their core muscles, not strengthen their abs to absorb body shots. Lie on your front as though you're about to perform a pushup, and then extend your arms so your hands and toes are the only parts of your body touching the ground. Avoid arching your back; it should be perfectly straight. Try holding this pose for a minute, and then rest for 30 seconds and try again.
Pelvic thrusts prove that by using only your body's weight, it's possible to generate a significant workout for your abs. Lie flat on the floor and bend at the waist so your legs are vertical and your body is bent at 90 degrees. Cross your arms over your chest so you avoid the temptation of using them to help you, and contract your abs to lift your torso off the ground. Don't worry about bending like a paperclip; moving an inch off the ground is adequate.
Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.