There’s no doubt -- boxing is not just for men anymore. There are official women’s world boxing champions and, as of 2012, female Olympic boxers. Countless other women who’ll never throw a glove in anger perform boxing workouts as strength and conditioning exercises. Indeed, the chances are good that a health club in your area offers some boxing or boxing-related classes strictly for fitness purposes. Whether you’re seeking an Olympic gold medal or trying to tone your arms and legs, there are boxing workouts that can help you achieve your goals.
If you’re new to boxing, the best thing you can do is find a class or an experienced trainer who can plan a workout program according to your background and fitness level. The first thing you may do is endurance training. To understand the importance of endurance to boxers, set a timer for three minutes -- the equivalent of one round of boxing -- assume a boxing stance with your hands about chin-high, then circle the center of your living room, keeping your hands up the whole time. When the timer goes off, the ache in your arms will tell you why you need to build endurance. You’ll probably need to strengthen your entire body and learn basic boxing fundamentals. You’ll be taught proper footwork, which is the foundation on which all your offensive and defensive moves are built. You’ll also learn to hit the heavy bag with proper technique before you face a real fighter in the ring.
Different boxing trainers employ different exercises, but you’ll probably encounter at least a few of boxing’s familiar standbys. You can perform dumbbell or barbell curls and bench presses to strengthen your upper body, as well as a variety of pushups. Standard pushups, for example, build your chest and shoulder muscles, while others -- close-hand pushups, for example -- target your triceps. Situps and crunches are standard boxing exercises to toughen your core muscles, while catching a medicine ball against your chest will help prepare you to take body shots. Squats are among the most common leg exercises, while jumping rope strengthens your legs and increases your agility.
The number of boxing drills is endless, so you’ll probably encounter a variety of drills in different classes, or if you work with several trainers. Drills may emphasize basic footwork, or developing agility or punching speed. You can count on plenty of punching drills, whether you’re in an exercise class or training for a fight. For example, you’ll hit the heavy bag with jabs, uppercuts, crosses and hooks -- while using proper form -- to develop punching power and arm endurance. You’ll learn to hit a speed bag properly to give you quick hands, for defense as well as offense. You may begin by hitting the bag twice with your right hand, then twice with your left, then continuing the pattern for a specified amount of time.
If you’re training for a fight, workouts will be long and comprehensive. You’ll do some distance running or aerobic work, then you may alternate strength or agility exercises with boxing drills, possibly including some sparring. If you’re taking a fitness class, count on being in constant motion for 50 to 60 minutes, including warmup and cool-down sessions. In between you may perform cardio work, such as jumping rope or shadow boxing, as well as punching exercises such as hitting a heavy or speed bag, or throwing punches at a trainer who’ll block them with large, padded mitts.
M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.