For an energetic workout that can burn hundreds of calories and teach you some basic self-defense moves, try cardio kickboxing. Although this type of kickboxing, also known as aerobic kickboxing, doesn’t involve physical contact against anyone, it incorporates a variety of kicks and punches. During a 50-minute session, a 135-pound person can burn between 350 to 450 calories, according to the American Council on Exercise.
Warmups and Cool Downs
Start your cardio kickboxing session, whether it’s at home or in a class, with a 15-minute warmup. This can include stretching and light cardio activity such as jumping jacks and pushups. Wear loose clothing that allows you to move freely, as the actually kickboxing workout includes approximately 30 minutes of both upper and lower body movements. At the end, cool down for at least five minutes, then stretch for 10 minutes to avoid injuring your muscles.
Upper Body Moves
The four most common upper body movements in kickboxing are jabs, cross punches, hooks and uppercuts. The jab is a straight punch that theoretically would target an assailant’s nose. Stand with your right foot forward and your arms in a fighting stance, which means your elbows are bent and your fists are clenched near your chin. Extend your right arm as your rotate your right hip forward, twisting the forearm so the bottom of your arm is parallel to the floor. Return to the starting pose immediately.
A cross punch also target’s the assailant’s nose, but is thrown across the body. Stand with your right foot forward, fists in a fighting stance, and punch diagonally to the right with your left arm. Use your core muscles to pack a powerful punch.
The hook uses a circular motion to target the ear and cheek. Stand with your left foot forward in a fighting stance, pivot on the ball of your left foot and turn your knee, hip, shoulder and arm as you swing your arm out to punch to the right.
Uppercut punches target the assailant’s chin. Stand with your left foot forward in a fighting stance with your knees slightly bent. Drop your right hand slightly, then drive a punch upward toward the ceiling, stopping before the tip of your nose.
Lower Body Moves
The most common kicks in this lower body workout are front, side and roundhouse kicks, though your instructor might incorporate back kicks as well. To perform a front kick, stand with your left foot forward. Shift your weight to the right foot and kick by bringing your left knee up to the chest and punching outward with your heel. This targets the knee, groin and chest of your attacker. For a back kick, perform the same movement to your behind while remaining facing forward.
The side kick is the strongest because the power comes for your glutes. Stand with your left foot forward, turn your hips to the right and lift your left knee toward your chest. Keeping your foot flexed, kick out to the left side and balance by leaning your upper body to the right side.
The roundhouse kick targets the knee, obliques and head of your assailant. Stand with your right foot forward, bent your right knee and bring the heel toward your glutes. Pivot on the left foot, turn your hips to the left and kick in a circular motion with your toes pointed. Imagine that you’re hitting the target with your shoelaces.
Finding a Class
Not all kickboxing workouts are designed the same. Because it’s a high-intensity and high-impact routine, a beginner should work their way up by starting with a low-impact aerobics class or doing an at-home kickboxing DVD where they can learn the moves at a comfortable pace. When you’re ready to attend a high-intensity class, check it out first to see if the instructor is right for you. Look for a teacher who will modify a routine to accommodate different skill levels and who is certified by an organization such as the American Council on Exercise.
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