Want a fun and varied workout? Boxing fitness is a great way to burn fat and boost your fitness and is also a great stress-buster. Christina Neal explains why.
As the editor of a fitness magazine, you’d think I’d have my diet sorted, but like every other busy woman, I struggle from time to time. My diet goes up and down depending on my stress levels and I spend a lot of time at my desk sitting down. I recently decided to get my food back on track. No more excuses. My sedentary desk job doesn’t help, but fortunately, I enjoy exercise. When I was slim beforehand, I used to do boxing training twice a week and found it amazingly effective for weight loss.
A good challenge
Boxing fitness is more of a challenge and that’s why it can offer some great results. Boxercise classes involve hitting pads, working up a sweat and improving your stamina and overall fitness. ‘Boxing training can be an effective tool for weight loss due to the high intensity it is performed at,’ says personal trainer Ian Gardner. ‘You’re using all of the muscles of the body when you perform the punches. The heart rate is significantly increased and therefore it can burn more calories per hour compared to other methods of fitness training. In a recent study, it was shown to be the sport that burnt the most calories per hour.’
How many calories you burn depends on your age, weight, fitness level and how hard you work, but as a rough guide, a 70kg person could burn up to 800 calories per hour – that’s 200 more than a Spin class.
Perhaps not surprising when you consider how many calories it burns, there’s been an increase in the number of women taking up boxing fitness. ‘The rise in popularity in Boxercise classes has been noticeable among my own personal training clients,’ says Ian. ‘More women now approach me about learning to box and incorporating it into their own training through the use of pad work.’
Why try boxing fitness?
Here’s some very good reasons…
You’ll get fitter fast
You’ll work both the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems (anaerobic means working in short bursts with energy breaking down without oxygen – aerobic means working for longer periods in the presence of oxygen). ‘This is great as it will allow us to perform daily tasks with more ease, meaning you have more energy throughout the day,’ says Ian.
You’ll tone up
It’s a great way to shape and tone your muscles, as you’ll work your upper and lower body, especially your upper back, shoulders and arms.
You’ll combat stress
‘A lot of people enjoy boxing training is that it can be a fantastic way of relieving stress both through the release of endorphins and letting out frustration in a controlled manner,’ says Ian.
You’ll be more agile
Boxing involves some footwork, and you’ll learn how to move around and improve your agility.
You’ll feel more confident
Being able to punch and feeling fitter is great for confidence. Hitting the pads is empowering and learning a new skill is rewarding.
You’ll lose weight
Boxing is such an effective calorie burner and will elevate your metabolism afterwards, which means your overall calorie expenditure will increase after your session too, making weight loss easier.
It’s varied and fun
Boxing fitness isn’t like many other forms of exercise that burn calories – it’s not repetitive and continuous – it offers variety – you’ll be doing different types of punches, jabs, uppercuts and hooks – you’ll be so focused on the technique you won’t be looking at the clock.
If you want to use boxing fitness for weight loss, build it up gradually. ‘I recommend you do some form of exercise at least three times a week for weight loss,’ says Ian. ‘Boxing for weight loss should only be done once or twice a week (to give the body time to recover) within a training regime that uses a variety of other methods such as CV and resistance training.’
‘The more regularly we practise a new skill the quicker we will improve,’ says Ian. ‘With two sessions a week it will take an average of six weeks to be confident, but there’s always room for improvement in technique, so it is an ongoing experience.’
Starting out safely
One to one boxing sessions are fun, varied and challenging. Punching the pads feels empowering. If you’re a boxing newbie, you may think it’s about punching as hard as you can, but the technique is far more important than force. ‘Two common injuries in boxing are tears of the rotator cuff (shoulder) and sprains of the wrist – both of which are caused by incorrect punching technique,’ says Ian. ‘If you are looking to incorporate boxing into your training schedule, but have no prior experience, then I would definitely recommend seeking help from somebody with professional knowledge and experience. A one to one session with a personal trainer who has previous boxing experience would be ideal to ensure that everything you do in a controlled and safe manner. If this is not viable for you then a boxing club would be your next best alternative.’
Many gyms now offer boxercise classes so check out what’s available in your area.
Don’t try to punch too hard
Just focus on technique rather than force and striking the pads.
Punch from the hip
As you punch, twist from the hip and you’ll find that the power comes from the hip rather than the shoulder, making you less likely to suffer a shoulder injury.
Tuck your elbows in
When not punching, keep your elbows into the sides of the body. This will help to engage the upper back muscles so that you’re not just using your arms. This will give you more power and prevent your arms from getting fatigued.
Try to stay light on your feet
Keep your knees soft and your left foot forward and be up on the toes of your right foot. Keep a good wide stance between your feet so that you can’t be knocked off balance.
Keep your guard up
When not punching, keep your gloves up against the sides of your face. Wear liner gloves as well as boxing gloves as they will protect the wrists. You can buy boxing gloves and liner gloves on Amazon. I would recommend the gloves with the straps that wrap around the bottom of the gloves to do up, rather than the elasticated bottoms, as the latter offer more support to the wrists.