In todays world everybody is looking for the next big thing in losing weight or getting into shape. We get fitness fads such as Zumba, Pilates, Hot Yoga, Cross Fit, Spin Class – which to be fair despite bursting onto the scene, have not fizzled out like so many of the past(anyone remember EZ Krunch or ThighMaster? Me neither…)
But certain methods of training just stay the course and no matter the time or era, will always provide a good workout using just the bare basics of the work out. Speaking of fads did you know that speed ball training became a fad in the late 1970’s after the Rocky movie came out and everyone wanted to look like Rocky(Sylvester Stallone).
Boxing is one such workout though that can hang with any other form of workout, whether that is intensity, a full body workout or calories burned – it is very difficult to beat boxing.
I’m sitting here writing this article because yet again I have seen the results of a boxing workout on the guys I train. I am often asked ‘will boxing get me in shape?’, ‘will boxing help lose weight?’ This morning during one of our technical classes which involves sparring, one of the participants who was monitoring the calories burnt on his wrist device, ended his 90 minute session having burned an amazing 1734 calories. This is not the first time I am seeing this, not everyone measures the number of calories burned in a workout but others who have, have clocked up over 1000 calories on plenty occasions.
So what makes boxing such a great way to burn calories? There was a study done by supplement brand Forza which showed that of all activities, boxing burned the most calories per hour, at around 800. Boxing makes such a good exercise because it involves the whole body, many look at boxing and see all the punching going on, but they neglect that much of the boxing is actually in the legs and working out the larger muscles in the legs means there will be a lot of calorie expenditure.
Boxing by its nature is a high intensity interval training form of exercise – you periods of low intensity followed by periods of high intensity, periods of moving around the ring followed by bouts of combination punching. If you put this into rounds of sparring, whether it is full sparring or simply tag sparring, this amounts to a lot of movement and a lot of calories being burned. You are using the whole body, the upper body when throwing punches and the lower body when moving around(of course there is a crossover here, throwing punches does involve the lower body too but we are looking at the end result here which is using the hands to punch which is the upper body).
Boxing also requires other forms of exercise in order to compete at the sport at a better level. Not everyone wants to spar or get into the ring to fight in competitions but other exercises which are also beneficial to you and burn a lot of calories such as skipping, jogging or sprinting all fall under the umbrella of boxing training. In order to get better at boxing, you must run so you have a better cardio base to keep up with the number of punches you are throwing. Throwing punches is a full body movement, the power comes from the ground up through the explosiveness of the legs and hips, into the core before whipping out of the hands into a punch. Training the core means ab work or performing planks, keeping your hands up and throwing lots of jabs means shoulder work, this is all explosiveness and high intensity work – these types of exercises will stick with you even after the workout is done! If you do happen to be sparring or fighting I am sure the imminent threat of getting punched in the face also burns a few mental calories!
There has been a recent increase in the use of weights in boxing, namely under the banner of strength and conditioning – you can view my book Strength and Conditioning for Boxing here. Although it is not necessary to lift weights for boxing depending on your goals, there will always be an element of resistance training using other exercises such as push ups which are great for building strength in the upper body. Old school boxers who were also in great shape didn’t necessarily use strength and conditioning but they did all use resistance training methods using body weight exercise such as push ups and pull ups. If you are fighting or enjoy lifting weights then adding strength and conditioning type movements to your training will only help more, my book has a number of gut busting workouts that are great for burning calories and increasing performance inside the ring.
It hasn’t been long since Tyson Fury fought Deontay Wilder – Fury lost over 100lbs through his boxing training whilst getting ready to fight Deontay Wilder and during his previous two comeback fights, that is an extraordinary amount. We have seen it so often in the past that boxing has helped one lose weight, as mentioned with Fury even the pro boxers benefit from this, Ricky Hatton and Kell Brook are two more examples of british boxers who would lost 40+ lbs whilst getting ready for fights in the training camps. If you are looking for a full body workout that improves overall fitness, gets you into shape and burns through lots of calories then there is little better than boxing, of course it has the added bonus of teaching you self defence whilst improving your confidence and mental health and being lots of fun – no two workouts are the same and you are constantly bettering yourself against other participants helping eachother to improve. The benefits are endless when it comes to boxing training!
Boxing Coach Strength and Conditioning Coach Boxing Author of: The Boxing Cheat Sheet - Your Ultimate Guide to Ring Survival Strength and Conditioning for Boxing - Work out Hits to get you Fighting Fit! Forgotten Legends of the Ring - Ten Past Masters of the Squared Circle
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