Boxing isn’t just reserved for the ring anymore. The sport has become somewhat of a fitness phenomenon, invading gyms across the country to provide a high intensity workout that is more than just hype. It is definitely an effective workout (science says so), and you’d be surprised at how much fun it is to punch stuff.
The recent popularity of boxing and martial arts as a workout is due in part to the meteoric rise of the UFC and every girl’s dream of being as cool as Ronda Rousey (pre-Holly Holm, of course). However, boxing has been around for years and years, with several of the world’s best athletes excelling in this sport. While some die hard martial artists refuse to recognize boxing as a martial art, there’s no denying that it holds many of the same benefits, even if it was developed as a sport in the Western world.
So, what are those benefits of boxing that I keep alluding to? Let’s break them down.
Boxing burns an insane amount of calories
Boxing will make your heart rate skyrocket and cause you to engage multiple muscle groups, packing a calorie-burning punch in each session (see what I did there? #puns). The effect is well worth an hour of your time. How many calories does boxing burn? According to the 2011 Compendium of Physical Activities published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, boxing burns anywhere from 700-1500 calories per hour for an adult male, depending on weight and style of boxing. Add in some cardio movements such as squat jumps and burpees (yes, burpees) and those calories don’t stand a chance.
It incorporates high intensity interval training
High Intensity Interval Training, better known as HIIT, is the fat-burning method most often used in group fitness classes and workouts today. For this type of workout, you’ll see a major spike in heart rate followed by a short rest period that allows the heart rate to recover and the body to return to a normal zone. Then, before you know it, you’re back to work and that heart rate is sky high once again. Think of sprints- going all out for 30 seconds, then recovering for 30 seconds. Boxing workouts essentially provide the same effect. These short bursts of high intensity cardio are shown to burn more fat than a steady state cardio session, and also continue to burn more calories long after the workout is over.
It provides variety for cardio
There are two kinds of people in the world. There are the people who love cardio, and the people who conveniently skip their cardio session each week. In both camps, more and more people are looking for other forms of cardio other than running because, well, running is the worst. I know, there are some people who find solace in their morning jog, but for those of us who simply can’t hang with the marathoners, boxing is an incredible way to get in a cardio session. Even for the runners, it’s a great way to mix things up and try something new!
It’s a combination of both cardio and resistance training
I’ve been talking about boxing primarily as a form of cardio, but it’s also an incredible resistance workout. The resistance of a heavy bag promotes muscle growth in the shoulder, back and chest. Each punch requires strength and precision, the same qualities needed in strength training with weights or other equipment. Of course, it’s a far cry from hitting the weight room, but it’s no secret that boxers have amazing upper body strength and power. Their physiques are chiseled and strong, with the repetitive movement or the sport creating a high volume workout for the upper body, core, hips and legs.
It’s a total body workout
I always tell people that you don’t punch with your arms, you punch with your whole body. One single punch engages the upper body for sure, but it also draws power from the core, hips and legs. Punching the bag requires power to be generated from head to toe. With proper technique, the entire body is engaged. That’s what causes it to burn so many calories: explosive movements that utilize every major muscle group.
It’s one of the best forms of stress relief
All of that frustration from work, the aggravation caused by your family, the drama that always seems to happen with your friends.. Take it out on the bag. Punching the heavy bag releases all of that pent up aggression and allows you to relieve your stress through a healthy outlet. Because punching your boss in the face is frowned upon in most cases.
It requires mental exercise and skill
Remembering a combination, thinking on your feet, and utilizing proper technique are only some of the things happening at the same time in a boxing workout. The sport requires skill and mental proficiency as well as physical fitness. There are several things that you have to remember at once, but that’s what makes it so effective. Rather than trudging through the motions or mindlessly walking on a treadmill, this workout engages your brain and causes you to think, and think fast. It’s a great way to build a skill while you break a sweat.
It boosts confidence
The number one thing that I hear people say as a result of picking up boxing is that their confidence has improved. Many organizations have even been founded using boxing as a way to empower women, youth, and other people groups. Especially for women, boxing provides skills that can be used as self defense in the event of an attack- and believe me, you do not want to mess with a solid right hook.
As you can see, there are several benefits to boxing workouts, and if you haven’t already tried it, it’s well worth your time. In Tampa Bay, you’ll find a large number of boxing and martial arts gyms and schools where you can get a great workout. Whether you’re looking to build fitness, lose weight, or even step into a competition ring, find a gym near you and give it a try!