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Why box? Well why not? [article]

This article looks at what boxing training involves and why it's for anyone who wants to try it. Not just for those who want to fight


Is boxing training about jumping in the ring and dodging punches from an angry opponent who is trying their best to knock your head off? Is it for people with serious anger issues who enjoy expressing mindless violence? Does boxing training have to be for people who want to take on the world and one day challenge for a world title?


These are a few of the common beliefs out there about boxing training. Contact sparring (being punched) or fighting doesn’t have to be the end result. If that isn’t what you want to do instead the focus can be fitness boxing. I found with my clients that they often didn’t know what a boxing training session would involve and how that would benefit them. When we talked about it they would realise boxing training could offer them much more than meets the eye. So I thought I would discuss with you today the benefits of boxing and what a boxing session involves for a beginner.


Boxing is something relatively new in the fitness world and is only now becoming a mainstream fitness option. I remember watching my first video of ‘Tae Bo’ which featured lots of kicking and punching but without the ring or an opponent in front of you kicking and swinging back. I remember Billy Banks screaming “during this workout you will burn between 350-500 calories in just one hour”. I quite liked the sound of that and some of the stuff, although completely over the top, looked quite fun. I wasn’t the only one as it was largely those videos that thrust boxing and kickboxing into the fitness world.


Since then people have begun to explore the benefits of boxing training and started to put their own individual spin on boxing training sessions (either one on one or in a boxing class environment). There are many variations of boxing training but they all typically involve some common factors. They stimulate all muscle groups and provide the perfect combination of aerobic (with oxygen) and anaerobic (short bursts without oxygen) exercise. When I discussed the benefits of boxing with my clients I would quite often break it down for them in the following way:


What are the benefits for my client as a beginner?


Boxing training allows you to work at your own desired pace and at a level that suits your body condition. At first a beginner will learn a range of new skills. Boxing training is interesting and for a beginner would require an introduction to stance, skill, technique, form, co-ordination, balance, movement, footwork, body mechanics, and stamina. This is the beauty of boxing training it develops complete fitness as well as skill. Boxing is not expensive to get started and everyone uses the same equipment regardless of their ability. Anyone can incorporate boxing training into their fitness programme (any age, race, weight or height). Boxing training combines the mind body and soul and most importantly it’s FUN!


Physical benefits                                                                                                    Psychological benefits

Increased Aerobic Fitness (promotes fat loss and stamina)                         Increased Determination

Increased Anaerobic Fitness (promotes capacity)                                           Heightened Focus

Increased Strength                                                                                                 The art of Patience

Increased Power                                                                                                     Increased Intuition

Increased Muscular Endurance                                                                           Quick Thinking

Increased Speed                                                                                                     Increased Self Motivation

                                                                                                                                    Increased Self Esteem

                                                                                                                                    Increased Self Confidence

                                                                                                                                    Build your Inner Strength

                                                                                                                                    Emotional Balance


                                                                                                                                    Stress Release

                                                                                                                                    Sense of Empowerment


So how can I achieve all this without getting popped on the nose? Well someone once told me to focus on boxing as an art and science using strategy rather than useless violence. My emphasis is always on the safety of my client and helping them to achieve their goals but without risking their health in the process. Here are a few examples of my boxing training sessions;


Example 1: A 30 minute session for a mother of two who came to me in the morning after dropping the kids at school. She loved the challenge and learning a new skill.


Warm up - 5 mins on X-trainer or treadmill (building to moderate intensity)

3-5 mins dynamic stretching (targeted muscle groups)


Circuit 1 – Repeat x 3 (1min rest)

Box steps holding med ball in front (lateral shift) 30sec

Focus mitts 1min (Focusing on set up, technique and single punches)


Circuit 2 – Repeat x 3 (1min rest)

Heavy Bag rounds 30sec (Free round putting combinations together)

Core round 1min (prone holds or boxing crunches)


Cool down - Static/PNF stretches (8mins targeted muscle groups)


Boxing image 

Example 2: A 1 hour workout with a busy corporate male looking to release some stress over his lunch break.


Warm up

5mins skipping (building to a moderate intensity)

5mins shadow boxing (working all punches focusing on technique and form)


Focus mitts 1:30 rounds (working on movement, technique, defense and single numbered punches) repeat x 4 with 1:30min rest


Circuit 1 – Repeat x 3 (2min rest)

Heavy bag round 1min (free round working the bag with combinations and movement)

Circuit strength endurance round 1min (Press ups, squats, lunges, burpees)

Focus mitts 1min (working combinations, movement and defense)


Circuit 2 – Repeat x 4 1.30min rest

Focus mitts - speed 50 punches (1 per round - Jab/cross, uppercuts, body rips and hooks)

Core round 1min - Boxing crunches/prone bridge/cycling crunches


Cool down - Static/PNF stretches (10mins full body)


Other boxing sessions included incorporating: ladder work, spring balls, speed balls, and other circuit style training exercises.


As you can see boxing sessions can cater to different needs and achieve different aims. Clients tend to find they can make physical progress while at the same time reaping psychological rewards.


Quite often it was this mix of physical activity and psychological benefits that really appealed to my clients. Some would come to me after a hard day at the office and find a great deal of pleasure in releasing their stress on me with the focus mitts or a big heavy bag with out it fighting back. I had a huge mix of client’s young and old and not just big sweaty males, a high number of my clients were female. Not all of my clients incorporated boxing into their fitness programmes as it’s not for everyone. However for those who decided to give it a crack (after our discussion about what the benefits would be for them) they really took to it and found a great deal of satisfaction and success. As a trainer I really enjoyed the interactive nature of these sessions and being able to adapt the intensity to meet the client’s capabilities.


For a few of my clients there was the option of full contact sparring and progressing into fighting but they made that decision for themselves. Sparring provided for these clients the perfect platform to refine fundamental boxing skills, and a great test of physical capacity and courage in a controlled environment. And from my own personal experience I have received fewer injuries from sparring than I have from playing cricket.


So, why box? Well why not? It’s something anyone can do, it’s interactive, a great way to have fun, get fit and develop both mentally and physically. If you have identified some kind of appeal from what I’ve discussed today then be sure to give it a crack. The results may just surprise you…