If you’ve ever watched a boxing match, you’ve seen how a boxer has to be able to make fast and explosive movements, like punching and evading their opponent’s punches, over the course of anywhere from 8 to 15 rounds in that bout. That’s why boxers have to perform a combination of both resistance and endurance training when preparing for a fight, to ensure they have the strength and conditioning needed to win.
If you’re looking for a way to burn calories quickly, build stamina, and blow off some steam at the end of the day, boxing training are probably the answer you’ve been searching for. Boxing training are a two-for-one workout because it’s a great source of both cardio and strength training. Boxing training are often long—at least an hour—to fit in a warmup, conditioning, and drills. And when preparing for a match, sessions are five or six days a week. “Rest is very important, but you need to be able to perform under pressure, A great way to improve your overall fitness, boxing workouts are also known to improve balance, coordination, reactivity, and agility.
While boxing training for beginners might be difficult when starting out, once you’ve learned the proper form, basic boxing moves, and are comfortable throwing a hard punch, you’ll be getting a full-body workout. A strong punch requires power from your hips and legs, while also working your back, shoulders, and core.
Whether you’re training to become a boxer, or to simply get in better shape, the fundamentals of fitness are the same. If you want to improve your strength, your focus should be on lifting weights. If you want to improve your conditioning, your focus should be on cardiovascular exercises.
Boxing is an awesome form of exercise, no matter how you look at it. It serves a purpose for just about every fitness goal you could have, and using it well is one of the best things you could ever do for your body. That’s just a fact. You get it right, and you’re onto a winner. One of the biggest drawbacks to such an awesome activity, however, is learning how to get the ball rolling. Getting started with boxing is just the first step.
We get it too. Starting any new fitness activity is daunting. There are tonnes of reasons not to try, or to give up before you even start, but if it’s something that you actively want to do, you owe it to yourself to give it a try. What’s to lose after all?
If your goal is to look more like the “trained guy” and not the “Average Joe,” then you’ve come to the right place! In this guide, we are going to cover all of the fundamentals of boxing training. Take this guide, digest the information, and start injecting the information you learn into your boxing training.
You can get going with some shadow boxing and conditioning right in your living room or backyard with minimal equipment, but you’ll want to make sure you nail some basics and take some safety guidelines into account. It may not seem important while you’re just shadow boxing, but if you plan on actually hitting a heavy bag at home or joining a boxing gym in the long run, you’ll be glad you did.
What You Need To Know Before You Get Started With Boxing Training
Basic Boxing Gear
Whether or not you join a gym from the start, you’ll want to make sure you have proper training gear. This is especially true if you’re hitting a heavy bag, but it can’t hurt to get used to suiting up while you shadowbox.
If you’re in the market for a heavy bag, there are plenty of options to choose from. Everlast has options you can hang, like the Powercore Nevatear Heavy Bag, as well as some freestanding bags, like the OmniFlex Free Standing Heavy Bag, for those with no room for the former.
Boxing gloves for beginners is quite a debated subject, and there have been many resources written on the topic. To keep it brief here, there are two kinds of boxing gloves for beginners: bag gloves (or training gloves), and competition or sparring gloves.
To keep it brief here, bag gloves (also known as training gloves) are different than sparring or competition boxing gloves. Bag gloves are designed with just enough padding to protect your hands while you knock the living crap out of the heavy bag. This is one thing you don’t want to be too cheap with. Get a quality pair (otherwise you’ll end up buying another pair real soon as the first pair disintegrates on the bag).
Hand wraps are important if you want to protect all of the tiny bones in your hands as well as your wrists (you do). When wrapped correctly, hand wraps provide protection for your knuckles as well as preventing your wrists from spraining or breaking while you throw heavy punches. They’re also great for extending the life of your boxing gloves. Wraps collect the sweat and blood that would otherwise drip into your gloves.
Hand wraps come in many sizes and styles. Longer styles allow you the option of wrapping your hands in a number of different ways, including the between the fingers method and basic method.
Your hands are your weapons so you have to protect them. There are hundreds of little bones in your hands which will break and cripple you if you do not take the necessary precautions. The best way to do that is by learning how to wrap your hands to provide protection for those bones like your knuckles.
Hand wraps will also keep you from bleeding all over the place as a result of scraped knuckles and prolong the life of your bag gloves and boxing gloves as they soak up sweat that would otherwise seep into your gloves.
Hand wraps come in various sizes and colours. I recommend a 180″ wrap like these pro style hand wraps. They give you enough length to wrap your hands in a number of different ways – whatever suits you the best.
An alternative are the Mexican style hand wraps which many fighters prefer. They are slightly elastic which makes them form a tighter wrap around your hands and keeps them in place a little better.
At any rate, choose a hand wrap and then use either the basic method or the between the fingers method to wrap your hands before you hit anything.
There is a separate, more detailed heavy bag buying guide, but here is a tidbit for you.
There are a lot of options when it comes to heavy bags, but generally speaking they weigh about 70 pounds, are filled with hard or soft fill, and are made of a durable vinyl material, leather, or canvas. They should come with a swivel mount to attach to your ceiling or stand.
Especially for beginners and even skilled boxers – the best heavy bag I’ve ever used is the Aqua Punching Bag. It has a lot of great things going for it and if you’re looking for a heavy bag – I reco1mmend this one above all others. Read the Aqua Punching Bag review to find out why.
On regular heavy bags (not water filled) -the difference between hard and soft fill is that soft fill has an extra layer of foam inside, it really makes no difference. A good leather heavy bag will stand up to years of abuse and is a good investment.
There’s no better way to relieve the day’s stress than by heading to the basement and beating the crap out of something. You and your heavy bag will form a special bond – sounds crazy but it’s true. Heavy Bag workouts are a major portion of this site and a staple part of the Commando Boxing Body Transformation Program.
Quality boxing headgear is essential if you plan on doing live sparring. It will take a lot of hits, so it’s essential that you choose something that is going to last. Headgear protects you from cuts and scrapes, it will not protect you from repeated punches to the head. You can still black out, get a concussion, or any other head-related injury with headgear on. It will alleviate some of the blow, but not enough to prevent injury resulting from repeat hits.
Headgear will take a lot of abuse, so when deciding what to buy, ensure you buy something that is going to last. Generally speaking, that means not buying the cheapest vinyl set of headgear you can find, but actually spending some money to buy a quality product. Headgear protects your head from soft tissue damage — meaning cuts, scrapes and so on. It will not protect you from the force of a punch. While a well padded headgear can alleviate some of the blow, it will not be significant enough for you to notice. Even with headgear on, one can still be knocked out, receive a concussion and any other injury associated with repeated punches to the head.
There are many styles ranging from minimal head coverage to ones which cover everything but your eyes. If you fear having your nose broken, you can buy headgear that covers the nose as well. If you want to fight and come away unscathed, you want headgear which covers as much of your head as possible, fits tightly and laces up so it stays tight. Last thing you want is it coming down over your eyes every time you get hit.
Ringside Boxing Head Gear is a good choice. There are models such as the Title Full Face Head Guard that cover the nose as well as the rest of your head. This can be good and bad, depends on personal preference. On the good hand, it offers more protection but some people complain it affects their sight and/or breathing ability. It also costs a little more which may or may not be a factor.
Boxing Mouth Guard
If you are sparring with a partner or competing you have no choice, you must buy a mouthguard or you will spitting up chicklets (your teeth) or bleeding from your mouth as your lips get split open. Like the name suggests, a mouthguard protects your mouth and there are lots of varieties to choose from ranging in price from $10 to $30 or more.
If you have the resources, the best thing to do is go to your dentist and have him custom make a mouthpiece for you. I can say this, because that is what I did, but I’m in the army and it is taken care of for me. I’m not sure what it would cost in the civilian world.
Just as effective are the boil and form type varieties which cost around the $2 mark. The mouthguards are made of material which do not hold heat, so you boil them which makes them pliable, put in your mouth, bite down and they form around your teeth and you don’t get burned in the process.
There are some good mouthguards by Shock Doctor such as the Gel Max Shock Doctor which cost a little more, but fit nicely and are supposed to realign your jaw so less damage is done to your brain during impact. Don’t know if it works, I don’t have an MRI machine to test it out with. I can say that I tried these upper and lower mouthguards and prefer a single mouthguard protecting the upper teeth. While these double duty mouthguards may offer better protection, especially on the lower teeth, I found breathing a little difficult and they just aren’t as comfortable. Feel free to disagree…
Groin and Chest Protectors
Alright, let’s be honest. If you are going to be sparring with someone and that someone plans on hitting you and you know that eventually you are going to get hit and the possibility exists that that hit could go wild and nail you in the kahoney’s, nether regions, nuts, whatever — do you really want to forgo this little piece of equipment?
We saved shoes for the end because it’s really up to you whether you decide to buy boxing boots or not. They’re really not required for beginners, especially if you’re not doing any fighting in the ring. However, if you want to show up to the fight looking like the best of ‘em, it might be worth the investment.
Before you start throwing punches, make sure you’re standing properly.
First, situate your feet so that they’re shoulder-width apart, with one foot in front of the other.
Your front foot should basically be pointed straight ahead at your imaginary opponent. If you’re right-handed, your left foot is going straight ahead. If you’re left-handed, aka Southpaw in boxing terms, it’s just the opposite. Either way, Richey recommends starting off by keeping your back foot out at about a 45-degree angle from the imaginary line your front foot is sitting on.
Your lead shoulder should also be forward, so you’re not standing square facing your opponent. This is key, because rotating your body will translate to more power in your punches.
“The boxing stance allows a much better springing to your step, whether it’s forward or backwards,” Richey says. ”If you watch boxers, you see them move backwards as much as they move forward for an attack—it’s a defensive and offensive position.”
If your feet are too close or too far apart, you’ll be less agile, and you want to be in a position where you’re able to move forward and back as easily as you can move left and right.
As far as your hands, keep them both up in front of your face—imagine you’re in a fight and want to protect your head. Get in the habit of pulling your hands right back in after throwing punches.
Now, you’re ready to throw some jabs, crosses, hooks, and uppercuts.
How to Throw a Jab
The jab is thrown with your lead hand (left for righties, right for Southpaw boxers), and it’s not going to be the punch you knock someone out with.
“It’s a setup punch,” Richey explains, “so if you see that hand coming, it’s used oftentimes to mask or set up another punch that’s a bit more powerful.”
When you jab, you’ll basically be reaching forward with your two larger knuckles pointed straight ahead and your palm facing down—with your fist closed, of course. Again, you’re not meant to put all of your strength into it.
Richey also stresses the importance of keeping your thumbs outside of your fists. If you keep your thumbs inside your fingers, you risk seriously injuring your hands. That goes for all punches, and it’s especially important for when you graduate from shadowboxing to the heavy bag.
How to Throw a Cross
A cross is similar to a jab in that you’re punching straight into your imaginary opponent, but it’s executed by your rear hand coming across your body instead. Your rear hand should still be pointed forward with your palm facing down, but you’ll use your hips to generate more power.
“It’s not just arms pushing forward, it is the rotation of the hips and waist, and the extension of the arm where you get your power,” Richey says. He compares it to baseball, where you’ll never see someone hit a home run swinging with just their arms. Similarly, the entire body is involved to create the power behind the punch.
How to Throw a Hook
A good punch to follow the cross is the hook—the lead hook, in particular, according to Richey. That way, you’d be alternating hands. This is probably the most common knockout punch you see in boxing, he adds. You can throw a rear hook, too, but the lead is more common and doesn’t leave your torso as open to a strike.
To throw a lead hook, you’re basically going to hook your fist around your opponent or the bag in a semicircle, hence the name. “Think like your opponent has their hands up in front of them, and if you throw a straight punch, they’ll block it,” Richey says. “If you throw kind of a circular punch, you’re going around their hands in order to get to them.”
For this one, your fist will be coming at the bag from the side. Your elbow should be at about shoulder height or a little bit below shoulder height, and your fist should be in line with that. “It’s almost like you could put a tray on top of your arm in that position and the tray wouldn’t fall over,” Richey says. Your palm will be facing you instead of facing down as it did in the previous punches.
Richey notes that some people opt to execute this punch with their palms down, but that keeping your palm toward you helps ensure that you hit the bag with your whole fist and don’t just clip it with your pinky knuckle and risk hurting your fingers.
How to Throw an Uppercut
The final basic punch is an uppercut, most often done with your rear hand. For an uppercut, your hand will drop away from your face, down a little bit toward the belly—but not too low.
“A lot of people drop their hand too low, and you know what they’re about to do,” Richey says. “That’s what they call telegraphing your punches.”
Just drop your hand slightly, then it’s similar to a hook in concept, but instead of coming around the body, you’re coming from underneath. Lower your rear hand down, then make a straight line from belly to chin right in front of you.
Those are the four basic punches that you can use as you work into shadowboxing and bag work.
In order to stay as grounded and balanced as possible, boxers should move their lead foot forward first while stepping forward. The back foot will slide forward. Conversely, when you are taking a step backward, you will lead by stepping back with your rear foot and your lead foot will slide. In this manner, you always have at least one foot that is grounded at all times; this comes in handy if you are moving and take a hard shot that you make you stumble.
By spreading your stance a bit and having at least one foot on the ground at all times, you are much more stable and ready for any attack. This will also allow you to spring forward for a counter attack, or to pivot for a powerful punch.
Similar to your forward and backward movements, you will step with your left foot and drag the right foot if you are moving to the left and vice versa. Again, this helps you remain grounded and ready for an attack. If you’re performing both of these movements correctly, your feet will never cross each other. Your feet should always be spaced 12 to 16 inches apart.
If you take a punch with your feet crossed, you are more likely to go down. In boxing, knockdowns count against you; in mixed martial arts, being knocked down by a punch is practically a death sentence. You can expect your opponent to take a top position on the ground and begin an onslaught of attacks. Don’t underestimate the importance of your footwork!
One of the most obvious signs of an experienced boxer is actually not so obvious to the untrained eye. A skilled boxer or boxing enthusiast can recognize it, but it generally flies under the radar with most people. I am talking about head movement.
With great head movement, you don’t have to block any punches because none of them will hit their target. This comes with years of practice, though. I’m not advocating that anybody here drops both of their hands during a sparring match or an official bout and goads their opponent to sock them a few times. Do yourself a favor and start learning proper head movement in order to make yourself a more elusive target.
For some great examples of fighters who have mastered their head movement, watch Floyd Mayweather Jr., and, in MMA, check out Anderson Silva in his prime. Silva often dropped both of his hands and taunted his opponents into wearing themselves out with plenty of missed strikes. He would later take them out with counter shots. Don’t expect to master this during your first few months, but keep it in mind.
Your Guard While Punching
Simply put, while attacking with one hand, you should be blocking with the other. Let’s say you are throwing a jab from an orthodox stance; your left hand attacks while the right hand is up by your chin. The inverse is also true, and this will apply to basically every type of attack in boxing. Always keep your guard up!
Some people think that a good defense is a strong offense, while others prefer to tire their opponent out by focusing on defending while their opponent punches himself out. The truth is that you have to develop your own style by learning what you are comfortable with. If your style is to come out and be aggressive and push the pace of the fight, then make sure to pick and choose your shots well and always be ready to defend from a counter-attack.