About three months ago, I made the game-changing decision to take up boxing as a supplement to my training program. Having trained Brazilian jiu jitsu almost exclusively for a little less than a year prior, I thought it would be fun to mix up the routine and round out my relationship with martial arts. Since we’ve written on the health and lifestyle benefits of jiu jitsu in the past, it’s only fitting we give boxing the same love.
Before diving into why you should get on a boxing regimen of your own, I want to emphasize the critical difference between attending a class taught by professional boxing coaches and wailing away on a heavy bag in your garage. Sure, the latter will get your heart pumping and work up a good sweat, but more likely than not first-timers will have a natural flaw in their technique.
Even if you have no intention of ever competing (or getting into a fist fight), proper technique is key for longevity in your training. You may get away with mis-hitting the bag once or twice, but do that repeatedly with a little power and you’re bound to earn yourself a boxer’s fracture. If nothing else, a professional coach will teach you how to be more efficient with your punch combinations to get the most out of your training.
With that out of the way, here are four reasons you should start boxing today.
Built-in Interval Training
You don’t need to know the first thing about throwing a punch to be familiar with boxing’s reputation as one of the most demanding sports in terms of cardio. However, it’s the unique nature of that built-in cardio training that makes it such a first-class workout. A one-hour boxing class methodically works in both steady-state and high-intensity interval training, keeping your heart rate elevated for the duration of the session while periodically pushing you to your limit to maximize returns on your training.
Much like the sequence of rounds and rest in a professional fight, a boxing class will alternate between the brink of collapse and slowing the pace just long enough to keep you standing for the whole hour. It is in that ebb and flow that spectacular gains are made.
Strength and Muscle Tone
As with just about any anaerobic exercise, regular boxing training will increase the strength and tone of the muscles involved. In fact, my experience with boxing has been just as good if not better than traditional plyometric exercises in terms of muscle pump, soreness, and overall results. Note as well that boxing is famous for shredding that ever-important core. With proper technique, you’ll be well on your way to GQ centerfold abs.
For those only interested in boxing for the fitness aspect, you’re in luck: Plenty of commercial gyms—and probably even the old school, Rocky-esque holes in the wall—will work in plyometric exercises as well. At my gym, just about every boxing coach punishes us between rounds on the bag with squat jumps, burpees, pushups, mountain climbers, planks, crunches, leg lifts, V-sits, Russian twists, and every other non-punching exercise you can think of.
In short, if you’re looking to get ripped while also learning how to do a little damage with your fists, you need look no further than good old fashioned Western boxing.
We’ve all been there: In the throes of a particularly awful day, one more thing goes wrong and you just lose it. You scream in your car, break whatever happens to be in your hands, slam your bedroom door, or maybe even put a hole in the drywall. There’s something about stress that always makes its escape in a physical expression of brute force.
I’m here to tell you there are few things that feel better at the end of a bad day than assaulting a heavy bag for an hour—especially with wrapped hands and 16-ounce gloves to prevent those anger-induced injuries. Of course, I don’t wait for a bad mood to set in before I get myself to the gym. With the mountain of studies on how exercise helps us cope with stress, and with all the stress of daily life, boxing is a phenomenal way to keep the mind clear while simultaneously pursuing your fitness goals.
This one always comes up in the context of martial arts, but it’s too important not to mention anyway. Chalk it up to our primal human nature, but there’s something about knowing how to handle yourself physically that has a tremendous impact on our mental state. No amount of boxing classes will give you Conor McGregor’s knockout power (and, even so, you should only ever use your powers for good), but the progress you make over time may give you a little bit of his strut.
Beyond that are all the obvious benefits that funnel into a positive outlook on life. What can be better for a mental boost than having a head-turning physique, good condition, and low stress levels?
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