7 Boxing Workouts At Home Without Equipment That Will Feel Just As Good As Hitting The Bag

Jun 24, 2019

Boxing is a hugely rewarding sport. Whether your goals are to lose weight, get in shape or take control of your stress, boxing can help. The good news is that there are so many boxing workouts you can try without a single piece of equipment. That’s right! You don’t even need a jump rope to try these highly effective workouts.

Boxing is about more than just hitting as hard as you can. It’s about arm strength, shoulder strength, core strength and coordination. By incorporating these boxing workouts at home for beginners into your routine, you’ll soon start to see the physical benefits to your health. So, let’s get started…

1. Jump rope without the rope

If you don’t have a skipping rope to hand, or if you don’t have the ceiling height to be able to skip, don’t worry. You can get a great warmup simply by mimicking the movements of skipping. You still need coordination, and you might be surprised to discover just how quickly you work up a sweat.

Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your side. While moving your hands at the wrist as if swinging a jump rope, focus on building a slow and steady jumping rhythm. Slowly build up your speed while controlling your jumping movements. The combination of speed and controlled movement will help you warm up effectively.

2. Push-ups

Boxers need strong shoulders and arms to be able to keep their arms up throughout a fight. To build this strength, focus on developing your push-up technique. If push-ups are easy enough, then aim to do more reps. If you struggle with push-ups, you can try modified push-ups where you keep your knees on the ground. Or you can try standing push-ups against a wall. Aim to do as many as you can in 1 minute.

3. Sit-ups

Core strength is essential for good boxing form. One of the best ways to build core strength is through a series of modified sit-ups. Start with a regular sit-up, but at the top, throw four alternating punches. For the next rep, sit-up and twist to the left, punching out with your right arm. Return to a lying down position and then go the other way, twisting to the right and punching with your left arm. For the final rep, focus on slow and controlled sit-ups, which will become even more difficult as you get tired. This will help to strengthen your core muscles while also improving coordination. Repeat for 3 rounds of 8 reps.

4. Squat jumps

In addition to fancy footwork, boxers benefit from explosive strength. You can achieve this through plyometric-style training. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and then drop down into a deep squat. Focus on keeping your knees behind your toes and making sure your thighs are parallel to the ground. From here, jump into the air and land with soft knees. Repeat for 3 rounds of 8 reps.

5. Mountain climbers

If you want to get your heart rate up and torch calories, you need to make friends with the mountain climber exercise. You start this in a plank position with your hands planted firmly on the floor just a little bit wider than your shoulders. Kick one knee up towards your chest and then return to the start position. Alternate legs and then increase your speed until you are mimicking a running motion. Continue for 1 minute followed by 30 seconds rest. Repeat this 3 times.

6. Boxer burpees

Thought you’d got away with not doing the dreaded burpee? Think again! This military fitness favourite gets a boxing update with the addition of jabs at the top of every burpee. To do a burpee, start on your feet hip-width apart and then drop to your hands while simultaneously jumping your feet back into a plank. Lower yourself down to the floor with your arms, push back up and then jump your feet forward and return to a standing position. To make it a boxer burpee, do 4 jabs at the top of every burpee. Do as many as you can in one minute followed by 30 seconds of rest. Repeat 3 times.

7. Shadow boxing

And finally, we get to the true boxing workout section of this routine. Once you’re at the end of your workout, you’ll likely be out of breath and ready to throw in the towel. This is when you need to bring your focus and determination to the fore. A shadow boxing routine involves punching the air in front of your while maintaining good form and stance. Try this routine for the final 5 minutes of your workout.

  • Speed punch for 1 minute
  • 40 jab and cross combos
  • 40 jab, jab cross and hook combos
  • Straight punches for 1 minute
  • Speed punch for 1 minute

To summarise, your workout will look like this:

  • Jump rope for 5 minutes (warm-up)
  • Push-ups for 1 minute
  • Rest for 1 minute
  • Sit-ups for 3 rounds of 8 reps with 30-second rest between reps
  • Squat-jumps for 3 rounds of 8 reps with 30-second rest between reps
  • Rest for 1 minute
  • Mountain climbers for 3 rounds of 1 minute with 30-second rest between rounds
  • Boxer burpees for 3 rounds of 1 minute with 30-second rest between rounds
  • Rest for 1 minute
  • Shadowboxing

In total, this workout should last around 30 minutes and will work out every part of your body that a boxer needs to focus on.

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I’ve always loved the sport of boxing.

When I was younger, I punched a few holes in the wall (sorry, mom and dad), and pretty soon afterwards my parents bought me a punching bag (which is all I always wanted anyway, guess I should have brought that up sooner).

I had no idea what I was doing then when I tried to punch the damn thing—all I knew was that boxers were always in incredible shape and really badass, and I wanted to be just like them.

Fast forward a few years later, I got my personal training certification and got a job at a gym in New York City solely based on the fact that it had a boxing ring and an awesome, incredibly badass trainer. I started taking lessons right away, and quickly learned all my hooks, jabs, and undercuts. I fell even deeper in love with the sport.

There’s something so satisfying, so primal in a way, of punching something (or someone) as hard as humanly possible.

And there’s no doubt about it—being in the ring is exhausting. You have to be able to outlast your opponent till the bitter end, so there’s no option but to be as fit as possible. Heck, even just a few rounds on a punching bag will leave you sweaty and breathless.

But whether or not you have any desire to punch anything, it’s hard to avoid the reality that boxers are in some of the best shape of any athletes. Never bulky, boxers tend to have a lean, athletic look based on being incredibly strong, well-conditioned, and full of passion and fire.

Because when you train like a fighter, you’ll build the strength, crazy endurance, and core power so that if you wanted to punch someone round after round, you could.

Here are 10 exercises you can do to get in fighting shape:

Jump rope

Jumping rope is one of the classic boxing exercises, because it helps build a lean, strong body, aids in coordination, agility, and footwork, and boosts endurance like nearly no other exercise does. Plus, since jump ropes are so portable, you can literally do it anywhere.

Here are some jump rope variations you can try:

  • Single jumps
  • High knees
  • Double jumps
  • Figure eights

You can see 12 Minute Athlete workouts that use a jump rope here.

Burpees

Burpees are pretty much the best exercise ever, and will increase your strength and endurance like no other exercise will. Plus, all that getting up and down is helpful in the ring (if you ever get knocked down, that is).

How to do it:

_Get into a squat position with your hands on the floor in front of you.
_Kick your feet back into a push up position and lower body to the floor.
_Return your feet back to the squat position as fast as possible.
_Immediately jump up into the air as high as you can.
_Add a little clap for pizazz!

Watch the video:

Sit ups

Boxers need a strong core to give them the strength to keep throwing punches, and sit ups are one of the classic exercises to build up core strength in the ring.

How to do it:

_Lay on the floor with your legs spread in a butterfly setup.
_Stretch your arms in front of you.
_Use your abs to pull yourself off of the floor.
_Touch your feet with your hands, making sure to keep your chest forward.
_Lower back down and repeat.

Watch the video:

Tip: Try different variations of the sit up, such as throwing punches at the top of a sit up to build even more core strength and endurance.

Shadow boxing

It may seem wimpy if you’ve never tried it, but shadow boxing is one of the best ways to practice your movement and footwork as a boxer. Plus, it’s more tiring that you might imagine.

Here’s a good tutorial on how to shadow box if you don’t know how.

Push ups

Push ups are awesome and will also give you strong arms, shoulders, chest and core muscles. Plus, they require no equipment whatsoever, so you have no excuse not to od them!

How to do it:

_Start in a push up position, with your shoulders directly over your hands.
_Tighten your abs, glutes and thighs.
_Lower yourself down so that your chest touches the floor.
_Push yourself back up into the starting position and repeat.

Beginner Modification

_Start in a push up position with your knees on the floor.
_Tighten your abs, glutes and thighs.
_Lower yourself down so that your chest touches the floor.
_Push yourself back up into the starting position and repeat.

Watch the video:

Chin ups/pull ups

Not only are chin ups and pull ups totally badass, they’ll build up your arm, chest, back, shoulder and core strength like no other. Can’t do a single one yet? Learn how to start doing chin ups and pull ups.

How to do it:

_Start from a dead hang with straight elbows, palms facing you for chin ups, palms facing away for pull ups
_Keeping your chest up and your shoulders back, squeeze your glutes and cross your feet
_Pull yourself up so that your chin rests over the bar
_Lower down and repeat.

Watch the videos:

Chin ups:

Pull ups:

Squats

Squats will strengthen your legs and glutes so you can bob, weave, and slip (typical boxing defenses) all day long. A strong lower body is just as—or maybe more—important than a strong upper body during a fight.

How to do it:

_Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
_Pull your shoulders back and engage your abs.
_Push your butt & hips back as if you were sitting in a chair.
_Keep your weight on your heels.
_Go down until your thighs are parallel to the floor, raising your arms up as you lower down.
_Repeat.

Tip: for an extra challenge, trySandbag squats or Kettlebell front squats . Or, if you have access to a barbell and weights, feel free to use that too.

Watch the video:

Shoulder presses

Fighters need strong shoulders if they want to be able to keep punching round after round. And shoulder presses will help build up shoulder strength and endurance.

How to do it:

_Stand straight (preferred to sitting) holding a sandbag, dumbbells, or a barbell at your waist.
_Raise the sandbag (or other weights) up to your shoulders, keeping your shoulders pulled back and your abs tight.
_Straighten your arms at a moderate pace.
_Lower back down to your shoulders and repeat.

Watch the video:

Walking lunges

Not only will walking lunges build strength in your legs, glutes and core muscles, they’ll also help with balance and flexibility—key requirements for any fighter.

How to do it:

_Start in a lunge position with your knees touching or almost touching the floor.
_Without pausing, alternate legs, bringing your opposite leg forward into a lunge position.
_Continue alternating legs while moving forward.
_For an added challenge, hold something heavy.

Watch the video:

Knees to elbows

Though sit ups are awesome because you can do them anywhere with no equipment, knees to elbows will give you an even stronger core. And they’ll help you build up to even cooler abs exercises, such as toes to knees, windshield wipers.

How to do it:

_Grip the pull up bar with your palms facing away from you, arms shoulder-width apart.
_Adding a slight swing, bring your knees up to your chest, touching your elbows if possible.
_Lower down and repeat.

Watch the video:

Train hard!

The following are some great boxing workouts:

Sparring

Sparring is when you punch an actual opponent without intending to hurt them. No other training better mimics fighting conditions than sparring. Apart from the thrill of exchanging punches, sparring is an excellent boxing workout.

It is actually much harder than the training itself. Every muscle in your body is engaged with each jump, twist, and contortion of your body to counter your opponent’s moves. Your arms get a good workout with each swing. Your legs wear out more quickly because you keep losing your balance.

Your mind is also fully engaged because you have to be simultaneously anticipating your opponent’s next move while strategizing your next countermove or strike. Your breathing pattern is also different than in training and heightened because you have a mouthpiece.

Mitts

Mitts are one of the best boxing drills for learning a new technique. Mitts work on your timing and precision under circumstances that resemble a real fight. You start with a moving target that punches back at you.

Try not to throw full force into every shot, but work on the precision of each swing, your timing, breathing pattern, coordination, and reflexes. Control yourself and try not to wear yourself out too quickly.

Shadowboxing

Shadowboxing is circling an invisible opponent while boxing at them. Shadowboxing in front of a mirror allows you to see your body and notice all the changes in your movements. From a physical perspective, it enhances your form, speed, and balance. You can practice whatever you’d like at full speed while moving around. The only things you need to shadowbox are a place to train and free time.

Double-end bag

The double-end bag is an exercise tool that is somewhere between a heavy bag and a speed bag. The double-end bag possesses a far greater challenge to strike and develops your higher-level skills, mostly timing and accuracy.

The double-end bag is amazing for improving your hand speed and arm conditioning. If your speed isn’t fast enough to strike the double-end bag, you may not be fast enough to hit an opponent. We recommend that you wear 12 to 16 ounces gloves for the double-end bag.

Jump rope

The jump rope trains you mentally and helps you increase your muscle efficiency while enhancing your muscle conditioning. The jump rope mainly teaches body conditioning and relaxation. Beginners usually struggle between constantly using their muscles and not knowing how to relax. However, if you know how to train yourself to relax, you can jump rope for extended periods and not lose too much energy.

Jumping rope develops mental relaxation and requires a minimum level of awareness. Physically, it works out your arms, shoulders, back, and legs. You develop better and more relaxed footwork. To take good care of your body, make sure you know what to do after a workout and how to properly cool down and hydrate.

Boxing is a brutal, basic sport — and it can also serve as a brutal, basic workout to help you knock out your fitness goals.

Even when you don’t have gloves or an opponent, the principles of the “Sweet Science” can be applied to make you a more formidable athlete. And if you’re frustrated and you want to unleash some pent up aggression during your workout, there’s nothing better than grabbing some boxing gloves and whaling on a heavy bag.

Drilling for the sport can help to improve your cardio stamina, endurance, balance, and coordination. You’ll be working your upper body, lower body, and core, and the intense, fat-burning workouts can help to drop weight, too — plus you’ll be able to handle yourself better if someone starts swinging at you.

Sanabul Battle Forged Gloves

But it takes more than just effort and grit to make the most of a fighter’s fitness routine. You’re going to need to funnel that intensity into specific movements and drills to really begin to reap the benefits.

“A great boxer has to have focus, coordination, power, speed, and endurance,” Michael Olajide Jr., a former championship middleweight boxer, told Men’s Health.

To help you hone your skills, we tapped some top fighters to act as your cornermen. Hit these workouts to improve your punching power — and you’ll have a new outlet to de-stress on even your most frustrating days. Just make sure you throw on some wraps or gloves like these from Sanabul before you attack the bag to keep your hands in good health.

Warm Up Like a Champ

Three-time welterweight champ Antonio “the Tijuana Tornado” Margarito suggests implementing a series of stretches to prime the muscles before hitting the ring.

Al Bello Getty Images

Complete each motion 12 to 15 times for enhanced mobility before you hit the bags.

Upper body

Arm circles: Draw large circles with your arms, first in a forward motion, then backward.

Crossovers: Swing both arms out to your sides and then cross them in front of your chest.

Core

Shoulder slumps: Tuck your chin toward your chest, drop your shoulders, and bring your chest slightly forward. Next, pull your shoulders back, raise your chin, and lift your chest while arching your back slightly.

Lower body

Hip circles: With your hands on your hips, spread your feet beyond shoulder-width apart. Move your hips clockwise in a circle, then counterclockwise. Repeat with your arms extended out to your sides.

The Knockout Workouts

1. Fight Off the Shadows

Your coach: Gideon Akande, Men’s Health Top Trainer and Golden Gloves champ

Perfect your strikes on air with some shadowboxing. That way, you’ll know how to punch and string together punch combinations before you start pounding away at the bag. Men’s Health top trainer Gideon Akande explains the basic punches you’ll use in the ring.

Jab: A quick punch using your forward hand (left for righties, right for southpaws)

Cross: A punch across your body from the back hand (right for righties, left for southpaws)

Hook: A sweeping strike from across the body using either hand (not demonstrated above, but used in the other workouts below)

Uppercut: A punch upward using power from your hips to strike with either hand.

Start shadowboxing by stringing together punch combos for 30 seconds to one minute. For an extra challenge, hold 2.5 lb. or 5 lb. weights for the drill. Strike for 3 to 5 rounds, resting for a minute between each one.

2. The Golden Gloves Speed and Power Circuit

You’ll need more than just punches to get in fighting shape. Add a rope, slam ball, speed ladder, and box to push your conditioning up to the next level.

Perform 3 to 5 rounds, resting 2 minutes in between rounds

  • Jump Rope: 60 seconds
  • Overhead Ball Slam: 10 reps
  • Ladder Drill: 60 seconds
  • Box Jump: 10 reps
  • Shadow Box: 90 seconds

3. UFC Power Punches

Your coach: Frank Mir, Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight

Whether you’re facing Wanderlei Silva in a cage match or a 75-pound bag in your basement, the same rules apply: “Once you’re warmed up, you should be throwing each punch at full blast,” Mir, a former UFC heavyweight champ, told Men’s Health. He uses this demanding six-round routine to build mental and physical tenacity.

Zuffa LLCGetty Images

Grow your intensity: Clock each round at 3 minutes, resting 1 minute between rounds. With each round, you’ll add one punch to your sequence.

Punches per round:

  • 1. Warmup. Strike the bag at 50 percent with a variety of punches
  • 2. Up your power to full strength and launch jabs
  • 3. Jab, throw a cross, and repeat
  • 4. Jab, cross, hook, repeat
  • 5. Jab, cross, hook, uppercut, repeat

6. Jab, cross, hook, uppercut, body punch, repeat

4. Punch and Pull

Your coach: George Foreman III, EverybodyFights founder

Use light dumbbells and a stretch band with a handle to balance out your strikes and build punching power with this drill.

Run through six cycles of the exercises described above to simulate three rounds of heavy boxing work.

5. Under the Line

Use a slack line for this workout, or just imagine one for the purposes of the drill. You’ll be shifting and squatting under the line, so a good stance is key.

Hold 2.5 lb. or 5 lb. weights and advance back and forth down the line for a minute straight, throwing crosses and left hooks. Then, rip through 30 air squats right away. Perform the whole series six times to mimic the action you might face during two 3-minute rounds in the ring.

6. Middleweight Lightning Hands

Your coach: Michael Olajide Jr.
Shadowboxing allows you to rack up high reps without the resistance of a bag to slow your punches. “You’ll tone your shoulders, back, and core, which will help you throw faster punches,” Olajide said.

Cultura/KMM ProductionsGetty Images Hit on beat Play five songs that have strong rhythms and last 3 to 4 minutes each. On every fourth beat (count out loud to keep yourself on track), unleash one of the punch combinations below, and then bring your hands back to your starting stance before the next beat. The shifting tempo of some tracks may require you to punch continuously until the song slows.
Combos for each song:

  • 1. Left jab, left jab, right cross
  • 2. Right cross, left jab, right uppercut
  • 3. Left body punch, right body punch, left uppercut
  • 4. Right uppercut, right cross, left hook
  • 5. Right cross, left hook, right hook

Carl Froch’s Boxing Workout

After almost a decade staying in championship shape for boxing’s most ferociously competitive weight division, you’d forgive Carl Froch for easing off on the early-morning runs, being less fastidious in the kitchen, maybe even indulging in the odd Double Decker – and yes, Froch has done all those things. But, although the number on the scale might have gone up, this isn’t the usual post-career slide into a comfy pundit’s seat. Not by a long way.

“I’d like to do an Ironman triathlon,” says the former super middleweight world champ, who’s been hitting the pool semi-seriously ever since his retirement in July, using earplugs to protect the eardrum he perforated sparring for his 2008 title fight against Jean Pascal. “There are quite a few going on in 2016 and I’m seriously thinking about it. I used to find swimming quite monotonous, but I’m enjoying it more now – there’s no impact on my knees, and I get in the zone. It’s not good enough to do 2½ miles at a great pace , but I’d get it done.”

The other legs? Already taken care of. “I’ve got my running up already, I could do a half or a full marathon at a decent pace, and I could do the cycling,” Froch says. “Before I’m 40 I’d like to try that. It’d be hard work, but to achieve one, to get that in the bank… as long as I’ve got something in my head to work towards, that’ll keep me in shape.” And, of course, there’s the aesthetic angle to consider. “If you look at long-distance runners they’re quite skinny, but if you look at swimmers, they all look quite well-bulked and well-balanced, decent shoulders, slim waists. I look at what I want to look like and take my cues from that.”

If this seems surprising, it probably shouldn’t. The athlete known to his many fans as the Cobra has crafted one of British boxing’s all-time great careers using hard work and tenacity, coming through in some of his biggest matches by keeping up the pressure while opponents wilt in the later rounds. In title-winning bouts against Andre Dirrell and Mikael Kessler, he grabbed the initiative in the final stages to take a pair of close decisions, while against Jermain Taylor he battered the favourite to a stoppage with 14 seconds left in the fight… and, of course, in both of his bouts against fellow Englishman George Groves, he shut down the younger fighter (11 years his junior) in the dying rounds. He’s a man who’s used to accelerating over the finish line, and he’s not finished yet.

“I’m training because it’s something I’ve always done,” he says. “I’m not naming any fighters, but I don’t want to be one of these guys who retires from boxing and gets fat and out of shape and old-looking. I want to always look like I’ve been a world champion. It’s for myself and my kids because I want to be able to still do stuff with them. And it’s not hard to do. I’m never going to be able to fight for 12 three-minute boxing rounds at a high pace unless I’m specifically training for it, but I can always stay in shape.”

He’s also started hitting the bar. “I’ve never lifted weights in my whole life,” says Froch, who relied on nothing but press-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups and traditional roadwork for almost his entire pro boxing career – all 12 years of it. “But now I’m deadlifting, bench pressing, curling dumbbells, doing some weight-gaining exercises. I’m trying to bulk up a bit. You look better, you feel more confident, you look better in clothes… when I’m wearing my designer stuff or just a shirt with a pair of jeans, it helps.” Nottingham born, raised and resident, he’s a big fan of local brand Paul Smith.

Froch does his training with an old friend, keeping the reps low and the moves big, mixing in farmer’s walks and power cleans – “It gets you breathing, gets you exhausted physically. It’s geared to my engine” – and he’s still using some of the moves he learned filming BBC gymnastics show Tumble – “handstand press-ups, the planche, all that”.

He’s getting up to speed fast, with a 160kg deadlift (for reps) and a 120kg bench press already under his belt. But he’s in no rush. “I’m still under 10% body fat, but now I’m about 13 and a half stone , about 8kg over the super middleweight limit,” he says, in between posing for the shirt-off shots that prove it. “I’m trying to get to 14 stone but keep the body fat down, put on about a pound of quality muscle a month. I don’t want to get too big, too fast. I don’t want to get big and strong and still, like my stepdad – he’s 20 stone. He’s a weightlifter, but he wouldn’t last 30 seconds in a fight.”

“To win a fight, you need to be strong and explosive with good stamina so you can throw hard punches in every round,” Froch says. ‘Because boxing is weight-governed, it’s important to do strengthening exercises that don’t add bulk, so I don’t use fancy equipment or weights.

RECOMMENDED: Punching-Bag Workouts

“When I fought I’d do classic moves such as press-ups, crunches and dips – as many as 300 of each in a session because volume equals strength. I include variations so my body never gets used to my workouts because shocking your muscles keeps forcing them to get stronger.”
But boxing isn’t only about strength. “Most training days include some cardio, such as skipping, hill climbs, six-mile runs – which I do in 35 minutes – and track sprints,” Froch says. “As well as improving lower-body strength, these drills increase my anaerobic capacity so I can work intensely for 12 three-minute rounds.”
Over the next pages you’ll find one of the boxing training routines Froch used while in his prime. Get down the gym and start doing it today.

Training like a boxer is all about intensity—you go hard. “You’re trying to mimic what it’s going to be like in the ring,” says Jason Strout, head coach at NYC’s renowned Church St. Boxing Gym. Aside from technique, that means lots of fast and varied movement, with active rest—you’re almost never not moving in a fight unless, well, let’s not go there. “Workouts vary the exercises as much as possible to mimic the fight, which is never a steady pace like a run for an hour,” he says. “The pace is changing constantly.”

Boxing workouts 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,” Strout says. “The training gets your mind prepared for it, too.”

Think you’ve got what it takes? See if you can go five rounds with these tough sessions designed by Strout.

First, take this punch primer

If you don’t know your jab from your cross, or haven’t a clue how to even stand properly, start here.

The boxing stance is crucial to your success—it sets you up to both throw and dodge punches, and puts you in the best position to take a punch should your opponent land one. If you’re right-handed, your left leg will be in front, so your more powerful arm is further back to maximize the force it can generate. “Southpaw” or lefty stance is the opposite.

To find your stance, start with your feet shoulder-width apart, with your feet standing on the same imaginary line. To get a good stagger, righties should move the left foot forward so your heel is now touching that imaginary line, and shift the left foot back so the toe is on the line. (Lefties do the opposite.) Bring your weight onto the balls of your feet and soften your knees. Bring your dominant fist up so you’re just touching the side of your chin with your index finger, and bring the nondominant fist up to about cheek height. Keep your elbows in close, touching your ribs. “If you let your elbows flare out, it leaves your body exposed,” Strout says. “Keeping your elbows tucked also increases the power of your punches.”

Now, onto the punches. The three basic ones are the jab, the cross, and the hook.

Jab: This is the lead hand punch thrown straight ahead with your nondominant hand. It’s not a power punch but instead is used to set up other punches. “When in your boxing stance, it’s the closest hand to your opponent so you will use it the most,” says Strout. Need an example? Boxers with a good jab include Larry Holmes, Ike Quartey, Muhammad Ali, and Gennady Golovkin. Cue up YouTube and start studying.

Cross: The cross is thrown with the rear, dominant hand, which is farthest away from your target. It’s also thrown straight but much more powerfully, using your legs and torso to generate force. You rarely lead with the cross unless you’re countering an opponent’s punch. Boxers with a good cross include Thomas Hearns, Sergey Kovalev, Deontay Wilder, and Manny Pacquiao.

Hook: These can be done with either hand, but you should focus more on the hook done with the lead (nondominant) hand (hooks done with the other hand can leave you more vulnerable). Unlike the others, this isn’t a straight punch: Its aim is to come at your target from the side, using your hips and legs for power. “The hook travels out from your shoulder and turns in toward your target halfway through the punch,” Strout explains. “Don’t let your elbow travel out wider than your shoulder, nice and compact, and return it the same way you throw it.” Boxers with good hooks include Joe Frazier, Felix Trinidad, Oscar de la Hoya, and Mike Tyson.

Once you’ve got the individual punches, you need to put them together. Common combinations include:

Workout 1

Warmup:
10 minutes jump rope
20 squats
20 pushups
40 crunches

Shadow boxing:
3-minute round: Basic jab, cross, and hook punches
Rest 30 seconds
x5

Heavy bag workout: Basic combinations
3-minute round
Rest 30 seconds
x5

If you’re new to this kind of intensity, do three rounds, not five, and give yourself a minute rest between them. “Pace yourself,” Strout says. “Don’t go all out in the first 20 seconds, then stop: Keep punching the bag even if you’re just touching it.”

Finisher:
100 pushups
100 squats
200 sit-ups
Rest as little as possible

Workout 2

Warmup:
50 jumping jacks
50 jump lunges
1 minute run in place
10 pushups
10 squats
10 lunges
5 minutes shadow boxing
Rest as little as possible

Rest 30 seconds

Footwork drills:
2 minutes side steps: Start In your boxing stance, take 10 quick steps to the left, then 10 steps right, side to side. When moving to the right, push off the left foot, and when moving left, push off the right foot.
Rest 30 seconds

2 minutes forward and back steps: In boxing stance, take 10 quick steps forward and 10 steps back, back and forth. When moving forward, push off back foot, and when moving backwards, push off front foot.
Rest 30 seconds

2 minutes box steps: In boxing stance, move 6 steps forward, 6 steps right, 6 steps back, 6 steps left. Switch direction after four squares. Focus on pushing off the correct leg.
Rest 30 seconds

2 minutes circle drill A: Put something on the floor to use as your center point. In boxing stance, step using your technique to make a complete circle around the object, then reverse the circle. “Always make sure you stay in your stance and your lead leg is pointing in the direction of the center,” says Strout. “This is to train you on moving away from an opponent.”
Rest 30 seconds

2 minutes circle drill B: Using the same center point, face away from it, keeping your back to it the whole time. Start in your stance and complete full circles in each direction. “This trains you on stalking a moving opponent,” says Strout.

Finisher:
10 minutes jump rope as cooldown

Workout 3

Warmup:
Jog 20 minutes

Shadow boxing:
3-minute round
Rest 30 seconds
x5

Bag workout:
3-minute round on heavy bag
x3
3-minute round on speed bag
x3

Conditioning:
For 3 minutes, do:
10 pushups
10 jump squats
Rest 1 minute
x3

Finisher:
200 situps

Workout 4

Warmup:
20 minutes jump rope, varying speed

Shadow boxing/conditioning:
1-minute round shadow boxing, focusing on speed
Rest 30 seconds
x8

20-yard sprint OR 10 burpees
20 seconds shadow boxing
x10

Conditioning:
10 minutes jump rope

Finisher:
5 pushups, focusing on speed
Rest 30 seconds
x10

Workout 5

Warmup:
3 minutes fast jump rope
Rest 30 seconds
x4

Shadow boxing:
3-minute round: Work basic jab, cross, and hook punches
30 pushups as “rest”
x4

Heavy bag workout:
3-minute rounds, as follows
Round 1: jabs only
Rest 30 seconds
Round 2: double jab-cross
Rest 30 seconds
Round 3: jab-cross-hook
Rest 30 seconds
Round 4: any four punches
Rest 30 seconds
Round 5: any punch combination, with 180-degree semi-circles around bag between combos
Rest 30 seconds
Round 6: non-stop punching at 60% of full power. Focus on rotation of the body and using the legs.
Rest 30 seconds

Then:
20 hard hooks, lead hand
20 hard crosses
40 quality jabs

FInisher:
200 situps
20 pullups
40 lunges

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Circuit training provides a format that allows boxers to condition themselves physically, as well as focus on the development of specific skills. Circuits can focus on development of endurance, speed or power. Focus on one skill or combine various exercises to cover them all in a single circuit to become a better conditioned boxer.

Endurance

Boxing requires anaerobic bursts of energy but also requires the staying power needed to remain strong and effective through a full 12 rounds if necessary. Circuit training for endurance can be a simple combination of bag work and running. Start with a three-minute round on the heavy bag. Instead of taking a rest period, take yourself outside or get on the treadmill and run a quarter mile at a steady pace. Continue alternating between bag work and running, with no rest in between, for a full nine rounds.

Speed

Speed gives you an edge over your opponent. If you can get your punch out and land it before your opponent strikes, you gain a significant advantage. Start with a three-minute round of speed punches on the heavy bag. Focus on speed and punch the bag with straight 1-2 punches as fast as you can for 15 seconds. Rest 15 seconds and then go right back to punching. Continue the cycle through the full three minutes. After a minute of rest, move to the floor and shadow box nonstop for a full three minutes. Move your feet very little and concentrate on making your punches as fast and fluid as possible. At the end of three minutes, immediately drop to the floor and do as many full pushups as you can as quickly as you can. After a minute of rest, work a three-minute round on the speed bag or double-end bag focusing on speed and precision with each hit. Rest for three minutes and then repeat the circuit two more times.

Power

Knockout power comes from conditioning your muscles to load as much potential energy as possible and then releasing it as quickly as possible. Training for power should not be isolated to just your power punches. A powerful jab can be as valuable as a powerful right hand or left hook. Hold a 10-pound dumbbell in your right hand and punch the air with the dumbbell for 30 seconds. Immediately drop the dumbbell, put on your glove and strike the heavy bag with your right hand as hard as you can for the next 30 seconds. Switch the dumbbell to your left hand and repeat the cycle. Switch to medicine ball chest passes, throwing as hard as you can for 30 seconds, then resting for 30 seconds for a full two minutes. Finish with two minutes on the heavy bag, tapping the bag with light punches. But every 30 seconds, change which punch you choose to hit the big using maximum power. Be sure to cycle through your jab, right, hook and upper cut with only light taps on the bag between each power shot. Repeat the entire circuit four times.

Considerations

Any circuit can be modified by introducing new exercises into the circuit or by changing the interval times. For example, running in the endurance circuit can be replaced with three-minute rounds of jumping rope instead. Circuits can also be arranged to incorporate exercises that work endurance, speed and power all in one circuit. These skills don’t have to be worked independent of each other and can complement each other over the course of a single circuit. Always be sure to start your circuit training by warming up and stretching the muscles used when finished. If you’re new to boxing, start conservatively with the circuits and do what you can, gradually working your way up to the full-round times and increasing the number of rounds per circuit.

It’s possible to acquire the body of a bruiser without risking the bruises. Here’s what you’ll need for a home boxing workout: a vinyl or beaded jump rope, weighted gloves (8 ounces will do, for starters), a countdown timer, light dumbbells, and a place to drop for pushups and crunches galore.

Your commitment controls the time involved. The following workout can be completed in 15 minutes, or thrice that. Simply adjust the intervals, starting with 30 seconds and working up to 60 as you build strength, speed, and wind. Go for a full-body regime, alternating legs and arms every other day. And don’t count reps. Work against the clock like a real boxer. You’ll soon understand that a 3-minute round is forever.

The Simplest Boxing Circuit Ever

1. Shadowbox with weighted gloves. Start with smooth, controlled punches—six to the imaginary body, six to the phantom head, again and again for 30 seconds. Later you can add other punches and combinations to the program. For now, keep those gloves up and feet dancing. Extend the punch out, then pull it back to guard your face and chin. Bob and weave to avoid vicious (if fictitious) counterpunches.

2. Jump rope for 30 seconds. Start with both feet together and your elbows bent in tight, and stay close to the ground. And this ain’t no playground. Go 85 percent of max for half a minute–or until you puke. When you work up to 60 seconds, you’re only a third of the way through the round.

3. Do pushups—nice and smooth—for 30 seconds. Keep your body straight from your shoulders to your ankles, and lower yourself until your upper arms are lower than your elbows.

4. Roll over for abdominal crunches. Feet on the floor, hands behind your head, and shoulders lifted off the ground, then lower and repeat. For the second set, the upper body remains flat while you raise your knees toward the ceiling, lower, and repeat–a small but powerful movement.

5. Get on your feet again for weight work. Starting with 5-pound weights, do full-range-of-motion biceps curls, all the way down, all the way up, for 30 seconds; then military presses for 30; then combine the two for 30, raising the weights from the bottom of the curl position to your shoulders, then above your head. Keep at it for 4 minutes. (The next day work your legs instead, lunging to the left, then right, then squatting for 30 seconds, with weights in your hands.) Number 5 can be ignored every third day, if desired.

6. You’re almost halfway home. Now repeat the circuit.

7. Increase weights gradually and interval lengths by 5 seconds every week until you start seeing the results you’re after (i.e., that jerk at the bar, flat on his back). For conditioning, exercise in short bursts of speed–sprints and hill work, for instance, not marathon training.

Don’t go picking a fight unless your skills meet your conditioning. Boxing, as it turns out, is a lot like golf: Without outside observation you tend to master your mistakes. At some point, you should visit a boxing gym or consult a trainer. Plus, there is genuine pleasure and release in hitting a heavy bag alongside another boxer. Go ahead. Take a whack at it.

The Editors of Men’s Health The editors of Men’s Health are your personal conduit to the top experts in the world on all things important to men: health, fitness, style, sex, and more.

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