Why Cardio Kickboxing Is an Awesome Workout

Cardio kickboxing is a group fitness class that combines martial arts techniques with fast-paced cardio. This high-energy workout challenges the beginner and elite athlete alike.

Build stamina, improve coordination and flexibility, and burn calories as you build lean muscle with this fun and challenging workout.

What is it?

An experienced instructor leads cardio kickboxing class by demonstrating choreographed movements of punches, kicks, and knee strikes set to fast-paced music. Cardio kickboxing combinations are a mix of punches like:

  • jabs
  • crosses
  • hooks
  • uppercuts

Lower body movements include:

  • knee strikes
  • front kicks
  • roundhouse kicks
  • side kicks
  • back kicks

Classes also incorporate a warmup and cool down as well as both dynamic and static stretching. Often, there is a brief segment specifically for core exercises like crunches and planking. Typical cardio kickboxing classes run from 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the gym or studio.

Despite the name, cardio kickboxing is a noncontact workout. All punches and kicks are thrown into the air or onto pads. It’s a high-energy workout that can burn between 350 and 450 calories an hour, according to the American Council on Exercise.

Your elevated heart rate moves into in an intense zone in which cardiovascular conditioning takes place. This has a positive impact on your heart.

Cardio conditioning can help you have a daily calorie deficit, allowing for fat loss. This loss may include the belly fat that can be so difficult to lose. Excess belly fat has been associated with a higher risk of heart disease, certain types of cancer, and diabetes.

A cardio kickboxing class challenges your technique, endurance, and above all, concentration. Half the battle is mental — you need to focus on the individual movements that make up a combination.

Who should do it?

Cardio kickboxing is a good fitness choice for those looking to burn calories for weight loss, or to improve stamina and heart health. People who become easily bored with stationary cardio equipment like treadmills and stair steppers will enjoy the fast pace and new movements in a cardio kickboxing class.

You don’t need any martial arts or boxing experience to take a cardio kickboxing class. Everyone is welcome.

Cardio kickboxing is considered a low- or high-impact, high-intensity workout. Beginners are advised to begin slowly. Listen to your body and take water breaks when you need them. Work your way up to exercising at full intensity.

It’s normal to become frustrated if you’re having trouble keeping up. But don’t quit. Even if you are unable to follow the instructor’s movements exactly, keep moving to enjoy the benefits of this physical activity. With practice and patience, you will improve.

What can I expect?

At a cardio kickboxing class, you can expect a full-body workout that engages every muscle group in your body, with a strong focus on your core. The rapid movements in cardio kickboxing also improve flexibility, balance, and coordination, and can help you build faster reflexes.

Cardio kickboxing can burn between 350 and 450 calories per hour.

Cardio kickboxing is also an effective way to relieve stress and frustration. It releases hormones (endorphins) that improve your mood and block feelings of pain.

According to a study conducted by researchers at Oxford University’s Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, group exercise enhances the effects of endorphins. In addition, working out with a group has an accountability factor and fosters a healthy sense of competition.

Regularly attending cardio kickboxing classes increases your energy levels. According to the Mayo Clinic, regular physical activity has been shown to boost energy because your heart and lungs perform more efficiently.

Regular exercise like cardio kickboxing also improves your mood, helps you fall asleep faster, and helps you get better quality sleep.

How should I begin?

Look for cardio kickboxing classes at a martial arts studio in your area. Many gyms also offer cardio kickboxing classes.

For your first class, make sure to do the following:

  • Wear comfortable workout clothing and athletic shoes. Some gyms give you the option of taking class in bare feet.
  • Bring water and a small towel.
  • Arrive a few minutes early to sign any necessary paperwork before class.
  • Try to find a spot in the middle, near the back. Instructors often move around during class, and different combinations may have you turning in different directions. You’ll want someone in front of you at all times so you can follow along.

To enjoy the ongoing health benefits of a group fitness class like cardio kickboxing, look for a 30- to 60-minute class that you can attend on a consistent basis, for example, three times every week.

Cardio Kickboxing vs. Kickboxing: What’s the Difference?

On the flip side, if your goal is to learn a martial art, you may not want to sign up for that cardio kickboxing class just yet. If you’re new to martial arts or just getting back into serious exercise, it may be a good jumping-off point, but it won’t offer what you’re looking for long-term.

Confused yet? Here’s a quick breakdown of cardio kickboxing and kickboxing kickboxing that will explain exactly what you’ll get in each class.

Okay, so what’s regular kickboxing?

Kickboxing is a full-contact sport that grew out of martial arts and boxing. Its journey into mainstream sports began during the karate tournaments in the 1970’s as a way to make scoring easier. Judges could easily tally the number of punches and kicks landed, without needing to know karate forms.

Today, kickboxing is most closely associated with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and mixed martial arts (MMA).

So this is the class I take to fight people, right?

If you want to! There’s no rule saying you have to take a kickboxing/muay thai/MMA/any kind of fight if you sign up, but you’ll probably at least end up sparring as part of training.

Kickboxing places a heavy emphasis on proper technique. This often fosters a deep mind-body connection because of the focus and attention to detail it requires. Forging such a bond also relieves stress by calming the mind. In that respect, focused kickboxing practice is a lot like meditation—but with uppercuts.

Most kickboxing classes are held at martial arts schools, not regular fitness gyms. You’ll learn techniques such as punching, kicking, blocking, counters, and footwork. You may work by striking heavy bags, or by working with a partner holding focus mitts or Thai pads.

That sounds like it involves cardio…so why is the other one called “Cardio Kickboxing?”

True, they both have cardio elements, but cardio kickboxing is just for cardio – not fighting, not self-defense, not nada but fitness.

Exercise experts are split on just who created this popular form of fitness. Some claim the original cardio kickboxing routine was Billy Blanks’ Tae Bo, which debuted in 1989 and was featured heavily on American television. Though Banks did not call his workout cardio kickboxing, Tae Bo meshed taekwondo (“Tae”) with boxing (“Bo”). Others give credit for cardio kickboxing’s creation to Frank Thiboutot, a martial arts champion and karate judge who devised his own workout in 1992 and trademarked the name Cardio Kickboxing®. (Well played, Mr. Thiboutot.)

What’s cardio kickboxing class like?

Cardio kickboxing classes are offered by many fitness gyms, and they usually combine full-body aerobic exercises with boxing and martial arts moves. Some classes incorporate equipment, too, such as punching bags. Classes don’t include sparring with a partner, although in certain classes, you may still take turns holding targets for one. The best, and most popular, cardio kickboxing classes have participants strike freestanding bags.

The focus of cardio kickboxing is twofold: movement and fun. There’s little to no emphasis placed on technique, and the boxing and martial arts moves are kept simple. Most classes stick to jabs and crosses, for example, not uppercuts and hooks. While cardio kickboxing classes generally offer little to no resistance training, they do offer a tenacious whole-body workout, stimulate the mind, and build confidence.

So which one should I do?

It totally depends on what you want to get out of the experience and what your goals are! With kickboxing, the goal is to learn a series of skills and techniques, and (optionally) do sport combat at some point. With cardio kickboxing, the goal is to get your body moving, get more fit, and have a ton of fun while you do so.

Put another way, kickboxing is something you learn; cardio kickboxing is something you do. If you want to add some punches and kicks to your workout routine, or if you want to shed some pounds, cardio kickboxing may be the way to go. While kickboxing also offers a vigorous workout, the emphasis on technique may be more information than you’re looking for.

If you’re interested in self-defense or learning how to fight, kickboxing is the more useful approach. Kickboxing classes will teach you how to throw punches and kicks correctly, which is essential to avoiding injury. Because cardio kickboxing emphasizes fitness, it’s not a very useful tool for self-defense. At best, it will let you prove to yourself how hard you can kick and punch, and improve your confidence and coordination. These are skills that contribute to self-defense; nevertheless, you should not consider cardio kickboxing a self-defense skill.

Ultimately, the main difference between cardio kickboxing and kickboxing is reflected in what your personal goals are. Both are exciting ways to get fit and stay motivated to move. Neither are boring, and both are solid ways to strengthen your body and your mind. Simply put, hitting stuff relieves stress!

Is kickboxing good exercise?

Kickboxing is great exercise. It works your whole body and really gets your heart pounding. Kickboxing combines upper- and lower-body movements like roundhouse kicks and uppercut punches that boost calorie burning. The type of kickboxing you do will determine how much exercise you get. Kickboxing training that takes place in a martial arts studio will involve kicking and punching a sandbag or sparring with a competitor, both of which will sharply increase the amount of exercise you’ll experience in a kickboxing session. Comparatively, a study by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) found that women doing group fitness cardio kickboxing burned between 6.45 and 8.3 calories per minute, or approximately 350-450 calories burned during an hour-long class. This is roughly what you can expect to burn with jogging or similar exercise, but ACE says that cardio kickboxing offers the added benefits of increased strength and flexibility, sharper reflexes, and improved coordination. Whether you’re training to fight competitively, learning kickboxing as a form of self-defense, or taking cardio kickboxing at your local gym, you’ll get a full-body workout with positive health benefits.

The No-Equipment Cardio Kickboxing Workout to Make You Feel Badass

As fun as it is to flip tires, lift heavy weights, or burn your muscles out at the mercy of a Megaformer, there’s something satisfying about getting a good sweat with nothing more than your bodyweight. (And doing it without even leaving your house.) Even better? When that workout turns you into a fierce AF fighting machine.

This at-home cardio kickboxing workout from trainer Kym Perfetto (@KymNonStop) will help you do exactly that: burn cals and build up those self-defense muscles using kickboxing, capoeira (a super-cool form of martial arts), and good old-fashioned burpees. Bonus points for making fight-scene-worthy sound effects, and even more bonus points for following it up with Kym’s quickie lower abs workout.

How it works: Do the warm-up, then progress through each of the moves. Follow along with Kym in the video for a timer, or set one yourself, doing as many reps as possible (AMRAP) during each interval. Once you get to the end of the routine, repeat it one more time.


Jump Rope: Pretend to be holding a jump rope at belly-button height, elbows close to ribs. Pretend to swing the rope, hopping side to side with feet together. Repeat for 30 seconds.

Squat Jumps: Start with feet together. Hope feet out wider than hip-width and immediately lower into a squat. Press through the feet to stand and jump feet together. Repeat for 30 seconds.

Front and Back Kicks: Stand with feet together. Leaning back slightly, kick right foot straight forward, then left foot straight forward. Then lean forward and kick right leg straight backward and left leg straight backward, keeping hips square. Repeat for 1 minute.

Squat Side Kicks

A. Start with feet wider than hip-width apart.

B. Hinge at the hips and knees to lower into a squat.

C. Press into feet to stand, then shift weight into left leg, and kick right leg straight out to the side, stacking right hip over left.

Do AMRAP for 1 minute. Do every other set on the opposite site.

Capoeira Kicks

A. Stand with feet together. Swipe kick with the right leg by swinging it up and around to the right, taking a wide step to the side.

B. Step left foot over to right foot, then step left foot back into a lunge, so front knee forms a 90-degree angle.

C. Step left foot forward and repeat the motion on the other side. To make it more advanced, eliminate the step-together and progress right from the swipe kick to the lunge.

Do AMRAP for 1 minute.

Jab & Burpee

A. Start in a fighting stance, left foot slightly in front and fists guarding face.

B. Throw a punch straight forward with the left hand (jab), then a punch straight forward with the right hand, pivoting hips forward (cross), then another left jab.

C. Place palms flat on the floor outside front leg. Switch feet so right foot is in front, and stand to repeat the jab, cross, jab, switch combo on the other side.

Do AMRAP for 1 minute.

Repeat the Capoeira Kicks and Jab & Burpees.

Jab Roundhouse Combo

A. Start in a ready stance with left foot slightly in front. Throw a jab with the left hand, then a cross with the right hand.

B. Shift weight onto left leg and drive right knee toward chest. Plant right foot on floor, then shift weight into left foot again to swing right foot around in a roundhouse kick.

C. Place right foot back on the floor, then hop to switch legs so right foot is in front. Repeat on the opposite side.

Do AMRAP for 1 minute.

  • By Lauren Mazzo @lauren_mazzo

Photo: Daily Burn 365

These exercises come to you from Daily Burn 365 trainer Anja Garcia. You can find more no-equipment workouts from DailyBurn’s trainers at DailyBurn.com/365.

Looking to refresh your cardio routine? Kickboxing is a great way to get your heart pumping, while also blowing off a little steam. (Take that, morning commute!) Plus, the high-intensity workout has also been shown to have a slew of other health benefits, including improved coordination, flexibility, strength and even increased mobility for some. And did we mention kickboxing is a solid way for all fitness levels to get moving? “You don’t need any prior experience to do the workout,” says Anja Garcia, Daily Burn 365 trainer. “The moves are easy to grasp on their own.” So don’t let the scary-sounding sport spook you: After running through this five-minute routine, you’ll be ready to take on anything.

RELATED: The Barre Workout You Can Do at Home

5 Kickboxing Moves to Get Your Cardio Fix

GIF: Daily Burn 365

1. Front Push Kick
How to: Start standing, with arms firmly in guard in front of your face (a). Kick your right leg out, extending through the hamstring as you pull your arms down towards your hips (b). Return right foot to floor and repeat motion on your left side (c). Continue kicking, alternating legs for 45 seconds.

GIF: Daily Burn 365

2. Combo Punch and Slip
How to: Start in fighter stance, with left foot forward and right foot back, arms in guard position in front of your face (a). Pivot slightly forward and throw a jab punch with your left hand, stepping forward with your left foot (b). Then, throw a cross punch with your right hand (c). Next, throw a hook with your left arm (d), then an uppercut with your right arm (e). Slip back by bending at knees before turning and switching sides, with right foot in front and left in back (f). Repeat the previous combination using opposite arms as directed; alternating sides for 45 seconds.

RELATED: 7 Awesome Boxing Classes to Up Your Burn

GIF: Daily Burn 365

3. Double High-Low
How to: Begin in fighter stance, arms in guard, left foot forward and right foot back (a). Quickly jab with your left arm, once up high, once down low (b). Repeat the sequence once more, focusing on your form (c). Next, do two jumping jacks with arms in guard, finishing in fighter stance with your right foot forward (d). Repeat above sequence with your right side, then alternate between both for 45 seconds (e).

GIF: Daily Burn 365

4. Uppercut Squat Reach
How to: Start standing with knees slightly bent and arms in guard (a). Complete four uppercuts: right arm, left arm, then right arm, and left again (b). Next, take a full squat (or modify for an extra burn with a jump squat) (c). Repeat sequence for 45 seconds.

RELATED: 7 Ways to Improve Your Squat

GIF: Daily Burn 365

5. Burpee Kick
How to: Start by standing in squat position (a). Place hands on the ground and extend left, then right back into plank position (or, jump back straight into plank pose) (b). Then, ring each leg back forward and return to standing. (For an extra challenge, throw in a jump here.) Kick your right leg out, then left leg (c). Repeat sequence for 45 seconds.

Want more partner exercises like these? Head to DailyBurn.com/365 to get a new live workout every day.

Note to reader: The content in this article relates to the core service offered by Daily Burn. In the interest of editorial disclosure and integrity, the reader should know that this site is owned and operated by Daily Burn.

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Essential Kickboxing Equipment You Need For Your Home Gym

Kickboxing is a great hobby to pick up. It’s great for your body, it’s good for self-defense and it’s even better for your fitness. However, it’s not easy to find time to go to the gym and actually train there, which is why having a home gym is becoming a more attractive alternative for people today. Even those who still train in gyms think of having their own set of equipment at home just to squeeze a few extra workouts every now and then.

If you plan on setting up your very own home gym, you’ll definitely need kickboxing equipment too.

They don’t need to be fancy. They don’t even need to be complete. You just have to make sure what’s necessary, such as the following:

  1. Boxing Gloves.

Of course, you’ll need gloves to train in kickboxing. It doesn’t even matter if you’re training alone, because you’ll want something to cushion your hands while you punch away at the different bags.

14oz and 16oz gloves are ideal for pad or drill work, as well as sparring.

You’re going to want to have mirrors installed in your home gym so you can see yourself while you’re working out.

No, this isn’t to indulge your narcissistic tendencies, but rather, so that you can see and work on your technique constantly. Or, to put it simply, it helps you become much more self-aware and become your own teacher, which is necessary if you want to be successful with your kickboxing sessions in your home gym.

Of course, when you’re working out, you’ll want everything to be safe and in case you fall, you want it to hurt a lot less. Mats make sure of that.

The mats come in pretty cheap, especially if you go with the larger ones, since you don’t have to buy many.

Buy a couple and cover the area you work out the most in, or if possible all of your home gym, and you should be good to go.

  1. Pads and Bags

You’re going to need speed bags and heavy bags if you want to get a lot of out of your home gym. After all, you’re probably not going to be sparring with someone for quite some time, so you may as well make friends with the heavy and speed bag.

Also, keep pads in handy, in case someone comes in and wants to help you work on your strikes.

  1. Skip Rope.

For footwork.

  1. Free weights.

Not that you’re going to need them every time you work out, but having a rack of a few dumbbells is going to do wonders for your physique, especially when you want to vary your workout between pure kickboxing and lifting weights.

  1. Wide Space.

Last, but definitely not the least, you’re going to want to have a huge space to work out in. That is an absolute essential.

It doesn’t have to be really huge, since you’re going to be alone, but it does have to be wide enough for you to kick, punch, and pretty much, do what you like while you’re in there.

Kickboxing at home equipment

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