By: Robert A. Schinetsky
When it comes to working out, most of us would rather do another set of squats or deadlifts before undertaking yet another hour of cardio on the treadmill or elliptical. There’s just something about the thought of mindlessly doing the same repetitive low-intensity activity for 60 minutes that drives us mad.
But, this presents a problem of sorts.
You know getting in regular bouts of cardio workouts is important for heart health, but isn’t there some other way to get the benefits of cardio without having to wither away on the treadmill?
You bet there is, and it can be found in the sport of boxing.
Boxing is an incredible sport; one that builds total body strength, torches calories, reduces stress, and gets your heart rate elevated.
No doubt you’re familiar with boxing, but we’d be willing to bet you’ve never given it serious consideration as part of your weekly fitness routine.
Well, we’re going to give you six big reasons boxing should be part of your training program.
Benefits of Boxing Workouts
Total Body Strength
When you think of boxing as a form of training, you probably just think it works your arms and shoulders. And while it’s true those muscles are performing a fair amount of work, in reality, boxing is a total body workout.
You see if you just use your arms to throw a punch, you’ll have significantly less strength and power than if you were to use your whole body to throw the punch. Throwing a proper punch involves coordination of the legs, hips, and core as well as the entire upper body.
Unlike other forms of cardio that only focus on one muscle group (i.e. running), boxing workouts train upper and lower body muscles at the same time.
Core Crushing Workout
The typical ab/core workout generally involves seven kinds of sit ups, crunches, and roll outs. Do these enough, and your neck and low back will get more of a workout than your abs will.
If you’re looking for a more athletic and functional way to train your midsection, try your hand at boxing workouts.
Throwing punches, bobbing, weaving, etc. it all involves tightening and bracing your core, while working muscles of the hips and glutes at the same time. You’ll also get some rotational work in there to, so the muscles of the midsection get to work in unison to help you deliver the knockout punch.
Traditional cardio workouts suffer from a lack of diversity in their training intensity. Typically, they involve exercising at a set speed for a certain amount of time. Depending on how long and how hard you exercise determines your calorie burn.
The problem with the traditional cardio workout is that the calorie burn stops once you stop.
However, high intensity interval training workouts, such as boxing, involve alternating between periods of lower intensity and higher intensity, which creates a greater calorie burn both during the workout and for up to 24 hours after training!
In fact, the average boxing workout burns anywhere from 400-700 calories every hour of training! This is in addition to the boost your metabolism will get over the next day, which will help burn extra calories and help maintain a healthy weight.
Supports Heart Health
The main benefit attributed to traditional “cardio” workouts is that it is good for heart health. But, you don’t have to slog it out on the treadmill for an hour just to get your heart rate up.
Spend 5 minutes punching a heavy bag, and you’ll quickly see how high your heart rate will get.
Boxing workouts tax your cardiovascular system and train your heart to work more efficiently meaning it gets better at pumping blood and oxygen to your muscles when your training. This enables you to train harder and longer in the grand scheme of things.
If you’re tired of doing standard cardio workouts, give boxing a try and witness first hand how effective it can be for training your heart.
Better Hand-Eye Coordination
Much like football, baseball, or any other sport, boxing requires a great deal of hand-eye coordination. When dealing with a speed bag or sparring partner, you have to be able to coordinate what you’re seeing with where you’re punching in order to successfully land a punch or defend against one.
Boxing forces you to keep your eyes keyed in on a moving target while simultaneously forcing you to react at a moment’s notice, meaning that boxing not only improves hand-eye coordination, but reaction time as well.
Natural Stress Reliever
Stress is a part of life; we’re assaulted by it from numerous fronts on a daily basis in countless forms -- finances, family, work, traffic, and many others.
Over the long term, stress increases cortisol levels, which impairs recovery, hinders muscle growth, and stalls (and possibly encourages) fat loss. Moreover, chronic stress can also wreak havoc on your sleep, which further exacerbates feelings of stress and fatigue.
Fortunately, boxing and most other forms of exercise, are natural stress relievers.[1,2] Intense exercise creates a flood of endorphins that help reduce stress, improve mood, and generally just make you feel happier.
Plus, if you’re generally just feeling crummy on a given day, boxing workouts allow you to “punch out” what’s bugging you. This might also help boost your productivity as you’ve eliminated all the “noise” that’s been weighing you down.
Boxing is a fantastic sport that provides a fun and exciting way to get in your weekly cardio while at the same time building strength, coordination, and confidence. It’s also great for helping eliminate stress and worries that build up throughout the week.
In the end, boxing isn’t just for those looking to make a career out of it, but is yet another superb form of training to improve the body and the mind.
1. Kumahara, H., Nishida, J., Sakai, Y., Kanehira, M., Kanehira, K., Shindo, M., & Tanaka, H. (2014). Effects of acute boxing-style exercise on affect and mood states in young and middle-aged adults. Taiikugaku Kenkyu (Japan Journal of Physical Education, Health and Sport Sciences), advpub. https://doi.org/10.5432/jjpehss.14008