You don’t need to start a fight to throw a few punches. Think of boxing as your go-to stress-relieving workout. You’ll not only knock out frustrations by releasing some feel-good endorphins, but you’ll also get a blend of hardcore cardio and strength training. In just 30 minutes, the fighting moves squash more than 375 calories and sculpt your back (lats, in particular), shoulders (or deltoids) and core.
Before you step into the ring, though, you’ll want to follow a few pointers on technique. Enter Rob Piela, owner of Gotham Gym in New York City and creator of Gotham G-Box (a group exercise class) in connection with WellPath. Heed Piela’s tips on how to pack a serious punch, then tackle one (or all!) of his three beginner-friendly boxing routines. Whether you want to kick up your cardio, build stronger muscles or do jab-cross combos with a buddy, there’s a plan for you.
Boxing Basics: 5 Steps to Look the Part
Step 1: Master the Boxing Stance
Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart (a). Step your left foot forward. Turn both feet 45 degrees to the right and bend knees slightly (b). Bring your fists up to your cheekbones, keeping your elbows in by your sides. Your left shoulder should be in the front and the right shoulder behind. Get ready to punch (c).
Step 2: Practice Your Main Punch, The Jab
Start with the left hand. Keeping your elbow in by your side and your right fist up by your face, extend your left hand straight out in front of you (a). When your arm is almost fully extended, turn your wrist so your thumb faces down toward the floor. The jab should be quick (b). Snap your fist in and out, like a whip, with your hand coming right back to your face after you execute the punch (c).
Step 3: Put Power Behind Your Cross
For the right cross, starting from the bottom: Pivot your right foot so it turns inward and you’re on the ball of your foot (a). Your right hip and shoulder should turn forward with it, while you push your left shoulder and left hip behind you (b). With your left fist up by your face, move your right arm forward (keep your elbow in) and punch it straight out (c). Turn your wrist at the end of the punch, so your thumb faces down toward the floor (d). After you fully extend your right arm, snap it back to your boxing stance (e).
Step 4: Add Upper Body Oomph to Your Hook
For the left hook, from your boxing stance, turn to your right as you bring your left elbow up (bent 90 degrees) to about shoulder level (a). At the same time, your left heel pops up off the ground, as you pivot on the ball of your foot and shift your weight back onto your right leg (b). Bring the punch back to your face, resetting into your boxing stance (c).
Step 5: Attack from a Different Angle with Uppercuts
For the right uppercut: From your boxing stance, turn your right hip and shoulder forward. Keep your elbow in as you punch upward, thumb facing you (a). Bring your fist back to your face and return to your boxing stance. Bend your knees if you need to reach a lower target (b). For the left uppercut: Follow the same steps as the right uppercut, except this time, turn your left hip and shoulder forward and punch with your left hand, thumb facing you (c).
You’ll get your heart rate up for this cardio routine, designed by Piela, which also tones your entire body. Perform the combinations below for one minute each. If you’re up for the challenge, Piela suggests using light weights while you punch.
2-minute warm-up: 30 seconds each of jumping jacks and high knees. Repeat a second time.
Jab and cross: Alternate jabs with your left hand and crosses with your right and continuously and as fast as you can. Make sure your punches go straight out and back to your face. Engage your core and turn your shoulders and hips toward your target.
Jump rope: Do this with an actual jump rope or just mimic the movement by rotating your wrists. Jump with feet together up and down or side to side.
Jab, cross, squat: Do a jab with your left hand and a cross with your right, then perform a squat. Pause briefly between each combination.
Uppercuts: Perform right and left uppercuts as fast as you can. Make sure to keep turning your shoulders with each punch and engage your core the entire time.
Forearm plank: Keep your back straight and flat, and hips in line with shoulders. Position elbows directly underneath your shoulders. (Here’s how to fix the most common mistakes.)
Repeat the entire sequence one more time, skipping the burpees and planks on the second round.
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