Boxing delivers a mind–body punch. Physically, it works muscles in your upper body, lower body, and core; improves agility and coordination; builds aerobic and anaerobic capacity; and burns fat. Mentally, it calls for precision and patience — and also serves as a great stress-busting outlet.
“Boxing lets you tap into all your energy systems,” says boxer and coach Mariela Burkett. “You grow mentally because you’re constantly analyzing someone else’s moves, how they might react to you, and how you can counter their reaction.”
The sport involves either sparring with a partner in the ring, practicing solo against a bag, or shadowboxing into the air. It’s accessible to folks of various ages, gender identities, fitness levels, and physical and cognitive abilities.
“It feels amazing to take your stress out on the heavy bag,” says Life Time boxing instructor Bethany Keepman. “The endorphins start to flow, and you feel empowered when you walk out. It also helps improve self-confidence — not only do you physically feel better but [you also feel better] mentally.”
Boxing clubs have long been popular, but at-home exercise videos and group fitness classes incorporating common boxing moves sparked mainstream interest in the 1990s. This popularity created a generation that relishes both the fitness and the empowerment associated with the sport and its high-intensity spinoffs, like cardio kickboxing.
Today, it’s common to see trainers incorporating punches into boot-camp and even indoor-cycling classes.
The popular adaptations of boxing bear some risk: If you’re not focused on form and accuracy while throwing the sport’s four main punches — the jab, cross, hook, and uppercut — as well as executing the accompanying footwork, your technique can suffer, resulting in injury.
However you practice, establish your very best form and enhance your performance in the ring and the gym with these back-to-basics drills.