Up Your Boxing Game

By Sarah Tuff Dunn |

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, orshadowboxinginto 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 improveself-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.

Are you boxing for fitness and confidence? Are you boxing to go up against an opponent? Are you boxing for ?It’s good to set your intention before stepping into a ring or , because the level and type of training each goal requires will differ:Burkett recommends this drill for building a solid foundation in your quads, , and back muscles.Boxing requires fast upper-body reflexes and footwork to dodge and duck, explains Burkett, who recommends this agility drill.The jab, cross, hook, and uppercut are the key moves in boxing. They are distinct and precise — but it’s common for their execution, particularly when sequenced, to become muddied into a flailing of arms.“When throwing a punch, make sure you have the technique down before adding power,” Keepman says. “Fully extend your arms in the jab and cross. Rotate your body, specifically your hips; this is especially true in the hook and uppercut. Stay light and pivot your feet.“Once you have the technique, then add some power behind your punch: Drive from your legs. Boxing is a full-body workout, so make sure the entire body is engaged.”The jab appears to be the most straightforward of the four punches, but it’s actually the easiest to mess up, Keepman warns. (For a jab refresher to ensure you meet your mark, visit .)Body-weight training — including shadowboxing, running, jumping rope, and strength exercises — is an ideal way to train for boxing. Try the following workout routines as part of your training:“Boxing is very tough mentally and requires patience with yourself and the sport,” Burkett says.The first step to developing the requisite headspace, she adds, is to.Burkett also recommends challenging your brain. “Playing chess, word searches, or any type ofto develop speed and foresight” will improve your technique. “For me, it’s reading a book in a loud environment. Whatever eases your frame of mind in a busy situation works.”

If you’re sparring with an opponent, skip a trip to the dentist thanks to protection from this mouthguard, which has an outer layer for jaw protection and an inner layer for shock absorption. $15 at This is one of boxer Mariela Burkett’s go-to brands for gloves; the affordable Classic model is double-stitched for extra strength and has multilayered foam padding for added comfort. $80 at These shoes provide traction while allowing for maneuverability; the lightweight mesh upper offers breathability. $60 atExperience Life.

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