Boxing Exercises: Punch Your Way to a Stronger Body

Key Points

  • Boxing exercises transform both your mind and body.

  • A typical boxing workout involves an intense cardio warmup, stretching, several boxing rounds, partner drills, conditioning, and a cool down.

  • Cardio activities, burpees, mountain climbers, squats, lunges, push-ups, pull-ups, and deadlifts are part of boxing exercises. 

Looking for a fitness activity that is so fun that you almost forget you’re working out? Celebrities like Gigi Hadid, Shay Mitchell, and Ellie Goulding rave about how boxing exercises are dramatically life-altering!

Whether you’re prepping for a “Hot Girl Summer” or wanting to spice up your training routine, boxing exercises leave you sweaty, empowered, and gloriously addicted.

Combat Boxing Versus Fitness Boxing

Combat boxing and fitness boxing share many of the same benefits, but with different underlying goals. Combat boxing trains aspiring and professional boxers for an upcoming match. It’s not a leisurely activity, but a dangerous sport involving sparring, striking, and fighting. 

Combat boxing can cause concussions, black eyes, cut eyebrows, sprained ankles, and other injuries. 

Boxing workout

Fitness boxing is inspired by combat boxing's training methods, conditioning exercises, and footwork drills. The primary goal of fitness boxing is to improve mental health and physical fitness. You don’t even have to step foot in a competitive ring. Phew!

Fitness boxing is also safer. Instead of battling an opponent, you direct your punches at an invisible foe (shadowboxing) or a heavy, weighted bag.

The sport challenges your mind and body and adapts to your fitness level, physical capabilities, and preferred style. 

What are the Benefits of Boxing Workouts?

Boxing workouts offer a variety of instantly noticeable benefits. The movements and combinations are quite challenging but equally gratifying. 

Boxing workouts involve high-intensity interval training, which increases your cardiovascular fitness. Even better, boxing also lowers blood pressure and reduces your risk of heart disease.

Are you ready to lose weight and build strong, lean muscle? Slide on your gloves and start punching!

Boxing combines cardio and strength training. Boxing for 30 minutes burns 200 to 400 calories, depending on your weight, intensity level, and effort. Imagine burning up to 800 calories in a one-hour class! Holy cow.

Boxing develops your endurance and targets all major muscle groups. This full-body activity tones you from head to toe: core, arms, shoulders, back, hips, and legs.  

Do you get bored doing the same workout over and over? Not with this exercise activity! Boxing workouts have an endless amount of punching combinations. You virtually never do the same thing twice; there’s always a new move to learn or improve. The atmosphere provides a constant incentive for you to train harder each session.

Boxing exercise

On top of improving your balance and coordination, boxing workouts relieve stress. If you’re a few seconds away from giving you-know-who a piece of your mind, step back and find a boxing gym pronto!

“I’d say the number one thing that sets boxing apart from other workouts is the degree of stress relief," says professional boxer Arnold Gonzales. "It’s unlike any other workout.”

Punching an inanimate object to blow off steam is extremely cathartic. Boxing is a healthy outlet and safe environment to work through outside pressure, conflict, and difficult emotions.

The endorphin rush makes you feel lighter, happier, more confident, and more disciplined at the end of your session.

What Should You Expect From a Typical Boxing Workout?

A typical boxing workout consists of physical conditioning, rapid movements, fast-paced drills, circuit and strength training, and weighted bag combinations to keep you on your toes and make you sweat buckets.

Regardless of whether you sweat like a pig or a princess, boxing sessions get so steamy even your ears are drenched and dripping by the end!

Boxing gyms usually provide everything you need: a heavy bag, boxing gloves, and hand wraps to cushion your punches. Consider bringing a jump rope for added intensity.

Most boxing classes are 60 minutes long and have six stages: intense cardio warmup, stretching, boxing rounds, partner drills, conditioning, and a cool down.

Intense Cardio Warmup: 15 minutes

Start with a light jog or run to get your heart pumping. Limited on space? Snag a jump rope and whip out 50 to 100 jumps, with periods of rest between. The cardio part should last about five minutes.

From here, switch to a series of bodyweight exercises to fire up your abs, arms, legs, and shoulders. Alternate between the following moves at 30-second intervals:

  • Burpees

  • Leg raises

  • Russian twists

  • Frog jumps

  • Sit-ups 

Perform this series three times, and finish with a final round of running or jump roping until your 15 minutes are up!.

Stretching: 5 minutes

Stretch before you box to loosen up any tight muscles, bolster your flexibility, and decrease your risk of injury. Slowly and intentionally go through the standing straddle stretch, less crossover stretch, sumo stretch, runner’s lunge, and the kneeling hip flexor stretch.

Boxing Rounds: 25 minutes

Here’s where the workout gets fun, sweaty, and spicy.

Kickboxing studios and boxing gyms structure their routines differently. Expect to go through at least three to five boxing rounds. Each round presents a unique combination of varied punches, kicks, and often bodyweight exercises. 

The main punches are jab, cross, right and left hooks, and right and left uppercuts.  Essential kicks consist of front kicks, sidekicks, and roundhouses. Kicks are usually only incorporated in kickboxing workouts.

Kickboxing exercises

Boxer Stance

To maximize the effectiveness of your punches and kicks, maintain the proper fighting stance at all times. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bring your left foot a few inches forward and distribute your weight evenly between both feet. 

Face your toes forward, straighten your body, and relax your knees. Raise your hands in front of your face at approximately eye level. Ball them into fists. Drop your chin slightly, tuck your elbows, and shift your dominant arm back. 

You’re ready to box!


The jab is the most fundamental punch of boxing and is executed with your non-dominant arm.

To begin the left jab, lift your left foot a couple of inches off the floor. Once your foot lands again, extend your left hand until it makes contact with the bag or pad. Rotate your knuckles inward so your palm is parallel to the ground. 

Southpaws do the reverse to deliver a right jab.


From your boxer stance, launch your dominant hand away from your guard and towards your target in a straight line. For the greatest impact, rotate your shoulders, torso, and hips as you throw the cross. 

A cross punch is usually preceded by a jab. In this case, immediately retract your jab arm by pulling it towards your face to protect your chin. 

Right + Left Hooks

In your fighting stance, lift your right elbow to position your arm at a 90-degree angle. Aim your knuckles at your target. To complete the punch, lift your right heel and pivot your foot inward as your fist meets the bag. 

Do the same to execute a left hook, but with a left heel rotation at the end. 

Pro Tip: When pivoting, always lift the same side heel as the arm you're punching with. Right arm = right heel (and vice versa).

Right + Left Uppercuts

Begin in your boxer stance and bend your knees. Drop your right elbow and tuck it into your right hip, pointing your knuckles up. Punch in an upward motion and stop when you reach chin-level height.

Lift your right heel off the ground and pivot. Always keep your left hand up to guard your face. 

For a left uppercut, repeat all steps with a left heel pivot. 

Partner Drills: 10 minutes

Before you panic, partner drills are not the same as fighting in a boxing ring.

Rest easy! The partner drill segment is safe and surprisingly fun. Pay close attention to the form, alignment, and cues of the instructor and trained demonstrators. 

Pair up with another participant and take turns blocking sets of punches. Always hold your boxing gloves up firmly and away from your face. There are breaks between each round to allow you and your partner to bond without the gloves. 

Partner boxing drills

Conditioning + Cool Down: 5 minutes

Your boxing coach either leads you through a full five-minute cool down or adds a bit more conditioning before the final stretch. 

This is a good time to reflect and pat yourself on the back for persevering to the end of the session. Boxing workouts are tough and intense, but the life-changing results are worth every moment of struggle.

Safety Tip: Beginners need one-on-one attention with a trained professional before conducting boxing workouts at home. You must first learn the proper form, technique, and footwork for punching and kicking. Your trainer guides you in developing good habits and improving your reflexes. 

Beginner kickboxing classes are an ideal learning environment to give you the confidence to try the movements at home. After learning the ropes, feel free to start your day with a garage solo shadow boxing session!

Do Boxers Work Out Every Day?

Most professional boxers train twice per day for up to five hours total. Talk about a hardcore training program! 

Each session has a cardio element and a boxing-related workout. Boxers work to strengthen their aerobic system, fine-tune their strengths, and overcome their weaknesses when preparing for a match. 

Being able to successfully stick with an intense routine doesn’t happen overnight. Your body needs time to adjust to the physical — and mental — demands of a boxing workout.

Beginners need two to three boxing sessions a week for the first few months. As your body adapts and your stamina evolves, feel free to increase the amount up to four to six times per week!

If you really want to box every day, dial back the intensity on certain days. No need to throw your hardest punches and kicks every time you step in the gym (unless that’s just how you roll). Instead, alternate back and forth between heavy and light training days to protect your muscles from overuse injuries and extreme fatigue.

Pro Tip: Although they seem counterintuitive and inconvenient, rest days are crucial! Mentally and physically recharging for at least one day per week helps you avoid burnout and improve your boxing skills much faster.

Exercise with boxing

What is the Best Exercise for Boxing?

Boxing is a phenomenal workout on its own. Adding cross-training activities further develops your athleticism and boxing performance, allowing you to achieve physical feats you never thought possible.

The best exercises for boxing increase your strength, agility, speed, endurance, power, and coordination.

Burpees are essential because they boost your explosiveness, activate your full body, elevate your heart rate, and put your stamina to the ultimate test!

Mountain climbers are another great endurance-building exercise that challenges your core, arms, and shoulders, enhances your mobility, and confronts your mental endurance.

Squats and lunges define your quads and let you work on your balance and stability.

Push-ups and pull-ups are perfect for conditioning because they stimulate your upper body, allowing you to pack some serious power behind your punches.

Deadlifts are key to building lower back strength. They also target your glutes and hamstrings in a painfully satisfying way. To prevent muscle pulls, always execute impeccable form during this exercise. 

Cardio activities such as running, jump rope workouts, cycling, pad work, bag work, and sparring simulate what it feels like to be in the boxing ring. 

Your lungs struggle for air, your heart pounds furiously against your chest, and your muscles fight fatigue. Despite the temptation to give up, you push past the discomfort and keep going. Each time, you go a little longer and further than the session before.

This is how you get in “fighting shape.” This is the "fighting spirit."

Roll With the Punches

Boxing submerges you into a flow state to focus and engage your brain and body. The hour-long sweat session flies by! 

Boxing and kickboxing

You learn the basics of self-defense, exercise your entire body, burn calories like wildfire, relieve stress, and strengthen your endurance. 

If you’re looking for a total mind-body fitness transformation, boxing is by far the best and fastest way to get there.

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