When you think of boxing, a few names come to mind. Whether it’s Muhammed Ali, Mike Tyson, Anthony Joshua or even fictional boxers like Rocky Balboa, currently, the sport is mostly dominated by men.
Believe it or not, women’s professional boxing was banned in the UK until as late at 1996 when the ABAE (Amateur Boxing Association of England) upheld medical opinion that women were in no more danger than men when entering into the ring. In fact, women have only been able to compete in boxing as an Olympic sport since 2012.
Since then though, women’s boxing has gone from strength to strength. Team GB has scooped up 2 Flyweight gold medals, thanks to Nicola Adams, and more women than ever are taking up the sport.
However, you don’t need to compete professionally to reap the rewards of boxing. Whether you want to box as a sport or add it to your fitness routine, there are a number of benefits to be gained by strapping on a pair of gloves.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BOXING?
1. IT BURNS FAT
Boxing is an intense workout that can burn anywhere between 700-1000 calories an hour! It’s also a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout, which means you’ll not only burn calories as you workout but also throughout the day after your training.
2. IT IMPROVES CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH
If there’s one thing that boxing can guarantee, it’s that it’ll get your heart beating and your blood pumping. The act of punching causes a number of muscle groups to contract simultaneously, which means your heart has to work extra hard as you work out. Plus, boxing requires a lot of movement and that you stay light on your feet, meaning your heart and lungs work hard to keep the oxygen pumping through your body.
3. IT STRENGTHENS BONES AND LIGAMENTS
As we age, our bones naturally become weaker over time. Resistance training, such as boxing, helps to keep your bones and ligaments strong and reduces the chances of breaks or osteoporosis. The weight you put on your legs and knees as you stay on your toes will keep your bones strong too - you don’t even need to try!
4. IT BUILDS STRENGTH
Even if you’re a total novice, you’ll know that boxing involves a lot of punching - maybe a few kicks too. A standard punching bag can weigh anywhere between 20-50kg, so every punch and jab will put your muscles to the test. Even when you’re not using the bag, your training will still involve a lot of strength exercises to build and tone your whole body.
5. IT STRENGTHENS YOUR CORE
Core stability and balance are crucial aspects of boxing and will gradually improve the more you train. With a lot of fast, rotational movements, your core muscles will engage and strengthen as your body is constantly trying to maintain its balance as you move. A strong core and back will also ensure you keep a good posture and reduces the risk of back pain.
6. IT IMPROVES COORDINATION
Your coordination is another skill from boxing that will develop over time, and the more you train, the better it will become. Everything from punching bags and pads to keeping on top of your footwork will ensure your concentration and coordination levels remain tip-top. Even boxing training like skipping and speedbags will help you improve.
7. IT’S A GREAT STRESS RELIEVER
Like any sport, boxing helps produce endorphins in your brain to make you feel happy. This is where the theory of taking out your anger on the punching bag comes from - when you’re stressed, taking a few swings literally makes you feel better! Also, punching helps to relieve muscle tension that forms when you’re feeling stressed, helping you feel physically relaxed as well as mentally.
8. IT’S GOOD FOR YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
Boxing is not only a great way to keep active, but it can also do wonders for your mental health. The more you box, the more you can see and feel yourself growing stronger, which is a fantastic confidence booster. As well as taking out your frustrations on the punch bags, you’ll also learn how to better deal with anger. Boxing requires all of your attention and allows you to take a step back from the outside world and focus entirely on yourself.
HOW DO I TRAIN FOR BOXING?
If you’re a total beginner and don’t know where to start, SPARR is our very own boxing-themed signature fitness product. At Fitness First our professional instructors will walk you through the class every step of the way, so there’s no need to worry if you don’t have any experience.
Boxing classes can vary but are usually based on circuit training routines. This means you can expect anything from burpees, free weight sets, shadowboxing and of course, training with bags and pads. Circuit-style training is crucial to seeing results in boxing, as the variety of the workout helps to condition your whole body, strengthening key muscles and keeping your speed and endurance levels high.
You can box solo, of course, all you need is a pair of gloves and a punching bag. Many boxers, however, prefer to buddy up and train with a partner. This gives you both the chance to switch between gloves and pads and is the best way to keep each other motivated.