Cardio Kickboxing: What It Is and Is It Good for You?

Cardio Kickboxing: What It Is and Is It Good for You?

Aerobic exercise, also known as cardio, has become increasingly popular in recent years and is now one of the most popular ways of exercising around the world. Aerobic or cardio exercising is based on the aerobic energy-generating process, which refers to the utilisation of oxygen to meet our body’s energy demands via aerobic metabolism. Although it boomed in recent years, the idea itself is about a century old. 

Cardio kickboxing is a combination of aerobic exercise and kickboxing. More specifically, it is a group workout class that combines the basic elements of aerobics and aerobic exercise with the martial art of kickboxing.

In this article, we will walk you through what cardio kickboxing, aka muay thai, consists of, what cardio kickboxing training sessions look like, whether they are right for you, and what you will get if you decide to start doing cardio kickboxing.

Also check out our guide on how to choose the best MMA gym near you.

Brief History of Cardio Exercises and Their Importance

British physiologist Archibald Hill introduced the concept of maximal oxygen intake back in 1922, and it was crucial for understating the metabolism of human muscles; Hill, together with German physician Otto Meyerhof, shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine that same year. The concept became so popular that many scientists and universities around the world soon started doing measurements based on it.

World War II put things on hold for several years, but individualistic outdoor exercise, like jogging, started becoming popular right after the war and there was a so-called “running boom” during the 70s, inspired by the rising popularity of the Olympic Games.

This practically coincided with the development of aerobics, which started during the ’60s and reached its peak during the 80s, when Jane Fonda’s globally known exercise videos popularised the discipline and brought it to homes around the world. 

Today, cardio is most often associated with outdoor activities such as jogging or running, swimming, and cycling, but the system was soon applied to some indoor activities and also to those that can be performed both indoors and outdoors.

Among the latter is one martial art – kickboxing – and it is exactly cardio kickboxing that we are going to talk about in today’s article, bringing you the general idea, basic concepts, and expectations behind a very interesting blend of generally quite different philosophies and activities. So, let’s get started! 

What Is Cardio Kickboxing?

In the simplest way possible, cardio kickboxing is a combination of aerobic exercise and kickboxing. More specifically, it is a group work-out class that combines the basic elements of aerobics and aerobic exercise with the martial art of kickboxing.

It is a fairly new phenomenon that developed in recent years and is, so far, the only martial art adapted to the rules and concepts of aerobics. 

It is a very high-energy type of exercise and is quite challenging to both beginners and experienced athletes. It is mostly done by combining the essential elements of combat sport of kickboxing – punches, kicks, etc. – with high-paced, rhythmic music that has a very strong psychological effect.

An instructor leads the group (in a group kickboxing program) and instructs them (students) to practice different punches and kicks to the music in the background, thereby combining the necessary elements. Both upper and lower body movements are utilised. 

Though cardio kickboxing is non-contact, it borrows essential elements from its parent martial art, including the importance of safety while practicing. After exploring the intricacies of this fitness routine, why not dive deeper into the vital aspects of protection in traditional kickboxing through our guide on Best Kickboxing Headgear?

A training session includes a warm-up and cool-down phase, as well as the very important stretching exercises. Because of the high pace and the complexity of movements, stretching is essential in avoiding injuries, but also if you want to advance, since better flexibility allows for the realisation of more complex moves. 

Despite utilising kickboxing, and other cardio workouts, kickboxing is not a martial art! It is a non-contact form of exercise where the kickboxing moves are just a way of exercising, rather than fighting. So, if you want to learn how to fight, cardio is definitely not for you, but if you want to be healthier – certainly!

Typical sessions last from 30 do 60 minutes, depending on the gym and training sessions can burn between 350 and 450 calories per hour, which is a pretty large amount. 

Here is an example of how cardio kickboxing workout looks like:

What Does The Cardio Kickboxing Workout Entail?

Kickboxing training is a multifaceted and dynamic form of exercise that combines elements of martial arts with intense cardiovascular workouts to work the entire body. It is designed to improve overall fitness, strength, flexibility, and endurance. A typical kickboxing training session involves a variety of movements and techniques that work on different muscle groups, providing a full-body workout.

The core of kickboxing training includes a range of punches and kicks, each requiring precise technique and control. Punches such as the jab, cross, hook, and uppercut are fundamental, focusing on upper body strength and coordination. Kicks like the front kick, high kick, and knee strikes engage the lower body, improving balance and flexibility. These movements are often combined into sequences or combinations, enhancing cardiovascular endurance and muscle memory.

A standard kickboxing workout also incorporates exercises that build stamina and muscular endurance. Activities like jump rope, high knees, and jumping jacks are common, serving as both warm-up and integral parts of the training. These exercises increase heart rate, promoting cardiovascular health and calorie burn.

Kickboxing training is not just about physical exertion; it also emphasizes the importance of proper stance and movement. Staying on the balls of the feet, maintaining a balanced and fluid motion, and keeping the core engaged is crucial for effective and safe practice. This attention to form and posture ensures that participants get the most out of their workout while minimizing the risk of injury.

The versatility of kickboxing training allows it to be adapted for various fitness levels.

Starting with beginners to advanced practitioners, everyone can benefit from the structured yet flexible nature of the workouts. For those new to the sport, starting with shadowboxing or light bag work is common, gradually building up intensity and complexity. More experienced individuals might engage in more rigorous routines, incorporating heavy bag work, pad training, and sparring sessions. All of these are solid aerobic workout routines that help with toning muscles.

Kickboxing workouts typically include a warm-up phase, a high-intensity training segment, and a cool-down period with stretches to ensure muscle recovery. The warm-up often consists of dynamic stretching and light cardio exercises to prepare the body for the workout. The main training segment is where the intensity ramps up, with a focus on executing kickboxing techniques with power and precision. The cool-down phase includes static stretches and relaxation exercises to help the muscles recover and prevent soreness.

In terms of calorie burn, kickboxing is highly effective. It can burn between 10-15 calories per minute, making it an excellent choice for those looking to lose weight or improve their cardiovascular health. The high-intensity nature of the training also makes it an excellent stress reliever, as it requires mental focus and physical exertion, providing a healthy outlet for releasing tension.

It not only enhances physical fitness and strength but also improves mental toughness, discipline, self-confidence, and focus. Whether your goal is weight loss, muscle toning, improved cardiovascular health, or stress relief, kickboxing provides a challenging yet rewarding path to achieving these fitness objectives.

Can You Lose Weight with Cardio Kickboxing?

For people taking on cardio kickboxing, we only have to say – be prepared. It is a very demanding programme and you will have to invest a lot of energy to follow it through. Certainly, the benefits are exceptional, but you have to give it your best, maybe even more than in some other sport or exercise. 

As stated, you could burn around 350 do 450 calories per hour, which is a great and very efficient way to lose weight and generally be healthier due to all the benefits for your organism. Since it involves a lot of high-pace movement, cardio kickboxing is, although a non-contact form of exercise, a great method of stress relief, which is very useful in these modern times, when most people suffer from some form of stress. 

Benefits of Cardio Kickboxing

Because cardio exercises rely so strongly on oxygen, they have a plethora of health benefits for the trainee so it is generally advised to do them more than not. The first set of benefits is related to the upper body and the cardiovascular system.

Cardio exercises strengthen the respiratory muscles and generally benefit the respiratory tract, bettering your breathing. They also have a very strong influence on the heart, enlarging it and generally allowing it to function better and longer.

The total amount of erythrocytes (red blood cells) in the blood is also increased and due to trainees burning a lot of calories, the vascular system gets a lot cleaner as cholesterol is also destroyed during the process of working out. The exercises can also stimulate bone growth and can significantly decrease the risk of osteoporosis. The risk of cardiovascular diseases is generally reduced. 

The second set of benefits is related to the neurological system. Science has proven that cardio exercises generally benefit the brain as well as the heart. The brain’s structural connections are improved and there is a significant increase in grey matter density.

Cardio exercises also stimulate the growth of new neurons, which is vitally important for our neurological health. Improvement is also noted with general cognitive functions and mental health, especially because such exercises significantly reduce the level of stress and frustration of a person. 

The third set is a set of general corporal benefits. Cardio diseases increase out muscle structure and make them stronger, more enduring and healthier. Our body becomes more flexible and we can increase our speed and agility. 

If you’re keen on progressing in your cardio kickboxing journey, incorporating speed bags into your training is non-negotiable. They cater to a spectrum of skills like hand speed and eye-hand coordination that are not prominently addressed in a typical kickboxing routine. Read our thoroughly researched article on the top brand and models of speed bags to ensure your training is always balanced and effective.

As for the basic sides of cardio training, there really aren’t that many. There is a small risk of injuries due to very straining and repetitive movements usually done during most cardio workouts and training sessions. Cardio is also not a very efficient approach to building your musculature, unlike some other martial arts and sports, but that really depends on what you want to do with your body.

Also, cardio training doesn’t generally burn body fat that efficiently unless you do it consistently, but that relates to what we have said above – cardio training is very demanding, and it will pay off only if you invest a lot of your energy and willpower into it. In any other case, you will not get the full set of benefits cardio training can give you. 


Cardio kickboxing classes are a compelling fusion of aerobic exercise and martial arts, offering a unique workout experience that is both physically demanding and mentally stimulating. This high-energy, non-contact form of exercise combines the fundamental elements of kickboxing – punches, kicks, and movements – with the rhythmic intensity of aerobic music, creating a dynamic and enjoyable fitness routine. It’s an excellent choice for those seeking a comprehensive workout that enhances cardiovascular health, improves muscle strength, and promotes flexibility, all while providing the added benefits of stress relief and mental well-being.

Cardio kickboxing is not just about physical fitness; it’s a holistic approach to health that positively impacts various aspects of one’s life. From increasing the total amount of red blood cells to improving the brain’s structural connections and grey matter density, the benefits extend far beyond the just physical activity realm. It’s a testament to the power of combining disciplines to create something greater than the sum of its parts.

Whether you’re a fitness enthusiast looking for a new challenge or someone seeking a fun way to get in shape, a cardio kickboxing class offers a unique blend of health benefits that cater to a wide range of fitness goals. It’s a testament to the evolving nature of exercise and how traditional forms can be adapted to suit modern needs. As this article has shown, cardio kickboxing is more than just a workout; it’s a lifestyle choice that promotes overall well-being.

That covers our analysis of cardio kickboxing, a very specific blend of aerobics and martial arts. If you want to find out more about the latter, please follow us, and see you next time!

Vladimir Vladisavljevic has been training in the art of kickboxing for over seven years, holds a Taekwondo black belt, and has a master's degree in sports and physical education. He's also a huge mixed martial arts fan. He's a big deal in Bulgaria as a mixed martial arts commentator, analyst, and podcaster.
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Vladimir Vladisavljevic

Vladimir Vladisavljevic has a master's degree in sports and physical education. He has been training in kickboxing for over seven years and holds a Taekwondo black belt. He's also a huge mixed martial arts fan. Vladimir is a big deal in Bulgaria as a mixed martial arts commentator, analyst, and podcaster. He was known as The Bulgarian Cowboy in the Western world. In addition, he has a YouTube channel where he talks about his love of esports, one of the fastest-growing fields in the world. Our testing and reviewing method.
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