We have talked about boxing a lot on this site and by now, you probably know most of the rules and the technicalities of the sport. But we did not analyse everything boxing has to offer so we decided to dedicate today’s article to boxing and one of the less discussed aspects of this sport – the benefits boxing has for your body and your fitness.
In general, boxing training is great for your cardio, strength, and will help you a lot with losing weight.
But, just knowing that boxing is good for the things listed above is not enough. You should know how to train smart and reap the rewards. So, we are going to analyse several aspects in hope of helping you get a clearer view of what boxing can bring you and answering some questions you might have had before coming here.
General Benefits of Boxing
Before we start with some precise topics, let us take a look at some of the general benefits you can have from boxing:
- The benefits of physical activity – any physical activity is highly recommended and boxing is an art that demands a lot from you, but also gives you a lot of benefits. You’ll be healthier, more mobile and will generally look and feel better.
- Socialisation – although boxing is an individual sport, training sessions, going to the gym and sparring sessions all require close social contact and can, perhaps, lead to the formation of a strong friendship or relationship with someone. Just remember how Rocky Balboa, the main character of Stallone’s cult franchise, had a close relationship with his coach.
- Discipline – boxing is a martial art that requires a lot of determination and is very demanding. Not everyone can do boxing the way should be done and if a person does not have the required discipline, he may quit. Luckily, boxing does build one’s discipline so it can be beneficial in that aspect likewise.
- Learning your limits – since boxing is a martial art that requires a lot of discipline, it teaches the boxers to control themselves. You do not fight to kill someone; you fight to win and there are certain limits you’ll have to adhere to in order to be a good boxer.
- Self-defence – people who take on boxing while learning how to attack, also learn how to defend themselves. Although you should always avoid confrontations when possible, life sometimes doesn’t allow you to escape or avoid a conflict. In such situations, it is better to know how to defend yourself than not. Also, be sure to check out our article about how good exactly is boxing for self-defense.
- Building confidence – while teaching you how to attack, how to defend and how to win, boxing builds on your confidence. It allows you to create a better, a much stronger image of yourself and the confidence you have in the ring, during a fight, will emanate to all other aspects of life.
- New knowledge – boxing is not just punching, it is a very sophisticated martial art where tactics usually play a much bigger part in winning, than just pure physique. Learning new tactics and tactical approaches doesn’t just increase your knowledge, it stimulates your brain as the adrenaline of a fight demands for a quick response.
- You’ll feel younger – this one is more for our older readers, as the physical and health benefits of boxing will, undoubtedly, result in your body, and with it your mind, feeling younger. The mere fact that you can hold out and win a fight against someone who’s probably younger than you will be a boost so strong that you’ll probably feel at least 10 years younger.
- You’ll grow as a person – each new experience is special and enables you to develop yourself as a human being. Boxing has a lot of different aspects and approaches, and learning (about) them will certainly enable you to grow as a person.
- You never know… – relating to the above-mentioned reasons, you should remember that Rocky Marciano started at the age of 25 and ended with an unbeaten run. You never know what the future hold, so even if you start at a later date, just remember that you might become the new Marciano. Be sure to check out what age is too old for boxing.
Now that we’ve seen the general benefits, let us see what boxing can do for some other aspects of your fitness.
Is Boxing Good for Cardio?
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.
British physiologist Archibald Hill introduced the concepts of maximal oxygen intake back in 1922 and 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, that 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.
Now that we’ve introduced you to cardio, let us see how boxing can help you with such exercises. 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.
Seeing how boxing utilises a lot of exercises very similar to cardio exercising, it is clear how boxing can help and does help with your cardio. Breathing is essential in boxing and the large oxygen intake, consistent with the “rules” of cardio, will certainly benefit all these points that we’ve talked about in the preceding paragraphs.
When it comes to boxing and cardio, check out the article we wrote where we compare boxing and running for cardio benefits.
Also, check out how good is boxing for abs and burning stomach fat.
Is Boxing Good to Improve Speed?
Speed is of the utmost importance in most sports and especially so in martial arts and combat sports. A quick reaction might save your fight or even be a decisive moment that will win it for you. So, in order to effectively stand in a fight and even have a fair advantage, you’ll have to make your punches faster and luckily for you, we have some advice on how you should do it.
- Start slowly – the key to quickness is going slow. Namely, in order to achieve a quick and effective punch, you have to master your technique. Your punch needs to be perfect from the moment you start moving your shoulder to the moment your fist hits your opponent. Everything has to be in perfect order and fully coordinated. And that level of symmetry is achieved only by going very slow and approaching it with a lot of patience. You’ll have to perfect your movements and you can achieve that only by going slowly at it. With slow, patient moves you’ll perfect your technique and once it’s perfect, you’ll be able to improve your speed and be unstoppable. To see how and which punches you have to master in boxing check out this article.
- Strengthen your core posture – whether it’s speed or power you’re going for (or both), your posture is essential. You cannot successfully gain neither speed nor if your core posture is not firm and strong. Only then will you be able to have the optimal balance and posture for a perfectly timed, strong and fast punch. So, in order perfect all of that, you need to train your body as well as your technique. There are a lot of work out techniques you can do strengthen your core, from regular push-ups and lifting, which are some of the more basic techniques, to a series of advanced core techniques that will help you get where you want to be very fast.
- Special fibres – our muscular system has special fibres called twitch muscle fibres. The name says all about their function, but it is important to stress out that they are essential to generating quick, explosive movements with our body. It’s not just martial arts, these fibres are important in athletics, weightlifting and other sports that require almost instant speed and strength. In order to develop those fibres, one should pick exercises that require a lot of movement, like sprinting, plyometrics, agility training, etc. Such exercise is not beneficial not only for the afore mentioned fibres, but also for the coordination and general movement.
- Punching – when you’ve successfully completed all the above-mentioned drills, you are ready to train your punches by, well – punching. When you have completed and built the necessary fundamentals, you can start using putting them to the test. The best way to ultimately better your punches is by punching, but not just randomly; you have to practice high-volume, timed punches. Start off with 30 seconds and see how many punches you can pull off; you can use either a small or a big punching bag, but the smaller one is better for speed, while the other one is better for strength. Then slowly increase change the time so that, after some time, you’ll be able to do as many punches as it’s possible in one second. Your speed will increase, your agility, your coordination and your reaction time and you’ll have done one of two things necessary for a good fight.
Is Boxing Good for Strength and Power?
The second aspect is power. Sometimes, speed is just not enough. You can be the quickest, but if your kicks do not have the power, the force they need to have, a stronger opponent will easily deflect them and might, with just one strong, perfectly placed shot knock you out. Elevating offensive power also increased the defensive power so it is essential to balance out your speed and your power. Some of the techniques overlap, but there are some workout methods specifically aimed at increasing power. We shall present them all:
- Mastering the technique – everything said above related to speed also goes for power and strength. In order to have a well-powered punch, your technique has to be perfect.
- Balance and core – what has been above discussed under core posture can also be applied here. The same exercises and the same goals are applied when training to increase the power of your punches in boxing.
- Breathing – although it might not seem like that, breathing is exceptionally important for a perfect punch. A strong punch is also a relaxed punch and in order to relax, you need to learn how to control your breathing. Nothing is more fatal to a powerful punch than holding your breath and that is why it is absolutely necessary for you to master your breathing. There’s a lot of physiology behind all of this, so trust us when we say proper breathing is more important than you think it is. Luckily, there are a lot of breathing exercises out there that can help you to control your lungs and your respiratory system in a fight, thus enabling you to use your moves efficiently.
- Arm muscles – well, this one’s rather logical, isn’t it? To have a powerful punch, you have to have powerful arms. And to have powerful arms, you need to have strong arm muscles. There are a lot of workout techniques out there that are designed to strengthen your arm muscles and you can increase that aspect quite easily. All you need to do is be determined and organised and you’ll have cleared this prerequisite very soon.
- Using bags – the last thing you should do to increase your power is train your punches on heavy punching bags, as we’ve said before. They are specially designed training utensils for martial arts and combat sports, literally heavy bags filled with sand or some other material and are used for punching and also kicking, where kicking is allowed. Since they are heavy, they demand power from you and are thus a good utensil to increase your strength. A 10-minute session with a heavy bag can do plenty of good. Just imagine how much a 20-minute session could do?
Is Boxing Good for Losing Weight and Building Muscle?
Despite popular opinion, huge muscles don’t go well with martial arts and combat sports in general. But, on the other hand, strong and toned muscles can take you very far. If your goal is to build muscles while training martial arts, then you should train a lot, and start doing calisthenics, pull-ups, push-ups, abs, squats, and all the variations of these (there are literally hundreds).
This will, along with getting you powerful, give you muscle mass over time, but it will never be excessive, and you will become lightning-fast, which is in martial arts usually more important than big muscles.
On the other hand, if your main goal is to lose weight, and with it tone your body and build muscles, we still recommend the same thing as above, train a lot with all those exercises, but the most important part for losing weight is your diet. You have to eat the right way, train with it, and you will get in the shape of your life.
As for boxing, it is, along with wrestling and MMA, one of the best martial arts for building muscles and losing weight. But, unlike wrestling, it offers much more variety, which makes it more fun, and in that way not so hard for training. It is competitive, but it doesn’t have to be. You can train at home while punching the bag, and you can even shadowbox, and loose weight.
As you can see, boxing can definitely help you lose your weight and build your muscles, but for losing weight especially, you need to address your diet firstly. No matter how much you exercise, you can always eat more, and bring more calories in your body then you can spend. It can become even more of a problem with hard training.
You are burning more calories, and your body is maybe not used to it, and it needs food, which sometimes can lead to eating even more, and gaining weight while doing it. You have to be extra careful about it and have a good motive to watch your diet.
On the other hand, hard training will surely build your muscles, some martial arts more than others, but with every martial art from our list, you will not go wrong. Try to look at what suits you best, and enjoy while doing it, that is the best receipt for your success in losing weight and building muscles.
Reading this article, there is a good chance that you want to start boxing. There are two more things that you absolutely must know before you start:
Also, if you need some aditional motivation to start training, check out this video:
And that’s it for today, guys. We’ve covered all the essentials on how boxing can help your fitness and we hope you’ll find our advice useful. See you next time!