If you are planning to take up boxing as a hobby, you are in for more than you bargained for, in a positive way. Boxing is not just a sport that can be demanding; you also have the advantage of extensive psychological and physical benefits. These include a full-body workout, improved self confidence, better reflexes, agility and stamina.
Boxing makes you stronger and increases your self-discipline. It gives you complete cardio-vascular workouts while training your upper and lower body. Boxing burns calories and fat because it is a high intensity workout that involves the larger muscle groups and keeps you on the move. Your muscles become more toned as a result of the repetitive actions.
The best thing about boxing is that regardless of what fitness or strength level you are at, you can enjoy it. Based on whether you are a beginner or experienced, there are drills that can be modified to match your level of expertise. Here’s a deeper look at boxing, to give you a better understanding of this well-loved sport. Whether you were inspired by the great Muhammad Ali or Mike Tyson, your enjoyment is guaranteed with boxing as a hobby.
To get started with boxing as a hobby, the first thing you would be focusing on as a beginner is, conditioning, followed by boxing skills. Nutrition also plays a major role since you will need to build up a high level of fitness. Your trainer will help you develop a boxing routine based on your skill and fitness level. Here is an overview of each of these aspects.
Conditioning In boxing, conditioning plays a critical role, since it is all about lasting in the ring and recovering quickly. As mentioned earlier, boxing gives you the ultimate body workout, covering everything you need including aerobic and anaerobic fitness, speed, agility, power, strength training and more, all in a systematically planned manner.
Boxing skills To get to the stage of playing in the ring, whether it is for amateur or professional boxing, you have to develop boxing skills. This is done through practice drills that include various boxing moves. Then, you will learn how and when to use these moves effectively.
Nutrition You need the right nutrition to ensure that you are in perfect physical shape to make good use of the skills you learn. Nutrition is like fuel which your body will take advantage of, in order to help you show results from your training. Remember, that eating more calories than you burn will make you put on weight. If you eat less, you lose weight. You will need to take the help of a dietician to help you plan the right amount of nutrients, vitamins, proteins, carbs, fat, etc.
Boxing routine Your trainer will help you plan and implement a boxing routine that includes workouts, a proper nutrition plan, rest and self discipline.
Beginners’ equipment to get started
As a beginner, you need the right equipment to get started, so that you perform well, and safely. You can get started with the basic beginners’ equipment comprising:
• Bag gloves – which will help you box with speed and skill. Boxing gloves are larger than bag mitts and come with thumb protection. These are useful in heavy workouts for toning and building muscles and sparring.
• Hand wraps – to support your wrist and hand from excessive impact. Quick wraps are considered better than hand wraps.
• Anklets – which support your ankle so that you are stable and protected from rolling. For extra support, you may need boxing boots
• You will need a mouth guard to protect your teeth and jaw while sparring. When you clamp down on the mouth guard, your jaw gets immobilized so that you are protected from impact. It also helps you in developing your breathing techniques as it prevents you from breathing via the mouth and makes you use your nose.
• Head gear and groin guards protect your head and groin when you spar.
• A speed bag, which is an inflated ball suspended from a back board helps in building hand eye coordination to improve your blocking and parrying.
• A heavy bag during training helps you develop punches and kicks while helping you condition for power, building your stamina and aerobic fitness.
• With a floor to ceiling ball you can develop your hand eye coordination, balance, punching skills and peripheral vision since it is a moving target.
• A skipping rope or jump rope is essential equipment as you can improve your footwork, shoulder strength and stamina. You start by bouncing lightly on the balls of your feet building up your speed and foot spacing, while breathing properly and rhythmically.
• Medicine balls are used by boxers to build their core stability.
• Clothes in the form of a singlet and shorts for proper heat transfer and easy movements. You’ll need a towel. You could probably wear track pants and a t shirt, but the right attire helps.
• Water bottle for hydration.
Learning to box
Once you gear yourself, you will need to find a good trainer. As with any sport, professional training can be expensive and the fee varies depending on the trainer. For starters you can also get an introductory session with a trainer to get an idea of what the sport is all about. Based on how you feel, you can make the decision about whether you want to continue.
You must remember that boxing is a sport that can be dangerous. It is important to check with your trainer to know whether he has adequate insurance and experience. You might want to find out whether the trainer has certification from a recognized boxing organization. Make sure the trainer can guide you properly in terms of nutrition and time management, equipment you need and the proper techniques.
You can also talk to friends and family to find suitable trainers. If there are boxing gyms in your area, these can be useful in directing you towards a good trainer.
When you start boxing, you will need to follow the right techniques and safety measures. You must use your boxing equipment properly. The boxing workouts will include pad work, punching bag work and sparring, footwork practice, skipping, cardio and strength training. Your training can also suggest resistance training, core strengthening and flexibility exercises.
Basic Boxing techniques
Stance, footwork and making the fist When you begin boxing training you begin by understanding the posture for your hand and wrist so that you make the fist in the right way to punch effectively, avoiding getting hurt. As far as the stance goes, you need to stand naturally with your lead foot pointing at your target and your back foot off at 45 degrees. You stand upright with your head tucked between the lead shoulders, with your chin down. Your stance must be feet and shoulder width apart with most of your weight on the front foot and the remaining on the back foot. The rear power hand is at the jaw line, and the front jabbing hand is at cheek height in front. Your body must be slightly forward, elbows in.
If you happen to be right handed (orthodox), your left hand is the lead hand and right hand, the rear hand. If you happen to be a left handed boxer (southpaw), then your right hand is the lead hand and left hand the rear hand.
Maintaining your balance for pad training Footwork is an important part of boxing; just as you need punching practice. Unless your footwork is right and puts you at the correct distance from your opponent, your punches will not land properly. You also need good footwork to evade your opponent’s punches. Footwork not only teaches you balance but also coordination while working your legs and core, giving you evasion and offensive movements. While practicing footwork, ensure that your body is centered and balanced consistently to help you maintain your fighting stance. You must focus on moving back and forth, left and right and pivoting around without crossing your feet.
Here are some of the basic boxing punches you will learn initially
In boxing, there are four basic punches. These are:
• The jab
• The cross
• The hook
• The uppercut
You can consider the jab the most critical punch since it gives you substantial cover, leaving not much space for your opponent’s punch. With the jab, you also have the maximum reach without having to focus your weight on it. In terms of technique, the jab is a direct punch which you throw with your lead hand from your guard position, rotating your fist so that it is horizontal on impact. Your jab usually targets your opponent’s nose area. When the punch reaches full extension, the lead shoulder comes up to protect your chin, while the rear hand stays next to the face to protect the jaw. Once you connect with your target, your lead hand is withdrawn quickly to come back to the guard position in front of your face.
Your jab is not a knockout punch. Rather, it is used to judge distances and explore your opponents’ defenses, irritate them and follow it up with the heavier and stronger punches.
The cross can be a strong straight punch you throw across the body with the rear hand. This targets the front of your opponent’s face. The rear hand shoots from the chin, crossing the body and moving towards the target directly in a straight line. Your rear shoulder is pushed forward with the lead hand pulled back to protect your face and chin. To add to the power, your torso and hips are turned anti-clockwise as the cross is thrown with your weight concentrated on your front foot. By turning the body and moving your weight, your right cross gets even more effective and powerful compared to the jab. After you throw the punch, your hand comes back to the guard position.
You can use the cross in the following ways:
• To counter punch your opponent’s jab
• Go for your opponent’s head or counter
• To counter a cross aimed at the body
• To set up a hook
Your cross can follow a jab to form the classic one-two combination. When you do pad training, you must be careful about driving through with the punch as this can make it uncomfortable for a smaller pad holder.
The Hook is thrown with the lead or rear hand and is a semi-circular punch. It aims at the jaw line at the side of the opponent’s head. This punch is thrown by rolling the upright fist from the vertical to horizontal position combining it with a small step and rotating the body in that direction, except the head. Your elbow is in line behind the fist to give your punch the power.
Your other hand is positioned against your jaw to guard the chin. When you connect the hook, its circular path abruptly ends, and you pull back the punching hand into the guard position. You can also aim for the lower body with a hook, and this is called a body rip to differentiate it from the regular hook aimed at the head.
The upper cut can be thrown from your left or right hand. It is a punch that rises vertically from the outside of your body to the center in an upward motion, reaching for your opponent’s chin. From the guard position, your torso moves to the right, with your rear hand dropping and knees bent a little. Maintaining this position, you would throw your rear hand upwards in a rising arc towards the part you are aiming for, with your knees pushing vertically and torso and hips shifting to look like the movement of the cross. When the punch connects, the elbow of the punching arm moves back in to the rib.
Now that you know the four basic punches in boxing, here’s a quick look at boxing combinations, which are basically combinations of the four punches. You can throw the four punches in rapid succession to form the combinations that will help you master throwing punches effectively as offence or defense moves. The combination drills will make your different boxing workouts more fun. The following combinations can be practiced on the boxing heavy bag:
• The one two combo - This is the jab and cross combination and perhaps the most commonly used.
• The one two three first combo - This combo combines the jab and cross, in the order of a jab, the right cross and a jab.
• The one two three second combo - This combines the jab, right cross and left hook, using an effective technique.
• The one two three third combo - This uses the uppercut, right cross and left hook where the uppercut connects with the body, while the right cross and left hook aim at the head.
There are several boxing combinations in degrees of increasing complexity which you will learn after you master the basic punches and their combinations. Your trainer will also familiarize you with footwork and evasive moves that teach you to duck and combine your punches, as you build advanced skills.
Now that you are armed with all the information you need to get started with your hobby of boxing, here are some workout tips. You can develop a boxer’s body without going through the bruises. For your home boxing workout, grab your jump rope/skipping rope, weighted gloves, a timer, light dumbbells and enough space to do your push ups and crunches and get started.
Here are the workout tips:
• How much time you spend on your workouts depends on your commitment. There are workouts that can last fifteen minutes or forty five minutes. You need to adjust the intervals, beginning with thirty seconds, building it up to sixty seconds as you improve your strength agility and wind. Preferably, opt for a full body workout, switching between legs and arms. Pretend you are a real boxer when you do your workouts to get a real understanding of what that three minute round is all about, inside the boxing ring.
• Ensure that you practice with weighted gloves, starting with smooth controlled punches, in the order of 6 to an imaginary opponent’s body and six to his head, alternating both for thirty seconds. You can add other punches and combinations you learn later. Your focus now is to keep your feet and gloves moving. Imitate all the movements boxers make, punch, retract, guard your face and chin and pretend to avoid counterpunches.
• Practice with your skipping rope rapidly for thirty seconds. Begin with your feet together, elbows inwards, tight and bounce close to the ground. Gradually increase this to half a minute and then one minute.
• Practice pushups for thirty seconds with your body straight from your shoulders to your ankles, lowering yourself till your upper arms are closer to the floor than your elbows.
• Do abdominal crunches with feet on the floor and hands behind your head, shoulders off the ground, lower and repeat. Follow this up with a powerful variation where the upper body is flat, raising your knees up, lowering them and repeating.
• Now it is time for weights. Do this every third day. Begin with five pound weights for biceps curls for thirty seconds, followed by military presses for thirty seconds. Combine these two for thirty seconds. Repeat these for four minutes. You can increase your weights gradually. You will begin to see results soon. If you are after conditioning, exercise for short durations of speed with sprinting and up hill work.
It is all about the physical work outs, speed, strength and agility, followed by dexterous punches and combinations of punches. Remember, do not pick a fight until you are fully conditioned. You can practice a lot on your own, but make sure you are in touch with a trainer or a boxing gym, at least to avoid making mistakes. Moreover, there’s more fun in your workouts when you do it alongside another amateur or professional boxer. Go for it! Punch that bag good.