While one would take up the sport for many reasons, one thing that has become a common reason for training is physical and mental health. People train to become physically and, by extension, mentally healthy. This is either to improve cardio and/or lose weight. But is boxing really good for weight loss? Well, let’s talk about it.
Boxing has a Simple Curriculum
One of the reasons people attend boxing classes – and this is true of all combat sports – is to socialize and have a good time. You can make a lot of good friends while training and as you go to other gyms, that friend/social circle will increase. This gives you some additional incentive (to hang out with friends) to go and train.
Next, let’s look at the training method. It’s one of the easiest combat sports to learn. There are only a few techniques to learn, and you can do it with or without a partner. The curriculum is also very basic in comparison to other combat sports like Taekwondo and Muay Thai.
The curriculum consists of:
- Three punches (straight, hook, uppercut)
- Footwork (moving around the ring, stances, etc.)
- Head movement (bobbing and weaving to avoid getting conked on the head).
- Attacking and Defending
- Punching combos and variations
You also learn a few other tricks, but it should be noted that not all curriculums will be taught the same way between gyms. Different coaches will have different training methods.
It’s a highly customizable sport that can be tailored to you and your needs, with the intensity increasing as you get better. This makes it suitable for all ages, and it doesn’t matter how fit (or unfit) you are; you can still benefit.
What’s in a Standard Boxing Workout?
Boxing is a HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) workout. Typically, you have several minutes of high-speed, high-intensity movements that increase your heart rate with short rest periods in between rounds. You can use your body weight as resistance and monitor and adapt the workout to your needs (its main draw). So, what goes into a standard session?
A standard boxing lesson is typically an hour long and divided into three sections: the warmup, workout, and cool down. Standard exercises include:
- Running. Running helps improve your endurance and makes it easier to fight for longer since you’re able to push more oxygen to your lungs – meaning you don’t run out of breath too quickly.
- Jump Rope. A jump rope is one of the simplest pieces of training equipment out there. It’s used to help athletes stay on their toes – literally. If you’re not fast enough, you’ll trip over the rope; do you really want to land on your face while training or get knocked out in a match because you weren’t fast enough to move out of the way? I didn’t think so.
- Shadow Boxing. This is common in most, if not all combat sports. You’re fighting an imaginary opponent, building speed, power, balance, endurance, and technique as you move along. This is an exercise that both veteran fighters and newbies alike can use, with rookies using it to learn and improve and veterans using it to hone their skills.
- Bag work. Using a heavy bag to learn and/or practice punches gives you a target to aim for and a form of resistance to work with. A heavy bag is a resistant target, and its sheer weight means that you have to put some substantial force into a hit to get it to move. Use of a heavy bag allows a fighter to improve stamina, power, form (stances, guard, etc.), and coordination.
Most training centers will also incorporate a strength training program (crunches, weightlifting, etc.) of some kind into their sessions.
Benefits of Boxing for Weight Loss
So, first off, why should you box? What’s in it for you, apart from a fun time?
In a boxing session, you work your whole body (chest, abs, arms, legs, the works), which increases your metabolism and helps you burn more calories. This can be a great form of stress relief.
As a full-body workout, you’re improving your core strength, stamina/endurance, and agility. You’re also going to strengthen your bones and joints.
Other benefits include:
- Better hand-eye coordination
- Better balance
- Better speed and power
- Improved cardio
- Improved concentration
What makes boxing so good for weight loss? Well, as I said before, it’s a full-body workout – meaning it works several groups of muscles at once. A standard gym circuit will have different pieces of equipment that will work on one group at a time. Boxing utilizes both aerobic and anaerobic training exercises. What that means is that it uses aerobic and anaerobic exercises in training. Aerobic exercises are exercises that require oxygen (i.e. running) to generate energy for us to use. Anaerobic exercises are exercises that typically don’t need oxygen to provide energy (i.e. shadow sparring). The anaerobic exercises are typically performed more intensely than the aerobic ones – because they’re typically performed in bursts of speed and last for short periods.
These short bursts of energy increase one’s metabolism and burn off a lot of calories. Your metabolism boost allows your body to convert more calories into energy for fighting. The result of all this is that you lose the extra fat – where the excess calories were stored – and the weight that came with it, developing a leaner, more muscular build.
Boxing is also a major pick-me-up when it comes to confidence. You lose weight, look shredded, and like what you see. As a result, your confidence gets a nice boost, and who doesn’t like a little mental pick-me-up from time to time?
Boxing and Weight Loss: Burning Excess Calories
Let me ask you a question: how do we develop fat? Well, we take in more calories than we burn off. These excess calories are stored in the body – as fat. We need to lose those excess calories to burn that fat and lose weight. Your diet is going to play a major role here because you need to force your body to tap into those extra calories for energy (because calories are energy) by causing a caloric deficit.
What is a caloric deficit? This is where our calorie intake is less than our calorie output. In other words, we burn off more calories than we take in. Since you’re taking in fewer calories, your body must access all the calories it has stored so we can exercise. Boxing being as high intensity as it is, you burn off those excess calories and, by extension, fat very quickly in every session that you attend.
Remember, you only get short rest periods between exercises, so you’re working almost nonstop throughout the session.
The Ultimate Question: Is Boxing Good for Weight Loss?
Depending on the length of the training session, boxing can burn off between 350 and 500 calories. Athletes can sometimes burn off between 800 and 1000 calories in a typical 60-minute session.
So, with all that information in mind, we come to the ultimate question: is boxing really good for weight loss? Well, yeah. Through a clever combination of aerobic and intense anaerobic exercises, boxing taps into the energy stored as fat by extra calories and burns them away – taking off the fat and its weight along with it.
The result is a leaner, more muscular build with a faster metabolism, improved cardiac health, endurance, strength, and reflexes, as well as a steadily growing social circle of good friends.
Now, before we wrap up, here are a few important notes:
- You may not see results immediately. Don’t get discouraged by this, it’s going to take a bit of time for results to become visible.
- Don’t overdo it in training (either at the gym or at home), you’ll hurt yourself and limit what you can do. Ideally, you should speak to a trainer or coach who can guide you and make sure you don’t hurt yourself or your training buddies.
Boxing is a great sport that offers a great solution for those who want to lose weight but can’t get to a gym. It’s super flexible, so you can fit it into even the busiest schedule, and the training itself is rewarding. You’re going to make great friends, get in phenomenal shape, and have a great time doing it.