Monday, 17 September 2007

Exercise of the Week: The Boxing Workout

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There's a workout, and then there's a Work Out. And THEN, there's a BOXING WORK OUT. Trust me, there's a reason why boxers are able to spend over a half an hour in a ring exchanging punches and not go into cardiac arrest. It's because these guys and gals have trained their butts off for months before ever stepping foot in that arena, let alone that ring. But, you don't have to be Rocky Balboa to get the benefit of a boxing workout, which is why I am this week highlighting some of the basic boxing moves that you too can add to your fitness routine.

First of all, be sure to always maintain a proper stance. This means keeping your feet a little more than shoulder width apart, with your dominant foot in the back (in other words, if you're right handed/footed, than you want your right foot in the back and for your left foot to lead). Try your best to stay on the balls on your feet, which will allow you to do all your fancy stutter-stepping footwork (or for now, just keep you balanced). Your hands should be made into fists and kept close to your face. Your elbows need to be tucked closely to your body. From here, you're ready to start dotting some imaginary bad guy's eyes.

There are four basic punches in boxing: the Jab, the Cross, the Hook, and the Uppercut. To keep things easy, we're going to only focus on the Jab and the Cross. To throw the Jab, you need to flick out your lead hand (which should be the hand that is not dominant -- again, if you are right handed/footed, that hand/foot is kept toward the rear, whereas the weaker hand/foot leads...which, in this case, is your left). As you extend your arm to throw your Jab, your hand should twist like a corkscrew at the end of the punch. Once you have extended your arm, be sure to immediately bring your arm back, tuck your elbow back into your side and return your fist to the side of your face. To throw a Cross, you take your dominant hand and throw a straight punch with it, twisting at the waist as you do. Again, you want to twist your wrist at the end of the punch, adding more 'snap' to the motion. Once the punch is thrown, bring your arm back right away, tuck your elbow back in, and bring your fist back next to your face.

By combining these two punches, you are doing a 1-2 combination. A lot of times people will throw a few jabs before throwing a cross, which of course is fine (and very much the case in an actual boxing match). Use this punch combination on a large heavy punching bag (the cylindrical kind that hangs from the ceiling or stand) while wearing what are known as bag gloves (lightweight boxing gloves that can be purchased at most any sporting goods store or even Wal-Mart).

Boxing is broken into three-minute rounds with one-minute rests in between each round. In accordance with this design, that is how you will also train. Three minutes of, say, shadowboxing -- using the 1-2 combination I just taught you, followed by a round or two of jumping rope, followed by three or four rounds of hitting the heavy bag, and then finishing off with a few rounds of abdominal work.

Even if you take it slow at first (which I really suggest you do), you'll find that the boxing workout is absolutely exhausting. This is exactly why so many health clubs now offer "cardio-boxing" as a group aerobics class. You'll burn far more calories doing this workout than you will on a stair-stepper or walking on a treadmill, and you'll do so during less time. Intensity is the key. Like I said, there's a workout, and then there's a Workout. And then there's a BOXING WORKOUT. Try this routine and, before long, you'll be wearing a grey track suit and running the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

For a great video demonstration I found online that features the basics of boxing, click HERE.

Note: The content presented in this post is for informational purposes only. Please consult your doctor or fitness professional before starting a physical fitness program.

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