You are currently viewing The Ultimate Boxing Handbook: Mastering Punches, Training Routines, and Beyond.

The Ultimate Boxing Handbook: Mastering Punches, Training Routines, and Beyond.

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  • Post last modified:September 26, 2023

Few things are as purifying and gratifying as fastening your pugilistic mitts and striking a dense sack with all your might. And even better: With every jab, cross, hook, and uppercut in a pugilism workout, you’re propelling your physical and mental fortitude to uncharted boundaries.

“As Rocky stated, ‘It’s not about how forcefully you can strike, it’s about how strongly you can get struck and persist,'” says Noah Neiman, the co-founder of Rumble Boxing. And while you won’t receive a surprise blow during your customary pugilism group fitness session, any form of pugilism workout will cultivate resilience and physical achievements, states Neiman.

“Whether it’s hoisting weights, jogging or skipping rope, striking the dense sack, or engaging in shadowboxing, the pugilism training methodology enhances potency, agility, cardiovascular response, and nimbleness,” he elucidates.

Persuaded that you should incorporate pugilism workouts into your fitness regimen? Here, acquire knowledge about the advantages of pugilism and pointers for pugilism novices so you can locate your internal combatant.

What Is Pugilism? Moreover, the Principal Varieties of Pugilism

Pugilism is a martial art between two individuals, both donning protective gloves. In a bout, pugilists strive to strategically land punches on each other and avoid receiving blows for the entirety of the match.

The positive news is that your initiation into pugilism doesn’t have to be quite so strenuous. In fact, pugilism now constitutes a prevalent fitness pursuit, with establishments devoted to specific variants such as shadowboxing, dense sack pugilism, mitt work, and more. There are numerous kinds of pugilism you can attempt when you’re seeking a beginner pugilism workout.


Instead of confronting an actual adversary or a dense sack, a shadowboxing workout entails confronting your own reflection — or your “shadow,” hence the designation — to rehearse combinations of punches, footwork, and more. Because shadowboxing necessitates no equipment and can be performed anywhere, it provides an attainable entry point for beginner pugilists, notes Gideon Akande, an NASM-certified personal trainer and three-time Chicago Golden Gloves champion.

Plus, shadowboxing is ideal for honing technique, he adds. “Often when you place a target in front of someone — such as a dense sack or a person — they disregard their form,” expounds Akande. “They become preoccupied with their target. Shadowboxing enables you to decelerate, concentrate on form, possess your technique, and visualize.” (ICYMI, Peloton has finally diversified into pugilism.)

Boxing with a Heavy Bag

Intense bag boxing is what you’ll observe in most boxing group fitness classes, and you’ll need to wear hand wraps and boxing gloves to participate. The massive bags can assist you in developing cardiovascular conditioning, punch strength, and accurate punch positioning, states Neiman. Furthermore, striking the heavy bags provides a more intense workout, as the equipment weighs between 70 and 150 pounds and offers substantial resistance to work against, adds Akande.

Not to mention, you feel incredibly powerful after a heavy bag session. “It’s immensely therapeutic to clench your fist and strike it against something,” says Neiman. “It’s like a stress ball, but more badass.”

Focus Mitts or Boxing Practice

In boxing practice, your coach or partner will hold focus mitts or pads (think: baseball gloves, with additional padding around the palms) while calling out specific combinations of punches and moving around the ring to simulate a boxing match. Sparring is the next progression: You’ll engage in combat with an opponent, meaning you’ll both attempt to land punches and defend yourselves — but without using full force to avoid injuring anyone. Sparring is not a full-fledged boxing match.

“The appropriate form of sparring is an invaluable tool for evaluating your skills and identifying weaknesses,” adds Neiman. “Sparring doesn’t entail standing toe to toe and attempting to knock your opponent’s head off. Especially for beginners, sparring involves applying the skill set you have acquired through training.”

The Advantages of Boxing

Intrigued by the various forms of boxing you can incorporate into your routine? Fortunately, regardless of the type of boxing workout you choose, you will obtain significant health benefits. Learn more about the advantages of boxing from the experts.

Enhances Core Strength

Boxing is one of the finest core workouts you can perform, says Akande. “A lot of people don’t realize how extensively your core is utilized,” he says. “That’s because of the rotation that generates power in your punches. It’s all about your shoulders twisting and turning, while your core brings about that movement.” Consider this: Every time you throw a punch, your midsection (from your shoulders to your hips) dynamically twists to support the force of the punch. Generating that rotation requires a great deal of core strength — and your abdominal muscles will definitely feel the effects afterward, including your rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and obliques, adds Akande.

Strengthens the Upper Body

There are no surprises here — boxing provides an incredible upper-body workout. “Your arm acts as a lever,” explains Akande. “The more you extend that arm, the more weight it assumes from the focal point of the lever at your shoulder.” And when you continuously throw jabs and crosses, you’ll repetitively extend your arm fully — which fatigues the muscles.

In between punches, you’ll also keep your arms up in a “guard” position (fists clenched, protecting your cheeks, and elbows tucked down in a straight line beneath your wrists).

Preserving that stance necessitates involvement in your brachialis, triceps brachii, and dorsal region as well,” remarks Akande.

Finally, don’t overlook your rear chain — more precisely, your back muscles, including your lats. “When you extend your punches outward, you must retract them,” clarifies Akande. “Those small posterior muscles that don’t often receive much attention, respond by becoming sore very rapidly until you establish that resilience and stamina.”

Enhances Coordination, Tempo, and Timing

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” — sound familiar? When professional boxer Muhammad Ali used this phrase, he was tapping into boxing’s reputation as an elegant, almost balletic sport.

“Boxing is recognized as ‘The Sweet Science,'” shares Akande. “It’s not simply raw power and pure strength. The movements flow smoothly from one side to the other.” As a workout that demands quick footwork, agility, and hand-eye coordination, participating in a boxing class is a foolproof approach to enhance your mind-body connection.

Integrates Cardio and Strength

Workouts cannot get more comprehensive than boxing. It is not only a full-body workout — challenging your upper body, your core, and your lower body — but boxing also combines both cardiovascular exercise and strength training to truly deliver a blow.

“Primarily, your boxing workout will engage your cardiovascular system,” states Akande. For instance, many beginner boxing workouts are structured in “rounds” of three minutes of boxing and one minute of active recovery — with minimal true recovery during the class. However, you will attain strength benefits from punching against the resistance of a heavy bag or a mitt. (Heads up: While shadowboxing offers less resistance, as it is a bodyweight exercise, you can incorporate a strength element by holding 1 to 3-pound hand weights during your boxing session.)

Alleviates Stress and Enhances Mindfulness

When you are completely focused, executing your cross-hook-cross combination with accuracy and power, your mind is solely concentrated on one task — and that is advantageous. “You cannot really ponder over too many other things while you are boxing,” points out Akande. “It automatically eliminates any distractions you may have encountered at work, at home, or in the outside world. You are present in the moment and mindful of your actions, the position of your feet, and the location of your upper body.”

Plus, there is a reason why people jest about heading to a boxing workout after an immensely stressful day. “It is highly cathartic,” acknowledges Akande. “[In boxing,] you have the opportunity to safely channel all of your weight, power, and energy into a bag with minimal consequences. It allows you to release some stress and do so safely, while also reaping the exercise benefits.” (And remember, any form of regular physical activity can shield you from the adverse effects of stress and diminish symptoms of depression.)

The Fundamentals of Boxing Punches

When you attend your introductory boxing session, your instructor will probably guide you through the fundamental boxing punches and your boxing position (TL;DR: feet slightly wider than the width of your shoulders and staggered with your non-dominant foot in front). Here, Akande and Neiman share their top recommendations for each boxing punch so you’re prepared to start punching the bag with confidence.

  • Straight Punch: Your lead (non-dominant) fist is thrown directly forward and fully extended from your upper body. “The straight punch is undoubtedly the most crucial punch,” emphasizes Neiman. That’s because it creates distance between you and your adversary. Ensure that your trailing hand remains close to your face for protection as you execute that straight punch by extending your hand forward and rotating your hand so that your thumb points downwards when fully extended, he adds.
  • Power Punch: Your back (dominant) fist is thrown directly forward and fully extended from your upper body. Rotate your hand in a similar way to turning a doorknob as your arm extends, advises Neiman.
  • Side Punch: With either arm, flex your elbow at a 90-degree angle with your thumb on the top of your fist and strike your opponent from the side. The key to an impactful side punch is rotation, says Akande. “Pivot on the same side of your body from which you’re punching, and envision your palm facing you while extending your hook away from your body.” So if you’re delivering a right hook, pivot with your right foot towards your adversary.
  • Upward Punch: With either arm, drive your hand upwards in an almost straight motion towards your opponent’s chin, with your palm facing towards your face. “Extend that punch outward and towards the body, with the palm facing upwards or slightly upwards,” adds Akande.

The Finest Boxing Training Sessions

While there are numerous studios where you can fulfill your desire for the heavy bag, you can also engage in beginner boxing workouts at home with minimal or no equipment. Give these boxing workouts a try to discover your inner warrior and experience the feeling of being a formidable force, all while enhancing your cardiovascular endurance, upper body power, and core stability:

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