Boxing - It's Not Just For The Boy's
I'm going to pull no punches here, this is about boxing but please don't stop reading because you think it's just for the boys. I promise you it isn't, and if you've yet to sample one of the many boxercise classes that have become popular in recent years, read on and let me try to persuade you to give it a go.
BUILDS A STRONG BODY
Why should it just be the men who want strong bodies? I'll hold my hands up here and say it's only since I started training with Sarah that I can truly appreciate what it feels like to feel strong. Don't misunderstand me, I'm not talking pulling cars along with a rope like a competitor from the World's Strongest Man, but rather how it feels when you can perform a full push up or pull up. I used to think fitness meant being able to run a certain distance or perform silly amounts of time on cardio equipment - it never really occurred to me how important it was to build a body that was strong, powerful and could endure rather than one which just performed well on a cardiovascular level. I was unaware of what benefits a strong body could bring me, how gaining strength could balance out fat-muscle ratio, help my metabolism work efficiently, reduce injuries and provide a better chance of sustaining health into the future.
YOU'RE A LOVER NOT A FIGHTER
Boxing isn't about encouraging violence; it demands skill, dedication and discipline to master the moves that a boxer would use in the ring. No broken noses here, so there is no need to feel intimidated by the thought of putting on a pair of gloves. You certainly won't need to fight anyone to gain the multitude of benefits that boxing can give you. Instead of sparring, classes tend to be based around the drills that boxers use to keep fit, combining conditioning activities such as shadow boxing, skipping, focus pads, kicking and hitting punch bags along with resistance exercises that strengthen the body such as press ups, burpeese and squats. This combination will help gain the lean physique of a boxer without the pain.
YOU'RE WORRIED YOU MIGHT LOOK STUPID
Remember, even the most experienced person in a boxing gym would have started as a novice. If you think people are looking at you, chances are they aren't; they are much more likely to be too absorbed in their own workout to be considering what you are doing. Besides, gyms tend to be friendly places and if you can pluck up the courage to ask for help, you will find that people are more than happy to pass on their knowledge. If confidence is an issue, boxing could be instrumental in helping you gain self assurance. Your brain will receive a huge buzz by focusing concentration on learning new moves, leading to a sense of self believe, happy in the knowledge you have mastered a new skill. As your confidence grows this will spill over into other areas of your life. You'll be a knock-out.
NOT FIT ENOUGH TO PUNCH YOUR WAY OUT OF A PAPER BAG
The great thing about this type of workout is that you can start as a beginner - just make sure you do less repetitions. Please don't start thinking you are the next Tyson, going hell for leather hitting the bag, believe me you will find your energy levels depleted within literally a few seconds and your arms will feel like jelly. Instead, take the power out of your punches. Boxing is a brilliant way to measure gains within your fitness levels, the fitter you get the higher number of reps and the more powerful your punch becomes.
PUNCH AWAY YOUR STRESS
If you are having a bad day, boxing can provide you with much more than just physical benefits; it challenges you mentally, helping to relieve stress, anxiety, frustration and even aggression. Unless you're a saint, I'm sure there have been certain situations in life where you need to let off steam but instead what happens is you hold it together, leaving you feeling more angry or frustrated - then it's your nearest and dearest who suffer. When you feel like this, imagine being able to punch your way out of your mood, leaving you feeling calmer and more relaxed. Releasing anger and stress by chanelling it in a controlled manner and environment will help to decrease the stress hormone cortisol and instead will release those feel-good happy endorphins, giving your mood a much needed boost.
COMBATS THE AGEING PROCESS
If you are wondering why your muscles don't look so taut and why you have suddenly developed a bit of a tyre around your middle, this could be down to the ageing process. Sarcopenia is the process of muscle loss as we age so it's important to try to combat this because muscle actually burns more calories than fat, even when we are at rest. Loss of lean muscle means our bodies become less efficient at burning calories - the less muscle we have the fewer calories we need. The best way to counteract the effect this has on our body, is to gain lean muscle mass through resistance training.
Boxing gives you a resistance workout in various different ways, from punching bags to performing a multitude of body weight exercises. Resistance training can also lessen the effects of ageing by helping to strengthen your bones reducing the risk of osteoporosis, keeping your tendons and ligaments strong to support your body and improve balance, ensuring you will stay steady on your feet.
GETS YOU FIGHTING FIT AND BURNS THROUGH CALORIES
I know seems too good to be true, but don't underestimate how fit a boxer has to be to withstand a few rounds in the ring. Sticking it out for a two minute round might not sound hard but believe me, it takes stamina as well as muscular and cardio endurance to do this, so if you want to make gains in all these areas, it makes sense to emulate a boxer's routine. The route to this type of fitness is not by spending more and more time pounding away on a treadmill but to use a variety of exercises which keep your heart rate at the right level. The best way to do this is by engaging the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems and guess what - boxing is a great way to do just that. But why does it matter which energy system you're using? Working within both systems will improve your fitness in many areas which can be overlooked when just exercising aerobically. Steady state exercises such as running, walking and swimming are generally performed by utilising the aerobic system, great for burning fat and cardio health. Boxing, due to rounds of intense maximum effort and active rest periods, requires more energy than the aerobic system alone can produce, therefore calling upon the anaerobic system. This is where you will build lean muscle, strength, speed and endurance. Boxing also helps with fat loss by delivering a huge calorie burn of roughly 350-500 calories per session (depending on workout intensity and body composition) and, much like a HIIT workout, has the additional benefit of boosting your metabolism to not only use energy to get you through the session but also carry on burning calories post training.
THINK FEATHERWEIGHT NOT HEAVYWEIGHT
If you are looking for toned arms and shoulders, shapley legs and a flatter tummy, boxing could be your new best friend. Featherweight boxers are typically lean and sculpted without looking bulky, which is down to the fast, repetitive action of punching a bag. The movements used in a boxing routine require multiple muscle groups to be activated and putting your body weight body behind each punch engages the core and leg muscles, giving you a full body workout. Boxing will help you gain lean muscle mass without giving you an overly muscular appearance - remember, a pound of muscle does not weigh more than a pound of fat, it just takes up less room, giving a you a leaner appearance.
PUNCH AWAY THE PAUNCH
Although it's not possible to spot reduce fat in stubborn areas, boxing can help reduce visceral fat, the bad, stubborn kind found around the stomach which is hard to target but very important to shift due to its links with many health issues. An effective way to target stubborn areas is by reducing overall body fat and this can be achieved with a balanced diet and by ensuring your workouts are effective and efficient at burning calories. Boxing is a killer combination of cardio and resistance, raising your heart rate, building lean muscle and revving up your metabolism, which all combine to help you torch excess body fat.
IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT LOOKS
It's not just about looking good - it's also about building a healthy body and keeping your heart healthy and strong for as long as possible. Boxing requires full body movement and when you throw a punch a huge number of your body's muscles are contracting at the same time. This will also make you breathe heavily and increase the rate at which your heart pumps blood around the body. Your heart and lungs work overtime, teaching them to adapt to become better at delivering oxygen around your body. Your increased heart beat strengthens the heart's muscles, lowering the risks of developing cardiovascular issues.
This is not just a fad for us; this type of training is something that Sarah and I have used within our own workout sessions during the last decade. Having met her husband through kickboxing and fallen in love, not just with him but with the sport itself, Sarah has based many of our Boditone workouts around exercises that boxers would traditionally use. It's important to find an instructor who actually has experience in a boxing gym; someone with real knowledge will make sure you adopt the correct stance to be able to transfer power through the hips and into punching the bag, giving you a much superior workout without unnecessary strain or injury.
If you want to kick some butt, our Bodibox routines use a combination of boxing and kickboxing moves, taking you from beginner to advanced, helping you to kick your rear into shape.