You may already be aware of the benefits of boxing, from being excellent cardio to building strength in your shoulders. If the idea of going a few rounds with someone sounds unappealing – particularly in these pandemic times, where social distancing means it’s not actually possible anyway – you should consider giving the humble punching bag a go.
“Boxing bag workouts are up there with the best when it comes to benefits,” says Amy Andrew, professional boxer, English Featherweight Champion and Head of Boxing at Virgin Active UK.
“It’s fun, you’re working on a skill while getting a sweat on, and it’s a top full-body workout. Not only is it great for your arms but, if you’re boxing correctly, you’ll also be working the muscles in your abs and legs too.”
If you are an absolute beginner, you’ll first want to find your boxing stance, which you can do by standing in a mirror. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and step back with your dominant foot. Bring your dominant hand up to your cheekbone (this is your backhand), and bring your other hand up in front of your face, (this is your front hand).
You’ll also want to make sure you wear boxing wraps, otherwise you’ll get injuries, and it never hurts to familiarise yourself with the key boxing punches (jab, cross, uppercut and hook).
Once you’re in front of a bag, the key things to remember is to always keep your hands in fists (don’t let them fall loose) and land your punch at the end of your knuckle by slightly turning over slightly into the punch. “This is the hardest part of your hand so will protect the fragile bones,” says Amy. “Plus you’ll hit harder!
Stand close to the bag for hooks and uppercuts – otherwise you’ll end up reaching for the shots. Bend your knees and use your whole body behind the punch.
If you’re throwing jabs and crosses, position yourself so you land the punch straight, with no bend in the elbow.
“Don’t forget, when it comes to bag workouts, more is more!” says Amy. “It’s easy to slack off because it’s an individual sport. But you will get more out of the workout if you really try to keep up the pace. Push yourself to throw more punches and more combos - even when you feel tired. Boxing is all about fitness as well as skill!”
Here are two boxing bag workouts, specially designed by Amy, for you to try if you’re heading back to the gym next week.
Boxing bag workout #1
Round one: Jabs only
Single, double, triple. Jabs to the head and body. Bring your hand back to your face after every punch and mix up the power – snap your speed jabs or step into power jabs.
Round two: Four shot combos
First minute: Jab, cross, hook, cross
Second minute: double jab, cross, jab
Tip: “Make sure your hands come back to your face between punches. Keep up the pace – don’t allow yourself rest between combos.”
Round three: Power punches
First minute: left hook, right hook, right hook, left hook
Second minute: hook, cross, hook, cross
Tip: “Bend your knees and sit into your legs – generate power using your entire body. This is a tough round. Dig deep.”
Round four: Four shot combos
First minute: jab, jab, hook, cross
Second minute: any four shots
Tip: “Work on your speed!”
Round five: Power punches
First minute: cross, hook, cross
Second minute: any power shots
Tip: “Make sure to hit with your knuckles. When you’re tired it’s easy to let technique slide.”
Round six: Freestyle
Have fun and work hard – any shots you want!
Boxing bag workout #2
Warm-up with 10 minutes of skipping or light jog on treadmill. Then it’s 6 x 3 min rounds with a minute rest between rounds.
“The final 20 secs of each minute should be straight power shots,” says Amy. “Throw jabs and crosses as hard and fast as you possibly can. This helps you to build up your fitness. You will end up doing three per round. This will be labeled POWER, below. Enjoy!”
Round one: Straight shots
Jab, cross, jab (40 seconds) POWER (20 seconds)
Jab, jab, cross (40 seconds) POWER (20 seconds)
Jab, cross, cross, jab (40 seconds) POWER (20 seconds)
Round two: Head and body
Jab, jab, body shot, jab (40 seconds) POWER (20 seconds)
Jab and cross body, jab and cross head (40 seconds) POWER (20 seconds)
Hook head, two hooks body, hook head (40 seconds) POWER (20 seconds)
Tip: “Bend your knees to throw body shots level – don’t punch down.”
Round three: Six shot combos
Jab, jab, cross, hook, cross, hook (40 seconds) POWER (20 seconds)
Jab, cross, cross, jab, jab, cross (40 seconds) POWER (20 seconds)
Any six shots (40 seconds) POWER (20 seconds)
Round four: Close range
Hook head, hook body, hook head – all left hand (40 seconds) POWER (20 seconds)
Hook head, hook body, hook head – all right hand (40 seconds) POWER (20 seconds)
Two hooks to the head, two hooks to body, two hooks to head – both hands (40 seconds) POWER (20 seconds)
Tip: “Step in! Make sure your feet are close to the bag.”
Round five: Movement
Double jab, move around the bag (40 seconds) POWER (20 seconds)
Double jab, cross, move around the bag (40 seconds) POWER (20 seconds)
Freestyle – throw any combos and move around the bag (40 seconds) POWER (20 seconds)
Round six: Freestyle
Freestyle (40 seconds) POWER (20 seconds)
Repeat x 3
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Images: Getty / Amy Andrew
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