Try something new - get fit with boxing
Hang up your ideas that boxing is a sport best watched in grubby East End gyms, perpetuated by gansters. Boxing is fast becoming a popular way to keep fit, and after making its first appearance for women at London's 2012 Olympic Games, both men and women across London (and the UK) are turning to the sport to increase their energy levels and boost their strength. In case you've ever thought about giving boxing a go – or even if you hadn't until now – we've got the skinny on this up and coming way to keep fit.
Boxing has a rich heritage – it's been around in some form or another since Ancient Egyptian times and most of us can name at least one famous boxer – whether real or fictional – Rocky Balboa, Muhammad Ali, David Haye...
Whatever your opinions or preconceptions about boxing, it's hard to deny that it's a great full-body workout. Just look at some of today's top boxers and you'll see they're in tip-top physical condition. With a bit of hard work and the right healthy eating plan, you could be too!
When you start out, you'll begin training slowly, so don't expect to be sparring in the ring to 'Eye of the Tiger' at your first session. Boxing training can be intense and usually includes sparring, strength training, core training and conditioning – all designed to get you in shape. Attend a few sessions aimed at beginners at your local boxing gym and you'll notice improved muscle tone, enhanced agility and increased strength within just a few weeks.
Burn off those carbs
But is boxing as good a workout as a gym session or running? Yes, experts say. The amount of calories burned means it's comparable with other cardio workouts. Did we mention it's also a great way to relieve stress? It's up to you who you imagine when you're tackling that punchbag, but it can definitely help to work out frustration!
Cut out the contact
If you want to get fit and learn boxing techniques but don't fancy a busted nose or black eye, why not give kick boxing a go? It's still a full-body conditioning workout, but without any of the contact. At the other end of the scale, those who enjoy full-on contact could train in MMA, Mixed Martial Arts, a combination of martial arts and boxing with plenty of strikes and grappling.
Whether you're already training at a boxing gym, about to attend your first session or just considering it, you can complete boxing circuit training at home with just a few bits of kit. Here's what you'll need:
- Weighted gloves
- Vinyl skipping rope
- Light dumbbells
- Plenty of space
This workout takes around 15 minutes to complete, but as you progress you can triple the circuit for a 45 minute workout that's a real challenge.
#1. Start by shadow boxing with controlled, smooth punches towards your imaginary opponent – try six to the body and six to the head. Repeat for 30 seconds as you add bobbing and weaving to avoid imaginary counterpunches.
#2. Now skip for 30 seconds, keeping your feet together and elbows tight – this is harder than it sounds.
#3. Next comes 30 seconds of pushups, and again you'll want to keep going at this stage, even if you're feeling the burn.
#4. On to abdominal crunches. Lie on your back, feet on the floor and hands behind your head. Lift your shoulder off the ground, lower and repeat. Then do some reverse crunches to strengthen your lower abs – keep your upper body still and raise your knees towards the ceiling, lower and repeat. Keep going for 30 seconds.
#5. Time for some weight work. Using five pound weights, do 30 seconds of bicep curls, then 30 seconds of military presses, Repeat and carry on for four minutes.
#6. Now repeat the whole circuit from numbers 1 to 6.
#7. As you train, increase weights gradually and your interval lengths by around five seconds a week.
Combine your boxing circuits with weekly training at a specialist boxing gym – we can't guarantee you'll be the next Floyd Mayweather, but it definitely beats an hour spent running on the treadmill!