Train Like a Boxer: 10 Exercises to Get You in Fighting Shape

I’ve always loved the sport of boxing.

When I was younger, I punched a few holes in the wall (sorry, mom and dad), and pretty soon afterwards my parents bought me a punching bag (which is all I always wanted anyway, guess I should have brought that up sooner).

I had no idea what I was doing then when I tried to punch the damn thing—all I knew was that boxers were always in incredible shape and really badass, and I wanted to be just like them.

Fast forward a few years later, I got my personal training certification and got a job at a gym in New York City solely based on the fact that it had a boxing ring and an awesome, incredibly badass trainer. I started taking lessons right away, and quickly learned all my hooks, jabs, and undercuts. I fell even deeper in love with the sport.

There’s something so satisfying, so primal in a way, of punching something (or someone) as hard as humanly possible.

And there’s no doubt about it—being in the ring is exhausting. You have to be able to outlast your opponent until the bitter end, so there’s no option but to be as fit as possible. Heck, even just a few rounds on a punching bag will leave you sweaty and breathless.

But whether or not you have any desire to punch anything, it’s hard to avoid the reality that boxers are in some of the best shape of any athletes. Never bulky, boxers tend to have a lean, athletic look based on being incredibly strong, well-conditioned, and full of passion and fire.

Because when you train like a fighter, you’ll build the strength, crazy endurance, and core power so that if you wanted to punch someone round after round, you could.

Here are 10 exercises you can do to get in fighting shape:

Jump rope

Jumping rope is one of the classic boxing exercises, because it helps build a lean, strong body, aids in coordination, agility, and footwork, and boosts endurance like nearly no other exercise does. Plus, since jump ropes are so portable, you can literally do it anywhere.

Here are some jump rope variations you can try:

  • Single jumps
  • High knees
  • Double jumps
  • Figure eights

Burpees

Burpees are pretty much the best exercise ever, and will increase your strength and endurance like no other exercise will. Plus, all that getting up and down is helpful in the ring (if you ever get knocked down, that is).

How to do it:

  1. Get into a squat position with your hands on the floor in front of you.
  2. Kick your feet back into a push up position and lower body to the floor.
  3. Return your feet back to the squat position as fast as possible.
  4. Immediately jump up into the air as high as you can.
  5. Add a little clap for pizazz!

Sit ups

Boxers need a strong core to give them the strength to keep throwing punches, and sit ups are one of the classic exercises to build up core strength in the ring.

How to do it:

  1. Lay on the floor with your legs spread in a butterfly setup.
  2. Stretch your arms in front of you.
  3. Use your abs to pull yourself off of the floor.
  4. Touch your feet with your hands, making sure to keep your chest forward.
  5. Lower back down and repeat.

Tip: Try different variations of the sit up, such as throwing punches at the top of a sit up to build even more core strength and endurance.

Shadow boxing

It may seem wimpy if you’ve never tried it, but shadow boxing is one of the best ways to practice your movement and footwork as a boxer. Plus, it’s more tiring that you might imagine.

Push ups

Push ups are awesome and will also give you strong arms, shoulders, chest and core muscles. Plus, they require no equipment whatsoever, so you have no excuse not to do them!

How to do it:

  1. Start in a push up position, with your shoulders directly over your hands.
  2. Tighten your abs, glutes and thighs.
  3. Lower yourself down so that your chest touches the floor.
  4. Push yourself back up into the starting position and repeat.

Beginner Modification:

  1. Start in a push up position with your knees on the floor.
  2. Tighten your abs, glutes and thighs.
  3. Lower yourself down so that your chest touches the floor.
  4. Push yourself back up into the starting position and repeat.

Chin ups/pull ups

Not only are chin ups and pull ups totally badass, they’ll build up your arm, chest, back, shoulder and core strength like no other. Can’t do a single one yet? Learn how to start doing chin ups and pull ups.

How to do it:

  1. Start from a dead hang with straight elbows, palms facing you for chin ups, palms facing away for pull ups
  2. Keeping your chest up and your shoulders back, squeeze your glutes and cross your feet
  3. Pull yourself up so that your chin rests over the bar
  4. Lower down and repeat.

Squats

Squats will strengthen your legs and glutes so you can bob, weave, and slip (typical boxing defenses) all day long. A strong lower body is just as—or maybe more—important than a strong upper body during a fight.

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Pull your shoulders back and engage your abs.
  3. Push your butt & hips back as if you were sitting in a chair.
  4. Keep your weight on your heels.
  5. Go down until your thighs are parallel to the floor, raising your arms up as you lower down.
  6. Repeat.

Tip: for an extra challenge, try Sandbag squats or Kettlebell front squats. Or, if you have access to a barbell and weights, feel free to use that too.

Shoulder presses

Fighters need strong shoulders if they want to be able to keep punching round after round. And shoulder presses will help build up shoulder strength and endurance.

How to do it:

  1. Stand straight (preferred to sitting) holding a sandbag, dumbbells, or a barbell at your waist.
  2. Raise the sandbag (or other weights) up to your shoulders, keeping your shoulders pulled back and your abs tight.
  3. Straighten your arms at a moderate pace.
  4. Lower back down to your shoulders and repeat.

Walking lunges

Not only will walking lunges build strength in your legs, glutes and core muscles, they’ll also help with balance and flexibility—key requirements for any fighter.

How to do it:

  1. Start in a lunge position with your knees touching or almost touching the floor.
  2. Without pausing, alternate legs, bringing your opposite leg forward into a lunge position.
  3. Continue alternating legs while moving forward.
  4. For an added challenge, hold something heavy.

Knees to elbows

Though sit ups are awesome because you can do them anywhere with no equipment, knees to elbows will give you an even stronger core. And they’ll help you build up to even cooler abs exercises, such as toes to knees, windshield wipers.

How to do it:

  1. Grip the pull up bar with your palms facing away from you, arms shoulder-width apart.
  2. Adding a slight swing, bring your knees up to your chest, touching your elbows if possible.
  3. Lower down and repeat.

AUTHOR: KRISTA @ 12 MINUTE ATHLETE