The best boxing workout for cardio and strength
Been thinking about taking boxing classes but not sure if it’s for you? Centr boxing trainer Michael Olajide Jr is the pioneer of boxing for fitness and a firm believer that training like a fighter (without the blows) delivers “the absolute best the human body can get”.
Michael shifted to training when an eye injury cut short his professional fighting career, and is now renowned for his supermodel boot camps and helping actors like Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal look like real boxers on the big screen.
A boxing workout with Michael may include punching combinations, jumping rope, evasive moves and core work. His sessions range from boxing workouts for beginners through to advanced workouts and bonus challenges.
“We'll work on things like your speed, your timing, your endurance, visualization, things that really challenge your body and mind in a way that you haven't before,” Michael explains.
Even better, you don’t need a ring, those fancy, silky shorts or gloves to take up this style of training – you can smash a boxing workout at home with just an optional jump rope (and perhaps some small hand weights if you’re looking to level up.)
Ready to discover the benefits of boxing and string together your first boxing workout? Let’s jump in the ring!
The cardio benefits of boxing
The first thing on the long list of boxing workout benefits is increased cardiovascular fitness. It’s impossible to go 10 rounds with our resident boxing trainer Michael without getting an epic cardio workout. Jumping rope, staying on your toes, throwing punch after punch in speedy combos – all of it will have your heart pumping at high intensity. And because boxing requires focus (as opposed to a treadmill run where your mind may wander), you’re likely to train longer, boosting cardio endurance and stamina.
The benefits of boxing workouts for weight loss
For many people tackling a boxing workout, weight loss is the No.1 goal – and this form of training is a certified knockout for burning fat. Where running and other forms of cardio exercise can get repetitive and leave you stuck in a rut, boxing can help you punch through the plateaus. Studies have found that a high-intensity boxing workout routine was not only effective in reducing body fat percentage, but that participants were more likely to show up for boxing workout classes and less likely to drop out over time. And you can’t consistently burn fat if you don’t show up to exercise!
The champ, Michael Olajide Jr, has boxing workouts on Centr to help you burn fat, build strength and tone your body.
The strength benefits of boxing
You may not immediately connect boxing training with strength, but think of a heavyweight fighter landing a knockout blow – there is power in that punch! Even without connecting with an opponent, you’re using your core, upper and lower body to create the power to throw punches, which means that you’re building functional strength. Because you’re always on your toes in a boxing workout, you’re also building explosive strength.
Styles like BoxHIIT – Michael’s specialty in our 6-week hybrid workout program Centr Fusion – incorporate weights into boxing exercises to deliver further strength benefits. And if you combine boxing with more traditional strength training like lifting weights, the increased cardio capacity and improved movement patterns will only help your outcomes.
The best boxing exercises for fitness
Before starting your boxing workout online with Michael, it’s important to know your boxing stances and practice your punches. Nailed your southpaw stance and uppercuts? Let’s boxercise! (We promise we won’t use that word again.)
We’ve selected 5 classic boxing exercises from Michael’s Centr workouts that you can combine into a HIIT style circuit – try doing each exercise for 40 seconds, followed by 20 seconds of rest. For each move, make sure your legs and core are engaged, and focus on putting power in your punches so you’re training with intensity.
To try out a full boxing workout with Michael, start your 7-day free trial now.
Skipping, or jumping rope, is a full-body exercise that has been used by boxers for decades to drop weight, improve leg power and increase endurance. You’ll need to focus on timing to get the hang of it. Here’s how to do it:
Make sure your rope is the right length (when standing on the middle of the rope, each handle should reach up to your armpits) and you’re holding only the handles (not touching the rope itself.)
Keep your elbows tucked into your body, and drive the rope movement by turning your wrists (which should remain around waist height.)
Stay on the balls of your feet, heels off the ground, with knees slightly bent.
As you swing, wait until the rope is down by your feet, then jump at the last second.
Your feet should barely leave the ground, only jumping high enough for the rope to pass underneath.
Ensure your core is activated and your heels are lifted to feel the burn in your abs and hamstrings.
As you gain confidence, you can pick up the pace.
This movement mimics a fighter dodging punches and works the glutes, hamstrings, quads, lower back and abdominals. Picture an opponent throwing punches toward your head when it is central – you’re going to slip down to the left and right to avoid being hit. Here’s how to do it:
Take a pyramid stance, with your feet wider than your shoulders, and sink into a slight squat so there is a bend and bounce in your knees.
Put your hands up in guard position – one each side of your chin, knuckles facing the sky.
Using your legs to drive the movement and keeping your core engaged, squat down to the left and rise up, then squat down and to the right and rise up.
Pick up the pace when you are comfortable with the rhythm of your slips.
Orthodox flurry uppercuts
Throwing fast, repeated uppercuts will switch your abdominal muscles on, and keep them on. Even a short bout of uppercuts should have your abs feeling tight and your shoulders burning. Here’s how to do them:
Take an orthodox stance, with left foot forward and right foot back.
Put your hands up in the guard position, then sink into your stance with a slight bend of your knees and lean forward while keeping a straight back.
Powering the punches from your core, drive your fists up one at a time – driving from around waist to chin height.
Your elbows should stay tucked into your body until you drive each fist up, then return.
Increase the pace to achieve a “flurry” of uppercuts.
Uppercut and jab combo
Because uppercuts and jabs are thrown from different positions, this combination forces you to change your posture continually, working your legs and core just as much as your shoulders and arms. Here’s how to do this combo:
Take an orthodox stance, with your left foot forward and right foot back.
Put your hands up in guard position, then slightly bend your knees and sink into your stance.
Throw two uppercuts (left then right), then a jab with your left hand.
Keep your elbows tucked into your body and power the punches from your core.
Work up a steady rhythm with your punches, then increase the pace.
Speedy double jab combo
The faster it gets, the harder you have to work to punch with power. Here’s how to do it:
Take an orthodox stance, with your left foot forward and right foot back, with a slight bend in your knees.
Hold your hands up at guard position.
Throw two short and sharp jabs with your lead arm (left), then follow through with a straight punch from your back arm (right).
Continue the combo sequence, getting faster and faster as you go.
You may notice Michael mixes up his combo with a straight punch, double jab, then right-arm straight punch and so on. Stick with the simple combo until you build up the rhythm and speed to mix it up.
Southpaw power jabs
We can’t neglect your southpaw side! It’s time to flip your stance and put your left to the test. Here's how to do it:
Take a southpaw stance, with your right foot forward and left foot back, with a slight bend in your knees.
Put your hands up at guard position, with your elbows tucked into your sides.
Throw a combo of 3 straight punches: left, right, left.
Pick up the pace as you increase in confidence.
Making these exercises a part of your boxing workout plan is a great start. To go all the way with your goals, it’s important to also make nutrition, rest and the structure of your overall training program a focus.
Centr will help you remove the guesswork with healthy and delicious meal plans, a weekly workout planner and mindfulness to keep you on track. Enjoy a free 7-day trial at Centr.com/join-us.
Start your Centr journey with a 7-day free trial
Get Chris Hemsworth's team of the world's best trainers, chefs and well-being experts in your corner.