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Boxing Exercises for Beginners

author image Henry Halse
Henry Halse is a Philadelphia-based personal trainer, speaker, and writer. He's trained a wide variety of people, from couch potatoes to professional athletes, and helped them realize their own strength, determination and self-confidence. Henry has also written for various fitness and lifestyle publications, including Women’s Health, AskMen and Prevention.

Some boxers believe that all you need to win a fight is a strong jab, the simplest of all punches. While that might be an exaggeration, the point is that practicing the basics is the most important thing for boxing. Practicing six basic punches and simple exercises like jump roping can help you ease into the world of boxing and build a strong base.

Best Beginner Boxing Exercises

There are a handful of exercises that have stood the test of time in boxing training that you should start working on as a beginner. Jump rope helps footwork and stamina, shadow boxing helps technique, heavy bag punching helps power and speed bag punching helps speed and coordination.

While working on any of these exercises, try to do them for two to three minutes at a time, taking a one-minute break between each round of exercise. This timing mimics a boxing round, which will get you prepared mentally and physically if you want to test your skills out in the ring.

It's very common for a boxer to eventually start sparring, which is a mock fight against a training partner. You'll want to be prepared if you ever are invited to spar, which is why you should always train in rounds.

Jump Rope

Jumping rope can help your footwork as much as any other drill. To do it well, your feet and hands have to work in tandem. As your hands turn, your feet need to know when to jump, building a connection between them.

Read More: Boxing Agility Drills

There are different jump rope techniques like hopping on both feet, hopping on one, alternating each skip, and crisscrossing the rope mid-air. Improvise during your jump rope round to get better at different styles. It's best to do in the beginning of a workout as a warm-up.

Start simply by jumping over the rope with both feet. Try to vary your speed between fast and slow. Then, jump on your right foot only for three hops. Switch to your left foot for three hops without stopping, and alternate back and forth. Once you're comfortable with that, alternate feet each hop.

You can also practice these while moving forwards, backwards, and side-to-side. If you're really feeling confident, try doing a crossover. While the rope is swinging, cross the handles over each other and jump over the rope, then uncross the handles. This takes a lot of coordination and proper timing.

Shadow Box

Find a mirror or have a coach watch you while you do this drill. You'll move around in your boxing stance, throw punches and dodge imaginary strikes without any equipment on for an entire round. You can throw single punches, like a jab, cross, hook, or uppercut. Shadow boxing is also a great chance to practice throwing combinations, both in your boxing stance and while moving.

You can practice defensive techniques as well. Bob or slip an imaginary punch and roll your shoulders with you. Keep your hands up at all times as though it were a real fight. You can incorporate defensive moves into your punches as well. For example, throw a jab, bob under an imaginary punch, stand up, and throw a cross.

If you can do this inside an actual boxing ring, it will help you visualize a fight. Practice moving around the ring in a circle by side-shuffling. Trap yourself in a corner and practice getting out by quickly moving to the left or right. This is your chance to slow things down and work on proper technique without the distractions and frantic energy of a heavy bag workout or sparring.

Heavy Bag

This exercise is your chance to let loose and really test your punching power. Throw boxing gloves on and get into your boxing stance in front of a heavy bag. For two to three minutes throw combinations of jabs, crosses, hooks and uppercuts.

Throw punches quickly and decisively with your fist closed tight. Just like in the shadow boxing exercise, you can use your imagination here and add in defensive moves. You can throw a jab then duck before throwing other punches. You can slip an imaginary punch and throw a hook as a counter punch.

Move around the heavy bag constantly to simulate a fighting scenario. Stay in your boxing stance and shuffle in a circle around the bag, either clockwise or counter-clockwise.

Read More: Plyometrics Exercises for Boxing

Speed Bag

Stand with your feet square in front of a speed bag, which should be hanging above head height. With your fists closed, strike the bag in its center with the pinky side of your hand. As a beginner, you don't want to start with the fastest speed bag technique, so you'll employ the three hit rule. Once you hit the speed bag, it should hit the platform above three times before you hit it again. It should hit the back twice and front once.

Start by striking with your lead hand at a continuous rhythm, using the three hit rule. Once you have a steady rhythm, pick up the speed. Then, do the same with your other hand. Once you're comfortable, try using both hands and alternating them each hit.

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