Boxing requires the just-right balance of cardio and strength, and in this multi-tasking at-home workout, expect equal parts of both. You'll get the heart-pumping cardio benefits of five different shadowboxing drills combined with the core-strengthening perks of five ab exercises.
The core work isn't just cosmetic: You'll be able to throw more punches — and throw them harder. That's because every jab, hook, cross and uppercut requires rotational power from your abs, obliques and back.
Follow along with Kevan Watson, founder and co-owner of Box 'N Burn in Los Angeles, as he takes you through this core-crushing 20-minute workout and get more at-home boxing workouts from Box 'N Burn on their YouTube channel.
Do: each move for 40 seconds, resting for 20 seconds in between. Repeat the cycle twice.
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Move 1: Bouncing 4-Way Roll
- Begin in a boxing stance with your non-dominant foot in front and the other behind and slightly to the side, feet shoulder-width apart. Bring your hands up to protect your face with dominant hand in front and non-dominant to the side.
- Start bouncing from foot to foot.
- Once you're comfortable in your bounce, begin your rolls. Imagine you're drawing a U with your head as you step in one of four directions: forward, backward, right or left.
- Continue following this pattern: roll forward, roll backward, roll right, roll left.
Lead with the foot closest to the direction you’re going to roll. So when you're rolling right, step with your right foot, then your left foot follows. When rolling backward, step with your back foot, then your front foot follows.
Move 2: Knee-to-Elbow Rock
- Start lying on your back. Place your left fingers behind your left ear.
- Bend your left leg so the knee is hovering over your left hip. Lift your left shoulder from the floor and squeeze your left elbow to your left knee. Hold this position throughout the set.
- Begin rocking back and forth like a rocking chair.
- Do 20 seconds on each side.
"Try kicking your opposite leg to get your rock started," Watson says. Once you're going, use your core strength to rock.
Move 3: Slip and Counter Drill
- Beginning in your boxing stance, dodge an imaginary punch, or slip, to your back leg.
- Throw a cross: Punch your rear arm slightly across the front of your body, then draw it back.
- Quickly throw a hook: Punch your lead arm out and around the side.
- Slip to your lead leg, then counter with a hook-cross: Throw the same punches above in reverse order.
- Repeat that pattern.
With each slip, your head should come off your centerline, allowing you to effectively defend a straight punch, as well as load up your legs for the counter-punches, Watson says. "Engage your core on every slip and counter-punch," he says. "And be sure you transfer your weight on your punches, turning your hips every time."
Exercise 4: Hollow Body Reverse Crunch
- Lie on your back and bend your knees to a 90-degree angle, stacking them over your hips.
- Lift your head and shoulders off of the floor, squeezing your abs. Reach your arms out over your head. Your biceps should be next to your ears.
- Keeping your shoulders and head lifted from the floor and your knees bent, allow your heels to drop to the floor.
- Bring them back over the hips and repeat.
Focus on your breathing. "Slowly exhale through the entire movement of your legs," Watson says. "Once your legs reset over your hips, inhale." This will help keep your rib cage down and your lower back pulled to the floor.
Move 5: Roll 4-Punch Counter Drill
- Beginning in your boxing stance, roll to your backhand side: Step to the side with your rear foot, then step with your lead leg.
- Counter with this combo: cross-hook-cross-hook. For the cross, you'll punch your rear arm slightly across the front of your body and draw it back. For the hook, you'll punch your lead arm out and around the side and draw it back.
- Roll to your front-hand side: Step to the side with your lead foot, then step with your rear leg.
- Counter with this combo: hook-cross-hook-cross.
- Repeat that pattern.
Move 6: X-Man Sit-Up
- Lying on your back, reach your arms and legs out as if you were making the letter X with your body.
- Sit up and hug your knees with your arms.
- Extend back out to the starting position.
Exhale as you sit up, engaging your core, which will help you power up from the ground, Watson says.
Move 7: Boxing Bounce
- Begin in your boxing stance and start bouncing forward and backward.
- On every third bounce, plant your feet and throw this combo with speed and power: jab-cross-jab-jab-cross. Jab straight ahead with your lead arm, cross your body with your rear arm, jab twice with the front arm, then finish with one last cross-body punch with your rear arm.
- As soon as you finish punching, go right back to your bounce.
"Fully extend every punch, rotating your wrist like a corkscrew at the end of your extension," Watson says. And remember to breathe! Exhale with every punch and stay loose in your shoulders and arms, he says.
Move 8: Sit-Up to Uppercut
- Begin lying on your back with your knees slightly bent and your feet to the floor.
- Starting with your arms over your head, throw your arms forward and come up into a sit-up.
- Bring your fists to protect your face and throw an uppercut (an upward punch) on your right side.
- Lie back down and repeat the sit-up, but this time punch on your left side.
Exhale with your sit-up and your uppercuts, Watson says. "Throw your uppercuts with some power and squeeze your abs as you do."
Move 9: Focused Power Punch Drill
- Beginning in your boxing stance, start alternating any punch you'd like as hard as you can from your left and right hands. Stay low in your stance and sink into your hips.
- Exhale with every punch and focus on transferring your weight as you throw the punches.
- After throwing every punch, remember to bring your hands back to your face.
"Don’t rush from punch to punch," Watson says. "Take your time and focus on your technique and maximizing your power." And remember: Power comes from your lower body, so make sure you’re using your legs and hips, he says.
Move 10: Body Saw
For this move, you'll need some sliders. You can use paper plates on hardwood, tile or carpet or you can use a towel on a hard, glossy floor.
- Start in a forearm plank with the sliders or towel under your toes. Your shoulders should be stacked directly over your elbows. Maintain one straight line from the top of your head to your heels.
- Draw your bellybutton to your spine, keeping your rib cage pulled down and maintaining a neutral spine.
- Pushing through your elbows and forearms, slide your entire body back four to six inches.
- Pull yourself back to starting position, driving your elbows and forearms into the ground.
This exercise can be very difficult as you go through it, so if you feel your form starts to suffer, hold a static plank until time runs out, Watson says. "Speed is not the goal here — control is."
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