Kickboxers are svelte, trim and muscular. World champion kickboxing coach Bill Packer notes that because of weight classes, kickboxers often have ideal body fat percentages. But is kickboxing a workable weight loss technique for everyday people?
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A typical kickboxing class includes a cardiovascular warm-up, calisthenics, kick work, punch work, stance and movement drills, sparring in the ring and a cardiovascular cool-down that frequently includes stretching and resistance training.
Different Kickboxing Styles
According to fitness coach Ben Cohn, kickboxing classes exist for people who want self-defense training. Gyms and health clubs also often include a cardio-kickboxing class on their group fitness schedule. Self-defense kickboxing classes often place less emphasis on physical conditioning, while cardio-kickboxing classes place more emphasis on the exercise aspect of kickboxing training.
Kickboxing and Weight Loss
Kickboxing training can help you lose weight in two ways. Kickboxing burns calories like any other exercise. Since weight loss is a matter of burning more calories than you take in, this will help you establish the calorie deficit you need in order to lose weight. Second, the resistance training aspect of calisthenics and kickboxing tools will build muscle. According to Harvard-based health writer Walter Willett, the more muscle a body has, the more calories it needs to perform every activity, even sleeping. As kickboxing training builds your muscle mass, it boosts your metabolism and pushes your body to lose weight even faster.
Most kickboxing coaches encourage athletes to train outside of the class. This training typically includes weight lifting, practicing techniques and cardiovascular conditioning. Although not part of class, all three of these activities can help you shed weight. In fact, a combination of weight training and cardiovascular workouts is one key pillar of Bill Phillip's successful "Body for Life" program.
The Food Problem
One challenge to losing weight through kickboxing is discussed in Gary Taubes' 2008 book "Good Calories, Bad Calories." Taubes cites research indicating that many people who work out to lose weight find that their appetites increase in accordance with their extra exercise load. For best results in kickboxing, or any other weight loss exercise program, you should monitor your diet to avoid this problem.
The number of calories burned depends on the intensity of the workout and your current weight. A 185 pound athlete will burn approximately 444 calories in 30 minutes of kickboxing, according to a calorie counter resource at Harvard Health. Compare this to vigorous running at 488 calories in 30 minutes, or 444 calories for swimming.