While being able to punch, jab and uppercut your way through a high-intensity class at your favorite boxing studio gives you a full-body workout and a built-in community, going to the gym isn't always an option. One solution is to bring the studio home.
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"Boxing is one of the best and most addictive workouts imaginable and having the convenience of it at home enables you to get in an effective workout at any time," says former U.S. National Boxing Champion and co-founder of at-home boxing platform FightCamp, Tommy Duquette, who cites convenience and stress relief as two of the biggest advantages to boxing at home.
And who doesn't want to feel a little less stress? A small 2014 study published in the Japan Journal of Physical Education, Health and Sport Sciences found boxing-style workouts can promote feelings of relaxation and put people in a better mood.
Don't worry, though, you don't have to set up a scene from Rocky. Your home boxing gym can be as simple or as complicated as you like, depending on your available space, budget, experience level and commitment.
Step 1: Plan Your Space
The first question you need to ask yourself is, "Where am I going to put my home boxing gym?" Can you clear out some space in your garage? Do you have an empty or unused bedroom? Or maybe you want to set things up in your backyard?
"You don't need much space if you keep things minimal, but the more space the better if you are looking to move around or spar," says personal trainer Henry Halse, CSCS. If you don't have much free space to work with, you can still shadowbox (basically, punching without a bag) and get a heart-pumping cardio workout with minimal space.
However, if you're looking for going for a more authentic gym experience, you'll want to devote a good chunk of real estate. "Boxing training can make a lot of noise, so a garage or a shed away from the house is preferable," Halse says.
Exactly how much space depends on your height and arm length, Duquette says. Make sure you can comfortably move around your punching bag and strike it without bumping into anything else. And since many boxing workouts aren't just about the left hook and right cross, give yourself extra room to do exercises like burpees, planks and jumping jacks, he says.
Step 2: Start With the Basics
Build your home boxing gym from the ground up and start with the floors. "Concrete floors can be unforgiving on your joints, so if you plan on skipping or doing footwork drills you should think about laying down mats," Halse says. "Foam jigsaw mats that slot together neatly are a quick and cheap solution." Or if you're working out inside, carpet or an area rug can help lessen the impact.
Next, you'll need a punching bag. "Everyone needs an effective free-standing bag [like the FightCamp bag] that doesn't move around a lot when it's hit, ensuring you get a good workout," says Duquette. There are also wall- or ceiling-mounted hanging bags, but they require drilling to hang a fixing bracket and chains. That means you can't move them into the corner of the room when you're not using them, he says.
Quality gloves are also essential to protect your hands. "Boxing gloves are necessary to protect your knuckles and wrists from the impact of hitting a bag," Duquette says. Even if you're shadowboxing, wearing gloves provides extra weight and gives you a better workout, he says.
Step 3: Invest in Other Equipment
While you can get a fantastic workout with just a punching bag, you might want to consider adding other kinds of bag if you're going all out and have the space and budget. Halse mentions these three options:
- Double end bag: This rubber ball is attached to the floor and ceiling and rebounds when you hit it.
- Hook and uppercut bags: Shaped like an upside-down L, these bags let you practice your hooks and uppercuts in a more natural way than a free-standing punching bag.
- Speed bag: This small bag hangs from a mount and lets you work on delivering punches as quickly and precisely as you can.
You might also want boxing wraps or bag mitts — in addition to standard gloves —to protect your hands as you hit the bags. "If you have a training partner, hand mitts can add another dimension to your training, or you can spar or do drills if you have enough space," Halse says.
Adding a set of weights — dumbbells, kettlebells or barbells and weight plates — is a good idea if you want to incorporate strength training into your regime. And if you're going all-out, benches or squat racks and other home gym equipment are also an option.
Now You're Ready to Start Boxing at Home
Once you have your home boxing gym all set up, it's time to throw some punches! But don't just start swinging wildly at the bag. "It's key to begin your journey by practicing fundamentals to learn proper form and technique, and work on building foundational punch combinations," Duquette says.
For example, for boxing newbies, FightCamp has a beginner program called Prospect Path that teaches proper technique and takes you from the basics of boxing to intense punch combinations, he says. You'll start with 4 rounds and gradually increasing to 8.
Additionally, YouTube is a treasure trove of how-tos and full-length workouts. In addition to the FightCamp channel, you can check out Box 'N Burn, Nate Bower Fitness and PopSugar Fitness. On Instagram, Box Union and Rumble Boxing are hosting classes on IG Live.
The other key to getting the most from your at-home boxing workouts is to create a plan that's sustainable — meaning one you can stick with. "Setting realistic goals up front and not biting off more than you can chew is what will bring success," Duquette says.
"Too many people, when they first start a workout regimen, set unrealistic goals and get discouraged." Start with foundational moves then gradually progress and add combinations to your workouts. Before you know it, you'll be boxing like a champ!