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Can Kick Boxing Help You Gain Weight?

author image Shannon Marks
Shannon Marks started her journalism career in 1994. She was a reporter at the "Beachcomber" in Rehoboth Beach, Del., and contributed to "Philadelphia Weekly." Marks also served as a research editor, reporter and contributing writer at lifestyle, travel and entertainment magazines in New York City. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in literature from Temple University.
Can Kick Boxing Help You Gain Weight?
Two women are kickboxing in a ring. Photo Credit: kadmy/iStock/Getty Images

As an exercise activity and a sport, kickboxing is a total body workout. Kickboxing, which originated as a full-contact competitive sport in the 1970s, combines moves from martial arts and boxing. Whether you’re doing cardiovascular kickboxing or sparring with a competitor, kickboxing several days a week can increase your stamina, strength and flexibility. Because kickboxing burns so many calories, you could lose excess weight. At the same time, by improving strength and toning muscle, you could add pounds as well.


One pound is equivalent to 3,500 calories. By creating this calorie deficit through calorie reduction or burning calories through exercise, you will lose weight. Kickboxing, whether you’re doing it as an aerobic activity or a competitive sport, burns anywhere from 350 to 450 calories per half-hour. So technically, if you kickbox enough, you could drop a few pounds after several months, and more if you eat healthy and control your calorie intake. On the other hand, kickboxing is a great way to tone muscle. While 1 lb. of fat weighs the same as 1 lb. of muscle, the fact is that muscle has more volume than fat. So if you’re building muscle, or burning fat and converting it into muscle, you could be gaining weight by putting on lean muscle mass.

Activity Levels

If you’re thin and fear that too much exercise will lead to even more weight loss, you may not have to worry. It’s true that the American College of Sports Medicine suggests doing cardio activity, such as kickboxing, 30 minutes a day, five days a week. That amount of exercise, however, will help prevent the risk of developing a chronic condition, including heart disease, and is likely to prevent weight gain. It does not, however, guarantee that you will drop pounds. In fact, the ASCM suggests that to lose weight, you should be doing aerobic activity at least 60 to 90 minutes most days of the week.


One dietitian tends to think that your chances of gaining weight while exercising are higher than your chances of losing weight. Keri Glassman said on the CBS "Early Show" that exercising could lead you to eat more and gain weight. Her thinking is that exercise makes you hungry, which causes you to eat more. Exercise can also give you feelings of entitlement, which can lead to rewarding yourself with food. Finally, if you do an exercise that does not burn many calories, but you work up a hunger, you may over indulge and eat more calories than you burn. For the average person, kickboxing will burn an estimated 350 to 450 calories in 30 minutes, which means that many people are burning fewer calories. Drinking a can of cola and eating a fast food cheeseburger can negate all of those burned calories in just a few minutes.

Resistance Exercises

The kind of exercise that is most likely to cause you to put on pounds is resistance, or strength training exercises. Exercises such as weightlifting and circuit training builds muscle, which adds weight. Kickboxing uses your own weight as resistance and does not build as much muscle. That’s not to say that you won’t gain some weight. In fact, if you go from having a sedentary lifestyle to kickboxing several days a week, you could gain weight through lean muscle mass, but you might, at the same time, go down one or two waist sizes on your jeans.

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