Kickboxing may have a steep learning curve, but if you’re interested in finding an efficient and safe way to drop pounds, it’s worth putting in the time it takes to pick it up. All of that bobbing, weaving, punching, kicking and rapid, focused movement adds up to hundreds of calories burned per hour, making the activity ideal for weight loss.
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According to the American Council on Exercise, kickboxing is a full-body workout that challenges all major muscle groups while improving aerobic capacity, decreasing stress, improving focus and boosting endurance. Because it requires a higher level of intensity than many other aerobic exercises, kickboxing may also promote greater gains in balance, stability and strength.
Different types of kickboxing burn different amounts of calories, and total calorie burn is also affected by your weight and your fitness level. Harvard Medical School's calorie-tracking website states a 155-pound person burns about 372 calories during a half-hour kickboxing workout. The site suggests this calorie burn is comparable to judo and karate.
Cardio kickboxing is one common type of kickboxing, and it’s primarily intended to aid weight loss and improve your health. Cardio kickboxing combines aerobics, martial arts and boxing and relies heavily on moves like jabs, front kicks and side kicks. Tae Bo, a program developed by Billy Blanks, is another fitness-focused type of kickboxing that uses basic equipment to add resistance to high-intensity movements. Other varieties of kickboxing trace their origins to China, Thailand or the Philippines and may involve direct combat.
In a basic cardio kickboxing class for weight loss, you might learn full-body moves such as a boxer shuffle and a bob and weave. Upper-body exercises might include a front jab and cross jab, hook and elbow dig, and you might work your lower body with knee crunches, squats front kicks, roundhouse kicks or side kicks.
Kickboxing can be a risky activity for people who aren’t doing it with proper technique. According to the Westside Aerobics and Martial Arts Club of Santa Cruz, California, common kickboxing maladies include sore wrists and elbows, pulled muscles, sprained knees and twisted ankles. To stay as safe as possible, ACE suggests avoiding hyper-extending kicks and punches, not locking your joints and not holding weights or using ankle weights while performing kickboxing moves. Before you begin any kickboxing routine for weight loss, speak with your doctor.