Shadowboxing, or punching air without striking an opponent or a bag, makes for an up-tempo aerobic workout. Adding weight resistance only increases the fitness benefits. Punching with small hand weights can help boxers increase hand speed or provide even non-boxers with a fun way to stay fit and tone the arms, shoulders and entire upper body.
Add Weight Resistance
Adding even a little weight resistance makes a huge difference when punching, so you don’t need to be swinging with 10- or 20-pound dumbbells. Small handheld weights, weighing as little as 1 or 2 pounds, will provide all the resistance needed for an intense workout. These weights can take the form of small dumbbells or may even be specifically crafted to fit over your hands to make punching easier.
Practice Your Stance
Before beginning any shadowboxing workout, it’s important to learn the correct boxing stance. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. If you’re right-handed, step straight forward one stride with your left foot, with the back foot at a 45-degree angle. If you're left-handed, step forward with the right foot. Get up on the balls of your feet and keep your body weight evenly distributed between the two legs. With your bent elbows tucked into your sides to protect your ribs, hold your fists in front of your cheekbones, with your left hand slightly forward in jab position. Return to this same position after every punch.
The Four Basic Punches
Boxing includes basic punches such as the jab, a straight, stiff punch with the lead hand; the hook, a quick, looping punch with the lead hand; the cross, a straight power shot with the rear hand; and the uppercut, an upward swinging blow with the rear hand. Practicing all four of these basic punches will build hand speed, power and stamina. Simply imagine you’re boxing a real opponent and slide back and forth, maintaining proper fighting stance, and fire punches, mixing in a full arsenal of jabs, hooks, crosses and uppercuts. Try to last for a full three minutes before taking a one-minute rest.
Benefits of Small Weights
By adding small weights to normal punching routines, you’ll be increasing the resistance and forcing your arms, shoulders, chest, back and core to work harder, resulting in leaner, stronger muscles. Once the weights are removed, your hands will feel lighter and faster than ever, improving hand speed and quickness.
No Heavy Weights
Never punch with heavy weights, as too great a resistance can lead to improper punching technique and potential injuries to the elbows and shoulders. Keep the weight limited to no more than a pound or two. Boxers generally avoid doing too much weight training, fearing it will build big, bulky muscles that will slow them down and consume more oxygen, compromising their endurance during matches.