Boxing is not only an extremely fun and interesting sport, but it’s also a great way to burn fat. A study by Forza Supplements found it burns the highest amount of calories among 50 other activities.
Generally speaking, the heavier you are, the more calories you burn during a workout. According to a Forza Supplements study, the amount of calories you burn while boxing averages at around 800 – more than any other sport. This high number of burned calories is based on the fact that boxing offers a high-intensity workout that involves the entire body.
From your arm muscles, to your core, all the way down to your feet, boxing engages all of your muscles. No matter what it is you’re doing – be it training on the heavy bag, a speed bag, pad drills, shadow boxing, or sparring, you are guaranteed to get an intense cardio workout.
Going Deeper Into the Numbers
As we already established, the amount of calories burned during any kind of workout depends on your weight and the intensity of your training.
Based on Forza Supplements’ studies, it’s estimated that a person weighing 200 pounds (91 kg) burns 525 calories/hour training on a punching bag, 745 calories/hour while sparring, and 1222 calories/hour in a boxing ring.
If that same person weighs 150 pounds (68 kg), they’ll burn 394 calories/hour training on a punching bag, 558 calories/hour while sparring, and 916 calories/hour in a boxing ring.
How to Calculate This For Yourself
If you want to calculate this for yourself, you can visit Captain Calculator where they use the following formula:
Calories burned per minute = (MET x Body Weight in Kg x 3.5) ÷ 200
MET (Metabolic Equivalent Task) – measures an activity’s energy cost. A task with a MET of 1 is the energy a person uses sitting still at room temperature not actively digesting food. A MET 2 task uses twice the energy of a MET 1 task, a MET 3 task uses three times the energy, etc.
Boxing’s MET values are:
5.5 for using a punching bag – 525 calories/hour for a person who weighs 200 lb (91 kg)
7.8 for sparring – 745 calories for someone who weighs 200 lb (91 kg)
12.8 for boxing in a ring – 916 calories for a person weighing 200 lb (91 kg)
However, bear in mind that MET values should be used only as a guide, because they aren’t the same for everybody.
MET doesn’t take into account important things such as age, gender, level of fat, efficiency of movement, and geographic and environment conditions. So, for example, even if you do weigh
200 pounds, depending on the factors I described above, a boxing session could burn more or less than what MET suggests.
How Boxing Compares to Other Sports
Here’s the ranking that came from Forza Supplements’ study:
50 best activities for weight loss (calories burned in an hour by a person weighing 11st or 70kg)
|Activity:||Calories Burned in an Hour|
|3. Rowing (on a lake or river)||740|
|4. Road running at a fast or medium past||700|
|5. Swimming – front crawl or butterfly||680|
|8. Road cycling fast||604|
|9. Gym exercise (weights and cardio)||590|
|10. Running on a treadmill||580|
|14. Rowing machine||440|
|15. Breaststroke or backstroke||408|
|16. Vigorous walking with a backpack||406|
|17. Weights at gym||340|
|19. Ballroom dancing fast; quick-step, Charleston||306|
|23. On piste downhill skiing||270|
|28. DIY; sanding, painting, sawing||235|
|29. Walking to work||207|
|31. Table tennis||204|
|32. Horse riding||202|
|33. = Sex for a man||200|
|33. = Yoga||200|
|35. Fishing from a riverbank (standing)||200|
|37. Sex for a woman||138|
|38. Walking the dog||136|
|39. Ballroom dancing slow; walt||135|
|40. Household chores; dusting, vacuuming, ironing||102|
|41. Bird watching||101|
|42. Playing the piano||100|
|43. Washing dishes||88|
|46. Driving a car||68|
|47. Having a bath||35|
|49. Watching TV standing up||20|
|50. Watching TV on the sofa||0|
The Best Boxing Workout for Losing Weight
As we already saw, the highest amount of calories are burned during boxing in a ring during a competitive setting. But that definitely isn’t for everybody. And if you’re experienced enough to box in a competitive setting, then you probably don’t have any weight-related issues.
So if you’re a beginner, first try to focus on heavy bag workouts and mitt work. A good, full-body workout should start with about 15-20 minutes of warm up, followed by some shadowboxing, heavy bag, and mitt work.
Once you start getting the hang of it, you could start to incorporate sparring in your workout.
Here’s how a typical training session could go.
Warmup – 10-15 Minutes
You can start off with some light stretching. Begin with the head and neck, and continue with your core, arms and legs.
Once you feel some flexibility in your joints, you can start the cardio part of the warmup:
- 30 seconds – With your guard up, start bouncing side to side
- 30 seconds – Transition into bouncing forwards and backwards
- 30 seconds – Jumping Jacks
- 30 seconds – Squats. Try keeping your hips on the same level with your knees, and keep your back straight
- Do 5 reps
You can follow along with the video below:
Shadow Boxing – 10 Minutes
We have an article on shadow boxing you can find here. But the general gist of it is to move around while throwing punches.
The combinations themselves don’t have to be super complex. They can be as simple or complicated as you want them to be. The most important thing is to keep moving.
Since this workout is geared towards burning calories, it’s important to keep bouncing while you’re doing your combinations. At first, you may not be able to last as long as 10 or 15 minutes. That’s okay. Just go for as long as you can.
Breathe in and breathe out from your nose. Once you get tired, you can try exhaling from your mouth instead of your nose, but never inhale from your mouth – otherwise you’ll start to feel a sharp pain in your diaphragm.
Breathing in through the mouth while exercising can lead to hyperventilation, and can cause the body to offload more CO2, which makes it harder to get oxygen to your cells.
In case you’re new to this, here are the strikes we use in boxing:
- Jab: A straight punch with your lead hand. If you’re doing it in place, rotate your lead foot and hip while your hand goes out to punch. Done with the knuckles of your index and middle finger.
- Straight: Sometimes called a “cross”, it’s a straight punch with your back hand. Analogous to the jab, rotate your back foot and hip as your hand goes out to punch. And like the jab, it’s also done with the knuckles of your index and middle finger.
- Hook: A curved strike. The trajectory is parallel to the ground. Can be thrown with the back or the front hand. Make sure your hand is bent at 90 degrees. If you’re throwing it with your lead hand, make sure you pivot lead your foot and hip at the same time. When hooking with the back hand, do the same with your back foot and hip. There are several ways to throw a hook. If you’re a beginner, try to keep it simple – have your elbow facing outwards, and aim with the knuckles of your middle, ring, and pinkie fingers.
- Uppercut: Vertical strike usually done to the opponent’s chin. Crouch down a little bit and dip the same side’s shoulder. Have your palm up, and bend your arm 90 degrees. If you’re doing it with the lead hand, then pivot your lead leg and hip, and push off the ball of your back foot, throwing the punch upwards. Your palm should face you upon impact.
- Slipping, Bobbing and Weaving: Defensive techniques. Slipping is pivoting with your lead or back leg in order to evade a jab or a straight. Bobbing and weaving is usually done against hooks. It’s where you bend your knees to lower your body a few inches. Then, you step out, under your opponent’s arm.
In terms of combinations, you can start out with something basic like this:
- 30 seconds – Bounce forwards and backwards. Every time you step on your lead leg, throw out a jab
- 30 seconds – Switch your lead leg, and do the same thing on the other side
- 30 seconds – Step forward with a jab and a straight. Step backwards with the same combination
- 30 seconds – While having your left as your lead leg, step to the left with it while throwing a jab and straight. Then, step to the right, again throwing a jab and straight
- 1 minute – Bob and weave with the lead leg. While you’re coming up, throw out an uppercut with the back hand, followed by a lead hook. Then, slip with the back leg while throwing an uppercut with the lead hand, and a hook with the back hand
- Do 3 reps
Once you start feeling more comfortable, try mixing it up.
Here’s a good video you can follow along with:
Focus Mitts – 15-20 Minutes
For this part, you’ll obviously need a partner to hold the focus mitts. Luckily, they’ll burn a lot of calories as well, as they’re moving around with you, and throw punches.
In terms of equipment, you’ll need some focus mitts, and some boxing gloves – especially if you’re a beginner. If you don’t have focus mitts, your partner can use their gloves as a focus mitt.
Alternatively, they can just use their hands. But in that case, it’s highly recommended you use boxing gloves.
Similar to shadow boxing, you can be very flexible in terms of combinations. Again, the most important thing is to keep moving. A typical workout could look something like this:
- 1 minute – Jab-Straight. Have your partner feed you a jab and straight that you slip to evade
- 1 minute – Lead hook, back hook. Partner feeds you the same combo. Bob and weave to dodge it
- 1 minute – Lead uppercut, back uppercut. Partner feeds you the same combination. Slip to evade it
- Do about 5 reps
Once you get comfortable with evading your partner’s strikes, have them mix it up. Instead of throwing lead hand – back hand, they can start with their back hand, or even give you two strikes with the same hand.
Then, have them respond with a combination of their choice. E.g. you throw a jab and straight, and they can respond with any of the other combinations – jab-straight, lead hook – back hook, jab-jab,…
Heavy Bag or Sparring – 15-20 Minutes
This part really depends on your level. If you’re a beginner, you can just focus on the heavy bag. Once you get more advanced, you can incorporate sparring, as well. As we said above, sparring burns the second highest amount of calories. The only thing that beats it is fighting in a competitive match.
That being said, here’s a good fat-burning workout you can do on a heavy bag:
- 1 minute – Jab-Straight. Move your hip, so you can get more power into each punch.
- 1 minute – Bob and weave to the side, and deliver two hooks. Have your left leg in front, bob to the left, and follow it up with a back hook and lead hook. After that, bob to the right, and follow with a lead hook and back hook
- 1 minute – Push the bag a little bit. Go in front of it, and keep it in position with uppercuts. Don’t let it swing back
- 1 minute – Jab-Hook. Bob and weave, then repeat
- 1 minute – Full-power, full-speed punching. You can do any combination you want, just don’t stop hitting
- Do 3 reps
Alternatively, you could try doing a workout like this:
Once you get advanced enough, you can substitute some of the reps for sparring. That applies to the mitt work, as well. For example, instead of doing 5 reps of the mitt work, and 3 reps on the heavy bag, you could do 3 reps on the mitts, and 5 on the bag, with the rest of your time devoted to sparring.
Resting and Warming Down
Similar to the overall workout, the amount and type of rest you do depends on your overall level of fitness. Starting out, you can rest for a minute or two between reps, and do less reps in general.
Then, you can gradually shorten your breaks, and even try to do active rests, such as squats, rope skips, and pushups.
However, don’t overwork yourself! You want to push your boundaries, but if you go at it too hard, you might end up hurting yourself.
One thing to keep in mind when resting is to not stop moving entirely. While you’re doing intense cardio, your heart goes in overdrive in order to deliver blood to your muscles and organs. Your blood pressure and blood sugar go up.
If you suddenly stop moving, you’re not giving your body a chance to normalize glycogen in your liver.
So instead of stopping to move altogether, try resting by hopping or very light jogging. This is a good option when you’re done with your workout, and need to warm down.
The workout I’ve described above is just a guide. In fact, it just barely scratches the surface of how boxing can enhance your workout. But in addition to giving you a good workout, it can help in developing other skills, as well – coordination, speed, power, and an overall physical fitness that you can only get with martial arts and combat sports.