So you want to embark on one of the hottest forms of exercise? Boxing has been around since the days of the Greek gladiators. Today there is not a lycra-filled gym you enter that doesn't offer box-aerobics classes or have a boxing room. Boxing gyms are full of men and women of all ages who have discovered the benefit of boxing for fitness.
Why has boxing athletics become so popular? How does burning about 900 calories an hour sound? Improved cardiovascular fitness and basal metabolic rate, i.e.: more calories burnt at rest. Increase lean body mass, develop eye-hand and foot coordination, reduce stress, learn a skill, improve confidence and self esteem, all while having a heck of a lot of fun! That's why.
But before embarking on the journey of being the next world champion there are some precautions that must be taken. As in any exercise program: permission from a physician. Beyond that you must understand that if your boxing program involves punching an object, heavy bag, speed bag, double-end bag or focus pads, it is essential that you protect your hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder: a.k.a.--the hot spots in box athletics injuries.
Let's begin with the hand and wrist (the most common boxing injuries). It is essential that the hand and wrist be properly "wrapped". A wrap is a strip of cotton or elastic that is about 2 inches wide and about 14 feet long. There are several ways to wrap your hand, and it is important that you learn a way that suits you, from a knowledgeable boxing instructor. The wrap keeps the integrity of your wrist-joint and hand bones intact. Handwraps are to boxers what swimsuits are to swimmers--you don't want to be caught without them!
After your hands are properly wrapped you'll want to slip them into boxing gloves. I recommend gloves of 12 to 16 ounces; this gives added protection to the hand and wrist.
OK, now you're wrapped and gloved. Ready to throw a punch--not yet! You have to know how to make a fist and where the striking portion is on your hand. Making a fist is simple: just close your hand with your thumb wrapped outside of your fingers. The second and third knuckles are the striking points of your hand, always! Never strike with the fourth and fifth knuckle, that's the weak area of the hand and can cause what is known as a boxer's break. The wrist is kept straight at all times. Imagine a 2 x 4 running from your knuckles down your forearm.
Now that we've protected the hand and wrist let's move up to the elbow. Missing a punch and hyperextending the elbow causes one of the most frequent injuries to the elbow. It is known as a stinger, and it sends shooting pains up your elbow and arm. If you get one, you'll know it. If you snap your elbow hard enough you'll chip the bone and be retired for quite some time. Avoid this injury by extending the arm only 90-95% when punching (or at least until you become more skilled and comfortable in your technique).
The shoulder joint is notorious for all sorts of athletic injuries. When I speak of the shoulder joint, I'm talking specifically about the rotator cuff muscles: Supraspinatis, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis. Whew! These little babies are responsible for a variety of arm motions and even though they are very important they are often ignored. How many of us after not playing baseball since little league go for a company picnic softball game and wake up the next day not being able to pick up our spoons to eat our Wheaties? Even if you work out everyday, chances are you are not working out your rotator cuff muscles. Why would you? When was the last time you ever heard anyone say, "Hey, great rotator cuffs"? They are not visible, but they are crucial in BoxAthletics. Begin by stretching gently before each session, and strengthen afterwards by internal and external rotating exercises. Any personal trainer worth his salt can demonstrate these exercises. I also recommend the UBC machine that utilizes a cycling motion.
O.K., ready to rock?! Let's go! BoxAthletics is run in three minute rounds, work increments with one minute of rest. As conditioning improves, we slowly shorten the rest period and incorporate strength training. We begin with two rounds of skipping rope, then two rounds of shadow boxing, the most undervalued exercise in boxing. We follow up with three rounds of focus pad work, the closest thing you get to sparring without getting hit. Focus pad work is everyone's favorite once you have learned the basic five punches: the left jab, right cross, left hook, right uppercut and left uppercut combined with the defensive movement of bob and weave and slipping. You'll want to do more and more of it; the combinations are endless. Then we move over to the heavy bag. The heavy bag allows us to throw more power into our punches. After three rounds the floor beneath you should be thoroughly wet. Next, step over to the double-end bag--a round air-filled bag that is connected to both the floor and ceiling. First rule here: don't get frustrated! Start slowly, establish your left jab and move forward from there. Two rounds here will polish us off. Then on floor for abdominals (with and without a medicine ball), lower back exercises, and finally finish with a 10 minute stretch. That is roughly one tough hour of working out. You have used virtually every major muscle group in your body.
Boxing Foundations for Personal Trainers
Increase your earning potential by learning how to incorporate one-on-one boxing in a safe and effective format for cross-training purposes.
Discover the benefits of boxing for fitness and how it can add excitement and spark to your workout routines.
BoxAthletics is an intensive hands-on 4 hour, 4C.E.C workshop designed specifically for the Personal Trainer. The following will be covered:
- Hot spots of injuries - how to avoid them
- Balance, weight distribution, power
- Five basic punches and combinations
- Defensive movements
- Focus Pads
- Sport specific exercises, plyometrics
- Use of heart rate monitor
- Jumping rope