“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion’.” -Muhammad Ali
Make this quote your bible and you’re on your way to success in boxing. Whether you want to box to stay fit or to ultimately become a professional boxer, this all-inclusive boxing guide will cover an overview of boxing, so to help you get started.
As humans, we tend to complicate things which are fairly simple. For instance, you haven’t even started to box yet but in your head, you’re working up strategies to be as good as Floyd Mayweather. That’s human nature.
There’s nothing wrong with that except it’s not practical. How can you make it practical? By starting with boxing in the first place.
Even if you learn the basics of boxing, you’ll transform as a person. There’s a plethora of physical and mental challenges you’d need to overcome which will ultimately make you stronger. However, before you start with boxing, you must know that like any other sport, boxing demands hard work, discipline and grind. In fact, it’s much more than many other sports.
Boxing as an opportunity to stay fit
People are living lives filled with physical and mental stress. In boxing, they find themselves rediscovering their mind and body whilst staying calm. An increasing number of people turn to box each day. Reason? It’s absolutely free. Basic boxing doesn’t require you to spend a penny – you can spar with your friend, shadow box or even beat the heavy bag in your garage at your own comfort.
Boxing as an opportunistic career
If you’re starting out with the goal of becoming a professional boxer then know that boxing for competition has witnessed a rise of 2 million participants in the past decade.
The competition is stiff out there. However, you have to get started to reach somewhere. If you’re to make your legacy. This guide is definitely the right place to begin your boxing journey.
Alright, folks, without wasting much time, let’s move towards the meaty part:
How to Box?
Similar to taekwondo or any other martial arts, boxing is a sport which can be learned by anyone. With desire and fortitude, you can drive towards success. At first, we need to begin our journey with boxing basics from a professional standpoint. Later on, we can discuss each topic in detail in a series of blogs. As mentioned earlier, the goal of this guide is to perfect our fundamentals regarding how to box.
Fundamentals of Boxing
1. Stance & Guard
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee! Ever heard that? There simply isn’t any better description of stance and movement as described by boxing legend himself – Muhamad Ali. The basic boxing stance for beginners allows them to attack and defend themselves.
Following are the fundaments of stance in boxing:
- Place your front toe & back heel on the center line
- Place your dominant hand backward (If your left hand is the dominant one, keep it behind the right)
- Place your feet diagonally at a distance little wider than your shoulders
- Raise your back heel
- Your elbows should be pointing downwards, with your hands up
- Your head should be behind your gloves, acting as a guard with the chin slightly down and your eyes over the gloves
- Relax and take it easy
If your hands will help you to sting like a bee, your footwork will help to cover the distance. Footwork in boxing is often undermined. However, it is as crucial as punching. As a boxer, you need to know how about the feet movements. When working on footwork, you must learn to balance your weight so you can easily move back and forth. Never stand square with your opponent. With your feet spread out, ensure you don’t spread them too far from each other. In current boxing scene, Vasyl Lomachenko’s footwork is something which can help you learn a lot.
Following are the fundaments of footwork in boxing:
- Step ahead with your lead foot and drag the rear foot
- Stepping and dragging footwork helps maintain a low center of gravity allowing you to attack or defend any time.
- Dragging the rear foot prevents you from walking or crossing your feet which prevents you from getting off balance.
- When attacking, step with your front foot first and drag the back foot when moving forward
- When defending, step back with your back foot and drag the front foot once you’ve taken a step back
As a beginner, you must refrain from complexities. Generally, boxing has 4 main punches and these are enough to help you become effective in the ring. These are:
Jab: Perhaps the most basic punch in boxing. It is a quick punch which is used to whittle your opponent. Jab is effectively used to distract the opponents and create space to set up for powerful shots.
When starting with a jab, here are the points which you must remember:
- Punch with your left or right hand from your basic stance
- Twist your hand with your knuckles pointing towards the ceiling
- When connecting, the palm of your hand should point towards the floor
- As you’re about to catch your opponent, take a small step ahead and shift your body weight in the front direction
- Once you’ve landed the jab, bring your elbow to its natural position i.e. in front of your face and get back to the basic stance
Cross: Cross Punch or a straight punch comes from your dominant hand. It is more powerful as compared to the jab and it is generally used to finish combinations. (We’ll learn about combinations below, so don’t worry). When throwing a cross punch, ensure your opponent is in a straight line.
When starting with a cross, here are the points which you must remember:
- Your dominant hand i.e. your backhand will be used to punch
- Start your punch from your basic stance
- Similar to the jab, your knuckles should point towards the ceiling and your palm towards the floor
- As you connect with your opponent, add your weight to the punch
- Once you’ve thrown the cross, move back to the normal position
Hook: Unlike a jab or a cross, a hook is used in a horizontal motion. It’s unexpected and that is what makes it knockout ammo in your boxing arsenal. It is indeed one of the most powerful punches and is very hard to defend against. A hook is thrown from the side angle and can be targeted towards your opponent’s head or body.
When starting with a hook, here are the points which you must remember:
- From your basic stance, move your legs in the clockwise direction whilst dropping the back heel and lifting your front heel
- Move/Rotate your body as if it were a solid block
- Your front arm must be at a 90-degree angle to your body
- You want to land the punch with a vertical fist
- Once, you’ve landed the punch, get back into the basic stance with your hands guarding your face
Uppercut: One of the most legendary moves in fight sport. An uppercut comes from the waist and requires rotation of your entire body. An uppercut rises in an upward motion after you’ve lowered your arm. With the uppercut, you want to connect with your opponent’s chin. An uppercut is generally used in a combination to leave your opponent biting the dust.
When starting with an uppercut, here are the points which you must remember:
- Begin from your basic stance, however, do not transfer the body weight forward
- While moving your feet clockwise, drop your back heel and lift your front heel
- Bend your knees a little bit and raise your front elbow, with the palm moving towards the face
- As you connect with your opponent, add your weight to the punch by transferring it
- Once, you’ve landed the punch, get back into the basic stance with your hands guarding your face
“It ain’t about how hard you can hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” I simply can’t define the relevance of this quote with regards to defense in boxing. Just because Rocky said so, you don’t want to get banged up. Yes sure, you need courage and want to be strong enough to handle the punches, but you definitely want to be the best at defense too.
When it comes to defending, whether you are an orthodox or a conventional boxer, you’ll be using the majority of your body including your
Head: The basic yet the loveliest defensive technique is called a slip. A slip is when you dodge your opponent’s punches by bending your waist. Apart from the slip you can also bob and weave to frustrate your opponent and make it difficult for them to connect with your head.
Arms: Reach! Arms = Reach. Use them to not only defend but set up counters. When blocking punches, you can easily block or absorb your opponent’s punches by placing your arms in front of your face. A similar technique can be deployed to protect your body. You can also parry your opponent’s offensive efforts by extending your arm. Imagine your arms like a sword in a sword-fight and its application will seem pretty simple.
Torso: Torso can be defended with blocking and at the same time can be used to slow down your opponent. Using your torso and your arms, you can clinch your opponent to slow down the proceedings. When you’re having a bad day with a quick flurry of punches coming your way, you can use the clinch to get a breather.
Feet: Every action eventually boils down to your footwork. Each movement matters and that really puts everything in perspective. For effective footwork, you want to be in a neutral stance with the weight of your body centered so to provide you the freedom of sidestepping or pullback. With your footwork, you want to glide across the ring whilst managing your weight back and forth as you move towards or away from your opponent.
While you facing yourself in the mirror is nothing short of exceptional, you do need a sparring partner to test your skills. Sparring gives you a close-up on how it feels when facing a real opponent. Even in sparring, there are various techniques, each one designed to emphasize a particular part of boxing. Through sparring sessions, you can work on your punches, generating power, improving footwork and overall speed along with precision. There are generally two types of sparring:
- Light Contact Sparring: Low contact sparring emphasizes on improving the ring presence such as body movement and footwork.
- Full Contact Sparring: A full contact sparring will help you test yourself in an actual boxing match. It’s a great way to put your newfound skills on display and understand where you stand in terms of progress.
Though an advanced element for a beginner’s guide. We simply couldn’t wrap this basic boxing tutorial without mentioning about combinations. So, what are combinations? These are quick punching techniques combined together to cause maximum damage.
These combinations can be thrown when you’re practicing with a bag, shadowboxing or while you’re practicing with a partner. Every professional boxer has these combinations mastered. If you want to understand combinations, start by learning the number system below and then try it out yourself.
Now let’s understand the application. Suppose your coach instructs you to hit a 1-2-3b combination. When he says this, he is referring to a jab followed by a right cross and left hook to the body. Similar you can devise an nth number of combinations based upon what works out the best for you.
As far the common boxing combinations go, here’s a comprehensive list:
(Little exercise: Grab a notebook, try and decode these 14 combinations and see if you got them right. If you got it right on the paper, then what are you waiting for in real life?)
There are no barriers for combinations. It’s not necessary that these are the only combinations. You can throw whatever you feel is right and would be worth it.
Essential boxing equipment that you need
When starting out, you can do most of the things just by shadowboxing. However, as a fighter looking to participate in the competition, you do need equipment. When buying equipment, you don’t want to waste your money on unnecessary equipment because there’s plenty of them in the market. Buy a few but quality products which are essential when starting out. As time progresses, you can buy new and expensive gear based upon the money you save or win through competitions.
Hand Wraps: Crucial to protecting your hands especially knuckles under the gloves. Wraps are made of cloth and with adequate practice, you can learn how to wrap them in no time.
Gloves: Simply the signage of boxing, gloves are special for every boxer. Each boxing glove means a lot to a fighter. These gloves can differ based upon the weights and sizes for competition, sparring and so on. Based upon the competition you’re looking to participate in, you must choose the weight limit of the gloves.
Headgear: Though you might not see this in pro-boxing, amateur fighters do require to wear headgear. Thus, get a quality headgear which fits perfectly.
Mouth Guard: A staple equipment in boxing, a mouth guard prevents the teeth from shattering in case you eat a punch in the face. It also prevents you from biting your tongue and helping you to breathe properly when fighting.
Footwear: Grip is the most important factor. Boxing shoes have a grip ideal for canvas. They are specifically designed to ensure ankle and feet stability when you move. These footwears are not for cardio or running, so you know they’re distinctive.
Groin Protection: When you’re sparring and training hard with your partners, groin protection prevents an injury. You never know which blow might switch your lights off, thus it’s always wise to protect.
Heavy Boxing Bag: It’s more than just a frustration bag. A good boxing bag helps you improve the overall stamina along with your punching power. There are numerous heavy bag workouts which can help build your strength and power.
Speed Bag: Not just visually fascinating, practically vicious too. A speed bag is usually mounted on a platform and it enables you to throw quickfire punches. Obviously, it helps improve the speed, precision, hand-eye coordination, stamina and lastly footwork. There are tons of amazing speed bag workouts to improve your boxing skills.
Jump Rope: Arguably, the best cardio equipment for fighters. A jump rope will test your endurance and will help you build if you’re lacking it. Using jump rope to improve your stamina is a great way to get started as a beginner.
Mitts: Mitts or Focus Mitts are sparring pads which allow you to hit your sparring partner with full power. Mitts are a great way to improve your movement, power, and target.
Double End Bag: A speed bag which is connected to the floor and ceiling with a bungee or a rope. Double End Bags act as a substitute for speed bags on which you can practice numerous punch combinations.
Common mistakes to avoid in boxing
Mistakes are common in sports but what separates champions from the average Joe is the occurrence of these mistakes. Right from the start, you should aim to commit as fewer mistakes as you can i.e. concentrate more and put your heart and mind in it, not just your body. Below are boxing mistakes which are commonly made by amateur boxers when starting out. These mistakes can be classified into three types:
Beginner Technique mistakes to avoid:
- Don’t lean past your knees
- Don’t keep your body and fists tight when not punching
- Don’t lift your feet when you punch, that decreases power as well as balance
- Don’t cover your eyes when defending, your gloves should be under your eyes
- Never get too full of yourself and don’t underestimate your opponent
Beginner Training mistakes to avoid:
- Training with an under qualified While this might help you get started, it might be detrimental to your progress.
- Stop thinking you can achieve everything by yourself. You need a sparring partner, a coach or a mentor to guide you as you progress
- Biting off more than what you can chew. Similarly, don’t use a training bag which is heavier than what you can handle
- Simply focusing on power and neglecting balance, accuracy, speed, and endurance
- Underestimating shadowboxing
- Grinding 24/7. Doesn’t work. You’ll get physically and mentally exhausted
- Don’t think that drill training i.e. bag work and shadowboxing isn’t as effective as responsive training i.e. sparring and mitts
Beginner Fighting mistakes to avoid:
- Letting your hands drop in a fight
- Not dragging instead jumping around the ring
- Looking away from the opponent
- Getting overboard with combos (Don’t hit more than 4-5 punches when throwing a combination)
- Neglecting the range and leaving the position to land the punch
- Overlooking the importance of the jab i.e. considering it as ineffective
Drills to improve Boxing
While there are technical heavy bag drills, speed bag drills, double-end bag drills, in this section, we are focusing on basic boxing exercises for beginners. Thus, you won’t see any equipment training here, instead just the exercises that you must do and improve upon as a beginner boxer. Don’t be too hard on yourself at the start. Don’t overburden or push yourself beyond the specified limits, your career might end before you even begin. Thus, work your way up, slowly and steadily. Be productive and don’t end up exhausting yourself.
X3 rounds of running or jump ropes
X3 rounds of shadowboxing
Stretching and body warming movements
X3 rounds of heavy bag training
X3 rounds of speed bag training
X3 rounds of double end bag training
X3 rounds focus mitts training with a partner
X3 rounds of additional shadowboxing
X3 rounds of conditioning (Tabata, resistance, plyometric drills)
X3 rounds of sparring (Practicing new skills)
50-60 push ups
Stretching to warm down your muscles
Importance of Nutrition in Boxing
You become what you eat is not a joke. It, in fact, is a reality. In fight sports where your body needs to be in top condition, you simply can’t go about it while eating junk. With that said, you don’t have to starve to death. As a boxer, you can eat everything in the limit, however, it is the timeframe of when to eat, what to eat and how is it going to affect you which matters the most. Having said that, let us check out what you ought to eat in terms of nutrients. Though there’s a complete guide on Nutrition for Boxers, let’s understand things from an overview perspective:
- Water: You gotta survive after all
- Protein: Responsible for muscle growth
- Carbs: Maintaining the energy levels
- Fats: Crucial for organs followed by energy
- Minerals & Vitamins to boost your immune system, cell growth, strong bones, and improved organ functions
- Fiber to improve your digestive system, keep your digestive tract healthy
You need to eat everything i.e. a variety of food to ensure your body grows, functions and maintains itself without any imbalance or deficiency. Improper diet might lead to illness, poor performance and other adverse effects on health.
Here’s a diagram showing how your meal time should flow throughout the day:
If you notice there are three smaller meals chipped in between the big meals. The reason for that is because smaller meals prevent starvation and keep you energized all day. These meals are important when you’re engrossed in long workout sessions. These meals keep the metabolism high and prevent you from overeating.
Benefits of Boxing
Man, haven’t we transformed our lives in the paragraphs above already? If yes, then here’s the treat for you for reaching till here. You seem dedicated and looking for a reason to start your boxing dream. And to your pleasure, there isn’t one but many reasons why you should take a shot at it by all means. Whether you’re a noob, an intermediate or a pro, you might be reaping rewards or are about to reap rewards with the benefits of boxing.
Keeps you fit: Not rocket science, is it? But check this out, numerous studies have suggested that boxing workouts are in fact the highest calorie burning exercises that an individual can engage in. With just 15 minutes sparring session with your trainer or a heavy bag, you can shed up to 200 calories. Crazy. Isn’t it?
Improves conditioning: Boxing workouts are heavy intensity workouts with interval training. These principles i.e. HIIT, are great to burn fat and improving cardiovascular conditioning in comparison to running and are far more pleasing on the joints. If you want to make to distance and have solid conditioning, you should box.
Improves endurance & builds strength: Call what you want, but boxing is a sport of endurance. Think about the Mcgregor-Mayweather bout. If Conor would have had the gas to last long, Floyd’s streak would have been in trouble. That is where endurance comes into play. Not only do you want to throw high-energy punches, but you want to hang in there right till the end. Boxing drills such as footwork and rope jumping drills help strengthen your lower body as a result of which you’re able to stand longer.
Builds Confidence: When we say confidence, that doesn’t mean getting all cocky. Confidence is when you trust your abilities, become the best whilst respecting your opponent. With few drills and tricks in the back, if you’d like to assume you’ve everything figured out, you’ll certainly fall flat on your face. On the contrary, boxing can help build confidence and an unbreakable self-belief if you train yourself in the right manner.
Improves Focus: It might be surprising but boxing forces you to improve your focus by emphasizing on techniques. A boxing workout is not only relieving but it helps you improve your mentality. On the other hand, the endorphin’s released from your body help you get stress free.
Self-Defense Mechanism: Unlike any other fight sport, boxing for real can be really handy for self-defense. Though it’s not really meant for self-defense, at the time of dire need, it can really prove to be life-saving. You never know what you might come up against and having drilled knuckles can easily fend off goons.
Now that we’re done with the basic boxing starter pack, let us work on helping you to find your boxing style. Though this part is not vital if you’re just starting out but reflecting upon your fighting style is a great way to discover the boxer in you.
Understanding your Boxing Style
AND THE BEST BOXING STYLE IS…. (Drumrolls) ‘Your Natural Style’! As you keep on progressing, you’ll find how different you are from every other fighter in the world. Don’t be shocked when I say that each and every boxer on this planet is unique in his/her own way. You don’t want to box like Tyson or Floyd, you want to box as yourself. You sure want to learn from the greats, integrate the best in your style and improve every day. Even the way you shadowbox is different from any beginner, amateur or professional boxer out there. Work on the training, technique, and strategy, your style will ultimately follow.
Law of fist’s recommendation for an exercise plan
For this exercise plan for beginners, we’ve divided the course into three parts:
- Strength Training
- Speed and Explosiveness Drills
- Boxing Specific
Get this exercise plan (free-of-cost) by dropping your e-mail address below.
STRENGTH TRAINING – SET A
Reps & Sets
3 sets of 25
3 sets of 10
3 sets of 15
3 sets of 15
3 sets of 10
20 reps each leg
STRENGTH TRAINING – SET B
Reps & Sets
3 sets (100, 70, 60)
100 reps each leg
Standing Calf Raises
Till you stop
Till you stop
3 sets of 20
SPEED AND EXPLOSIVENESS DRILLS
SPEED & EXPLOSIVENESS TRAINING – SET A
Reps & Sets
3 sets of 10
2 sets of 50 meters
One legged hop
20 meters forward, 20 meters backward (Both Legs)
Till you stop
3 sets (30, 20, 10)
Ideally 5 times a week (2 days with trainer and 3 by yourself)
Reps & Sets
X5 – 3 minutes round with 1-minute rest in between
Reps & Sets
X3 – 3 minutes round with 1-minute rest in between
Emphasize on Footwork
Integrate jab to your footwork
Try 1-2 combinations the entire round
Reps & Sets
Heavy Bag Workout
6 minutes round with 1-minute rest in between
Emphasize on Footwork (Pushing the bag and moving around it)
Practice jab to the head (Move, stick and jab)
Try jab/right cross combination. Work in circles and angles while switching directions
Practice 1-2-3 combinations
Free hit! Practice random hits
1-minute punching to the head with emphasis on speed
3 minutes round with 1-minute rest in between
We’ve done our part. Hope you do yours. Start today. It’s never too late. Hope this guide helped you with the basics of boxing in every department. As a beginner boxer, we urge you to practice hard and stay adrift of all the toxicities and criticism surrounding your trade. Lastly, do not underestimate the drills nor your opponents. Give respect where it’s due. Respect your opponent first and respect this beautiful sport before that. Finally, to cap this off, I’ll share yet another legendary quote, “You never lose until you actually give up.” – Mike Tyson