So you’ve watched your favourite fighters compete and you have the urge to do it yourself, but you don’t know how to start.
Join our boxing classes and afterwards, no matter what your intentions are, these 7 steps on how to start boxing are universal and can apply to practically anyone wanting to start out in the ‘sweet science’.
7 Steps When You Learn How to Start Boxing
Step 1. Identify Your Motive
What’s your motive for starting boxing? Do you want to compete? If so, how far do you want to take it? Or do you just want to get into shape?
Often for new starters, these questions will lie unanswered until they actually give it a go. However, I find that those who are adamant on what they want in the beginning usually achieve what they set out to do.
This doesn’t mean that you have to aspire to become a world champion (although there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that), but just take it one step at a time.
Your initial motive could be to compete as an amateur, then perhaps go professional and aim for a regional title before taking things further.
Identifying your motive and then break down the steps it takes to reach your goal. You’ll undoubtedly have setbacks on the way, but they’re only ‘call to actions’ for improvement in one aspect of your game or another.
Step 2. Get the Right Equipment
Whether you plan on competing for glory or you just want to get into tip top shape, make sure that you get the right equipment.
Most boxing gyms will already have some essentials for you to use such as gloves and headgear, but I would highly recommend that you get your own because equipment for anyone’s use are usually worn-out, damaged and unhygienic.
If you’re strapped for cash, then the first thing you need is a pair of decent boxing gloves that’ll last. I’ve made the mistake of buying cheap one’s in the past that tear around the thumb and inside within the first couple weeks.
For training purposes, it’s a good idea to buy a good skipping rope, as you’ll be doing a lot of it. If you plan on sparring, then a head guard, groin guard and a gum shield is essential. You may also wish to invest in a pair of boxing shoes, which keep you light on your feet.
Step 3. Learn the Fundamentals of Boxing
You may have already watched some professional boxers fight and you’ve probably even picked up a thing or two from them. However, if it’s your first time actually going to train in boxing, then it’s vital that you learn the fundamentals.
This means getting your stance correct, learning how to properly defend yourself and throw basic punches and combinations, learning proper foot movement and so on. Make these fundamentals a habit. If your favorite fighter drops his hands, don’t try to imitate him as you’ll quickly find out the hard way that it’s not a good thing.
Instead, get the fundamentals right and with more experience, you’ll begin to develop your own style. Then you’ll know what works for you and what doesn’t, without picking up too many bad habits along the way.
Step 4. Get Into the Right Condition
Getting into condition is a process that is done throughout your entire training, but it’s also a lifestyle choice. It’s important to implement a good diet plan to train effectively. What you eat and how you train will determine how quickly and easily you achieve physical results.
If you’re carrying excessive body fat, then do a lot of high and low intensity cardio work outs such as sprinting and jogging. Avoid lifting heavy weights, but instead, opt for lighter weights but do a higher amount of reps.
A good workout would be to shadowbox with 0.5 – 1kg dumbbells in each hand for 3 x 3 minutes with a minute rest in between. This will tone up your upper body instead of adding on extra muscle that will hinder you. You can also go intense rounds on the heavy bag, which provides a great workout.
After learning the fundamentals of boxing, getting into condition is the second most important aspect of boxing because it’s a high impact and high intensity sport that requires a lot of energy. You can be the most gifted fighter in the world, but if you’re not in shape, you’ll get beaten by lesser fighters who are in better condition.
Step 5. Start Sparring
When you first start sparring, even before you step in the ring, it’s quite nerve wracking. There really is no best way to prepare for this, you just have to get in there and put into practice what you already know.
Even in that case, you’ll still likely gas out after the first round because of all the nervous energy.
You’ll get used to it after a few sessions and you’ll find that you are able to control your energy much more conservatively. You want to keep in mind these few tips when sparring for your first few times:
- Sparring is for learning, not fighting to knock your sparring partner out.
- Work on your speed, accuracy, timing, technique, defense and movement. Don’t always concentrate on power.
- Try to at least get an experienced sparring partner that is not trying to knock your head off either (although certain gyms will try and test your mettle early, so be prepared).
- If you injure yourself in any way and it’s causing you a great deal of pain, then allow it to heal before sparring again or doing any sort of training that will make it worse.
Step 6. Compete
Your intentions might have been to eventually start competing as an amateur boxer, but when is the right time? The answer to that question depends on one either one or both of these two things:
- When you’ve racked up enough experience by sparring.
- When your trainer sees that you’re ready.
You can tell how well you do in sparring usually by how often you hit your opponent and how much you get hit back. The more you hit and don’t get hit is really the forefront of boxing, especially the amateurs. It’s definitely a confident booster when you do well in sparring consistently, and you should feel that you’re ready to compete.
On the other hand, if you’re like a lot of other boxers who procrastinate too much, then your trainer should step in and tell you that you’re ready, even though you feel that you’re not. It’s often the encouragement you need to take action. In that respect, your trainer will organize fights for you and all you have to do is come prepared.
Step 7. Constantly Improve
No matter if you win, lose or draw, you always need to go back to the drawing board and improve aspects of your game that need improvement. If your opponent was putting on the pressure and you found it difficult to keep him off you, then you should establish a better jab.
If you were frequently getting caught with the uppercut, then don’t lean forward too much. You really have to break it down specifically on what you need to improve on and how.
Watch a lot of videos of other fighters who are fundamentally and technically sound, such as Andre Ward, Bernard Hopkins and Floyd Mayweather Jr. They all have issues with certain fighters, but notice how they figure out and adjust to their opponents.
If you really want to achieve great things in boxing, then make it a lifestyle. Immerse yourself with the whole mentality and lifestyle of a professional athlete/boxer. Don’t cut corners because you’re only cheating yourself. It’s not an easy road to glory, but one that’s worth walking.
Basic Boxing Gear and Moves
Boxing is likely one of the most well-known sports in the world. Some of the most famous athletes in the world were boxers, including the legendary Muhammad Ali—a name you’ll see on virtually every list of recognizable athletes. And even those who don’t actually watch boxing have at least seen it in pop culture through the countless movies that chronicle the lives of fighters both real and fictional.
With that in mind, it makes sense that boxing-style training has become increasingly popular over the years. Who wouldn’t want to feel like Rocky when he reaches the top of that staircase? But working out like a boxer isn’t just punching with reckless abandon—at least not if you want to do it right and get a good workout out of it.
Boxing involves power, strategy, spot-on technique, and good conditioning to help fighters get through round after round against their opponents. In pro boxing, a fight can last up to 12 three-minute rounds with one-minute breaks in-between. That’s a long time to fight.
You can get going with some shadow boxing and conditioning right in your living room or backyard with minimal equipment, but you’ll want to make sure you nail some basics and take some safety guidelines into account. It may not seem important while you’re just shadow boxing, but if you plan on actually hitting a heavy bag at home or joining a boxing gym in the long run, you’ll be glad you did.
From the proper stance to the four basic punches and tips for getting the most out of shadow boxing, we’ve got you covered.
Basic Boxing Gear
Whether or not you join a gym from the start, you’ll want to make sure you have proper training gear. This is especially true if you’re hitting a heavy bag, but it can’t hurt to get used to suiting up while you shadowbox.
If you do opt to get a heavy bag, keep in mind that you shouldn’t be going from zero to 100 right away.
People love hitting heavy bags hard, but just think about this in terms of fitness. Just like lifting weights or any type of exercise, it’s a progression to get up to full speed. You have to get your joints used to those impacts and get your muscles used to it. If you go right into it hitting hard, you could really hurt yourself.
And if you’re going for the bare minimum as far as gear, you need to at least wrap your wrists and throw some gloves on before hitting the bag.
Wrapping your wrists is the most important thing when you’re working with a heavy bag, says. People are very intimidated by the wraps, but they’re there to protect those little bones in your wrist. And you have to use gloves. If you skip those, you risk injury and potentially losing a day or two of training afterward.
Traditional canvas wraps are cheap and simple enough to put on with some practice, and there are countless YouTube tutorials demonstrating proper wrapping technique. You’ll also want to get your hands in some gloves to protect them. Whether you go for a budget option or something higher-end, buy a weight that suits your needs. If you’re only going to hit a bag, you can go minimal with gloves meant for bag work.
If you’re planning on sparring eventually (safely, at a gym with a coach), go for 14 or 16-ounce gloves. As a beginner, heavier gloves will offer more protection for your hands.
Before you start throwing punches, make sure you’re standing properly.
First, situate your feet so that they’re shoulder-width apart, with one foot in front of the other.
Your front foot should basically be pointed straight ahead at your imaginary opponent. If you’re right-handed, your left foot is going straight ahead. If you’re left-handed, aka Southpaw in boxing terms, it’s just the opposite. Either way, we recommend starting off by keeping your back foot out at about a 45-degree angle from the imaginary line your front foot is sitting on.
Your lead shoulder should also be forward, so you’re not standing square facing your opponent. This is key, because rotating your body will translate to more power in your punches.
The boxing stance allows a much better springing to your step, whether it’s forward or backwards. If you watch boxers, you see them move backwards as much as they move forward for an attack—it’s a defensive and offensive position.
If your feet are too close or too far apart, you’ll be less agile, and you want to be in a position where you’re able to move forward and back as easily as you can move left and right.
As far as your hands, keep them both up in front of your face—imagine you’re in a fight and want to protect your head. Get in the habit of pulling your hands right back in after throwing punches.
Now, you’re ready to throw some jabs, crosses, hooks, and uppercuts.
How to Throw a Jab
The jab is thrown with your lead hand (left for righties, right for Southpaw boxers), and it’s not going to be the punch you knock someone out with.
It’s a setup punch, so if you see that hand coming, it’s used oftentimes to mask or set up another punch that’s a bit more powerful.
When you jab, you’ll basically be reaching forward with your two larger knuckles pointed straight ahead and your palm facing down—with your fist closed, of course. Again, you’re not meant to put all of your strength into it.
We also stress the importance of keeping your thumbs outside of your fists. If you keep your thumbs inside your fingers, you risk seriously injuring your hands. That goes for all punches, and it’s especially important for when you graduate from shadowboxing to the heavy bag.
How to Throw a Cross
A cross is similar to a jab in that you’re punching straight into your imaginary opponent, but it’s executed by your rear hand coming across your body instead. Your rear hand should still be pointed forward with your palm facing down, but you’ll use your hips to generate more power.
It’s not just arms pushing forward, it is the rotation of the hips and waist, and the extension of the arm where you get your power. We compares it to baseball, where you’ll never see someone hit a home run swinging with just their arms. Similarly, the entire body is involved to create the power behind the punch.
How to Throw a Hook
A good punch to follow the cross is the hook—the lead hook, in particular. That way, you’d be alternating hands. This is probably the most common knockout punch you see in boxing, he adds. You can throw a rear hook, too, but the lead is more common and doesn’t leave your torso as open to a strike.
To throw a lead hook, you’re basically going to hook your fist around your opponent or the bag in a semicircle, hence the name. Think like your opponent has their hands up in front of them, and if you throw a straight punch, they’ll block it,. If you throw kind of a circular punch, you’re going around their hands in order to get to them.
For this one, your fist will be coming at the bag from the side. Your elbow should be at about shoulder height or a little bit below shoulder height, and your fist should be in line with that. It’s almost like you could put a tray on top of your arm in that position and the tray wouldn’t fall over. Your palm will be facing you instead of facing down as it did in the previous punches.
Another thing, some people opt to execute this punch with their palms down, but that keeping your palm toward you helps ensure that you hit the bag with your whole fist and don’t just clip it with your pinky knuckle and risk hurting your fingers.
How to Throw an Uppercut
The final basic punch is an uppercut, most often done with your rear hand. For an uppercut, your hand will drop away from your face, down a little bit toward the belly—but not too low.
A lot of people drop their hand too low, and you know what they’re about to do, that’s what they call telegraphing your punches.”
Just drop your hand slightly, then it’s similar to a hook in concept, but instead of coming around the body, you’re coming from underneath. Lower your rear hand down, then make a straight line from belly to chin right in front of you.
Those are the four basic punches that you can use as you work into shadow boxing and bag work.
Shadowboxing can be a great workout. Keyword: can. But if you’re not doing it properly, you won’t understand what the hype is all about or why it’s considered a great cardio workout.
It’s a simple concept, and you don’t need to be overly concerned with the combos you’re throwing as a beginner. To make sure you get a good workout in, the more important aspect is getting your body involved. Throwing punches without involving the rest of the body is a common rookie mistake.
If you’re just moving your arms, then you’re not moving your body. And if you want to burn calories, moving your arms is not the best way to do it. Major muscle groups are how you get the cardio aspect, because they’re a lot larger and they consume more oxygen to burn more calories.
To get the rest of your body involved, you can change the levels of your punches by squatting down and back up and making sure you really rotate your torso into your strikes. Another aspect that comes into play is stopping those punches, particularly in shadowboxing.
If you throw a hard, fast punch, you’re also responsible for stopping it. So there’s work that goes into decelerating a punch. In a fight that’s called pulling your punches, but you have to pull your punches in shadowboxing, otherwise you can hyperextend your arm and hurt yourself.
Finally, make sure you’re moving your feet, shifting your weight between legs and hopping back and forth. Those aspects make it a total-body workout that’s safe for anyone to try, and it takes minimal space.
If you want to train like a true boxer, you can try doing full three-minute rounds of shadowboxing with one-minute “breaks” in-between. By breaks, we mean conditioning—popular options are core work like jackknives, planks, or crunches, or bodyweight moves like squats to keep your heart rate up and work different muscle groups.