Boxing for women is really taking off. We're picking up our gloves to get fighting fit but that's not to say some of us aren't intimidated by the idea of boxing. The idea of bulky arms, monster muscles and nose bleeds is wrong. Boxing is actually a brilliant way of sculpting and toning and that hulk-like muscle mass you're worried about is just a figment of your imagination.
Whether you're pounding a punch bag or skipping your heart out, boxing training is something every woman should try at least once. On top of toning your muscles, boxing has a load more benefits that make it a brilliant all round exercise choice for women. We spoke to two incredible personal trainers to find out exactly why that is.
1. It keeps your heart healthy
While we all exercise to look physically fit, we need to stop looking in the mirror and focus on the real benefit of exercise: to keep us healthier for longer. The main way of doing this is to keep that heart strong for as long as possible and Personal Trainer at LA Fitness, John Kalu says that boxing is a great workout for doing just that.
"A good boxing workout makes you breathe heavily and increases the rate at which your heart pumps blood around your body. Increased heart beat strengthens your heart's muscles and lowers your chances of developing cardiovascular complications such as heart attacks and strokes," he says.
2. It makes you super-fit
Sadly for all of us, exercising effectively takes more than just jumping on a treadmill and hoping for the best. If you want to get the most out of your body then you need to work it the right way through a variety of different forms of exercise and keeping your heart rate at the right level.
If it's overall fitness you're after, you need to get your head around both aerobic and anaerobic exercise present in boxing. John says: "Boxing is estimated to be 70-80% anaerobic and 20-30% aerobic. A boxing workout helps maintain the heart rate at 75%-85% regular heartbeat which is the recommended range if you are exercising."
But what does that mean? Well it all comes down to oxygen. Aerobic exercise is low energy exercise that can be done for extended periods of time - think yoga, swimming and running. Because aerobic exercise is relatively gentle, your body is able maintain a reasonable amount of oxygen which is then carried to your muscles to use as fuel; giving them the energy they need to sustain the effort of whatever exercise it is you're doing. This type of exercise is good for burning fat and improving cardiovascular health.
Anaerobic exercise is any short, intense exercise like HIIT and uses up oxygen fast. This means lactic acid is produced and your body will not be able to sustain its energy levels for long. This type of exercise increases your endurance, muscle mass, metabolism and your ability to withstand fatigue.
Being able to build up your body's tolerance to anaerobic exercise means that you will increase the maximum amount of oxygen you use during exercise (your VO2) and have a higher threshold before lactic acid is produced - therefore making you fitter.
Boxing's looking pretty good already huh?
3. It torches calories
As boxing is such a high intensity workout it's unsurprising that it burns through a LOT of calories.
"An hour of boxing burns around 350-500 calories depending on your weight and the intensity of the workout. An advanced female boxer on a high intensity boxing workout can burn more 500 calories an hour," John says.
4. It'll burn fat fast
Boxing doesn't just burn calories. Martial Artist and Gym Manager Emma Saville from QDos Fitness says "you also lose visceral fat which is the fat around the stomach."
Visceral fat is of particular concern as it's a key player in a variety of health concerns, so focusing on getting rid of it is incredibly important. Thank you boxing.
What's also so great about boxing training is that you can mix it in with other resistance work to help burn fat. John says to, "combine resistance work such as press ups, lunges and jumping squats along with bouts of skipping into a short high intensity circuit, take short rests and then repeat."
5. It'll make you strong
Almost more important than fat burning is strength training. To build up speed, endurance and keep your body in optimum health, it needs to be strong. Boxing is the perfect exercise for achieving absolutely all of those things.
John explains that "a good boxing regime involves different forms of movement and repetitive motions of your entire body. These repetitive movements provide strength and power all over your body, especially to your arms, legs and core areas."
6. It's a great stress reliever
You might think that pounding away on that punch bag will send your aggression into overdrive but John says that boxing is actually surprisingly therapeutic.
"Research shows that boxing helps to relieve physical and mental stress and tension with every punch. Boxing can decrease stress hormones like cortisol and increase endorphins which is your body's feel-good chemicals, giving your mood a natural boost, which in turn relieves stress," he says.
7. It's an awesome way to tone up
Here's the biggie. John says that as "boxing is a high repetitive workout, it results in toning rather than building muscle." #Win.
8. It's a whole body workout
Emma says, "A boxing training session involves every muscle in the body, but especially the core and the shoulders. Your abs and obliques will be aching after your first few sessions!"
A good boxing workout tones your legs, arms, chest, shoulders, back and helps you build a strong core - so yeah, that's pretty much everything.
9. It'll help with self confidence
Emma says, "there is a massive endorphins release in the body from hitting a heavy bag or doing pad work with a partner, those chemicals give you a massive feeling of well being. Boxing training will give you a huge sense of self confidence as well."
10. You can do it anywhere
The best thing about boxing is that you don't need to do it in a gym. Getting your own gloves and pads are actually a pretty good investment.
Obviously it helps to have all of the proper equipment, but Emma says that "a skipping rope and a stopwatch are two of the simplest things you can have at home and cost very little." AND if you have a sparring partner, you're good to go.
Think you might try it? Tweet us at @sofeminineUK and tell us what you think!
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