Boxing Cardio Exercises

Young man boxing with shadow

Boxers are usually in tip-top shape because their sport is so aerobically challenging. Boxing drills are meant to make someone better inside the ring, but they're so aerobically taxing that you can use them to get a killer workout.

Before you throw on a pair of boxing gloves and start punching away, learn proper technique first.

The Stance

Stand in a staggered stance with your dominant foot and hand behind your non-dominant side. Face at a 45-degree angle to whatever object you intend to hit. Ball your hands up into fists and put them up to your cheekbones with your elbows close to your sides.


From your boxing stance, there are six basic punches, three with each hand. Straight punches involve reaching straight forward with your fist and then bringing it back to your cheek.

Hook punches are when you bring your fist around and hit an object from the side. You throw a hook by cocking your elbow out to the side and punching across your body.

Uppercuts are used to hit an object from underneath. Start by squatting down. Then, as you stand up, punch straight up.

Shadow Boxing

Use your imagination to fight an invisible opponent with shadow boxing. The easiest way to do this drill is to stand in front of a mirror, so that you can monitor your technique. Find a large space where you can move around as though you're fighting in a boxing ring and get into your fighting stance.

Throw combinations of punches at an imaginary opponent. At the same time, throw in some ducks and dodges of imaginary punches. Since you're not hitting an actual object, powerful punches won't come in handy. Opt for speed instead, moving as fast as possible.

Set a time for two- or three-minute rounds with a 30- or 60-second break in-between. If you need to up the intensity, grab a pair of light dumbbells, around 2 or 3 pounds. Hold the dumbbells as you shadow box to make your arm muscles work a little harder.

Young woman boxing workout in an old building

Heavy Bag

Instead of fighting an imaginary opponent, you can use a heavy bag as a target. Stand an arm's length away from the bag and get into your fighting stance. From here, throw single punches or combinations.

Once you've mastered standing and throwing punches, try to move side-to-side and punch at the same time. Similar to shadow boxing, you can imagine that the heavy bag is an opponent and duck and dodge imaginary punches.

Move and punch for two- or three-minute rounds for a steady cardio workout. Or, you can ramp up the intensity by doing flurries of punches, as fast as possible, for 30 seconds. After you do a flurry of punches, rest for 30 seconds and repeat.

Punching Mitts

Half of the challenge in boxing is throwing punches. The other half is moving quickly around a boxing ring. You can get a taste of how demanding boxing can be from shadow boxing and heavy bag training, but punching mitts bring the sport to life.

You need a partner to do punching mitt drills, which is why they're so realistic. Have your partner put on punching mitts and move towards or away from you. As you move, have your partner hold up mitts for you to punch.

Punching mitts are small targets, so you have to be fairly accurate with your punches. That adds another element of realism to this drill and forces you to work harder to get into the proper position to punch.

Work in two- to three-minute rounds continuously or in 30-second flurries of punches.

Jumping Rope

Boxers need to be agile and light on their feet in the ring. Jumping rope has been a staple in boxing training for decades because it's the best drill to keep someone on their toes.

You can use this classic boxing drill for your own aerobic benefit. Grab a jump rope and skip for two- to three-minute rounds. Try to vary your footwork as you jump. You can jump with two feet, one foot or alternate feet.

Vary the speed as well. Skip quickly for five to 10 seconds and then slow down for the same amount of time to add an element of interval training to the workout.