Boxers tend to have a great set of abdominal muscles. According to Brandon Mentore, a certified strength and conditioning specialist who trains boxers, "core training for boxers usually begins and ends with some form of crunches." He also adds in some "rotational exercises, side bending exercises and abdominal bracing exercises, to work all of the abdominal muscles."
Boxers also typically include heavy bags in their training. The heavy bag is a great tool to develop the strength and stamina for which boxers are famous. The heavy bag is usually used to practice punching, but it has other uses as well. If you think outside the box, you can get an amazing ab workout using only a heavy bag. You don't even need to know how to box.
In this workout you'll do four heavy bag ab exercises. This is best performed in a circuit style, which means that you should do exercises one through five in order. Perform each exercise for 30 seconds and then move on to the next exercise.
If an exercise incorporates two different sides (left side and right side) you will perform 15 seconds on each side before moving on to the next exercise. Try to go through the entire circuit three times, taking a short break every time you complete it.
1. Rocky Sit-Up
This exercise is named after the classic boxing movie, "Rocky." The movie is a classic and so is the exercise.
HOW TO DO IT: Lie down on the floor in a sit-up position. Your knees should be in-line with the bottom of the heavy bag with your legs on either side of the bag.
Perform a sit-up. At the top of the rep, reach up and across on the heavy bag and hit the side of the bag. Make sure that you are reaching across your body to hit the side opposite of the arm that's reaching. Hit each side of the bag and then go back down. Make sure you hit with your palm. If you punch the bag without gloves on it will hurt!
If you want to kick this exercise up a notch, put on some boxing gloves and punch the heavy bag with each hand at the top of each rep!
2. Heavy Bag Crunch
This exercise will add some resistance to your crunches, giving you stronger, more defined abdominal muscles.
HOW TO DO IT: Lie down under the heavy bag. The bottom of the bag should be hovering over your stomach. Put your hands on the bag and firmly plant your heels into the ground. Holding onto the heavy bag, crunch your shoulders, head, and neck off of the mat while keeping your feet planted.
Slowly push the heavy bag forwards using your ab muscles, rather than your arms. After pushing the heavy bag as far forwards as possible, slowly lean backwards until you are once again lying on your back.
3. Heavy Bag Dead Bug
This exercise is a combination of a leg raise and crunch to work the ab muscles from top to bottom.
HOW TO DO IT: Lie down in front of the heavy bag. Put your legs around the bag and squeeze it. Your back should be flat on the mat and arms pointed straight up to the ceiling.
Slowly pull the heavy bag back towards your head using only your legs. At the same time, crunch your head, neck and shoulders off of the mat and reach your arms towards the bag.
Once you touch the heavy bag with your hands, slowly release the heavy bag back down to the original position with your legs as you lower your shoulders until your back is completely flat on the ground.
4. Heavy Bag High Knees
For this exercise, you will want to move as quickly as possible. According to Rob Licata, a certified personal trainer, "if you move fast enough this exercise will double as an ab exercise and a cardio exercise." Remember to do 15 seconds with the right leg and 15 seconds with the left leg.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand in front of the heavy bag and grab it from the top with both hands. Stand with your right foot behind your left foot.
Pull down on the heavy bag with your arms and, at the same time, raise your right knee and tap the right side of the heavy bag as high as possible with the knee. When you are bringing the knee up try to drive the right elbow down. This will work the side of your abs more, almost like a side crunch.
5. Heavy Bag Rotation
Rotation exercises such as this specifically target the obliques, which are the ab muscles on the sides of your torso.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand in front of the heavy bag with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Grab the bag firmly with both hands and tuck your elbows against your ribs. Slowly and with control, push the bag as far as you can to the right.
When you rotate, keep your elbows tucked against your ribs and your feet in place. Push the bag as far as you can to the right. When you can't push it any further, slowly move back to the middle. Once you have reached the middle, or starting position, pause. Then move the bag all the way to the left.