Boxing is an amazing activity to develop abs for two reasons: it's a great cardio workout and it's really taking on your ab muscles.
Boxers are in incredible shape because they have to move quickly and punch powerfully. They use their legs to move, their core to rotate and upper body to punch. In other words, boxers are using almost every muscle in their body. It's a very strenuous sport.
A typical boxing workout is structured in the same way that an interval training workout would be. Interval training is more intense and less time consuming than steady state cardio.
In fact, according to an article in the American College of Sports Medicine's Health and Fitness Journal, "Improvements in VO2 max and insulin sensitivity can be made in as little as 4 minutes of total exercise time."
Since boxers fight for three minutes and rest for one minute during competition, their workouts tend to follow the same pattern: work for three minutes and rest for one. This provides a great platform to develop an intense ab workout that will also raise your heart rate and burn fat.
For this workout do a cardio exercise followed by an ab exercise. Remember that you will do the exercise for three minutes and move on to the next exercise. Keep in mind that you aren't expected to do the exercise for the full three minutes, you are allowed to stop when you need to. The goal is to do as much as you can in the three minutes and then rest completely for one minute.
1. Jump Rope
This is a great warm-up and cardio exercise to kick-start your metabolism. Grab a jump rope and jump as long as you can. You're allowed to try tricks and perform some fancy footwork but try to keep jumping for the full three minutes.
Patrick Henigan, certified personal trainer, thinks that "jump roping is a great addition to boxing workouts. It burns more calories per minute than nearly any weightlifting exercise. It also builds coordination and foot strength."
After you've jumped rope — take the minute to rest.
Read more: How Effective Is Jump Roping?
2. Mountain Climber
This exercise is a combination of an ab workout and a cardio workout to keep up the fast pace of the workout and work your core at the same time.
HOW TO DO IT: Go down into a push-up position. Raise your right knee as close as you can to your chest.
Switch legs by driving your left knee up towards your chest and extending your right leg back until it's straight. Keep switching legs as fast as possible. Try to keep going for the full three minutes. Rest for one minute; during this rest period grab your boxing gloves.
To make this harder, use sliders or towels under your feet and slide back and forth.
3. Heavy Bag Punches
In this boxing exercise you're going to use your abs to rotate and punch. This is also very taxing on your arms and shoulders, so take brief breaks during the three minutes if you need them. Buy hand wraps or gel wraps to protect your hands and wrists while boxing.
HOW TO DO IT: Assume a boxing stance. To do this, set up like you are about to sprint. Your dominant hand and foot should be behind your non-dominant hand, so if you are right-handed your right foot should be behind your left and your shoulders should be turned to the right so that your left hand is in front of your right.
Stand an arm's length from the heavy bag in your boxing stance. Punch the bag with your non-dominant hand first, so if you are right-handed punch with your left hand first, then punch with your right hand. Keep punching left-right-left-right for as long as you can. Rest for one minute; you can leave your gloves on but sit on the ground or on a mat for the next exercise.
Read more: Punching Bag Routines
Don't punch as hard as you can, instead, punch as quickly as you can. Scientists at Wayne State University found that focusing on moving your hands quickly resulted in the most powerful punches.
4. Straight-Leg Sit-Ups
This is a simple ab exercise that will start to burn by the end of the round.
HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your back on the floor with your legs out straight and flat on the floor. Reach your arms up towards the ceiling until your elbows are straight.
Perform a sit-up with your legs flat on the ground. Try to reach your arms towards the ceiling the entire time instead of swinging them down towards your feet which would give you momentum and make the exercise easier on your abs. Rest for one minute.
5. Heavy Bag Hooks
The last exercise which will involve a lot of rotation and power generated from your abs.
HOW TO DO IT: Get into your boxing stance, half an arm's length from the heavy bag. Bend your knees and sink down, the goal is to punch lower on the heavy bag for this exercise because we are simulating hooks to the body in boxing.
The first hook should be with your non-dominant hand (the hand in front). To throw a hook, punch the side of the bag in a looping punch, raising your elbow up so that your forearm is parallel to the floor. Turn your whole body into the punch.
Throw a hook with your dominant hand, hitting the side of the bag and turning your body in the direction that your hand is moving. Keep throwing hooks with your left and right hand until you are tired or the round ends. Punch hard and use your abs to turn into the hook.