Boxing has come a long way from punching slabs of beef in a cooler and running up the Art Museum stairs in Philadelphia. It’s transitioned from private boxing coaches exclusively for serious competitors to group classes for the average individual, who just so happen to be looking to learn how float like a butterfly and/or sting like a bee.
With this new evolution and accessibility, many are wrapping up and taking to the bag to learn a new skill, while taking steps towards fitness goals in the process. On average, a boxing class that lasts one hour can burn up to 462 and 500 calories per hour for men and 371 and 413 calories for women, depending on weight. Having positive effects on cardiovascular health, agility, and footwork all while providing an appropriate outlet to channel aggression...it’s no wonder why boxing is surging in popularity. If it’s your first time at the bag, here’s what you can expect.
Don’t just hit it
At first glance, it can look like a boxer is haphazardly hitting the bag in an animalistic approach - you know the image. However, there is a method to their madness. Technique is largely important when it comes to boxing. An incorrect punch can lead to knuckle and wrist injuries, so be sure to listen to your instructor when they emphasize technique.
You won’t be hitting the bag at full capacity your first, second, or even third time you approach the bag. Taking the time to learn how to properly throw a punch, turn your hips, and pivot your back foot will ensure a safe, sustainable, and powerful punch.
Essentials: Gloves, Wraps, Towels and Water Bottles
Unless you are shadow boxing, you’ll want wraps and gloves to prevent injury while punching the bag. Wraps go around the knuckles, palms, and wrists to provide extra support inside of the glove.
When it comes to gloves, there are several different types based on their weight (in ounces). The most common sizes are 10 oz., 12 oz., 14 oz., and 16 oz, with the weights directly correlating to the amount of padding in the glove. If you’re sparring and speed is important, opt for a lighter glove. For heavy bag training, 12 oz and above will be preferred. As with most workouts, sweat will be included so make sure to bring a towel and a water bottle along with you.
Expect your Heart Rate to elevate and stay elevated
Boxing is a cardiovascular activity, so expect to train in higher heart rate ranges - 70% - 80% of your maximum heart rate is typical. If you’re boxing for traditional boxing rounds, bouts of exertion will last three minutes. Different training styles can work off of different interval periods of work to rest, but all aim to get your heart rate high and keep it that way to improve heart health endurance.
You’re not Muhammad Ali, so have fun with it!
Most of us aren’t legends in the ring, and that’s what can make boxing so fun! There aren’t any high stakes of being knocked out when it comes to heavy bag training, it’s just you and the bag. Take the time to learn combinations, play around with ones you like, and just have fun with it.
There aren’t a lot of settings where punching is appropriate (actually, cannot think of any besides martial arts), so relish the impact your own power has on the bag. As an added bonus, punching is proven to relieve muscle tension in areas that hold stress, providing boxers with a stress release!
When it comes to boxing, there is a bit of a learning curve, as with anything. Taking the time to learn how to properly throw a jab, cross, hook and uppercut will make a world of difference when you step up to the bag. Prepare with the correct equipment, have realistic expectations, and hit that bag!