Beginner’s Guide To Cardio Kickboxing

By: Chris Freytag, CPT // March 8, 2023

If you want to get stronger, feel empowered, or burn a whole bunch of calories, cardio kickboxing is the workout for you! Though you use powerful, strong moves, don’t let kickboxing intimidate you. It’s an extremely empowering workout that can actually help you build confidence while having fun.

Cardio kickboxing is an effective cardiovascular workout that blends martial arts techniques with dance elements and basic calisthenics to leave you sweating and feeling like you could take on the world all at once.

Let’s learn how to start jabbing, punching, and kicking your way to a fun new workout.

Equipment Used For Cardio Kickboxing

Weighted Gloves

Some people use weighted gloves to enhance their workout, but this isn’t recommended for a beginner.

If you do choose to use weighted gloves (I really like them), they weigh between half a pound and a pound each.

Weighted Bar

If you are a Get Healthy U TV member you know that one of our favorite kickboxing formats is Boxing + Bar. A kickboxing workout holding a weighted bar can be used for blocking and other combat boxing movements.

I suggest using a weighted bar of 6 lbs or less (nothing over a 9 lb bar). Anything over 9 lbs will be too heavy using long levers and can cause injuries if not used correctly.

If you don’t have a weighted bar, you can also use a wooden dowel or PVC pipping (no longer than 4ft).

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You will also see some people hold dumbbells instead; however, if your class is moving at a fast pace, I don’t recommend holding three or five-pound weights. You don’t want to throw out your shoulder or cause too much stress on your joints.

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You will also want to choose the right shoes. While you can probably show up in any sneakers and do fine, it is recommended to wear cross-training or studio shoes.

Expert Tip: Don’t use running shoes. They will prevent you from proper lateral movement (side shuffles, etc).

What To Expect During Cardio Kickboxing

The Warm Up

At the beginning of class, the instructor will take you through a warm-up that mimics some of what you will do in class. Think of it as a rehearsal not only for your memory but for your muscles.

Slower squats and kicks will be introduced, as will the various punch motions that you will use: jab, cross, hook, and uppercut each have a unique motion.

This is an important time during class. You’ll want to listen and watch how these warm-ups look and execute with good form. Once the class is going at full speed you’ll want this good form to carry over.

Woman kickboxing


After you are warmed up, you begin a series of movements that are drill-oriented.

Typically the instructor will lead the class through these drills involving the entire body. As with any new form of exercise, listen to your body, pay attention to your heart rate (because it will get up there as you punch and kick), and consult your doctor if you have any physical concerns or limitations.

Most kickboxing workouts are about repetition instead of complicated choreography, so you don’t have to feel intimidated that, as a beginner, it will take you forever to catch on.

Benefits of Cardio Kickboxing

There are so many benefits to finding a cardio workout that you actually enjoy. Kickboxing is a great way to mix up your normal workout routine and have a little fun while burning calories and fat.

It can also improve your cardiovascular fitness, give you a confidence boost, and build lean muscle.

  • Improves cardiovascular fitness
  • Improves endurance
  • High caloric burn
  • Builds confidence
  • Builds lean muscle
  • Increases fat burn

Who Is Cardio Kickboxing Right For?

Low-impact lovers, rejoice! Most things done in cardio kickboxing are low-impact in nature or easily modified.

Beginners might need a few classes to catch on to everything, but it won’t take long. In the meantime, you’ll be moving and burning calories while you learn. Most people new to this kind of workout feel that natural “high” that comes from an intense workout, combined with the added feeling of strength and confidence only found in cardio kickboxing.

Athletes love the cardio intensity this workout provides. Plus, you can always enhance your workout by squatting deeper or punching with more power or adding weighted gloves.

So, cardio kickboxing is for everyone. Yes, everyone!

Woman with boxing gloves

Proper Cardio Kickboxing Techniques

Cardio kickboxing moves need to be properly executed to get the most out of your workout and prevent injury. Keep the following in mind:

Upper Body

When performing jabs, uppercuts, hooks and other upper body moves make sure the punch comes from your body not your arm. In other words, every upper body move starts from the ground up.

Put your body weight into it and throw the jab using your core, shoulder, and back muscles, not just from the elbow to the wrist. If your wrists and forearms hurt after your workout, you need to work on your form. If your upper back is sore, congratulations!

Lower Body

First and foremost, stay light on your feet. You’ll be moving forward, back, side to side, and up and down. You need to be in a “ready position” at all times. So stay on the balls of your feet with your heels available to pivot and turn.

When it comes to kicks, think about power, not height. These kicks are not for dancing, they are for striking. It’s not about how high, it’s about how intense and with the correct muscles.

It helps to always imagine an opponent. Visualize something or someone that you are kicking against. This will help you kick as you should.


Both upper and lower-body kickboxing moves will require you to contact your core muscles. When done properly, cardio kickboxing can be a great core body strength, so keep those abs engaged at all times to reap the most core benefits.

Pull your belly button in toward your spine and lock that muscle in deep. It should feel tight, like you are always prepared for someone to kick or punch you in the gut.

Not only will you strengthen your core with this isometric work, but you’ll have better form overall.

10-Minute Cardio Kickboxing Tabata Workout

If you’re looking for a quick, low-impact workout to do at home that increases your heart rate and gets a little sweat dripping, this 10-minute bodyweight cardio workout is for you!

What you will get in this workout:

  1. Cardio Kickboxing
  2. Tabata Training

Tabata training is a form of HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training. A true Tabata workout is 20 seconds of work, followed by 10 seconds rest; repeated for a total of 8 rounds.

This 10-minute workout isn’t a “true” Tabata workout, but is a variation of the Tabata protocol. It will increase your heart rate and keep your mind in the game the entire workout. I love a cardio kickboxing workout because of the mind-body connection there is throughout the workout!

Workout Equipment Needed:

No equipment needed, just your bodyweight!

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Workout Instructions:

Follow along with the workout protocol below for your 10-Minute Tabata Kickboxing Workout.

  • 5 Cardio Kickboxing Exercises
  • Tabata Timed Intervals (perform each exercises for 20 seconds of work, followed by 10 seconds of rest)
  • Repeat all 5 exercises x 4 sets


  1. Double Hook Right + Double Hook Left
  2. High Corner Punch + Low Corner Punch + 2 Knees
  3. Jab Cross and Bob & Weave
  4. 4 Hooks and 2 Oblique Crunches
  5. 4 Uppercuts and 2 Front Kicks

Double Hook Right + Double Hook Left

Targets: Back and core.

How To Do A Double Hook Right + Double Hook Left

  1. Start standing with feet hip-width distance apart.
  2. Transfer the weight primarily into your right foot. At the same time you will perform a hook with the left arm two times.
  3. After completing two fast hooks on the left arm, you will transfer your weight over into the left foot and perform two fast hooks with the right arm.
  4. Continue to shift your weight from right to left while performing double hooks on each side.

High Cross Body Punch + Low Cross Body Punch + 2 Opposite Knee Pulls

Targets: Back, Obliques, Core and Legs.

How To Do A Cross Body Punch + Low Cross Body Punch + 2 Opposite Knee Pulls

  1. Start with feet hip width distance apart, with hands in guard.
  2. Transfer your weight into the right foot, while at the same time using the left arm to punch to the high corner across the body.
  3. After punching to the high corner, stay on the same side and come to a lunge position punching down to the low corner.
  4. You have now successfully done the first part of this combination; a high cross body punch and a low cross body punch on the same side.
  5. Transfer weight into the left foot while pulling arms overhead.
  6. As the arms pull down into the chest, the right knee will pull into the center. Using the abdominals and core to pull the knee into the center.

Jab Cross Jab Cross Bob and Weave Squat

Targets: Back, inner thighs (adductors), outer thighs (abductors), glutes, quads, abs and obliques.

How To Do Jab Cross Jab Cross + Bob and Weave Squat

  1. Stand with feet a little wider than hip width distance apart. Bring your hands up into a guard position, right in front of your face. This is a defending stance.
  2. Bend your knees slightly and transfer weight to the front foot (starting with the right foot forward). As you transfer your weight into the front foot, jab with the right arm first. When you jab front, you will always want to hit with your thumb facing sideways; so there is a slight rotation as you deliver the punch.
  3. Deliver the next punch to the front with the left arm, making this a cross body punch.
  4. You will repeat this combination of right jab and left cross punch one more time; a total of two times.
  5. After the jab cross combo has been completed a total of two times, bend your knees to lower down into a squat.
  6. Then, perform a side crunch in a circular motion to bob backwards.
  7. Immediately revers the movement, rotating in a circular motion in the other way, to transfer the weight into the front foot again.

Four Fast Hooks + Two Hook Knee Drives

How To Do Four Fast Hooks + 2 Hook Knee Drives

  1. Start with your feet a little wider than hip width distance apart.
  2. Hands will be in a “guard position” protecting your face from your opponent.
  3. Starting with your right hand, you will hook right, hook left, hook right, hook left keeping a fast and consistent beat.
  4. Keeping with the hooking pattern of the upper body, you will hook twice with the right arm, while driving the left knee up, using the obliques to lift and crunch.
  5. You will continue the patter of four fast hooks plus the two right hooks with the left knee drive. After the recommended time, you will switch lead arm so you can do the double hook and knee drive with the opposite side.
  6. Make sure to repeat on both sides switching the lead arm.

Four Upper Cuts + Two Front Kicks

Targets: Back, Biceps, Hamstrings, Quads, Core and Obliques.

How To Do Four Uppercuts And Two Front Kicks

  1. Start standing with your feet a little wider than hip width distance apart.
  2. Hands will be in a fist and in “guard” position, right at heart center.
  3. Starting with the right arm, slightly leaning forward at the hips, perform four uppercuts alternating between right and left each time. In an upper cut it’s like you are showing someone your bicep. Engage the core and twist at the center with the obliques.
  4. After the four uppercuts, kick forward to the front placing the kick with the heel. Make sure not to overextend the kick at the knee. When kicking in a kickboxing workout you want to “place” the kick with the heel, this way you are engaging more muscles like the quad and glutes like you do in a squat.
  5. Alternate between a right front kick and a left front kick and repeat the pattern again.

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on Reply

Great post. I really liked your beginner's guide, it explained the basics of jabs, punches and body position, which I felt that I wasn't doing correctly.

on Reply

I'm curious, if I'm obese and just too embarrassed to join a class, is there a good in home dvd workout? Also, what kind of equipment do I need if I do it in home?

    on Reply

    Honestly, you don't have to be embarrassed because you could work out to remove that. And "fat" isn't always a bad thing:) be happy you are, but if you have other reasons, yes there will be many on YouTube, or you can hire an online trainer. For the basics, you don't need much, just workout clothes but when you start getting serious, you may need a punching bag and gloves, jaw protection, and proper boxing shoes and bandages:) hope I helped

    on Reply

    Hi Cassidy - I actually have a sister site Get Healthy U TV. It has TONS of full length workout videos plus different programs and calendars you can use! A lot of the workouts don't require any equipment, but some use dumbbells, resistance bands, etc. If you're interested, go to and enter the coupon code CHRISGOLD20 to get a year long membership for $20!! The gold membership also includes access to meal planning, discounts on products and more!

on Reply

Kickboxing has always been my favorite cardio workout. The entire body gets a great workout in less time. I like trying new things but always come back to kickboxing. I love it!

on Reply

Chris - You describe Farrell's eXtreme Bodyshaping's kickboxing program to a "T". Thank you for the great overview and reinforcement of the fun and effectiveness of a kickboxing workout, and its applicability to all skill and fitness levels.

(This will help us personalize your experience so that you can get the best advice possible from us!)
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