If you want to get stronger, feel empowered, or just burn a whole bunch of calories, you might want to consider a kickboxing workout. 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. This high-energy cardio format is a great workout for both beginners and elite athletes alike. It’s all about getting started with the basics and working your way up to more complex moves. Let’s learn how to get started with kickboxing so you can start jabbing, punching, and kicking your way to a fun new workout.
Use the links below to quickly navigate this guide:
- How Does Kickboxing Work?
- Benefits of Kickboxing
- How To Find The Right Kickboxing Class
- Who Is Kickboxing For?
- Proper Kickboxing Techniques
How Does Cardio Kickboxing Work?
One of the great things about the format of cardio kickboxing is that you just show up and follow along! 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. 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. 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. Running shoes will prevent you from proper lateral movement (side shuffles, etc).
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. After you are warmed-up, you begin a series of movements that are drill-oriented.
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. Most kickboxing workouts are about repetition instead of complicated choreography, so you don’t have to feel intimidated that as a beginner it it will take you forever to catch on. Typically the instructor will lead the class through 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.
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.
How To Find The Right Kickboxing Class
Most cardio kickboxing classes in a group setting or at a gym won’t have you making contact with anyone or a bag, so you don’t have to worry about “sparring” with anyone. You will be hitting the air and encouraged to work at your own pace. However, you can seek out specialty gyms that offer contact drills with a heavy bag—it all depends on what you are looking for. Make sure your kickboxing instructor is certified by an organization like the American Council on Exercise, the International Kickboxing Federation or the International Sport Karate Association.
Who Is Kickboxing For?
Everyone. Yes, everyone! 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. Those of you already in good shape will love the challenge! Plus, you can always enhance your workout by squatting deeper or punching with more power or adding the weighted gloves. Low-impact lovers, rejoice! Most things done in cardio kickboxing are low-impact in nature or easily modified. Athletes and fitness fanatics love the cardio intensity this workout provides. 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.
Cardio kickboxing is an aerobic workout with the benefit of muscle endurance drills. There are no limits to how often you can do this type of exercise. However, keep in mind it is always good to cross-train. This format would be great a few times a week and mixed with some strength training workouts and High Intensity Interval Training (“HIIT”) as well. And even though you can do it two days in a row, this doesn’t mean you won’t be sore! You are definitely going to feel muscles in places you didn’t know you had the day after your first kickboxing class. The motions and techniques of kickboxing activate so many muscles in your body that you never use, you’re going to feel it. This is good! Enjoy the sore- it means you worked hard.
Proper Kickboxing Techniques
Kickboxing moves need to be properly executed to get the most out of your workout and prevent injury. Keep the following in mind:
When performing jabs, upper cuts, 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!
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 “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 contract your core muscles. When done properly, cardio kickboxing cane a great core body strengthener, so keep those abs engaged at all times to reap the most core benefits. Pull our 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.
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