The Ultimate Boxing Workout for Beginners

Exercise is a natural stress reliever, and let's admit it: Sometimes after a hard day, you may just feel like punching something. Boxing is not only a productive way to channel that energy—it's also an effective workout for both your body and your mind.

Sure, it feels great to be able to let out some energy and throw a few punches (especially without the risk of hurting anyone) in a safe environment, but there are other benefits of boxing that often go unnoticed, says mixed martial artist Shanie "Smash" Rusth. Boxing can help maintain and build bone density, lower your stress, and improve your coordination, balance, and brain function. And as a full-body workout that combines strength and cardio, it can also torch a lot of calories.

And you don’t need to have Muhammad Ali's skills or go to a dedicated gym to try it out. Ahead, Rusth breaks down a 30-minute, no equipment needed beginner’s boxing workout you can do anywhere, anytime.

Meet the Expert

Shanie "Smash" Rusth is an undefeated professional mixed martial artist, FightCamp founding coach, and certified USA boxing coach.

Safety and Precautions

Before you begin, Rusth advises that everyone box at their own pace. “It’s easy to get caught up in trying to throw fast punches. I get it—it looks and feels fantastic. You need to move slowly and with intention to learn and maintain the proper form and technique,” she says. Once you have nailed that, you can pick up the tempo.

She says another important thing to remember is to breathe. Often when we try to do something new, we tend to hold our breath. “Use the power of your breath to throw stronger punches. Exhale and you throw your punch.” 

The Beginner's Boxing Workout

Warm-Up

Do five minutes of jumping rope, jogging, powerwalking, or dancing in place. You want to get your heart rate slightly elevated and your feet moving. 

Punch Numbers

1: Jab

  1. Get into a boxing or fighting stance: Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart, with your dominant foot in the back and your front shoulder and foot pointing ahead. Make fists with your thumbs outside your knuckles and raise both fists in front of your chin.
  2. Extend your lead (front) arm straight ahead and turn your fists so your knuckles point up and your palms face down.
  3. Snap your arm back in front of your face.

2: Cross

  1. Start in a boxing stance, fists in front of your chin.
  2. Pivot your back foot and rotate your torso forward.
  3. As you rotate, extend your rear arm forward, keeping your knuckles up and palms down.
  4. Rotate back to fighting stance and bring your rear hand back up in front of your chin.

3: Lead Hook

  1. Start in a boxing stance, fists in front of your chin.
  2. Rotate your body forward and transfer weight to your front leg.
  3. Bring your lead arm up to shoulder height with your elbow bent at a 90-degree angle.
  4. Pivot on your front leg and turn your torso to follow through on the punch.
  5. Rotate back to a boxing stance.

4: Rear Hook

  1. Start in a boxing stance, fists in front of your chin.
  2. Rotate your body forward and transfer weight to your front leg.
  3. Bring your rear arm up to shoulder height with your elbow bent at a 90-degree angle.
  4. Pivot on your rear leg and turn your torso to follow through on the punch.
  5. Rotate back to a boxing stance.

Now that you've got the basics down, it's time to get into the circuit.

Round 1

01 of 12

1-2-1-2-Slip Rear-Slip Lead (3 minutes)

Slip Rear Slip Lead

Shanie Rusth / Unsplash

  1. Alternate between jab and cross two times.
  2. Slip Rear: Shift your weight onto your back leg and pivot the front of your body. When doing a slip, your head should subtly shift to one side of your body. It should not be an exaggerated movement.
  3. Slip Lead: Pivot your back foot and body slightly to the left by shifting a small amount of weight onto your front leg.
02 of 12

Mountain Climber (30 seconds)

Mountain Climbers

Shanie Rusth / Unsplash

  1. Come into a plank position
  2. Pull one knee into your chest. 
  3. In one motion, switch your legs while keeping your hands in the same position. 
  4. You can speed up the legs to build intensity. 
03 of 12

Jump Squat (30 seconds)

Jump Squat

Shanie Rusth / Unsplash

  1. Stand with your feet just wider than hip-width apart.
  2. Lower down into a squat. 
  3. As you rise up, explode to a jump.
  4. Land softly on your feet, and lower back down to the squat.
  5. Repeat.

Rest for one minute.

Round 2

04 of 12

1-2-3-2 (3 minutes)

1-2-3-2

Shanie Rusth / Unsplash

Alternate between jabs, crosses, lead hooks, and crosses for three minutes.

05 of 12

Mountain Climber (30 seconds)

Mountain Climber

Shanie Rusth / Unsplash

  1. Come into a plank position.
  2. Pull one knee into your chest. 
  3. In one motion, switch your legs while keeping your hands in the same position. 
  4. You can speed up the legs to build intensity. 
06 of 12

Jump Squat

Jump Squat

Shanie Rusth / Unsplash

  1. Stand with your feet just wider than hip-width apart.
  2. Lower down into a squat. 
  3. As you rise up, explode to a jump. 
  4. Land softly on your feet, and lower back down to the squat.
  5. Repeat.

Rest for one minute.

Round 3

07 of 12

1-2-3-4-Roll Rear-Roll Lead (3 minutes)

1-2-3-4-Roll Rear-Lead Roll

Shanie Rusth / Unsplash

  1. Do a jab, cross, lead hook, and rear hook.
  2. Roll: Standing in a boxer’s stance, bend your knees as you transfer your weight to your back foot and rise up. Bend your knees and transfer your weight to your front foot.
08 of 12

Mountain Climber

Mountain Climber

Shanie Rusth / Unsplash

  1. Come into a plank position
  2. Pull one knee into your chest. 
  3. In one motion, switch your legs while keeping your hands in the same position. 
  4. You can speed up the legs to build intensity. 
09 of 12

Jump Squat

Jump Squat

Shanie Rusth / Unsplash

  1. Stand with your feet just wider than hip-width apart.
  2. Lower down into a squat. 
  3. As you rise up, explode to a jump. 
  4. Land softly on your feet, and lower back down to the squat.
  5. Repeat.

Rest for one minute.

Round 4

10 of 12

1-2-1-2-Sprawl (3 minutes)

1-2-1-2 Sprawl

Shanie Rusth / Unsplash

  1. Alternate between a jab and a cross two times.
  2. Sprawl: Take your body onto the floor in a full plank position, lower the chest all the way down to the floor, and explode back up into the boxer’s stance.
11 of 12

Mountain Climber

Mountain Climber

Shanie Rusth / Unsplash

  1. Come into a plank position.
  2. Pull one knee into your chest. 
  3. In one motion, switch your legs while keeping your hands in the same position. 
  4. You can speed up the legs to build intensity. 
12 of 12

Jump Squat

Jump Squat

Shanie Rusth / Unsplash

  1. Stand with your feet just wider than hip-width apart.
  2. Lower down into a squat. 
  3. As you rise up, explode to a jump. 
  4. Land softly on your feet, and lower back down to the squat.
  5. Repeat.

Rest for one minute.

Cool Down

Crunches (1 minute)

  1. Lie on your back. Put your hands behind your ears with your elbows out or across your chest.
  2. Inhale and contract your abs.
  3. Exhale and lift your head and shoulders off the ground.
  4. Lower back down with control.

Plank (1 minute)

  1. Place your hands on the ground, with your shoulders directly over your wrists. You can also do this on your elbows, with your shoulders above your elbows and forearms and hands on the floor extended out in front of you.
  2. Step your feet back into a plank position, keeping your head and spine neutral and your body in a straight line.
  3. Hold for one minute.

Crunches (1 minute)

  1. Lie on your back. Put your hands behind your ears with your elbows out, or across your chest.
  2. Inhale, contract your abs.
  3. Exhale and lift your head and shoulders off the ground.
  4. Lower back down with control.

Side Plank Right (1 minute)

  1. Lie on your right side with your legs stacked on top of each other.
  2. Press into your right hand or forearm, and lift your hips and body up into a straight line.
  3. Hold for one minute.

Side Plank Left (1 minute)

  1. Lie on your left side with your legs stacked on top of each other.
  2. Press into your left hand or forearm, and lift your hips and body up into a straight line.
  3. Hold for one minute.

Related Stories