So, you’re considering hanging up a punching bag?
Boxing is a skill that can be practiced easily at home. With some technical know-how and some shrewd buys, you can get off to a flying start.
Here’s how to do it:
Choosing your equipment
First, you’ll need a set of hand wraps. Hand and wrist injuries are commonplace in boxing, so a good set of wraps applied correctly will stop you from hurting yourself.
You’ll also need to choose a comfortable pair of gloves to protect your knuckles from impact. Men should consider training gloves that weigh between 14-16 oz, women 12-14 oz. Heavier gloves are generally used for light sparring and full contact training.
The punching bag is the centrepiece of any home gym. It offers resistance to you punches and builds power in your shots. The bag hangs from a chain attached to a ceiling or frame so that the bag becomes a moving target, much like an opponent. As a general rule, your punch bag should be around half your bodyweight. A lighter bag can be used to sharpen footwork and movement.
If you want to train with a partner, a set of pads or punch mitts are a great way to practice both attack and defence. Start with a slow and simple combination (two or more punches) so that the pad holder can get used to positioning the pads and keep a good distance. Always wear a mouth guard during pad work to protect your teeth and gums.
A good skipping rope warms and strengthens the leg muscles. Boxing is essentially a distribution of weight from your front and back foot over several rounds, so you’ll need enduring legs.
The boxing stance allows a fighter to both attack and defend effectively whilst maximising foot movement. Bag work and shadow boxing will help you develop your stance, which should feel comfortable, relaxed and natural when throwing combinations.
There are two boxing stances:
Orthodox is the natural stance for a right-hander, leading with the left-hand jab, chin tucked behind their right hand. An Orthodox boxer will use their left foot as their front foot and their right as their back foot. This is important when we consider that a fighter will transfer their weight to the front foot in attack, and the back foot in defence and counter-punching.
The Southpaw stance is the same in principle but for the left-hander, leading with the right-hand jab with chin tucked behind the left hand.
Training in rounds
Training should be dictated by intense 1 to 3-minute rounds, with short 30-60 second breaks between - as with circuit training. Buying a good timer or phone-app to signify the start and end of rounds highly recommended. Consider starting at 3 x 1-minute rounds for each activity, from skipping and shadow boxing, through to bag and pad work, with the aim of upping minutes and rounds as you progress.
Getting this right is the aim of the game. Get it wrong and you can hurt yourself, so be smart and use hand wraps and gloves at all times, tightening you fist at the point of impact.
These are the basic punches:
Jab: The jab is a boxers’ best friend in attack and defence. It’s a great way to keep your opponent at distance and open-up their guard for power shots. Every combination you throw, whether practicing bag work or on the pads, should start with the jab.
Cross: The cross is a statement of power. To throw it effectively you must step forward with your lead foot, throwing the punch from your chin whilst rotating your hips. Always remember to get your head behind your guard as quickly as possible after throwing your punch to limit your opponents counter.
Uppercut: The uppercut is a short punch that is used when two fighters are at close range and unable to use the jab or cross. The aim is to come under your opponent’s guard and stun them on the chin. The power of the shot comes from pivoting on you toes and it the only shot you will throw with you palms facing up. Uppercuts are best practiced with a partner on pads or mitts.
Hook: This shot is aimed at getting around the side your adversary’s guard. A hook can be aimed at the head or to the body. To throw a shot to the head you need to be on your toes and pivot around the lead hand of your opponent. A hook to the body requires a lower centre of gravity and movement to the right or left of the body depending on the opening.
Boxing at home is energising, fun and a great way to stay in shape. It can be practiced alone or with a few friends, enabling you to train at a pace that suits you.