High Intensity Boxing Workout

Boxing glove striking a bag - photo by David Ellard

Brings cardio, strength and proprioception benefits.

Difficulty:  Medium.  This workout assumes you have a good basic level of fitness and are familiar with some standard bodyweight exercises.

I love a boxing workout session.  For me personally it is one of my favourite ways of getting in a high-impact cardio workout, in a way that I actually enjoy!

The main purpose then of the workout I’m going to describe below is to challenge and improve your cardiovascular system.  You’re going to finish somewhat of a sweaty mess! 

However, boxing is a great compound exercise and we’re going to get some strength building and balance/proprioception/agility improvements as well.  Plus, it can be a great stress buster!

This workout assumes that you will be striking a punchbag either in a gym or at home, however it would still work as a shadowboxing exercise.  So if you don’t have a bag give that a try!


Like all exercise approached casually and without thought Boxing has some risks associated with it.

If you’ve done plenty of boxing before and feel confident, then feel free to skip this bit, but if you haven’t I just want to say a few things in preparation before you start.


Please never punch a punch bag with your bare fist.  They are not designed for that and you are going to end up hurting yourself.

I would recommend a proper pair of boxing gloves for this workout (even, if possible, if you are shadowboxing).  This is opposed to MMA/grappling type gloves.  You will find that they protect your hands more, and that their weight makes the workout more effective. Also, when we do the bodyweight exercises in between, wearing boxing gloves changes the dynamic a little bit in an interesting way.

If you don’t have your own, most gyms with a punchbag will be able to lend you a set.  Which will at least give you a chance to try this out a couple of times before deciding if you wanted to get your own pair.  (Do wash your hands thoroughly after using shared gloves however!)

Don’t hit too hard

It’s really, really tempting to just hit the punchbag as hard as you can the first time you try.  Please don’t.

It’s far too common when people start a new exercise activity that they go in 100%, they run as far, lift as much, or punch as hard as they can on the first occasion.  But when we do this we haven’t given our body a chance to get used to this new pattern of movement.  Our body will try its best to help us out, recruiting the big strong muscles in the body to your needs, but there is a good chance that there will be potential points of weakness, and therefore injury, exposed in this new movement.

Therefore please, start off slowly.  Hopefully you haven’t been punching things too often in life, so suddenly going and thumping a bag as hard as you can is going to be generating new stresses, and risking injury.  The first couple of times you do this routine, punch at no more than 50% power, then slowly ramp it up.

This will allow your body to get used to the activity, without over straining any particular joint or connective tissue. 

Wrist Support

Carrying on from the above point really, but specific to boxing, we do need to take care of our wrists in this routine.

The wrist is a small joint that has a lot of force placed through it in a punch.  Therefore, we must make sure that we are keeping our wrist correctly aligned when we are punching.  Primarily that means that the wrist isn’t folded up or down at the point of impact.  Also that the thumb is folded outside of the fingers, not underneath them.  Again start slowly and make sure that you are comfortable with this.

People who do a lot of boxing tend to strap or wrap their wrists as part of their training.  I find the traditional long wraps extremely secure and use those, but there are other options available you might consider if you’re going to hit the bag once a week or so and start punching with a bit more vigour.

Blue tinted banner - female boxer raising gloves - photo by David Ellard

The Basic Stance and Punches


The basic stance for right-handers is as follows:  (Left-handers please reverse the instructions.)

Left foot and hip are forward towards the bag

Right foot is back, approximately shoulder distance apart with the heel aligned to the toe of the left foot

Knees are soft, and weight is distributed little bit more towards the back foot, don’t be stuck on the front foot

Your centre (bellybutton) is pointed about 45° away, to the right of the bag

Shoulder must be relaxed and drawn down from the ears

Hands are raised to approximately chin level and elbows are relaxed and down


Punches used in this routine. (For right-handers, left-handers please reverse.)

Jab.  Left-hand.  Short punch at head height from the leading side.

Cross.  Right-hand.  Heavier punch.  Also at head height, using the transfer of weight from the right-foot and hip.

Body punches.  From a squarer stance to the bag punching at midriff height using the hips.

Rear-hook.  Step forward and out with the right foot, punch to the side of the bag with the right hand with the elbow approximately 90° bent.

The Routine

The format of this routine is that (after a warmup) you are going to alternate between exercises on a punchbag and bodyweight exercises.

Perform each of the exercises punching/bodyweight for 60 seconds, and rest for 30 seconds between each exercise.  You can adjust these numbers for your own routine if needed, increasing the activity time make it harder, or increasing the rest to make it easier.

Performing the routine twice will give you an approximately 30 minute workout, making it great to fit into a lunchtime or other time sensitive session.

  • Warmup:  Jogging on the spot, gloves held high.  Add in some shadowboxing, jabbing and crossing, if it feels good.
  • Punchbag:  Jab Jab Cross
    • Bodyweight:  Stepping Lunges
  • Punchbag:  Alternating Body Punches
    • Bodyweight:  Bodyweight Squats
  • Punchbag:  Jab Jab Rear Hook
    • Bodyweight:  Press Ups/Box Press Ups
  • Punchbag:  Jab cross > retreat > repeat(Move your feet a few steps back from the bag, then step in and punch again.)
    • Bodyweight:  Burpees
  • Punchbag:  Jab Body> Cross Body(Two punches with the left-hand, followed by two with the right.)
    • Bodyweight:  Low Plank - Isometric hold
  • Punchbag:  Jab Cross Speed Punching(Quick alternating punches, but please go softly at first!)

Rest and Recover.

Good luck and have fun!