Throwing punches in the air without a bag or person to hit looks weird, really. But for pro boxers, it’s completely normal. As a matter of fact, very important.
Shadow boxing is a popular exercise both in boxing and fitness boxing. As a newbie in this sport, you might be curious about how it can benefit you. In this post, you’ll learn everything you need to know about shadow boxing. We’ll also show you some highly effective shadow boxing workouts that you can add to your routine.
What is Shadow Boxing?
Shadow boxing is a form of physical workout primarily used by boxers to warm the body before a fight. It involves moving around by yourself and throwing punches in the air. All these gradually increase your heart rate and prepare your muscles for strenuous training or fight. Shadow boxing plays a vital role in your training, and should not be overlooked.
Shadowboxing vs Punching Bag: Which is Better?
Why shadow-box when you have a heavy bag?
Punching bags are professional boxing equipment designed to enhance your punching power and strengthen your upper and lower body. But when it comes to techniques and form, consistent shadow boxing might be more effective. This is especially true for beginners who are training without a coach.
Shadow boxing helps you perfect your punches, correct your form, and identify bad habits like dropping your hands or stepping with the wrong foot. When combined, both heavy bag workouts and shadow boxing exercises can greatly improve your boxing skills.
What Are The Benefits of Shadow Boxing?
Improved form and technique
As mentioned, regular shadow boxing boosts your form and technique. Since you’re not distracted by the bag or your opponent, you can focus your attention on your movement. This makes it easy to perfect your form and technique which are both important in increasing your punching accuracy and power.
Enhanced muscle memory
Most boxing coaches advise newbies to focus on shadow boxing and skipping rope exercises during their first few weeks of training. Since you’re repeatedly doing the same moves with precision, you will create muscle memory which is what you need to become more comfortable during sparing sessions and even in the actual fight.
No need for equipment
Another advantage of shadow boxing is you don’t need a single piece of equipment to do it. You don’t even have to wrap your hands before starting. This means you can shadowbox anywhere even with minimal space.
Any form of physical activity can help relieve your body from stress. It’s a great workout for those days when you are bombarded with negative emotions.
Improved strategy, rhythm, and coordination
Shadow boxing is a perfect routine for working on your fighting strategy. It also helps you achieve rhythm (flow) and coordination (natural movement) in different situations.
How to Shadowbox Properly?
At this point, you’re pretty much convinced that shadow boxing has a crucial role in your training. The next question is – how do you do it correctly? Follow these steps to ensure you are doing shadow boxing the right way:
Do some warm-up
Yes, boxers use shadow boxing as a warm-up exercise before they enter the ring. But for training purposes, it’s a workout of its own. Begin with 5-10 minutes of dynamic stretching and light cardio or jump rope routine.
Assume the basic boxing stance
Practice the proper fighting stance as if you’re in a sparring session or an actual fight.
Make sure your form and movements are correct
You’re creating muscle memory so make sure your movements are correct. Don’t just focus on your strikes. Also check your head movement, footwork, parry, and feints. Visualize your opponent. Imagine you’re in an actual fight.
How Often Should you Shadowbox?
To maximize the benefits of shadow boxing, do it for 15 minutes without rest, every day. You can perform two rounds for a total of 30 minutes. Even if you already perfected your boxing moves, you should still shadowbox every day to maintain your muscle memory.
Keep your body moving. You will feel the burn, especially in your arm muscles. If you’re getting too tired easily, do not stop and simply slow down.
Since shadow boxing can be done anytime and anywhere, you shouldn’t have an excuse to skip it. Feel free to include shadow boxing during your regular boxing workout.
Can Shadow Boxing Help with Weight Loss?
What’s great about shadow boxing is that it focuses on major muscle groups – upper and lower body, and core. You’re not just punching. You’re also twisting your hips, squatting, and moving your feet. When you punch, your muscles work in coordination to make a powerful blow. Your traps, shoulder, biceps, chest, quads, abdomen, glutes, legs, and many more muscles are engaged when you shadow box.
Shadow boxing is an intense cardio workout. You only need a few minutes to get maximum gains. All you have to do is increase your speed.
Another way shadow boxing promotes weight loss is by helping you gain muscle mass. As you know, toned muscles are more efficient in burning fats.
Effective Shadow Boxing Drills
Try this routine on your next shadow boxing session:
- Round 1 – Start slow
Start by moving your feet at a low intensity. Focus on your footwork. Make sure you’re stance is correct. Gradually increase your movement.
- Round 2 – Jabs
Jabs are the most commonly used punches in boxing. Some movements you can incorporate are double jabs, slow and fast jabs, jabs while moving, and jabs while slipping.
- Round 3 – Combos
Feel free to work on combinations that you know or your coach has recently taught you. It could be a combination of jab, cross, hook, and roll; uppercut, backward step, cross. etc.
- Round 4 – Sparr with yourself
Imagine you are facing your opponent. This is the round where you learn to adapt to different fighting styles.
- Round 5 – Sparr
Move, step back, create space, initiate punches to take your opponent off guard.
- Round 6 – Counter punch
Here, you imagine your opponent to throw the first punch. Some combos you can try are blocking a hook and countering a hook, among others.
A few notes:
- Allocate 3 minutes for each round.
- Rest for 30 seconds to 1 minute in between rounds.
- Make sure you’re breathing properly.
- Engage your muscles.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Shadow Boxing
- Not having enough foot movement. Footwork is essential to developing boxing techniques and balance.
- Not practicing defense movements. Make sure you incorporate both defensive and offensive movements.
- Not doing combos. A combination of punches helps you win a fight.
- Not enough speed. Shadow boxing is a fast-paced workout. It needs very fast moves and hard shots.
- Not extending your hands enough when punching. While you have to retract each punch, don’t make it too soon that you are unable to extend and reach. Otherwise, you’ll throw less powerful punches.
- Not imagining your opponent. Visualizing your opponent and his movements is crucial to developing your fighting skills.
Imagine an opponent in front of you as you shadow box. Work on your defensive movements and exercise your counter punches.
Shadow boxing is an effective exercise whether you’re training for boxing, trying to lose weight, or simply want to become healthier and stronger. Make sure to follow the suggestions and workout samples above to get the most out of shadow boxing!