By Brent Bishop
Combat sports require an enormous physical and mental demand, so it’s no wonder trained fighters like those in kickboxing make up some of the fittest athletes in the world. Boxing and kickboxing have become an increasingly popular means of attaining fitness goals, not just for athletes but for the general public as well. With an average caloric expenditure in excess of 500 calories per hour, kickboxing is a great way to ramp up your weekly training routine.
Aside from the calorie-burning impact on weight-loss goals, there are many other benefits that make this form of exercise an all-encompassing, well-rounded means of elevating your fitness game.
Regardless of whether you’re going 12 rounds in the ring or merely incorporating kickboxing for exercise, the stamina required to maintain your power and speed can be tremendous. Results observed from consistent conditioning can show a remarkable impact on heart rate recovery, aerobic and anaerobic capacity, and overall muscular endurance.
The sport of kickboxing requires a great amount of coordination. Improving your technique increases hand-eye coordination and movement efficiency, which can translate to many other areas of life and sport. One of the best ways to work on this is to train with a coach or partner who can provide a moving target with focus pads. As you build your technique and learn some combinations, you can begin to progress further with some reactionary drills.
Speed and Power
In a real sparring scenario, speed and reactionary skills are essential to staying on top of the fight, so using kickboxing for fitness can be amazing for speed development. After establishing some basic technique, speed, and striking accuracy, you can safely begin to incorporate more power into your routine. Harder strikes translate to greater workout intensity, more calories burned, and heightened power and muscle recruitment.
Stress Relief and Improved Focus
Life’s demands have nothing but increased over the years for most of us. Chronic stress can lead to weight gain, poor sleep, increased inflammation, and risk of disease. Having a healthy outlet becomes an integral part of keeping stress levels manageable. Hitting a heavy bag can help dissipate pent-up anger and also helps release endorphins, those feel-good hormones that can result in producing positive thoughts in the brain.
Whether you are experienced in kickboxing or someone who is just beginning, the good news is that everyone can benefit from adding it into his or her weekly routine. However, your level of experience and conditioning should dictate how fast you progress.
If you are new to kickboxing, it’s recommended that you don’t do too much too soon in order to avoid repetitive strains and injury. The shoulders and hips are used frequently with strikes and kicks, so it is important to start slow and focus on proper technique first before increasing the intensity. At first, try to incorporate around 20 minutes of technique work along with a good warm-up. As you progress through the weeks, you can begin to safely increase the duration as well as the intensity.
Functional Strength Conditioning
Your weekly exercise routine should not consist of kickboxing alone. Incorporating functional strength conditioning with an emphasis on joint stability and core strength can do wonders for muscular balance and injury prevention. To emphasize this balance, try taking a postural approach to your strength training by focusing on strengthening your posterior chain from the back of your shoulders and upper back all the way to your calves.
There are numerous suggestions for sparring gear when it comes to safety, such as headgear and mouth guards. When incorporating kickboxing for fitness, however, the most important gear considerations involve protecting the bones and joints that are susceptible to injury during this sport. Proper gloves will allow impact absorption on contact and they will also dampen the blow to your partner. It is also recommended to wear wrist wraps to protect some of the smaller bones of the hands and wrists.
Ready to give it a try? Check out this kickboxing routine.