In case you haven’t heard, boxing is all the rage right now. And for good reason—not only is it a great way to let out all your pent-up feels (and way cheaper than therapy), but it’s also a killer total-body workout that’s sure to get you in fighting shape. That means everything from your core to your arms to even your brain (after all, those combinations aren’t going to remember themselves).
But before you can jab and cross like a pro, it’s essential to build up some endurance, says Brian Pedone, lead boxing trainer at Box + Flow and Work Train Fight in NYC and founder of Quiet Punch. “Cardio is the baseline; once you have that, then you work on your technique,” he says.
Check out these 13 boxing-inspired cardio and conditioning exercises that help build endurance, balance, and agility—whether you’re hitting the ring or just rolling with the punches of day-to-day life.
How to use this list: Perform each exercise below for 1 minute. If you’d like to focus on one exercise (jump rope, for example), build your way up to 10 minutes by adding 30 seconds at a time. Once you master 2 minutes of any exercise, combine 5 to 6 moves with no rest in-between to create a killer 10- to 12-minute cardio workout. Or scroll down to try the 12-minute workout we created at the end of this article.
1. Jump Rope
A classic cardio warm-up for boxing, jumping rope is a great way to get your heart pumping. If you need a refresher: Take the handles in hands, then swing rope over head and in front of body. Hop over rope as it skims ground and land lightly on balls of feet. No rope? No problem. Simply rotate wrists in same motion and hop over an imaginary rope.
Make it harder: Switch it up by alternating legs, or trying double unders (rope passes under feet twice during one jump or crossovers (crossing rope in front of body during swing).
2. High Knees
Start standing with feet hip-width apart. Bring knee toward chest (aim to get knee in-line with hip so thigh is parallel to ground). Continue to alternate as quickly as possible. Swing arms like you would during a sprint. Remember to land lightly on the balls of your feet and toes to propel knees upward.
3. Heel Tap
Start standing with feet hip-width apart. Bend right knee to bring foot toward butt. Switch legs and continue to alternate as quickly as possible to get your heart rate up. Reach fingertips back to touch heel. The idea is to bring heels as close to butt as possible to get the maximum strengthening and stretching benefits for hamstrings.
In a real match, you’d use this move to prevent a takedown by your opponent, but when you’re just training, think of this like a boxer’s version of a burpee. Start in boxer stance—that means left foot in front (or right if you’re left-handed), with your right foot just wider than shoulder-width apart behind you and turned out at a 45-degree angle. Hands should be at jaw, fists clenched, protecting face. From fighter stance, lower hands to floor and jump feet back to a wide-leg plank (if mobility allows, let hips dip to floor and back to arch). From here, immediately hop back up to starting position and repeat.
5. Sprinter Hops
While standing, drop down into sprinter’s position with right knee bent, left leg straight out behind you, and left fingertips on floor. This should look and feel like a low runner’s lunge. From lunge position, drive left knee forward and up as you drive through right foot to explode off ground to hop. Reverse the motion to return to starting position. Repeat on opposite leg.
6. Jump Squat
Stand with legs slightly wider than hip-width apart. Send hips back and bend knees to lower into a squat. Drive through balls of feet to jump off ground. Land lightly by rolling from toes to heels, then send hips back and bend knees to lower back to squat again. You can place hands in prayer position in front of chest for balance. Repeat.
7. Lateral Hop
Start standing with knees slightly bent. Pushing off left foot, extend right leg out to right side to hop and land on right foot. Reverse momentum to repeat on opposite leg. Keep alternating back and forth while you swing arms like a sprinter. This should feel like ice skating without the skates.
8. Jump Tuck
From a standing position, jump and use lower abs to draw knees up until nearly in line with hips, parallel to ground. Engage core to keep spine long and chest lifted (don’t bend over). It helps to place hands out in front of you to tap knees. Land softly on balls of feet and repeat.
9. Shadow Boxing
Shadow boxing is a prime way to polish your form, footwork, and breathing technique. Start in boxing stance and throw a couple jabs and crosses. As you do, dance around with fast footwork, like hopping forward and back, taking lateral steps, or even incorporating squats to simulate ducking under your opponent’s punch. You really can’t mess this one up since you just make it up as you go along. For more info, brush up on boxing basics here.
10. Mountain Climber
Start in a high plank position, core engaged, wrists under shoulders. Bring knee in toward chest—almost like doing high knees in a horizontal position—and continue to alternate legs. Engage core to support spine and keep hips level with shoulders.
11. Plyo Push-Up
Start in high plank position, core engaged, wrists under shoulders. Bend elbows and lower chest to floor to perform a push-up. At the bottom of the move, push off hands with explosive power to pop upper body off ground. Land back on hands and repeat. For this version, be sure to keep your elbows tucked in at sides and bend elbows as you land to lessen the impact.
Make it easier: Start with a push-up on your knees to build strength, then progress to a basic push-up. Once you have that mastered, try the plyo push-up on your knees, then progress to the version above.
12. Fast Feet
Start standing with feet hip-width apart and fists at jaw in guard. With knees slightly bent, shift weight back and forth between each foot, staying on the balls of feet for agility and speed. The quicker you move, the harder it is! Keep core engaged and upper body as still as possible.
13. Footwork Switch
Start in boxing stance with fists in guard. From here, hop and rotate at the hips to land with feet squared off and body facing forward. Hop again to fighter stance on the opposite side. If you’re a righty, this alternate stance is referred to as “south paw,” and it’s often used as a tactic to throw off an opponent. Continue to switch your stance as fast as possible.
The words high intensity sound intimidating on their own, but when paired with interval training, they can be downright terrifying. But HIIT isn’t scary. In fact, it’s a super-effective way to build muscle and increase aerobic capacity in a short amount of time. Ease into it with this quick home workout.
This routine is low impact, which means you won’t be doing the explosive, plyometric moves typically associated with HIIT. You’ll perform each exercise deliberately, focusing on form, which is the perfect way to ease into this type of training. And since it’s only 10 minutes, you’ll use the most of every second by doing crunches during the rest periods. You don’t need anything for this workout, but an exercise mat is optional. Ready? Hit play to get started.
To recap: No equipment is needed for this class. An exercise mat is optional. Warm up. Each move is 45 seconds on, then 15 seconds of crunches or rest if you need it.
Looking for more short and effective at-home workouts? Grokker has thousands of routines, so you’ll never get bored. Bonus: For a limited time, Greatist readers get 40 percent off Grokker Premium (just $ 9 per month) and their first 14 days free. Sign up now!
Running can be polarizing—some people love it; others hate it. The most common reasons for shunning running are: it’s boring, you feel slow, or you get injured. All of these are valid. (Seriously, who wants to slog through a bunch of slow, snooze-fest miles just to end up with a bum knee?) But the solution to them is simple: Improve your running form.
“Once you learn how to properly run, how to plant your feet, and how to conserve energy, running isn’t miserable,” says Andia Winslow, a sports performance coach, master certified fitness professional, and professional athlete. “You get faster, you get more out of it, and you can go farther without getting injured, so it’s a hell of a lot more fun.”
We tapped Winslow to create some basic running drills to help you perfect your form and make running fun again. Not only will you learn proper technique, but the moves can also be used as your actual workout. Once you start seeing improvement, you’ll be hooked. Ready to fall in love with running?
How to use this list:
Perform each move below for 25 yards or about 30 seconds (refresher: 1 yard equals 3 feet or one giant step). If you’re not on a track (most outdoor tracks are 440 yards), use a GPS-based running app or simply estimate by using the length of one block.
To create your own workout, choose 5 to 7 of your favorite drills, perform each for 25 yards, jog or walk back to start between drills, and complete 3 to 5 sets. Or try the short but highly effective workout Winslow created at the end of this article.
You’re probably already familiar with this move; you just want to put a little extra pep in your step. Stand up straight and engage core. Draw right knee up as far as hip flexibility will allow (try to at least get your thigh parallel to the ground) as you lift up onto ball of left foot. Keep right foot flexed so your knee doesn’t collapse when you land. Maintain a straight back and chest without leaning back. Switch legs and repeat while staying on balls of feet and pumping arms like you do when you run. Do this in place and then progress to walking forward.
Make it harder: Run forward with short, very quick steps.
Stand tall with core engaged. Bend right knee to send right heel back to butt, keeping right foot flexed and lifting onto ball of left foot. If you can’t quite tap butt, go as far as you can until you get stronger and more flexible. Switch legs and repeat. Remember to pump arms as they help dictate where your legs go. You can try this in place or walk forward.
Make it harder: Run forward while kicking.
Stand tall with core engaged and feet more than hip-width apart. Rise onto balls of feet. Using inner thigh, push off with right leg to take a big side step to the left, landing on left foot. Allow right leg to follow and then push off with right leg again. At the same time, swing arms up and overhead (like you’re making a snow angel). Continue to repeat in one direction for 25 yards or around 30 seconds. Then switch directions to engage opposite leg.
Remember skipping around as a kid? This is pretty much the same thing. Start by standing tall with core engaged. Lift right knee and rise up onto ball of left foot. Switch legs and repeat. Continue to repeat faster each time while pumping your arms like you would while running. Stay on balls of feet. The emphasis is on speed.
Stand with core engaged. Lift right knee as high as possible (the goal is to get thigh parallel to ground) and rise up onto ball of left foot. With knee still raised, skip a step forward with left foot. Quickly switch legs and repeat while pumping arms. Stay on the balls of your feet and listen to the rhythm (it should sound consistent). If it sounds muffled, you might be letting one of your heels drop.
Stand tall with core engaged. Rise up onto balls of feet. Lift left knee as high as possible toward chest and lower foot back down. Then lift same knee up and allow hip to open (so knee moves out to left) and then lower. Repeat on right leg while pumping arms (this will come naturally). The move will help open your hips to improve your stride.
Straight Leg Bound
Stand tall with core engaged so you don’t pitch backward. Lift right leg straight up as you rise onto ball of left foot. Lower onto ball of right foot as you lift left leg straight out. Continue to switch legs as you run forward with straight legs on the balls of your feet and pump arms. As flexibility increases, try to get leg higher without leaning back. You don’t want to look like a drum major here!
This one is all about coordination. Stand tall with core engaged and arms at side. Staying on balls of feet, step left root in front of right. Step right foot to the right. Step left foot behind right. Step right foot to the right. Continue to repeat as you twist your hips and dance your arms (kind of like a grapevine dance step). Your core and obliques will create torque and open up hips. If you’re intimidated or find this tricky, try repeating this in your head: “Step in front, step behind, step in front, step behind,” and so on. Repeat for 25 yards or 30 seconds in one direction and then reverse, leading with the opposite foot.
Whereas quick skip was all about speed, this one is all about power. Lift right knee, bound up, and skip forward. Repeat with left knee while pumping arms. Aim for a 90-degree angle with your ankle, knee, hip, and elbow. When you lift off the ground, drive off ball of foot with torso erect and eyes and chest up. Your body line will follow your eye line. Swing elbows back to get more leg power. (Imagine there’s a brick wall behind you and you’re trying to knock the bricks out with your elbows.)
This is like an exaggerated run. Similar to the move above, you want to generate power and forward momentum with every step. Just like you would when you run, lift right knee and use left foot to launch into the air. Land on ball of right foot and repeat with left knee as you pump arms. When you’re in the air, hold the position to maintain the angles.
Stand facing a wall, table, or railing for support. Lift off left heel and dangle right leg to create freedom. Swing right leg out to right then across to left while keeping hips square for 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat on opposite side. As you get stronger and more flexible, you’ll be able to swing leg higher. The rhythm is like a swing set or a metronome.