The roar of the crowd, Mayweather and Pacquiao finally face-to-face and then the ding of the bell that starts it all—it’s a fight that’s sparked well-deserved anticipation and a whole new interest in the sport of boxing. It’s not just a professional sport or a form of entertainment, though; boxing is something you can do too. Whether your goal is to get fit or to compete, boxing is a killer workout that brings many benefits.
“speed, agility, cardio and power” those are just a few of the benefits that come with training, according to expert instructor Abe Schur. “It is a combination of physical agility and mental toughness.” If you have weight loss goals, want to gain strength or hope to improve your self-confidence, boxing can do that for you.
Based at Gleason’s Gym and El Barrio Boxing Gym in East Harlem, Schur currently teaches boxing and martial arts in New York City and has been training since the age of 13. He is an internationally ranked middle weight champion and was featured on the History Channel on a show called The Human Weapon. Schur has trained all kinds of clients, from MMA fighters to military personnel and even beginners to the sport. He shared a few tips, common mistakes and a workout plan for beginners.
The Common Mistakes
With any new workout people are bound to make mistakes and when it comes to boxing those mistakes can be painful. Schur mentioned a handful that he sees his clients make all the time.
A really painful mistake comes when boxers don’t properly protect their hands. “This is very important,” Schur said. “There are a lot of fractured wrists and hand injuries because people don’t use professional hand wraps or wear the proper gloves.”
Leaning too far forward or backward is a typical mistake he sees in beginners. “[You] need to have your weight evenly distributed for a proper boxing style, beginners tend to lean too much,” he said, throwing punches while off balance makes them less effective and opens you up to getting hit.
The most common mistake that new boxers make is dropping their hands. Schur said he sees it all the time, they get tired or lazy and their hands drop down, leaving them open to getting hit and making it harder for them to return punches quickly.
Another problem with the hands is when beginners move their hands too far out in an attempt to block a punch. Though this is a strategy for defending against an attack from a weapon, in boxing moving the hands too far out leaves you “susceptible to uppercuts and short hooks.”
A big one is that beginners put too much value in force and not enough value in accurate placement. “Anyone can be knocked out when hit in the right spot with enough force and beginners should realize it’s as much about accuracy as it is about power.” That’s one of the reasons why he says beginners need to do a lot of work with basic agility drills and staying in shape with calisthenics if they want to achieve the skills and endurance it takes to compete.
Your Beginner Workout
Schur trains clients new to boxing all the time, in addition to pointing out those common mistakes he’s put together a boxing workout perfect for beginners.
Start with 15 minutes of light warm-up, using calisthenics and then work on shadowboxing for a few rounds using the basic 1, 2, 3 combination (a.k.a. jab, cross, hook). Schur suggests shadowboxing in the mirror to see where your weaknesses are, “[you] will notice when your chin is exposed or when you are not assuming the proper boxing stance.” Proper stance, he says, is when your legs are slightly wider than shoulder width and in a side stance which can be described as bladed.
Once you’ve got the basics down, you can work in other techniques like the uppercut, overhand looping right, bobbing, weaving, parrying and blocking. Putting together impromptu sequences will tire you out quickly, but be sure to maintain proper technique.
After shadowboxing, Schur usually takes his clients new to boxing to do either pad work or heavy bag work, but you should have a trainer present for this portion. After 15 minutes of that, he takes his clients for a 10 minute strength and conditioning workout. “It’s important to have a strong core and legs because punches come from the legs and power generated from the hips,” Schur said. “[It’s] not just arm strength.”
Finish up with a 10 minute cool down and stretch everything out.