Boxing Basics How 2 Guide

Learn the basics of boxing and begin your journey to pugilistic perfection. Receive masterclass video tutorials, step-by-step explanations, inspirational quotes and training sessions.

A quick word before we begin. For those who have never laced on a pair of gloves before, or thrown a single punch in anger, the best way to approach the preceding How 2 Guide is sequentially and in stages.


Start at Boxing Basics #1: Footwork and, after imbibing the techniques and watching the accompanying tutorial, spend a couple of days practicing before moving on.


This is by far the best method of approach as it will afford you time to focus fully on one technique at a time. If you attempt to implement multiple techniques simultaneously you will certainly impede development. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day.


“You never lose until you actually give up.”

Mike Tyson



Boxing Basics #1: Footwork

It’s no exaggeration to say that footwork is the most important weapon in the boxer’s arsenal. Other than a few freaky exceptions (Dempsey, Marciano and their flat-footed hard-hitting iron-chinned ilk), the best boxers are those who develop superior agility.


To support my argument of the importance of footwork, I typically cite such names as Sugar Ray Robinson, Ray Leonard, Muhammad Ali. Great modern-day movers and shakers include Vasyl Lomachenko, Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury – to name but three.


Ok, if I have you convinced on the importance of cultivating quality footwork, let’s have a look at the basics of forming our stance.


Teaching points

  • To manoeuvre your feet into position firstly stand as you normally would whilst in a queue at the post office: feet spaced shoulder-width apart and in-line.

  • Now, assuming you’re right hand dominant (which would make you an orthodox boxer – that is, you lead off the left), draw your right foot back so that your feet are placed on the two opposing corners of an imaginary box.

  • At this point your feet should be shoulder spaced both width and length ways.

  • This position will feel somewhat odd. But then if you’ve never boxed before that’s to be expected. To make your stance feel a little less awkward turn your toes so that they point at a 45° angel (they should point in the direction of your right hand – not your left!).

  • Confused? Wladimir Klitschko will clear things up I'm sure:


Moving in your stance

A practiced pugilist will make moving across the canvas look light, graceful and effortless. The newbie will quickly realise that moving like a boxer is none of those things. More suitable adjectives include heavy, clunky, robotic.


But in time what starts out as a very cerebral skill diminishes into a subconscious, automated one which takes care of itself. And by that I mean, if you practice enough, you will not have to think about how and when to move. For you will react and respond automatically.


The reason why mastery over our boxing feet poses such a challenge is because, well, it’s unnatural. In my experience the best way to learn how to move like a boxer is by adopting a military mindset.


Practice the proceeding techniques as though you were on parade. Also, ensure to take your time and, as you practice the movement, verbalise what you are doing. I find this to be a very helpful technique when training amateurs.


Movement procedures

So, you’re in your stance as described above: balls of the feet placed on the opposite corners of a box, spaced shoulder width apparat in two dimensions, toes turned at a 45° angle, knees bent. Of course, if you don’t want to be permanently rooted to the spot like Horatio at the gate, you now need to learn to move.


  • To advance lead off with the front foot followed by the rear foot. Take small – very small – steps. Short sharp steps are better because, if you were to advance with a large step or leap, you’ll not only elongate your stance, which will negatively impact on your balance and your ability to throw a punch, but by over-committing you run the risk of putting yourself in a disadvantageous position thus affording your opponent the opportunity to land strikes without fear of reprisal.

  • To retreat step back with the rear foot followed by the lead. Again, best to take short sharp steps.

  • To side-step to the left lead off with the left foot again followed by the right.

  • To side-step to the right lead off with the right followed by the left.

Learn footwork from the master: Vasyl Lomachenko



Boxing Basics #2: Guard

Unless you want to wind up like Rocky Balboa – punch drunk and ugly – make sure that you don’t neglect your guard. Keeping those mitts up makes your opponent’s life a little harder, as he or she will not be able to wail away at your exposed face with impunity.


Also, a good guard enables you more effectively to ‘parry’ (deflect) incoming punches. In addition, adopting the correct guard offers a greater degree of all-round protection.


Obviously, this aspect of the pugilist’s arsenal need only be developed by the aspirant antagonist. If you harbour zero ambition of ‘stepping in the ring’, as it were, then a surface level insight into how to hold your guard should more than suffice.


Teaching points

  • Assuming you’ve spent time developing your footwork, and you can now move somewhat like a boxer and not an inebriated crab, it’s time to sort out your guard. So, firstly:

  • Get in your stance!

  • Now hold your hands up so that your fists are floating either side of your chin (it’s best to study your posture in a mirror). Also, bury your chin into your chest and ‘look through your eyebrows’ – god that saying takes me back!

  • The left hand should be further out front than its counterpart.

  • Your forearms aren’t exactly parallel but slightly splayed. If your elbows are considerably spaced, you will inadvertently expose your torso which opens you up to body shots.

  • The tips of you elbows float around your floating ribs.

  • Adopting a guard as described above, and demonstrated in the video below, will provide you the best possible defence. Thus, it is well worth working on.


Follow the link and receive a masterclass tutorial on the 4 Styles of Boxing Stances and Guards.


Boxing Basics #3: Jab – lead left punch

Finally! I get to throw a punch! Yes, but you really ought only advance on to punching once you’ve developed a rock-solid foundation of footwork and developed an almost impenetrable guard.


Legend has it that when as a young boy Vasyl Lomachenko asked his father to let him learn how to box, his father first made him learn how to dance. Yeah, you read that right: dance! For four years little Lomo danced and twirled whilst dreaming of becoming a boxer.


It was only when he’d mastered the fine art of Ukrainian folk dancing that his father permitted him to learn how to box. Some might see this as a radical, almost eccentric strategy. But it certainly paid off. Vasyl Lomachenko is widely regarded as the best boxer in the world and he has taken titles in three weight divisions.


Okay, vignette over. Let’s look at that jab.


Teaching points

There are two ways of practicing this technique – actually, come to think of it, there are three. 1: shadow box in front of a mirror. 2: Glove-up and jab a bag. 3: Glove-up and jab the pads.


If you don’t have access to a ‘pad person’ (observing political correctness (it use to be ‘pad man’)) then defer to option 2 – jab a bag. If you don’t have a bag defer to option 1 – shadow box in front of a mirror. If you don’t have a mirror then I’m out of suggestions.


The teaching points below are best practiced in a mirror as this allows you to study your technique.


  • Firstly, adopt the proper stance: balls of the feet placed on the opposite corners of a box, spaced shoulder width apart in two dimensions, toes turned at a 45° angle, knees bent.

  • Now adopt the proper guard: fists either side of the jaw, chin down, looking through the eyebrows, elbows covering the floating ribs.

  • Slowly extend your left (jabbing) arm out straight.

  • An inch or two before full extension rotate the fist so that the thumb transitions from an upright into a sideward position. Theory has it that, by rotating the fist, which should be executed at lightening speed, increases the power and ‘snap’ of the punch.

  • The second the thumb comes side on you are to retract your arm following the exact same trajectory as when you extended it.


Technical point: I’ve heaped emphasis on the return phase of the jab because it is common practice amongst amateurs (and some professionals) to drop the arm below the jawline. By doing this the boxer is open to counter punches.



Boxing Basics #4: Straight right – (rear hand power punch)

The majority of all knockouts that occur inside that geometrical misnomer are a consequence of a landed right hand. And if the right hand didn’t directly cause the knockout, it probably contributed to conscious decline before the fight-winning punch was thrown.


Make no bones about it, the right hand is a beast of a punch and if honed and developed it can pack the force of controlled car crash; it was said that Frank Bruno’s right hand was like being hit head-on by a Mini Cooper at 30mph!


So how do we pack the payload of a one-ton petrol powered automotive icon into our fist? Legendary trainer Cus Diamato maintained that punching power manifests from the boxer’s will or appetite. He or she must want to hit hard. But if we’re not so fortuitous as to have been bequeathed with this enigmatic and rare pugilistic quality, can we develop a wrecking ball right hand?


Yes, from a biomechanical and training standpoint, there is still a lot we can do to increase the power and effectiveness of the right hand. Read on . . .


Teaching points

  • Firstly, adopt the proper stance: balls of the feet placed on the opposite corners of a box, spaced shoulder width apart in two dimensions, toes turned at a 45° angle, knees bent.

  • Now adopt the proper guard: fists either side of the jaw, chin down, looking through the eyebrows, elbows covering the floating ribs.

  • As corny as it sounds the right hands isn’t thrown from the shoulder.

  • Nor is it thrown from the hips.

  • The right hand is loosed with a swift and subtle twist of the right foot. Yes! This big power punch traces its lowly origins all the way back to an imperceptible twitch.

  • So, prior to unleashing the right hand, you must first ‘screw’ (for want of a better word) the ball of your right foot into the floor. This twisting motion will trigger a cascading effect which will ripple up the right side of your body until finally culminating in a cataclysmic event:


Let Danny Garcia teach you how to throw a BIG right hand!


Boxing Basics #5: 1-2 Combination

The 1-2 – or left-right – is the single most devastating combination in the boxer’s armoury. And if honed and developed this punch combo makes for a formidable asset and the boxer who possess such an asset will be feared across the land.


Some of the best 1-2 slingers include Lenox Lewis, Tommy Herns, and the great Cuban amateur Felix Savon. These three pugilistic paragons sharpened their 1-2 combination into Spartan spear thrusts and consequently dispatched many a foe.


So how do you develop the left-right into a precision weapon? Well, it’s not just about punching power. Speed, accuracy and timing are the most important qualities to cultivate when working on your 1-2 combination.


How do you do that? Simple:


Practice! Practice! Practice!


Teaching points

When practicing the 1-2 combo it is best to do so in front of a mirror. Before progressing on to bags, pads or an opponent’s face, it is wise to make your acquaintance with the mechanics of the combination first. Also, as advised above, take your time and slow the movement down.


  • Firstly, adopt the proper stance: balls of the feet placed on the opposite corners of a box, spaced shoulder width apart in two dimensions, toes turned at a 45° angle, knees bent.

  • Now adopt the proper guard: fists either side of the jaw, chin down, looking through the eyebrows, elbows covering the floating ribs.

  • The 1-2 is initiated with the lead jab.

  • As soon as the jab returns to the side of the jaw unleash blind fury with the big right.

  • But (I hear you musing) isn’t this just the left punch followed in quick succession by the right?

  • No!

  • There’s a number of distinguishing features that differentiates the 1-2 combination from the single punches of which it is comprised.

  • For example:

  • The sound the two punches make on impact should very nearly blur into one: Ba-bang! Not: bang . . . bang.

  • The recoil force of the returning jab should naturally transfer into the right thus compounding its power.

  • From the feet up through the transverse abdominus and into the torso your body should oscillate from left to right. But the movement must be short and sharp and, if executed properly, it should send your fists flying forward like the flaying ends of a cat ‘o nine.


Check out this clip of the most devastating 1-2 combinations thrown inside the ring.

“The hero and the coward both feel the same thing, but the hero uses his fear, projects it onto his opponent, while the coward runs. It’s the same thing, fear, but it’s what you do with it that matters.”

Cus D’Amato



To Conclude

At this point in the article, if you’ve implemented the teachings and sufficiently practiced them, you should possess a rudimentary competency of the basics of boxing. By now you can:


1) Adopt the correct boxing stance
2) Move multi-directionally – albeit slowly, and deliberately
3) Hold your hands in the optimum position to ensure that you are adequately protected from an existential assault
4) Throw the left jab following the most efficient trajectory
5) Throw the straight right following the most efficient trajectory
6) Execute a convincing 1-2 combination

These skills and techniques will afford you the pleasure of being able to incorporate the fine art of boxing into your fitness regime – for the purposes of augmenting fitness and diversifying your training.


They will not enable you take on the world.



Standard Boxing Training Session


“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion’.”

Muhammad Ali


Any good boxing session will contain four phases. They are:


Phase 1: Warm-up:

Phase 2: Technical work

Phase 3: Boxing training (bags/pads/sparring/boxing circuit)

Phase 4: Cool-down and stretch


In total the four phases, which are explained in more detail below, span the duration of 1 hour 30 minutes. However, depending on how much time you have available this can be contracted. Nowadays I engage in three one-hour weekly boxing sessions – which more than enough to tick-over, keep sharp and fit.


Phase 1: Warm-up

For the warm-up a boxer will usually spend 10 minutes either whirring a rope or shadow boxing – or a combination of the two. As with any good warm-up the intensity should increase until it peaks a minute prior to the initiation of the second phase.


Phase 2: Technical work

It is best (in my opinion) to practice technique while you are still fresh. For 10 to 20 minutes the boxer will drill movements over and over ad nauseum. Techniques are best practiced under the scrutinising and critical glare of a coach. If you don’t have such a luxury then you’ll have to settle for a mirror.


Phase 3: Boxing training (bags/pads/sparring/boxing circuit)

This is the part of the session where the pugilist gets to work on their boxing fitness. But Phase 3 is not solely about fitness. It also affords the boxer the opportunity to let their fists fly in a controlled setting. And those skills that have been diligently and tirelessly drilled can be unleashed on the imaginary opponent of a punch bag or pair of pads. This phase of the session may last for between 30 minutes and 1 hour – depending on the fitness and experience of the boxer.


Phase 4: Cool-down and stretch

After whipping up a lather of sweat it’s time to deescalate the heart rate and bring down the core temperature. Often this is achieved with 5 to 10 minutes of shadow boxing. Throughout this time duration the boxer may progress through a whole-body stretch.



Training Session (1 hour 2-minutes)


“If you work hard in training, the fight is easy.”

Manny Pacquiao


Phase 1: 10-minute warm-up – for the first couple of minutes perform a series of mobility exercises. Rotate the shoulders, hips and ankles. Also, gently and under control complete a number of small jumps. This will prepare the ankles and tendons of the feet for skipping. Now for the remaining 8 minutes skip. Start off slow building the tempo as the time elapses.


Phase 2: 2 X 3-minute rounds of shadow box (1-minute rest) – preferably in front of a mirror practice the techniques that you have learnt from this article. Focus on throwing controlled punches and concentrate on the quality of your technique. The tempo or intensity should be high enough so that you keep the warmth generated during the warm-up.


Phase 3: 10 X 3-minute bag work (1-minute rest) – once you’ve wrapped your hands properly, gloved up and set a timer, work the bag ensuring, again, to focus on technique and the execution of your punches. Remember, you shouldn’t mindlessly wail away on the bag like a Saturday night drunkard thinking he’s Muhamad Ali. Yes your work ethic should be high and you should be sweating profusely. But you should still maintain composure over your pugilism.


Phase 4: 5-minute Calisthenics AMRAP – for 5 continuous minutes you are to work through the following exercises performing ten repetitions on each before moving on:


1) Press-ups

2) Burpees

3) Plank (10 second count)

4) Hill climbers


Phase 5: 2 X 3-minute rounds of shadow box (1-minute rest) – preferably in front of a mirror practice the techniques that you have learnt from this article. Focus on throwing controlled punches and concentrate on the quality of your technique. The tempo or intensity should be high enough so that you keep the warmth generated during the warm-up.


Phase 6: 5-minute whole-body stretch – follow the link for the Hungr4Fitness stretching plan.



Training Session (1 hour)


Phase 1: 10-minute warm-up – for the first couple of minutes perform a series of mobility exercises. Rotate the shoulders, hips and ankles. Also, gently and under control complete a number of small jumps. This will prepare the ankles and tendons of the feet for skipping. Now for the remaining 8 minutes skip. Start off slow building the tempo as the time elapses.


Phase 2: 2 X 3-minute rounds of shadow box (1-minute rest) – preferably in front of a mirror practice the techniques that you have learnt from this article. Focus on throwing controlled punches and concentrate on the quality of your technique. The tempo or intensity should be high enough so that you keep the warmth generated during the warm-up.


Phase 3: 20 minute boxing circuit – for 20 minutes work through the following six exercises without rest. The aim is to complete as many laps of the circuit as possible in the allotted time. Make a note of your score so that you can compete against it next time.


Exercises

1 – 100 Punches on a heavy bag (50 each arm)
2 – 25 Burpees
3 – 25 Press-ups
4 – 25 Medicine ball slams
5 – 25 Russian twists (with a 10kg MB)
6 – 25 double unders

Phase 5: 2 X 3-minute rounds of shadow box (1-minute rest) – preferably in front of a mirror practice the techniques that you have learnt from this article. Focus on throwing controlled punches and concentrate on the quality of your technique. The tempo or intensity should be high enough so that you keep the warmth generated during the warm-up.


Phase 6: 5-minute whole-body stretch – follow the link for the Hungr4Fitness stretching plan.



Some reasonably priced quality boxing gear to get you going


Wraps: Venum Unisex Adult Handwraps (£7.99)

Product Overview (click image for availability)

With nearly 2500 reviews at 4 to 5 stars this is one well rated wrap. Though not as long as the other two wraps reviewed, 4 metres is more than enough to bind your hands like brick. The material is made from elasticated cotton which will ensure a good fit and protection. At £7.99 Venum offer an excellent product at a reasonable price.



Gloves: Beast Gear (£49.97)

Product Overview (click image for availability)

  • Premium quality gloves which offer superior protect for your knuckles, fingers, wrists, bones, tendons

  • Made from only the highest quality materials and advanced manufacturing processes.

  • They look might fine!





Firstly, these gloves look awesome (in my opinion). And though it’s true only fools judge books by their covers, this pair of gloves live up to their looks.


The Simian boxing mitt from Beast Gear are made from genuine cowhide leather which guarantees that they will last you years. Also, your knuckles are protected behind a multi-layered shield of premium quality padding thus reducing hand injuries.


Skipping rope: TechRise (£7.99)

Product Overview (click image for availability)

  • Anti-Slip Soft Skin-friendly Handle.

  • Easily Adjustable Soft Stainless Steel Wire Inside Rope.

  • Premium Speed Ball Bearing.

  • Lightweight & Protable: Being feather-light makes it easily and conveniently portable so that you can achieve maximum fat burn, tone your muscles and reach peak fitness anywhere.



The TechRise rope is excellent for beginners. Because it is made from lightweight materials it is not as physically taxing as heavier ropes thus enabling the beginner to focus more on technique as opposed to fighting fatigue. Also, a finer rope is more forgiving when you miss-time a jump and whip the side of your leg.


Heavy Bag: RDX (£64.99)

Product Overview (click image for availability)

First on the list is the RDX heavy bag. This is one of the best rated boxing bags on Amazon at the moment. It not only looks sleek but is built to last. With its Anti-Burst material and shredded textile stuffing the bag will retain its shape even after a good beating – an excellent feature I think you’ll agree. The RDX is the perfect home boxing bag and you’ll probably love showing it off as much as you will punching it.



Stand: Century Heavy Bag Stand (£122)

Product Overview (click image for availability)

  • Designed specifically for martial arts workouts with training bags to practice a variety of strikes and kicks.

  • Constructed of 3" tubular steel with three weight pegs for stability.

  • Shock absorbing design keeps frame stationary during vigorous workouts.

  • Designed to hold up to 100lb.

  • Nearly 5 stars after over 200 reviews



This is the first of the heavy bag floor stands. Century offers the most reasonably priced product. And for a little over £120 you will receive a box standard steel frame on which you can hang a punch bag. But if that’s all you want then this stand is perfect.


Other features include protruding pegs at the corner of each support. These pegs enable you to load weights (barbell discs) onto the stand so as to prevent it from moving around during ‘vigorous workouts’.


Century’s floor stand can support a bag of about 45kg. Though this doesn’t sound a particularly impressive load capacity, compared to ceiling hangers, it isn’t far off the upper maximum of the majority of floor stands – without paying stupid money.



(As we are very interested in user experience here at Hungry4Fitness, we would be very grateful if you could take a few seconds out of your day to leave a comment. Thanks in advance!)



Blog Author

Adam Priest is a former Royal Marines Commando, personal trainer, lecturer, boxing and Thai boxing enthusiast.

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