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HIIT Boxing Workout | Get Fighting Fit Fast

A female boxer completing a hiit boxing workout.

As well as building explosive power and increasing cardio fitness, this HIIT boxing workout can also improve your pugilism. The combination of sports-specific exercises and high-intense intervals engages the body similarly to a boxing bout. It’s these qualities that make this HIIT boxing workout ideal for pre-fight training.


But this HIIT boxing workout is suitable for anyone looking for an intense, whole-body sweat session. Below in the ‘hints and tips’ section, I outline a few simple ways that you can adapt this workout to suit a range of training goals.


Before we glove up, let’s have a look at some of the fitness benefits you could win if you step in the ring with this HIIT workout.


HIIT boxing workout fitness benefits

Besides improving your aerobic and anaerobic capacity, this workout delivers a fist full of fitness benefits. These benefits are achieved by incorporating a diverse range of exercises and training methods.


For example, throughout the workout, you will be skipping, shadowboxing, and shuttle sprinting. To give the cardio system time to recover, you’ll be interchanging between bodyweight and resistance exercises.


In addition to improving metabolic conditioning, transitioning through multiple training methods in quick succession also develops multiple components of fitness. The components of fitness this workout engages include:


Cardiovascular
Muscle endurance
Power
Coordination
Reaction time
Agility

RDX pro boxing gloves.

High intensity boxing improves cardio fitness

In another Hungry4Fitness article The Benefits of HIIT, sports science literature is cited that outlines the effectiveness of HIIT for improving cardio fitness. Just a quick taste of that literature.


Wilmore and Costil, authors of the authoritative textbook Physiology and Sports Science, bring our attention to the importance of intensity training for improving physical performance.


‘Athletes that incorporate intermittent high-intensity bouts into their training regimens,’ they tell us, ‘show more improvement in performance than those who perform only long, slow, low-intensity training bouts,’ (Physiology of Sports Science – p194).


In addition to being an effective way to improve cardio conditioning, HIIT is also efficient. A Harvard Health article suggests that HIIT can promote cardio fitness quicker than continuous training (long, slow sessions). An associate professor of medicine is quoted as saying that when he substituted steady state for HIIT he lost more body fat and his fitness went through the roof.



HIIT boxing builds muscle endurance

Muscle endurance is an essential physical attribute for boxers. Being able to sustain a high work rate is an effective method of wearing down the opponent. Furthermore, it can improve a boxer’s chance of clinching the contest on points.


The great Welsh boxer Joe Calzaghe won many contests by out-punching (and out-boxing) his opponents. The effectiveness of this tactic was showcased to perfection when Calzaghe fought Jeff Lacy, the hard-hitting undefeated American super middleweight. Over twelve action-packed rounds, Calzaghe threw 948 punches to Lacy’s 444.


It was Calzaghe’s superior fitness and muscle endurance that enabled him to maintain an overwhelming work rate. While this workout won’t make you as fit as Calzaghe, it can help you on your way.


Related: Discover 10 More Health & Fitness benefits of boxing

How to do this HIIT boxing workout

The workout is organised into four levels – beginner, intermediate, advanced, and pro. All that distinguishes the levels is the number of intervals allocated to each exercise. The structure is as follows:

Beginner = 3 intervals per exercise
Intermediate = 6 intervals per exercise
Advanced = 9 intervals per exercise
Pro = 12 intervals per exercise

The intervals are 20-seconds in duration. Each high-intensity interval is followed by a low-intensity recovery interval of equal length. Do not rest for the recovery interval and instead treat it as a ‘lull’ in the contest. Remain active and shadowbox until you enter the next high-intensity interval.


Once you have progressed through a full round (each exercise equates to a single round) you are entitled to a one-minute rest. Concluding the rest, you are to transition to the next exercise.


Follow this format from the first to the twelfth exercise. The objective of the workout is to maintain a near-maximal work rate for all the high intensity intervals.


HIIT boxing key points

  • Warm-up well before starting the workout.

  • Select the level most appropriate for your current level of fitness. There’s no shame in starting at the beginner or intermediate level.

  • Set a 20-second repeat countdown timer.

  • Your aim is to work as hard as you can for all high-intensity intervals. Remember, you are not resting during the low-intensity intervals. Instead, use this brief interlude to recover before getting back into the fight.

  • Concluding each full round, you are entitled to a one-minute rest.


Boxing warm up

  • 1- to 2-minutes ankle, knee and shoulder mobility exercises – controlled rotations and light resistance exercises such as air squats, press-ups and shadowboxing.

  • 2-minutes skipping at low- to medium-intensity

  • 20-second skipping at 60% max effort

  • 20-second skipping at 40% max effort

  • 20-second skipping at 70% max effort

  • 20-second skipping at 40% max effort

  • 20-second skipping at 80% max effort

  • 20-second skipping at 50% max effort

  • 20-second skipping at 90% max effort

  • 20-second skipping at 40% max effort

  • 20-second skipping at 100% max effort

The session plan of this hiit boxing workout.

HIIT workout hints and tips

If you don’t use a proper repeat countdown timer, this HIIT session will not work. It’s no good guesstimating the interval length. Neither is it feasible to keep checking your stopwatch or phone timer. Both methods will impair your performance. For this workout, I used a boxing timer app. The app (which is completely free) features programable functions that enable you to set the number of rounds, round and rest length, and inner periodic reminders. So, for example, before starting the workout, I was able to set the round duration – which for the pro level is 4-minutes – with an inner periodic reminder of 20-seconds, also the number of rounds (12) and post-round rest (1-minute). Because the entire workout was automated, after hitting start all I had to do was focus on the exercises. A bit of a wordy tip I know. But the method you choose to time the intervals will make or break this workout.


It will help if you print off a copy of the session plan and place it somewhere visible. This way you won’t lose track as you progress through the workout or confuse the exercise order. I advise ticking off each exercise once you have completed it. Treat the session plan as you would a to-do list.


Related: Need another fitness challenge? Then try this Boxing Circuit

My personal experience

The workout was a tough opponent and, though I went the distance, I’m not confident that I would’ve won on points. Clearly I wasn’t as well trained going into this fight as Calzaghe was when he fought Lacy.


By the 8th round, cracks were showing in my fitness and I couldn’t sustain the work rate. This was likely a consequence of going too hard too early. Yes, this is a HIIT workout. And, as the name suggests, HIIT is all about maximum effort.


But, unless you’re extremely well trained (or a world title and a few million quid are on the table), it’s advisable to use the first two rounds to find your rhythm. If you make the mistake I did and go hell for leather from the first bell, you’ll be gassing before you get to the championship rounds.


Related: Improve your Punch bag Workouts with these 4 tips

 

Enjoyed this workout?

Get your hands on 70 more with the Hungry4Fitness Book of Circuits & Workouts Volume 2.

This hiit boxing workout concludes with an overview of This image shows the Hungry4Fitness book of circuits and workouts volume two. Inside the image it identifies the key features of the book which include: Over 70 fully customisable circuits and workouts suitable for all levels of fitness and ability; 4-Week Functional Fitness Training Programme; How to create your own circuits and workouts including essential training principles; Key exercise explanations and tutorials; A complete guide to fitness testing; The 10,000 Kettlebell Swing Challenge; CrossFit-style training sessions including EMOM, AMRAP, and HIIT workouts; An illustrated, step-by-step guide to stretching.

 

For more boxing workouts and best training kit see our dedicated Boxing Page.

 

HIIT boxing workout concludes with the author bio. In this text box it says: 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, former Royal Marines Commando, is a personal trainer, lecturer, boxing and Thai boxing enthusiast.

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