Shadow boxing goes beyond just throwing punches at your shadow or at thin air, it includes any practice that hones skill without using a bag, mitts or a shield. Shadow boxing may seem silly at first, but can offer a really great workout that doesn't require any type of equipment at all. This form of exercise is fairly easy to perform virtually anywhere, even when you travel.
Why Shadow Box?
There are many good reasons to try shadow boxing, especially if someone is already a budding boxer.
- Shadow boxing is an intense cardio workout that is highly portable and doesn't cost anything. For those who are just looking for a good aerobic workout and aren't really looking to train as a boxer specifically, this is reason enough on its own. Aerobic activity is essential for every workout plan, so why not shadow box and improve boxing skills at the same time.
- Nearly every good boxing coach recommends shadow boxing to pupils because it helps perfect form and improve overall technique. By starting off slow, boxers can perfect how they are throwing their punches. This develops muscle memory, so that even when they are doing it as fast as they can, it will be the same way every time.
- Shadow boxing is great for working on footwork as well. Every fighter knows that opponents don't just stand in the ring and throw punches at each other, they move around. If a fighter is throwing punches wildly, balance will suffer. Shadow boxing will improve balance and footwork coordination, even if the boxer never plans on getting in a ring.
- Improved confidence is another good reason for shadow boxing. Every fighter knows that a big part of every fight is mental. Often coaches use guided visualization along with shadow boxing to build confidence before a bout. If a fighter can "see" themselves beating an opponent again and again, it builds confidence so that by the time the real fight comes, in the fighter's mind, he or she has already won.
- Shadow boxing is also good for working out stress and aggression. (To learn about more ways to relieve stress, read 9 Stress Relieving Techniques For Daily Comfort.)
Shadow Boxing Requirements
One of the greatest things about shadow boxing workouts is that they actually require very little. All someone needs is a bright light and a light colored wall or a full length mirror. Nearly everyone already has these things in their homes or, if traveling, in their hotel room.
To add weight, and thereby increase speed later on, a pair of boxing gloves can be worn. Training gloves come in various weights, but 12-to-16 ounces are the most common. It may seem like that isn't much weight, but there is a definite difference between boxing with them and without them.
As a boxer progresses, a shadow boxer can be added. This is a device that adds resistance to punches by using elastic bands. A set is also available for the feet that will help with footwork and leg strength. They are lightweight and easily packable for the boxer on the go.
The simple requirements for shadow boxing workouts are:
- Full length mirror
- Bright light and a light colored wall if no full length mirror
- Weighted gloves (optional)
- Shadow Boxer (optional)
How To Shadow Box
Shadow boxing is very easy. All someone has to do is simply use their reflection in the mirror or their shadow as the opponent. As a fighter throws punches, he or she can dodge the punches that the reflection is throwing. This is the most basic form of shadow boxing, but it is in no way the only way to shadow box.
Instead of boxing against an "opponent" in the mirror, try imagining the opponent throwing the combinations and then use shadow boxing to practice blocking and dodging the punches.
Shadow boxing is often done in a circuit format, meaning that the activity changes frequently and timed intervals. As a basic shadow boxing workout try this:
- Shadow box for three minutes. This can be basic punches, combinations and footwork, whatever the boxer wants to do.
- After three minutes do some jumping jacks, squat thrusts or stepping on a step. Just be sure to keep the heart rate up to avoid blood pooling. This break should be 30 seconds to one minute.
- Repeat this process 3-to-5 times.
It's that simple. As the boxer's stamina and strength improves, the number of intervals can be increased and resistance can be added, either with gloves or a shadow boxer.
As with any other workout there are always safety precautions to heed
- Always consult a physician before beginning any workout program
- Boxers should always listen to their body. If something is painful, they should stop
- Stay hydrated
- Don't overdo it
Shadow boxing workouts are a fun way to get in cardio virtually anywhere, and they have the added bonus of working out stress and aggression, providing an emotional boost. So throw a few punches and do something good for your heart in more ways than one.