In shadowboxing, your opponent is imaginary. There’s no one in the ring but you. But keeping a target you’re sparring with and trying to knock out in your mind’s eye will help you elevate a shadowboxing session from practicing punches to engaging your whole body and mind. (And if you pick the right imaginary target, it can honestly be kinda cathartic—trust us.)
This new workout from Rumble boxing instructor and Well+Good’s Trainer of the Month Club trainer Olivia Platania will give you lots of chances to practice just that with plenty of boxing combos for beginners.
- Olivia Platania, NASM, CPT, CNC, certified personal trainer and Rumble boxing instructor.
Over the last few weeks, Platania has gone over the basics of boxing, including the punches and positions you need to know, as well as the mobility and conditioning you need to prepare your body for action. Today’s workout is about putting it all together in different boxing combos for beginners, and getting comfortable with the different punches—while actively engaging with your imaginary opponent.
“I want to take things up a notch from the last time and really, really visualize where that opponent is,” Platania says. “So if they are right in front of me, I want to hit that jab at the same point each time.”
Beginning to transform the technical moves and numbers into what they’re trying to accomplish will help tap into your boxer’s intuition. “It's a lot of names, it's a lot of numbers,” Platania says of the individual boxing moves. One way to not get overwhelmed is to “make this a realistic experience for yourself.”
That aspect of realism also plays into your defense. You don’t just want to be doing a boxer’s bounce for the cardiovascular workout: You want to stay light on your feet to keep your opponent on the move.
“Notice again how much I'm moving in between each punch,” Platania says. “Boxers, I want you to keep in mind it is harder to hit a moving target, right? If I were to stay still, someone's going to hit me right away. If I'm moving, it's going to be much harder for that opponent to catch me.”
It’s a lot to remember, but Platania will guide you through every punch, jab, and cross. Whoever or whatever your imaginary opponent is, keep them in your sights during these boxing combos for beginners. Even if you're normally a peaceful person in real life, feel free to let your ferocious side loose in the (imaginary) ring.
A 24-minute workout featuring boxing combos for beginners
Format: A warm-up recapping the punches, followed by six three-minute rounds with one minute of rest between rounds.
Equipment needed: Some space to move around.
Who is this for: Beginning boxers who have already learned the basic punches.
Warm-up: Recapping punches
Platania begins by going over each punch and its corresponding number, which serves as a shorthand for the move. For a more in-depth explanations, watch Platania’s shadowboxing workout for beginners video. Here's what we're working with in this session:
Boxing stance: Dominant leg staggered behind your front leg, slight bend in your knees, arms up.
Duck: A defensive move that involves dropping your knees, bobbing down, and popping right back up.
- Jab: A straight out punch with your front hand, aiming for the eyes
- Cross: A full extension with your back hand, turning the knuckles, back foot, and hip to the front, aiming for the nose
- Front hook: Your front arm wraps up and around, with a big turn of the hip, aiming for the side of the jaw
- Back hook: Back arm wraps up and around, aiming for other side of the jaw
- Front uppercut: Drive the front arm up from below, aiming into the belly
- Back uppercut: Drive the back arm up from below, aiming into the belly
Round 1: Jabs (3 minutes)
Round one comprises three minutes practicing the primary punch, jabs (number one). You’ll vary speed and aim to build strength, since this punch uses your non-dominant arm.
“It’s the most important punch in boxing,” Platania says. “It is the most versatile punch. We could use this for power. We could use it for speed, defense. You could gauge your opponent. This is where you could block a punch. That's why this punch is super important.” It's a lot for one arm, so prepare to push through some fatigue.
Recovery: one-minute shake out and shoulder stretches
Round 2: Practicing all six punches
Platania take us through numbers one through six in different orders to help us re-familiarize with the moves.
“We’re approaching these punches with confidence today,” Platania says. “It's okay if they're not perfect. It's all about progress and that's why we do this. That's why we run round after round.”
Recovery: bodyweight squats for 30 seconds, 30 seconds of rest
Round 3: Defense and combo-building
In this introduction to boxing combos for beginners, Platania shows us how to combine different punches to knock out an opponent.
“I want you to turn that brain on and really start to memorize the combos,” Platania says. “Get them into your body. Feel them out. Get that muscle memory activated. So when it comes time later, we tap right back in.”
- Jab, cross, duck
- Jab, cross, duck, back uppercut.
- Front hook, cross, back uppercut, front hook
- Jab, jab, duck, front uppercut
- Front uppercut, back hook
Recovery: 30-second plank, 30 seconds of rest
Round 4: Conditioning
Platania will train you in reactionary skills. When she says go, you’ll execute ones and twos with speed. When she says drop, you duck. Then, you’ll do more combos for speed: A front hook and back hook for one minute, followed by 30 seconds of four uppercuts, then 30 seconds of four hooks
Recovery: 30 seconds of butt kicks, 30 seconds of rest
Round 5: Building on combos
You’ll return to the combos from round three, focusing on building to two main combos, which you’ll practice for a minute and a half each:
- Jab, cross, duck, back uppercut, front hook
- Jab, jab, duck, front uppercut, back hook
“Once you start to get comfy with it, I want you to speed up the setup and then go heavy on that knockout,” Platania says.
Recovery: 30 seconds of jump rope, 30 seconds of rest
Round 6: Recap
Put it all together and start painting with your boxer’s paintbrush on your own in this final round.
“This is your everything round,” Platania says. “We're going to take little bits and pieces of every single round that we did today, mesh it all together and just go hard.”
- Jab, cross.
- Back uppercut, front hook (“This is one of those combos you put in your back pocket,” Platania says. “You remember that body-head when you see it.”)
- Speed jabs and uppercuts
- Double jabs
- 30 seconds of freestyle: “I want this moment to be all about you,” Platania says. “You got the six punches. You got defense. Now let's see what you got.”
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