Is Kickboxing the Right Kind of Workout for You?

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If your goal is to build muscle mass, then kickboxing is not the best choice for your workout. However, if you want a dynamic cardio training experience that teaches some self-defense moves you can use in real-world situations, plus tone and firm your body all over, then yes it is probably one of the best workouts. Speaking of cardio, a 1-hour workout can burn up to 500 calories or more. Some participants report calories burns approaching 800 calories in a 1-hour workout.

Kickboxing is a catch-all term as there are different types of kickboxing classes. Generally speaking, all Southeast Asian-type kickboxing is done from the stand-up position and primarily uses knees and elbows during the moves, such is the case with Muay Thai.

In the U.S., the sport has evolved into also using the hands and feet to attack body areas like the groin, legs and back. And then there are classes that don’t involve any contact sparring, but focus on cardio vascular improvement. Here again, it depends on your goals for participating in the sport.

If you go for the cardio conditioning workout, expect to burn fat fast, especially the hard to get rid of belly fat. Kicking against a pad or boxing bag increases the intensity of the workout verses just kicking in the air at an invisible opponent. Kicking an object requires more use of the abdominal core, which works to tone the back, abs and trim the waist.

Toning and trimming are not the only benefits derived from kickboxing. It also improves hand, leg and eye coordination, increases flexibility, boosts confidence and self-esteem, and speeds up reflexes.

Regardless if your class is for the cardio workout or mastering self-defense moves, either way you will learn some moves that you could use to get out of attack situations. Having this knowledge is empowering and is what helps build confidence and self-esteem – knowing you won’t be the victim.

If you have a stressful job, kickboxing is a good way to “burn off steam” after a hard day at work. You will find it helps improve mental clarity and improves your quality (and quantity) of sleep. And because of the endorphins released, you will experience the feel-good feeling often called the “runner’s high” resulting in being more relaxed after a kickboxing class.

So is kickboxing right for you? Except for the lack of the strength-building component, which applies to only a small group of people, it most likely is one of the best all-around conditioning and self-defense workouts you can choose to do.

5 Kickboxing Moves for Fitness

Kickboxing is a great martial art to practice to get fit. Depending on your weight, gender and body composition, you can burn anywhere from 350 to 450 calories during an hour-long session. From the fighting stance of standing with your feet staggered, knees slightly bent and your rear heel slightly lifted off of the floor, bring up your fists to your chin, elbows tucked in to the sides and palms facing each other. From here a number of moves can be executed. Let’s take a look at a few of the basic ones.

The Jab

A jab is a punch straight out from the fighting stance. To jab, stand with your dominant foot forward. Rotate the dominant side hip forward while extending the dominant arm. While extending your arm, rotate your fist so that it is parallel to the floor and in line with your shoulder. Aim for your opponent’s nose or throat. Retract your arm immediately back to the fighting stance position when finished with the jab.

The Cross

Essentially the same as the jab except the punch is thrown with your non-dominant hand while your dominant foot is forward. Instead, rotate the non-dominant side hip forward while extending the non-dominant arm. While extending your arm, rotate your fist so that it is parallel to the floor and in line with your shoulder. Target and retraction is the same as with the Jab.

The Hook

Instead of punching straight forward, the hook comes in from the side. Start with your lead foot forward. Pivot on the ball of your lead foot while turning your same side knee, hip, shoulder and arm in the same direction. This puts more force to your blow.

Bring your forearm of your lead side up and parallel with the floor while rotating your fist so that your thumb is pointing up. Aim for the opponent’s ear or cheek while keeping your non-lead fist up by your face to protect it.

Front Kick

Start by standing with your left foot forward. Shift your weight to your rearward foot while at the same time bringing up your left knee to your chest. Now thrust out with your left leg as if you were going to slam a door with the heel of your foot. Retract immediately so that your opponent doesn’t have time to grab your foot. Target should be the groin or chest.

Side Kick

Stand with your left foot forward. Turn your hips to the right. Lift your left knee towards your chest. Now kick out forcefully with your left leg out to the side while leaning your body into the kick. Retract immediately. Target should be the chest or torso. This is by far the strongest of all the kick moves.

Because kickboxing is cardio training, it is a great way to burn fat fast. However, it also has a conditioning component to it too due to the fact that it uses all of the major muscle groups in the upper, core and lower body. It also increases flexibility, coordination and reflexes. It is quite possibly the perfect all-body fitness program.

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