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So, you want to learn how to box? That is freaking awesome, and this guide is a great place to begin your research into the boxing basics for beginners.
By learning to box, you will gain many skills that physically and mentally challenge you.
Not only might you get into the best shape of your life, but you will reap the rewards of hard work and discipline that only a sport like boxing can teach you.
Boxing is a great sport, rich with history in many regions worldwide. Whether you want to learn a new sport, learn boxing skills for fitness, or begin a road into the competitive boxing world, boxing is something anyone can learn if they desire.
Boxing is inspiring, and it motivates. The sport has a natural tendency to produce underdog stories. There is a reason Hollywood has produced so many classic boxing movies. Yo Adrian!
Boxing Participation is on the Rise
Since 2006, participation in boxing has been on the rise. Boxing for fitness and boxing for competition has grown from 2 million participants up to over 6 million in 2015.
In its most basic form, boxing is an inexpensive sport to get into; you can shadow box for free, spar with a friend, or give the heavy bag a beating in the comfort of your own garage.
I’m just speculating, but perhaps the stress of the economic difficulties from 2007-2011 and the difficult years of 2020-2022 have led people to rediscover the simple physical and mental benefits of boxing, as you’ll find out below.
How to Teach Yourself Boxing at Home
First, think about your goals. Are you taking up boxing for fitness, strength, cardio, or weight loss? These are all reachable goals when boxing at home.
On the other hand, learning to fight will require finding a gym and lots of in-person training. Teaching yourself to fight at home will only reinforce any bad habits you pick up. Find yourself a good boxing gym if competing is part of your goals.
Now that you’re committed to doing this at home, you have a few tasks to complete before getting started.
You’ll start by creating a space to place your punching bag, with a screen somewhere you can watch videos and learn how to do the foundational moves and techniques.
The only gear you need to get started at home is a punching bag and boxing gloves. There are over a dozen types of punching bags, but as a beginner, a stand-up punching bag is an affordable option. It can be placed anywhere, without the need to hang.
There are also many styles of boxing gloves, but you only need a decent pair of bag gloves to get started. An alternative is MMA-style sparring gloves, which are a little lighter and have open fingers.
There are dozens of great videos on YouTube that can show you the fundamentals and start with some home workouts. We also have many good articles linked below on specific topics.
Beginner Boxing Gear
Before throwing your first punches, you must be prepared with the right equipment. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to go out and buy the best stuff on the market, but you should look for quality gear that will last you a long time.
You can keep it simple when starting at home. Gloves and a punching bag are all that are needed.
- Boxing Gloves – Every boxer needs gloves. There are different sizes and weights for sparring, competition, women’s specific gloves, and youth-specific. You should invest in a pair that is at the weight limit that is appropriate for what type of training you plan on doing.
- Heavy Bag – A good heavy bag is the foundation of boxing at home. It will help you work on punching power, footwork, and overall stamina. Traditional hanging heavy bags are great, but for a more portable solution at home, go with a standing punching bag.
- Jump Rope – The jump rope is the best cardio tool for any boxer. It is a great warmup exercise, helps build up a lot of stamina, and is low impact enough to keep you from getting injured.
While not a complete list of everything an aspiring boxer needs, these are the essential pieces of gear that will get you on the right path.
It can get a little pricey but remember that your gear is an investment in your new hobby. Spending money like this makes many people more committed to sticking with it.
- Hand Wraps – Hand wraps protect your knuckles and hands under your gloves. They are usually made from cloth and take some practice learning how to wrap up properly.
- Boxing Shoes – Boxing footwear is usually high-topped and has a grip appropriate for a canvas ring. They are designed to keep your ankles and feet stable while moving around. They are not required for boxing at home, but they are nice. (See the Best Shoes for Boxing).
- Headgear – You won’t need headgear at home, but if you plan on sparring at any point, some headgear will be required, so it is a good idea to go ahead and find a good-fitting head guard to wear. (See the Best Headgear for Boxing).
- Mouth Guards – A mouth guard protects your teeth from getting shattered when punched in the face and helps you not bite your tongue. Practicing with it in your mouth can also help you learn how to breathe. (See Best Mouthguards for Boxing)
Home Boxing Equipment
For building out a more complete home gym, you should consider adding a few of these pieces to your home gym.
- Heavy Bag – A traditional heavy bag is much more robust than a stand-up style bag. They are also more difficult to hang as they are, well, very heavy. You need to have a structurally sound place to hang the punching bag, like a beam or joist.
- Heavy Bag Stand – Many people do not want to deal with hanging the punching bag in the house, and the alternative is a heavy bag stand. A stand allows you to move the bag into a corner and provide the support structure for a free-swinging punching bag. (See Best Heavy Bag Stands).
- Speed Bag – The speed bag is a small punching bag mounted on a platform and swivel that allows rapid-fire punching. A speed bag helps you work on hand speed, hand-eye coordination, footwork, and stamina. It can also help you build some strength in your shoulder muscles. An alternate piece of equipment is the reflex bag, which is attached to a floor base rather than hanging. (See Best Speed Bags).
- Double End Bag – This is a speed bag-type ball that is connected to the ceiling and floor with a rope or bungee. This is a great alternative to speed bags that allow you to practice many different punch combinations. (See Best Double End Bags).
- Focus Mitts – Focus mitts, sometimes called punch mitts or sparring pads, will let you punch your partner at full power without hurting them. It will help you work on your movement, punch targeting, and overall power. (See Best Focus Mitts).
Read More: The Complete List of Boxing Equipment
Boxing for Beginners – The Basics
1. Boxing Stance and Guard
Before you ever throw a punch, you need to learn the stance. There are two main stances, orthodox and southpaw. Unless you are left-handed, you will take an orthodox stance.
A good stance starts with placing your two feet about shoulder length apart, with your dominant leg in the back, and the other up front. This means right foot in the back for right-handers.
Imagine there is a line going down the middle of your body. Your feet should be on both sides of that line, with your dominant one’s heel touching it while pointing out, and your front foot touching it with your big toe.
Your guard should protect your face and body, depending on where they are punching. Hands up and elbows in, with your torso at an angle to your target. You don’t want to be facing up squarely, because that provides a bigger target for your opponent to punch.
2. Footwork Basics
Footwork is just as important as punching, so make sure you have a good idea of how to move your feet. You should keep your weight balanced so you can move easier back and forth. You should also never be too square to your opponent. Keep your feet spread out, but not too far and not too close together.
3. Learn the Basic Punches
Boxing has just 6 main types of punches that you need to learn to be effective in the ring. They are the jab, cross, hook (lead and rear hand), and uppercut (lead and rear).
- Jab – The jab is the most basic punch. It is the lead in most combinations and can be used to whittle down your opponent. Standing in your proper stance, the jab a straight punch coming from your front hand which is your non-dominant one.
- Cross – The cross is another straight punch, but it comes from your dominant hand and carries more power than the jab. Use it to finish up combos or to put your opponent off balance.
- Uppercut – Using either hand, the uppercut comes from lowering your arm and bringing up a punch in an upward motion. It is used to strike your opponent on the chin and is a great punch for finishing a combo and delivering a knockout blow.
- Hook – A hook is using either hand in a horizontal motion. It is effective because it comes at an opponent from their peripheral vision. A variety of hook punches can be used on both the face and the body. As they carry a lot of power, many professional fighters use the hook as a finishing blow.
- Combinations – Combos come in many forms. Often times they are set up by the jab. Work on throwing a jab, a cross, and a hook in quick succession. That is one of the most fundamental combos that most beginning fighters learn.
4. Defensive Techniques
Boxing is not just about punching your opponent. They will be punching back, so learning good defensive techniques is a must. A good training program involves both offense and defense.
When you are defending yourself, you will be using all parts of your body: arms, head, torso, and feet.
- Arms – Your arms give you reach, so use them to fend off punches. You can block punches by putting both your arms in front of your face, absorbing the blows. You can also do this to block your body. Finally, you can dodge and slip punches by parrying them in mid-swing with your arms extended. Think of it like you are sword fighting. Your arms are like a sword and shield, blocking and parrying their weapons.
- Body and Head – Moving your head out of the way of their punches by bending at the waist is called a slip. You can also bob and weave to make it harder to hit directly. If you need some time to catch your breath, or if you want to limit your opponents’ power, you can clinch with them by grabbing them and pulling them into your body. When you get into a situation where a flurry of punches is coming in, simply knowing how to cover up your face with your arms and body can save you.
- Footwork – All of your movement in the ring comes down to your footwork, making your stance so important. A neutral stance has your weight centered, so when you need to pull back or sidestep, you can easily shift your weight back and forth to glide across the ring. You can also move your opponent by pivoting around them or create distance by pulling away.
5. Drills and Workouts
There is not enough room in this article for all the possible workouts and drills, so to get started here are some workout compilations that can easily be done at home.
- Heavy Bag Workouts
- Speed Bag Workouts
- Double End Bag Workouts
- Focus Mitt Drills
- Century BOB Drills (BOB is a lifelike punching bag, it’s awesome!)
- Shadow Boxing Workout Routines
While you can learn a lot about fighting with just you and a punching bag, you can only put your newfound skills into practice with a sparring partner. Sparring allows you to understand how it would feel to fight a real opponent, and you’ll begin to develop your boxing style.
There are several different types of sparring techniques, each designed to work on different aspects of boxing.
For example, a sparring partner wearing sparring pads will allow you to work on your punch power, footwork, and hand speed.
- A low-contact sparring session will help you work on your ring presence, ability to move, footwork, and body movement.
- Full contact sparring is a great way to simulate a real fight. It lets you put everything you have learned into a complete package.
When sparring, remember always to take it slow and be extra careful. You don’t want to hurt your partner, and you don’t want to get hurt by them either. Sparring is designed to give you real-world experience in a fighting environment, so find someone more knowledgeable than you to give you pointers while in the ring.
Benefits of Boxing at Home
Ultimate Fitness Workout – Studies have shown that boxing workouts are some of the highest calorie-burning activities you can do. The average person can burn up to 400 calories with just 30 minutes of regular sparring with a partner or heavy bag.
High Intensity, Low Impact – Boxing workouts for fitness incorporate HIIT (high-intensity interval training) principles that create full-body workouts that burn fat and improve your cardiovascular conditioning while being far easier on your joints than activities like running.
Builds Strength & Endurance – Boxing teaches you an array of awesome punches and techniques, which naturally build upper body strength and endurance without weightlifting strain (and grunting). Rope jumping and footwork routines do the same for your lower body.
Improves Your Mental Focus – Weirdly, boxing improves your mental focus by forcing you to think about only your form and technique. Going through a boxing workout is a great way to clear out the thoughts cluttering up your mind.
Builds Self Confidence – What could be more inspiring than learning to punch something hard. You might start as a total newbie, but after weeks and months of boxing classes, you start to walk around knowing you have a particular set of skills in your back pocket.
Great Stress Relief – When you put forth great physical exertion, your body releases a stream of wondrous endorphins that has a way of melting away the stresses of the world. Endorphins can be addicting and are a natural way to make you feel better mentally and physically.
Teaches Basic Self-Defense – Boxing isn’t meant to be self-defense training, but it does teach you some fundamentals that can be lifesaving if you run across some jackass on the street. Remember, thugs don’t play by the rules on the street, so I highly recommend specific training for self-defense purposes.
Great for Youth – Under the right trainers, boxing is a fantastic tool for developing critical self-confidence and a positive self-image. It’s not about fighting. It’s about doing something physical that’s hard. Over the years, our culture has encouraged sedentary activities like video games and playing on smartphones. Youth need physical activity to maintain a healthy fitness level and mental stimulation, which boxing excels at, even in the home.
Frequently Asked Questions from Beginners
Is Boxing Hard to Learn?
Boxing is a sport that is easy to learn but takes years to master, especially if your goal is competitive fighting. There are so many skills and nuances to learn to be able to fight, even on the amateur level.
But don’t that intimidate you. Boxing is a simple sport to get started in and has many benefits, which we have already covered in detail.
The important thing is just to get started. Whether you join a gym or learn the basics at home, learning boxing is a fun and rewarding challenge.
How Long Does It Take to Learn?
You can expect to learn the initial basics of boxing over 4-6 months of regular practice. To advance beyond the beginner stage will take at least one year, if not two.
Even then, if you are boxing at home and not in a gym, you should not consider yourself anything other than a beginner or intermediate-level boxer.
The bottom line, this is one sport that can be learned in a short time but takes a lifetime to master.
Am I too Old to Learn to Box?
You can learn boxing at any age! It doesn’t matter how old you are, your gender, or your past athletic experiences. Anyone can learn to box. Whether you practice at home or in a gym, boxing is very inclusive for all ages.
You should know that boxing can be rigorous and physically demanding. This site should not be considered medical advice and informational only. Please consult your doctor before starting any exercise regimen!