Many people think shadow boxing is only for boxers and MMA fighters who want to keep their hand-eye coordination sharp. But the benefits of shadow boxing go far beyond this.
By regularly practicing shadow boxing, you’re training the explosive power, agility and endurance of your whole body. You’ll train yourself to react quickly, think on your feet, and be ready for anything.
In this post we’re going to take a look at some of the main reasons for why you should shadow box and how you can improve your performance by adding this method to your training regime.
If you’re unfamiliar with all this, please check out our guide on how to shadow box to get yourself started.
Why You Should Shadow Box
Shadow boxing is a superb way to get your heart pumping and work up a sweat. Although it’s one of the fundamental training practices in boxing and MMA, it is definitely not just for fighters.
You can practice shadow boxing as a complete HIIT workout – alternating periods of intense exercise with short rest periods. When you shadow box properly, you’ll get exhausted very quickly because you’re using every muscle in your body to move dynamically and with power.
This training can be incorporated into any workout routine, either as a warm-up, cool-down or as the main event. Because it’s a low-impact type of exercise, there’s less chance of injury than with other intensive workouts, like CrossFit.
You don’t need any equipment for shadow boxing, just a wide open area and the determination to train hard. Add shadow boxing to your training arsenal and you’ll start to realise the benefits of this awesome workout fast.
7 Benefits Of Shadow Boxing
#1 Increase Cardiovascular Fitness
Shadowboxing is a super intense workout that will give you a cardio boost in the minimum amount of time.
You’ll be working all of the major muscle groups in your body in a dynamic and explosive way, based on HIIT principles – i.e. short, high-intensity periods of exercise with short rest periods, instead of long, slow and continuous activity (like jogging).
This way of exercising has been proven to increase cardiovascular function, burn fat and get fit in the shortest amount of time possible.
Getting fit is the best way to reduce your chances of developing heart disease and other diseases associated with poor cardiovascular fitness, such as Type 2 diabetes.
#2 Improve Balance
The practice of shadow boxing will help you improve your balance, agility and coordination. Moving around constantly while throwing punches (and maybe kicks too) will train you to constantly maintain a firm footing.
Having a stable platform from which to throw punches is a huge benefit, allowing you to hit your opponent with much greater power than if you are unbalanced.
And even if you’re not a fighter, having a good sense of balance is an obvious benefit in your daily life, meaning you’ll move more gracefully and fall over less easily.
#3 Improve Core Strength
Although shadow boxing is not primarily a core exercise, it will definitely work your abdominal, lower back, glutes and hips – all the key muscle groups that make up the core.
To give yourself a good core workout, you need to make sure you move your upper body while you shadow box. Don’t just keep your torso in a straight line – practice evasive movements with each punching combination.
Practicing in this way will not only make you a better boxer but will force you to constantly engage and strengthen your core muscles, which are super important for functional fitness.
#4 Improve Mental Toughness
Shadow boxing is a test of focus and determination which will improve your mental toughness and single-mindedness. Even if you’re not planning on stepping into a ring, the aim is to simulate the intensity of a real fight through the power of visualization.
You need to stay focused throughout the entire session, imagining an opponent in front of you and reacting to their attacks. Over time, practicing in this way will give you a fighter’s mindset and teach you to react to all of life’s problems like a warrior.
#5 Improve Self-Confidence
Shadow boxing is a dynamic, intense workout which forces you to give everything you’re got. You’re not just sitting at a weights machine mechanically pumping out reps. You’re imagining yourself in the midst of real combat, testing yourself against a live opponent who wants to see you knocked out.
The effect of this is subtle, but over time will accumulate and result in an increase in your self confidence, competitiveness and drive. Skills which are essential to achieving success in real life, not just in the ring.
#6 Improve Workout Efficiency
Intense workouts like shadow boxing are the most efficient kinds of workout because they pack as much activity as possible into a short time period.
Every time you train, you’ll be increasing your heart rate up to 80% maximum, and will totally blast your cardio system. As with other kinds of HIIT training, you’ll be able to achieve in only 20 minutes what would take 1 hour+ with slower exercises like jogging.
If you’re someone who values time and likes to do things efficiently, one of the biggest benefits of shadow boxing is that you can get an amazing workout in a really short amount of time.
#7 It Helps in Relieving Stress.
Shadow boxing is a great stress reliever because when you focus 100% on the exercise you can easily put aside all your worries, stresses and anxieties.
More than this, there is something cathartic about punching the air and moving your body dynamically. Strange as it may sound, often it feels as if you’re fighting your inner demons and conquering your weaknesses, becoming a better person.
When you’re feeling stressed, burnt out or otherwise ill-at-ease, try doing some shadow boxing for 10 minutes – you’re guaranteed to feel better afterwards.
Shadow Boxing Benefits – Final Thoughts
There are so many benefits to shadowboxing, the only thing you need to do now is get started.
Whether you’re a fighter looking to improve your performance in the ring, or you just want to improve your fitness or lose weight, shadow boxing will help you achieve your goals – fast.
If you’re a beginner, remember to start slowly and build up the intensity over time. This will help you to avoid injury and develop good technique.
If you’re more advanced, you can also use some tools to increase the difficulty of shadow boxing, for example by adding boxing resistance bands to your training arsenal.