Do your upper-body speedwork

HIIT Boxing benefits all athletes.

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Amateur boxers who practiced an intense, interval-style bag boxing routine came away with more power, more upper-body endurance, and better VO2max after four weeks (training five days per week) compared to those who practiced the same routine at a lower intensity, says a new study in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research.

Specifically, the high-intensity group tackled 14 sets of three seconds all-out punching interspersed with 10 seconds of rest. They did this for three rounds with one minute rest in between each. Meanwhile, the control group did the exact same workout, except their three seconds of punching was at a low intensity and then went into 10 seconds of a defense position—closer to what you’d actually encounter in a boxing match in order to conserve energy.


"It's not surprising the high-intensity group came out more powerful and faster here," says Matt Berenc, director of education at the Equinox Fitness Training Institute.

It’s like speed work for your upper-body, he explains; the quick bursts of effort will activate a large number of muscle fibers, teaching them to fire more efficiently and in a more synchronized fashion. In turn, this could help break plateaus in strength training. It might also help elevate performance in cardio activities, like running, since you’re working on the arm turnover, which influences leg stride and core stabilization, says Berenc.


High-intensity boxing intervals make for a great muscle-building, calorie-burning, total-body workout. But you shouldn’t just put on gloves and start punching. "The study used amateur competitive boxers for a reason: Their technique was sound and they knew how to hit the bag," Berenc notes. If you're totally new to the sport, take a few classes. You'll be exposed to interval work with a coach who will teach you how to throw a punch properly. Once you have some experience, you can build to this program.