Workout 101: Guy's Guide to Boxing

Queue the training montages and step into the ring

Boxing is back. This Thanksgiving, Michael B. Jordan pulled on gloves for the Rocky-reboot Creed. Before that, Jake Gyllenhaal climbed in the ring for South Paw.

But it’s not just Hollywood bringing on this workout renaissance. Boxing has been on the rise in gyms across the country, and old-school training facilities are getting new converts daily. That should come as no surprise to anyone who has seen what boxing can do for your body (here at SG HQ, we might have that Creed movie poster taped up in the office..) Can you say traps, delts, and pecs?

Interested in getting your own boxer’s body?

Here’s what you need to know before slipping into your wraps:


Boxing is a martial art and combat sport, though most amateur training classes don’t involve person-to-person contact. Classes are generally structured to accommodate noobs, but the regimens taught are similar to those with which elite, internationally acclaimed athletes are trained. Makes sense: What better way to get into shape than to work out like an athlete with a title to defend?

Drill-based classes incorporate total body conditioning for a workout that will make you sweat, and make you think. “Boxing increases agility, balance and coordination, as well as providing increased power, speed and endurance,” says owner/instructor Michelle Berke and intructor, Joseph Stritmater of Kickbox Haus. You can expect to learn footwork, boxing technique, and what it feels like to move and box like a fighter. Many classes also involve shadowboxing, pad work, and heavy bag work.


Depends where you go, but most classes there will be some ladies looking to get their bob-and-weave on. And the crowd varies; you’ll see surprisingly dainty chicks who saw Gigi Hadid throwing punches on Instagram, and Ronda Rousey wannabes tearing it up in the ring. 

Guys run the gamut from meatheads that look like they were born in the ring, and average Joes looking to improve their strength and speed, or maybe just put their head down and punch the sh*t out of a bag for an hour after leaving their emotionally draining finance job.

What we’re saying is, you’re not going to feel out of place, unless you go to a facility so no-frills that you’re literally training next to the next Rocky, leaving you embarrassed to have trouble with a 1-2-3 (jab-cross-hook) combo.


We’re not going to lie, it’s not easy. Apart from the occasional hip-hop dance class, nothing makes us feel like we’ve got two left feet AND two left arms like a boxing class can.

Boxing requires not just physical strength but mental acumen – it takes practice to find yourself in that elusive middle ground of turning your mind off and simply following along the teacher’s instructions and actually, you know, getting it right.

…Which is exactly what makes it so fun when you do start nailing your combos and footwork. So don’t get discouraged if you’re just starting out. You can – literally – only get better.

Check out these gifs to get you started:


Jab-Cross-Upper Cut-Upper Cut Combo

Cross Punch Abdominals

Knuckle Push-Ups

Gifs by: Joel Castillo of | shot at Nike+ 45 Grand training studio in NYC


You will work up a sweat. “Boxing is a great cardio workout,” says Nike trainer Rachel Nicks. “It’s one of my favorite ways to get the heart rate up and burn calories, since it challenges your coordination and works your core.” So yeah, bring a towel.


If we haven’t scared you enough yet, we’re just going to say it: boxing is pretty hard.

From learning to properly wrap your hands (surprisingly hard!) to feeling comfortable with the combinations (not-so-surprisingly hard!) to landing punch after punch for an hour on the bag, you’ll definitely feel it the next day.

But gaining the physique of a fighter could make it all worth it, for a guy with the dedication required to see results. Boxing builds sinewy muscles, with shoulders and backs that are just aching to be touched (no, really, you will be dying for a good massage the day after a workout).

The flip side of all that struggle is that you notice improvements quickly. You’ll gain strength, muscle mass, and agility *fast* when you commit to a boxing regimen. You’ll also get cool scars on your knuckles from where you’ve been wailing on the bag.



Stay in shape with Style Girlfriend’s Workout 101 guides to barre, Pilates, Crossfit, and rowing