Train Like a Boxer: 10 Exercises to Get You in Fighting Shape


I’ve always loved the sport of boxing.

When I was younger, I punched a few holes in the wall (sorry, mom and dad), and pretty soon afterwards my parents bought me a punching bag (which is all I always wanted anyway, guess I should have brought that up sooner).

I had no idea what I was doing then when I tried to punch the damn thing—all I knew was that boxers were always in incredible shape and really badass, and I wanted to be just like them.

Fast forward a few years later, I got my personal training certification and got a job at a gym in New York City solely based on the fact that it had a boxing ring and an awesome, incredibly badass trainer. I started taking lessons right away, and quickly learned all my hooks, jabs, and undercuts. I fell even deeper in love with the sport.

There’s something so satisfying, so primal in a way, of punching something (or someone) as hard as humanly possible.

And there’s no doubt about it—being in the ring is exhausting. You have to be able to outlast your opponent till the bitter end, so there’s no option but to be as fit as possible. Heck, even just a few rounds on a punching bag will leave you sweaty and breathless.

But whether or not you have any desire to punch anything, it’s hard to avoid the reality that boxers are in some of the best shape of any athletes. Never bulky, boxers tend to have a lean, athletic look based on being incredibly strong, well-conditioned, and full of passion and fire.

Because when you train like a fighter, you’ll build the strength, crazy endurance, and core power so that if you wanted to punch someone round after round, you could.

Here are 10 exercises you can do to get in fighting shape:

Jump rope

Jumping rope is one of the classic boxing exercises, because it helps build a lean, strong body, aids in coordination, agility, and footwork, and boosts endurance like nearly no other exercise does. Plus, since jump ropes are so portable, you can literally do it anywhere.

Here are some jump rope variations you can try:

  • Single jumps
  • High knees
  • Double jumps
  • Figure eights

You can see 12 Minute Athlete workouts that use a jump rope here.


Burpees are pretty much the best exercise ever, and will increase your strength and endurance like no other exercise will. Plus, all that getting up and down is helpful in the ring (if you ever get knocked down, that is).

How to do it:

_Get into a squat position with your hands on the floor in front of you.
_Kick your feet back into a push up position and lower body to the floor.
_Return your feet back to the squat position as fast as possible.
_Immediately jump up into the air as high as you can.
_Add a little clap for pizazz!

Watch the video:

Sit ups

Boxers need a strong core to give them the strength to keep throwing punches, and sit ups are one of the classic exercises to build up core strength in the ring.

How to do it:

_Lay on the floor with your legs spread in a butterfly setup.
_Stretch your arms in front of you.
_Use your abs to pull yourself off of the floor.
_Touch your feet with your hands, making sure to keep your chest forward.
_Lower back down and repeat.

Watch the video:

Tip: Try different variations of the sit up, such as throwing punches at the top of a sit up to build even more core strength and endurance.

Shadow boxing

It may seem wimpy if you’ve never tried it, but shadow boxing is one of the best ways to practice your movement and footwork as a boxer. Plus, it’s more tiring that you might imagine.

Here’s a good tutorial on how to shadow box if you don’t know how.

Push ups

Push ups are awesome and will also give you strong arms, shoulders, chest and core muscles. Plus, they require no equipment whatsoever, so you have no excuse not to od them!

How to do it:

_Start in a push up position, with your shoulders directly over your hands.
_Tighten your abs, glutes and thighs.
_Lower yourself down so that your chest touches the floor.
_Push yourself back up into the starting position and repeat.

Beginner Modification

_Start in a push up position with your knees on the floor.
_Tighten your abs, glutes and thighs.
_Lower yourself down so that your chest touches the floor.
_Push yourself back up into the starting position and repeat.

Watch the video:

Chin ups/pull ups

Not only are chin ups and pull ups totally badass, they’ll build up your arm, chest, back, shoulder and core strength like no other. Can’t do a single one yet? Learn how to start doing chin ups and pull ups.

How to do it:

_Start from a dead hang with straight elbows, palms facing you for chin ups, palms facing away for pull ups
_Keeping your chest up and your shoulders back, squeeze your glutes and cross your feet
_Pull yourself up so that your chin rests over the bar
_Lower down and repeat.

Watch the videos:

Chin ups:

Pull ups:


Squats will strengthen your legs and glutes so you can bob, weave, and slip (typical boxing defenses) all day long. A strong lower body is just as—or maybe more—important than a strong upper body during a fight.

How to do it:

_Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
_Pull your shoulders back and engage your abs.
_Push your butt & hips back as if you were sitting in a chair.
_Keep your weight on your heels.
_Go down until your thighs are parallel to the floor, raising your arms up as you lower down.

Tip: for an extra challenge, trySandbag squats  or Kettlebell front squats . Or, if you have access to a barbell and weights, feel free to use that too.

Watch the video:

Shoulder presses

Fighters need strong shoulders if they want to be able to keep punching round after round. And shoulder presses will help build up shoulder strength and endurance.

How to do it:

_Stand straight (preferred to sitting) holding a sandbag, dumbbells, or a barbell at your waist.
_Raise the sandbag (or other weights) up to your shoulders, keeping your shoulders pulled back and your abs tight.
_Straighten your arms at a moderate pace.
_Lower back down to your shoulders and repeat.

Watch the video:

Walking lunges

Not only will walking lunges build strength in your legs, glutes and core muscles, they’ll also help with balance and flexibility—key requirements for any fighter.

How to do it:

_Start in a lunge position with your knees touching or almost touching the floor.
_Without pausing, alternate legs, bringing your opposite leg forward into a lunge position.
_Continue alternating legs while moving forward.
_For an added challenge, hold something heavy.

Watch the video:

Knees to elbows

Though sit ups are awesome because you can do them anywhere with no equipment, knees to elbows will give you an even stronger core. And they’ll help you build up to even cooler abs exercises, such as toes to knees, windshield wipers.

How to do it:

_Grip the pull up bar with your palms facing away from you, arms shoulder-width apart.
_Adding a slight swing, bring your knees up to your chest, touching your elbows if possible.
_Lower down and repeat.

Watch the video:

Train hard!

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29 thoughts on “Train Like a Boxer: 10 Exercises to Get You in Fighting Shape”

  1. It’s so great that the best exercises are so simple to do. To get into the best shape of your life you don’t need fancy equipment or a personal trainer. You just need the drive to be better.

  2. Good stuff Maynard kiddo! I was on the 82nd Airborne Div. boxing team (many years ago) and a few you might want to consider adding…

    1) Stomach Jacks-Classic jumping jack done with fists clenched however on the down swing strike the stomach with the fists

    2) Way Down Way Back-Feet spread more than shoulder width apart, torso erect, arms at shoulder height to the sides, elbows bent at right angle with fists pointed up. Bring fists to stomach striking stomach and then immediately bend forward at the waist and lightly striking fists to floor, as you arise, again strike fists to stomach and then return to starting position. This is a ballistic exercise done quickly with intensity and is designed to warm up the shoulders, torso, and stretch the lower body.

  3. take sit-ups out as almost no boxer does them anymore, they will fuck your spine up. planks instead, and a lot of other variations. also shadow box with gloves on so you will build a lot of muscles afterwords.

    • Damn straight. A half day of rock climbing will show you just how many muscles are in your body. Failing that; climb a tree – it was fun as a kid and its STILL fun!

  4. Nice article mate…boxed on and off for 30 tears now and am looking to do one more fight as I home in on the half century. Will definitely be using lots of your suggested excersises.


  5. I`m not a boxer just an overweight ex rugby player looking to lose some weight, I like this training program any tips
    for a guy who has has let himself go?


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