You don’t need to step into the ring to experience the benefits of kickboxing exercises, and you can even do some kickboxing workouts at home.
Kickboxing has much to offer, whether you’re interested in picking up a new sport or just want an intense and fun workout.
Keep reading to learn the history of kickboxing, everything you need to know to get started, and the best kickboxing workouts to try.
An Introduction to Kickboxing Workouts
Kickboxing is a fighting sport that became popular in the US in the 1970s that involves kicking and punching. The sport has a rich history starting in Japan, where it was created by mixing a blend of Muay Thai from Thailand, Karate, and Western boxing elements.
Kickboxing training focuses on improving your technical ability with punching and kicking combinations, the skills necessary to avoid punches, and your overall fitness.
The stamina needed to fight is significant, so you'll also spend plenty of time conditioning with sprints, shuffles, and runs. In addition, you'll also train your core to be strong and balanced so you can be quick and agile.
All these aspects of fitness are required to maintain your energy throughout the session. It’s also loads of fun!
Where to Try Kickboxing
Whether you’re training at a traditional martial arts gym(called a dojo) or taking a cardio kickboxing class somewhere else, the electric environment and the high energy of kickboxing instruction can't be beaten. These workouts are as challenging as they are rewarding.
If you’re looking to learn the sport of kickboxing, your best bet is finding a martial arts gym with properly trained instructors. Kickboxing, after all, is a competitive sport, and you’ll need to learn a whole new set of skills and strategies if you want to compete.
If, instead, you want to incorporate some kickboxing exercises into your workouts, you can try a cardio kickboxing group class offered at many commercial gyms or stream a kickboxing workout at home.
Personal trainers may also offer kickboxing lessons, so you can also seek out a personal trainer and ask if they offer kickboxing instruction.
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Kickboxing offers immense health benefits as it is mainly aerobic exercise but offers many anaerobic exercise gains, too. Aerobic exercise gets your heart racing for longer, while anaerobic activities are short and require power and strength.
A kickboxing workout contains both elements and is an excellent addition to most training programs.
Promotes Heart Health
Cardio workouts like kickboxing promote heart health in many ways, including:
- Reverses and prevents cardiovascular disease
- Increases your good cholesterol (HDL)
- Decreases your bad cholesterol (LDL)
- Reduces your risk for chronic conditions like stroke and heart attack
- Decreases your blood pressure
- Fights aging
This list may seem too good to be true. Still, ample evidence has shown that regular participation in high-intensity cardio exercises like kickboxing can help you live better for longer.
Better Bone Density
A study in the Frontiers in Medicine Journal showed that older adults who participated in a 12-week kickboxing class experienced a significant improvement in bone density and improvements in sarcopenia and osteoporosis.
So high-impact activities like kickboxing can go a long way in helping you build strong bones.
That same study also demonstrated that the participants lost significant body fat–particularly around their waist.
This is good news for anyone interested in fat loss, but not surprising.
After all, countless studies have shown that high-intensity exercise like kickboxing is unbeatable for burning calories and helping with fat loss.
Improves Coordination, Balance, Speed, & Agility
Because kickboxing challenges you to keep moving while ducking, dodging, and weaving around your opponent (real or imaginary), it also helps you develop your general coordination and balance.
These improvements translate into speed and agility gains too. Thus, the skills you develop in kickboxing will help you become a more well-rounded athlete.
Nothing produces endorphins more than high-intensity exercise, and kickboxing is no exception. Participation in kickboxing has been shown to boost your mood, increase your energy, and decrease stress.
While the cardio benefits of kickboxing are significant, this training style also helps increase muscle mass and strength, particularly in your upper body.
Improves Core Strength
Anyone who’s taken a kickboxing class knows there is a lot of ab work. A strong core is essential to propel you forward, hit your punching and kicking combinations, and keep your balance so you’ll train your core extensively.
Increases Confidence & Teaches Practical Skills
One of the main draws of martial arts is the discipline and confidence you will gain by learning a new sport and assimilating into the kickboxing culture.
Kickboxing is not only a fantastic form of exercise but also a form of self-defense. By mastering its techniques, your confidence will grow as you gain practical skills.
Getting Started with Kickboxing Workouts
Before incorporating kickboxing into your training program, you must understand your options and any equipment you may want to purchase.
It's also important to note that traditional kickboxing is a combat sport that is highly physical and therefore comes with risks. Consequently, it would be best to get cleared by a physician before participating in high-intensity exercise or combat sports.
While you can choose to participate in a kickboxing class and not spar (fight) with anyone, each dojo will have different feelings about that practice.
The good news is that most dojos also offer cardio kickboxing classes for those interested in fitness, not fighting. Many commercial gyms also offer these–though the technical instruction is often significantly less informed.
As with all forms of exercise, you need to make time for an appropriate warm-up and cool-down, and you must be careful not to overdo it.
Kickboxing is a form of HIIT exercise, so start with one to two classes per week and see how you feel. Most kickboxing classes are an hour long, but you can get a great session in as few as 30 minutes.
There is no target heart rate in kickboxing. Instead, you will focus on learning the punching and kicking skills, then string them together in sequence, also called a combination.
Below are tips to get you through your first kickboxing class and the essential skills you must master.
Choose your Kickboxing Style
Which type of kickboxing you choose will depend on your goals and risk tolerance.
Training in a combat sport can be empowering and bring your fitness to the next level, but it's not without risks, especially if you plan on competing. So it's essential to consider which type of kickboxing best suits your lifestyle, fitness goals, and health status.
Types of Kickboxing
|Muay Thai||Strikes are allowed above and below the waist,Focusing on punches, strikes, and kicks.|
|Lethwei||Bare-knuckle fighting allows everything that Muay Thai does and headbutts.|
|Dutch Kickboxing||Allows kicking but emphasizes Western boxing|
|Savate||Originating in France, mostly boxing plus strikes with the feet.|
|Sanda||Chinese combat sport that does not allow strikes with elbows or knees.|
|Full-Contact Karate||Some styles mix kicking and punching along with sweeps and throws.|
|Shadow boxing||A training exercise where you punch the air to practice combinations and improve fitness. Easily done at home without instruction.|
|Cardio Kickboxing||Combines aspects of fight sports like punching and kicking in a high-intensity aerobic exercise class. Great for beginners.|
If you want all the fitness benefits of kickboxing without the punches, opt for a cardio kickboxing class or incorporate shadowboxing into your training instead.
Understanding Kickboxing Equipment
Traditional Kickboxing / Muy Thai Equipment
If you want to get the conventional kickboxing experience, you must invest in some safety equipment–though many dojos include some or all of these items for new members.
You’ll want a mouth guard, shin guards, headgear, and a cup if applicable. These items will help keep you safe during training and minimize your risk of injury.
Cardio Kickboxing Equipment
Many commercial gyms do not require any equipment and are, therefore, better choices for anyone looking to try kickboxing for the first time. If you've tried a class and you're hooked, you may want to purchase a pair of boxing gloves or hand wraps.
Though it may appear soft, punching a bag is very uncomfortable and can even injure your hand. Wear your gloves to maximize your safety and comfort.
Best Kickboxing Workouts to Try
The first lesson you receive in kickboxing is how to stand. While that may seem obvious, learning how to distribute your weight is essential to move quickly and with power.
Tips on finding your kickboxing fighting stance:
Everyone’s stance will vary, so don’t panic about the exact angle of your body or feet. You just want to find a stance width and angle that allows you to be quick and agile. Your position will change naturally as you react to your opponent.
- Facing your opponent straight on makes it easier to lose your balance and harder to dodge a strike. You’ll want your starting position on an angle with one foot back
- Angle your body slightly toward that back foot.
- Keep both hands up so you can block your opponent’s punches.
Kickboxing training involves learning all the ways to punch and kick your opponent and then combining them into sequences called combinations.
A few examples of strikes include:
- Roundhouse kick
- Flying kick
Practice each strike individually, and when you have mastered the form for each, you're ready to try a strike combo.
Check out this video to learn kickboxing combinations for beginners.
Another training exercise that kickboxers and other fight sports athletes use to practice their punching combinations and footwork is called shadow boxing. It's another excellent cardio workout and involves punching and quickly moving your feet around the room like you're fighting an imaginary opponent.
Jumping rope is an excellent form of cardio and a favorite of fighters because it forces you to develop quick feet–a skill required for any combat sport. You can jump rope at home, the gym, or on the go.
Stream a Kickboxing Class
If you’re new to kickboxing and want to practice your moves at home , there are more options than ever to stream a kickboxing class at home. There are numerous apps, such as FightCamp, FitOn, and Daily Burn. Not to mention the thousands of free videos available on Youtube you can try.
Best for Kickboxing+
Daily Burn is an app-based workout platform that streams workouts to a mobile device or TV. It’s known for the 365 Program, which offers a different 30-minute workout every day at 9:00 am EST.
Extensive Classes & Workouts
Daily Burn Audio for listening instead of watching
Member Referral Program
Kickboxing Cardio Circuit
Check out this cardio circuit if you want to work on your kickboxing skills and get a total-body workout.
Circuit training, much like kickboxing, provides strength and cardio conditioning in one efficient session, so kickboxing moves are easy to include.
Repeat Circuit 3-5 times, rest 2-4 minutes between circuits
|Squat jumps||60 seconds||30 seconds|
|Jab-jab-cross combo||60 seconds||30 seconds|
|Mountain Climbers||60 seconds||30 seconds|
|Burpees||60 seconds||30 seconds|
|Push-ups||60 seconds||30 seconds|
|Front Kicks||60 seconds||30 seconds|
|Push-ups||60 seconds||30 seconds|
|Side Plank||60 seconds||30 seconds|
Kickboxing HIIT Workout
Cardio Kickboxing Workout
20-min Kickboxing Workout
15-min At Home Kickboxing Workout
Best Gyms for Kickboxing
Kickboxing is known for high-energy workouts focused on agility, strength, and endurance, making it a great way to get in shape and relieve stress. If you’re looking for a place to hone your skills, you might be wondering where to train.
Kickboxing is offered in many places, including professional boxing gyms, martial arts studios, and nationwide gyms and fitness centers. Check out some of our top picks for kickboxing.
Title Boxing Club
Title Boxing Club is one of the most popular nationwide chains offering boxing and kickboxing workouts. If you have a location nearby, check out their signature high-intensity kickboxing class packed full of punches, elbows, knees, and kicks. They offer traditional boxing classes and MMA-style workouts.
9Round offers a 30-minute circuit-based kickboxing workout at several gyms worldwide. Each class features nine training stations focusing on functional movement training, strength, punching, and kicking to build power and coordination. The circuit ends with abs and core work.
If you’re looking for a true boxing experience, then consider a UFC Gym. With locations in several US cities and parts of Canada, UFC Gyms offer a variety of martial arts classes, including kickboxing.
Check out their 50-minute Boxing Conditioning classes, which combine strength work and cardio conditioning for total body balance. Each workout takes you through a series of seven three-minute rounds, alternating between speed and power.
Local Martial Arts Studios
Taking a kickboxing class at a local martial arts studio is an excellent way to learn boxing techniques from an expert instructor.
Generally, they offer classes for all fitness and experience levels and tend to be more user-friendly than larger chain gyms. You may need to call around to several in your area to find a schedule that works for you.
You can find a variety of kickboxing classes in some large gym chains like Crunch Fitness, Equinox, Life Time Fitness, LA Fitness, 24-Hour Fitness, and the YMCA.
Kickboxing is a high-energy, challenging workout that will teach you new skills and help you develop athletically.
Kickboxing will improve your heart health, build muscle and bone density, lift your mood, burn fat, and improve your coordination and balance by providing both aerobic and anaerobic exercise benefits.
Because of these many benefits, kickboxing is a great addition to any program and can be pursued in traditional classes at a martial arts gym, in a commercial gym, or at home. If you’d like to try at-home kickboxing, try one of these apps:
FAQs About Best Kickboxing Workouts
Can you recommend any specific warm-up and cool-down exercises for a kickboxing workout?
Kickboxing workouts require a lot from your body, so carving out plenty of time to warm up and cool down is essential.
The warmup should take about 5 to 10 minutes with the goal of gradually increasing your heart rate and body temperature and preparing your muscles for more strenuous activity.
This kickboxing warm-up from the American Council on Exercise takes about 5 to 10 minutes to complete. It includes alternating high knees, side-to-side shuffles, jump rope, jumping jacks, squats, reverse lunges, and inchworms.
Do each exercise for 30 to 60 seconds before moving to the next move. You can add in a few dynamic stretches like leg swings, arm circles, high knees, and butt kicks.
At the end of your kickboxing session, take five to 10 minutes to allow your body to cool down and gradually return to its resting state. Some great cool-down ideas include light cardio, such as walking and static stretches like hamstring stretches, quadriceps stretches, and calf stretches.
What type of equipment is essential for someone who wants to practice kickboxing?
What you wear to a kickboxing class will depend on the type of workout and where you plan on exercising.
If you’re headed to the gym and want to use a punching bag for a partner, a well-fitted pair of boxing gloves can help protect your hands and wrists from injuries. Hand wraps to support your wrists and knuckles are another top item to consider when participating in kickboxing workouts.
If your workout involves a sparring partner, you’ll want to gear up for extra protection. Groin guards, mouth guards, shin guards, head guards, and foot guards all offer an added layer of safety when throwing punches and blocking kicks from another person.
As far as clothing, opt for sweat-wicking shorts and shirts that allow for movement but don’t get in the way while working out.
Can kickboxing be effective for weight loss? If so, how?
Kickboxing, which features moderate and high-intensity cardiovascular exercise, is a great tool for losing weight and keeping it off. How much weight you can lose with kickboxing depends on your goals, daily diet, and other physical activities.
In general, a 155-pound person can burn around 360 calories in 30 minutes when participating in a kickboxing workout. But weight loss requires more than just cardiovascular exercise.
To maximize your efforts, consider adding in at least two days of full-body resistance training targeting all major muscle groups and keep your diet on point. Aim for plenty of lean protein, fresh fruits and veggies, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
sYou can set personal goals for healthy eating and monitor your progress on websites like MyPlate.
More Kickboxing Advice from GymBird Experts
- What is Kickboxing?
- Kickboxing Workouts at Home
- Is Kickboxing Aerobic or Anaerobic?
- Kickboxing for Beginners
- Kickboxing Benefits
- Frontiers in Medicine. The Effectiveness of a Group Kickboxing Training Program on Sarcopenia and Osteoporosis Parameters in Community-Dwelling Adults Aged 50-85 Years.
- Canadian Medical Association Journal. Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence.
- Current Sports Medicine Reports. Resistance Training is Medicine, Effects of Strength Training on Health
- Ecopsychology. Walking and Being Outdoors in Nature Increase Positive Affect and Energy.
- Biology of Sport. Kickboxing review: anthropometric, psychophysiological and activity profiles and injury epidemiology.
- Muscles, Ligaments, and Tendons Journal. The effects of five weeks of kickboxing training on physical fitness.