Three years ago I decided to purchase a Groupon for kickboxing at a local karate club. I thought it would be something new and different to try. I was a bit nervous going in but that didn’t last long! The instructor showed me the ropes while everyone was doing the skipping warm up. Yeah, I was clumsy at first but that didn’t last long either. And it was so much fun!
I’m a runner with tight hips, or they used to be tight. I had back pain as well. Within a month of kickboxing twice a week, my back pain went away and I had a noticeable increase in my flexibility! Here are some more benefits of kickboxing:
1. Increase Flexibility
During a typical class warm up, you do several stretches for your hips and shoulders. In addition, the moves during the workout itself involve high kicks to the front and side which also increase your range of motion in your hips.
2. HIIT Improves VO2 max
Kickboxing is usually done in ’rounds’. A round is usually 2-3 minutes long followed by a brief break of 30-60 sec depending on the intensity the instructor likes. This is considered to be a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout. By doing interval work near your lactate threshold (working very, very hard but still using oxygen) or even slightly dipping into your anaerobic zone (working extremely hard without oxygen getting to your muscles), you train your heart to be more efficient. This improves your VO2 max which translates to improved fitness. From a practical standpoint, you won’t feel winded going up a flight of stairs! This article from Sports Science of Combat Sport Training discusses VO2 max in relation to various martial arts. Excellent technical read if you love details!
3. Increase Muscular Endurance
Many of the moves in kickboxing are repetitive and at a quick pace. Speed punches mixed in with power punches, speed roundhouse kicks mixed in with whatever else the instructor dreams up. It’s non-stop for the 2 or 3 minute round. The muscles don’t get recovery time as often as you might wish! This trains your muscles to work longer, thus building endurance.
4. Relieves Stress / Improve Mental Health
Have you ever had such a stressful day you just wanted to scream or kick something? Well, here’s your chance! Punches and kicks are often expressed along with a strong exhale and sound to increase intensity. It is encouraged but don’t go so crazy with the sounds that people start avoiding you! After class you feel so much better than when you walked in. If you’re a stress ball then this is for YOU! Want a little more reading material on this topic? Read this.
5. High Calorie Burn (Saves time!)
Tight schedules and fitness goals can actually add stress! The best thing you can do is to make your exercise as efficient as possible. Kickboxing burns between 600-800 calories per hour. That’s massive! Not only are you burning calories, you are toning, building endurance, improving your fitness and blasting away stress.
6. Improve Coordination & Muscular Balance
A typical class is well-designed to ensure you work your left side as much as your right side. You’ll soon notice that some movements are easier to do on one side versus the other. Over time, the lagging side learns and becomes better coordinated. This creates balance in the body which you will notice in other areas of your life like even just bringing groceries into the house! You will also notice the increased muscular balance if you do other sports like running, soccer etc.
7. Tone Whole Body
Having done many kickboxing classes, I really don’t think there’s a muscles NOT used during one class! It really does tone the whole body. Aside from the punching and kicking, there are all sorts of calisthenics mixed in like squats, pop squats, push ups, burpees as well as exercises involving dumbbells or bands. Everything gets worked!
You really can’t beat this type of workout for giving you so much in return. And as far as equipment goes, you’ll need some boxing gloves and hand straps. Yeah, you’ll feel like a badass! Depending on where you are taking the class, they probably supply them. Also, many places let you try a class for free, so be sure to ask! Go on, give it a try!