What muscles does boxing work?

Boxing is a great universal sport, no matter your age or ability, anyone can take part in elements of boxing. 

Which is why it’s one of the most popular sports for exercise across the world. From boxercise classes to shadow boxing and sparring, many people incorporate elements of boxing into their everyday exercise to help build up their strength and stamina. But, have you ever wondered exactly what muscles boxing works?

Whether you’re happy at your current size but want to improve your stamina, or you’re looking for a way to bulk up your muscles, boxing can get you there. When you know what muscles your exercise is targeting, it can help you to focus your workouts and monitor your success and development. 

So, let’s take a look at what muscles boxing works. 

man with flexed arm muscles

What muscles does boxing work in your upper body?

Your fists are what make contact with the punch bag or your sparring partner in training, but it’s your arms that carry all the power. When you’re throwing punches you’re definitely going to be giving your arms a good workout, but exactly what muscles does boxing work in your arms and upper body?

Boxing works arm muscles

Your arms have two main muscles, the biceps and the triceps. Your biceps run along the top of your arm and are the muscles that you see when you square your shoulders, bend your elbow and clench your fist in the mirror. 

In boxing, the biceps are used when you throw hooks or uppercuts, they bring the power from along the top of your arm and out to your fists and, they help you to quickly retract your arm after you’ve thrown a jab. 

Your triceps are the muscles that run under your arm and are used when you extend your arm. In boxing, this is the main muscle that is worked when you throw a punch, pulling all the power up from the floor and driving it into your opponent or the punchbag depending on how you’re training. 

So, when you start boxing, you can expect to see your biceps begin to tone up as you build up these muscles.

woman with flexed back muscles

Boxing and your shoulder muscles

If your arms are where you release all the power you have stored in your body into your opponent or punching bag, then your shoulders are the hinges that help you to extend and retract your arms with each punch. Whether you’re driving through an uppercut or pulling back after a jab, your shoulder is the lever that controls all these motions. 

So, when you’re training with a punching bag or sparring with a partner, you can expect to feel the burn in your shoulders. 

But, exactly what muscles does boxing work in your shoulders? Boxing targets your deltoids; the muscles that cover the top of your shoulders. 

You’ll also feel your muscles working across your pecs at the front of your chest and across the top of your back through the muscles that cover your scapula or shoulder blades. 

Man in gym with flexed core muscles

What muscles does boxing work in your core?

The core muscles are a large group of muscles that includes everything from your hips up to your shoulders. The most commonly known core muscles are the abs but your glutes, hips and back muscles are also a part of your core muscles. 

Boxing and your abs

The abs, or abdominals, are some of the most focussed on muscles by fitness fans and sportspeople. Working out your abdominal muscles helps you to tone up your stomach and, ultimately can lead you to develop a six-pack. 

In boxing, the ab muscles are worked out by the twisting motion in a punch. As you push through a punch towards your opponent, you’ll twist from the waist to fully extend your punching arm and then recoil back to your defensive stance. This motion is a great workout for your ab muscles and, the more you train the more developed these muscles will become, meaning your punches will get stronger and you’ll have a greater reach. 

Lower back muscles and boxing

Boxers also use their lower back muscles when they’re in the ring. If you think about how your body twists and contracts as you throw a punch and pull back to your defensive stance, it’s easy to see how boxing works these muscles. 

However, a study from the Chinese Journal of Exercise Physiology in 2011 found that inexperienced boxers use the muscles in their lower back less than they should when punching. So, to build more power into your punches try using your lower back more. 

man with boxing gloves strengthening leg muscles

What muscles does boxing work in your lower body?

We all know that boxers need to have fast feet, you need to be able to dart around the ring to avoid your opponent when necessary and dart towards them when you’re ready to strike. But, you also need to have strength and stamina in your lower body to be able to last a full fight. So, exactly what muscles does boxing work in your lower body?

Boxing and your hip muscles

The muscles around your hips include your glutes which are the biggest muscles in your body. They connect your lower body to your upper body and are incredibly important for building power in your punches. 

Boxing is a great sport for building up these muscles and toning up your glutes and hips. When you pivot in your punches and drive through your body to get every last drop of power out of your punch, it’s your glutes that are providing you with that power. 

Calves in boxing

Your calf muscles are used at the very beginning of your punch. As you draw up power and strength from the ground to push up through your body and exert through your fists, it’s your calves that are worked first. 

The calf muscles extend from the backs of your ankles up to the backs of your knees and are used every time you take a step or rock back and forth on your feet. Boxing is a good way to work your calves as you’re always on your toes ready to take a step forward for your punches or a step back to avoid your opponent. 

Leg muscles worked in boxing

The two main muscles in your thighs, at the top of your legs, are your hamstrings and quadriceps. These muscles are engaged after your calves when you go to take a punch. The energy transfers up through your legs to drive through a punch, take a step to avoid being hit or to squat as you duck and weave. 

The quads and hamstrings are some of the strongest muscles in the body and developing these muscles can lead you to have masses of power in your punches.

Boxing is a great sport to work out every main muscle group in your body and focussing on the muscles we’ve covered in this post will help you to develop your boxing skills and become a stronger, more powerful boxer with greater stamina. 

Train like a professional in the Cleto Reyes extra padding sparring gloves when you train to build up your muscles. 

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