This at-home circuit will polish your punches and score you a cardio workout without any equipment.

By Mary Anderson
November 11, 2019
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Cardio is the ultimate mood booster, both for the instant workout high and your overall state of mind. (See: All the Mental Health Benefits of Exercise)

Regarding the latter, it increases key proteins like BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). “Low levels of BDNF predict risk of depression,” says Jennifer J. Heisz, Ph.D., a kinesiologist at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.

Both steady cardio and HIIT spark BDNF, but HIIT produces more. In time, that uptick means the creation of more brain cells in the hippocampus—a region you want to pump up. “The hippocampus is involved in shutting off the stress response, [cutting off ] the levels of stress hormone cortisol throughout the body,” says Heisz.

In a study at McMaster, six weeks of either steady cardio or HIIT protected former couch potatoes from depression. One caveat: Go steady if you’re a newbie. (In the untrained group, HIIT temporarily increased perceived stress.)

Combine HIIT with boxing—a workout with its own empowering benefits—and you'll walk away feeling like a champ.

“Boxing is unique in that regard,” says Leyon Azubuike, founder of Gloveworx, a boxing studio in California and New York City. “There’s the thrill of learning a new skill set, the mental release of being present as you focus on punch combos, and the physical release of making contact with the heavy bag.” In other words, it hits the bliss spot. (Also try: This Total-Body Conditioning Workout Proves Boxing Is the Best Cardio)

Here, Azubuike leads you through a routine you can do at home—whatever your level. “Anyone can get into stance and box,” he says. “From there, you could do punch combos in rapid succession for a cardio burst or do steady solo punches.” See which moves made his crowd-pleasing mix in our latest Shape Studio installment.

Gloveworx Boxing Training Workout

How it works: Watch Azubuike demo the moves in the video above, then get the exact workout Rx below.

You'll need: Your body and some space. (If you haven't boxed before, you may also want to watch this quick explainer on how to do all the main punches.)

Warm-Up: Ys, Ts, Ws

A. Stand with feet hip-width apart, arms by sides. Hinge very slightly at the hips with bent knees in a ready position. Roll shoulders up, back, and down, to start in a neutral position.

B. Raise arms forward and overhead,  hands slightly wider than shoulder-width, engaging shoulder blades, to form an "Y" shape with body. Quickly reverse movement to return to start. Repeat 3 times.

C. Raise arms out to the sides, palms facing forward, forming a "T" shape with body. Quickly reverse movement to return to start. Repeat 3 times.

D. Hinge forward a bit more, hands together in front of thighs with arms bent. Raise arms backward into a "W' shape, keeping arms bent and palms facing forward. Squeeze shoulder blades at the top, then release. Repeat 3 times.

Do 2 sets.

Warm-Up: Bulldog Walk-Out

A. Start in tabletop position on hands and knees, with shoulders directly over wrists and hips over knees. Lift knees a few inches off the ground to start.

B. Keeping hips low, walk palms forward to come into high plank.

C. Walking hands back to return to start.

Do 2 sets of 3 to 5 reps.

Shadowboxing: Jab, Jab, Cross

A. Start in boxing stance: feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart with the left foot in front and fists protecting face (right foot in front if you're a lefty). Step forward with left foot and extend left hand forward with control, rotating palm to face down (jab with your right hand if you're a lefty). Quickly step back and snap left arm back to starting position. That's a jab.

B. Do a second jab.

C. In boxing stand, rotate right hip forward and pivot on right foot until heel comes off the ground, shifting weight forward and extending right arm forward to punch, rotating palm to face down. Quickly snap right fist back to face. (Again, this will be the opposite if you're left-handed.) This is a cross.

Do 2 sets of 3 to 5 reps.

Shadowboxing: Weave & Punch

A. Start in boxing stance with fists up.

B. Throw a jab, then a cross.

C. With fists guarding face, crouch down and take a step to the right. That's a weave.

D. Pop up, and throw a cross. Then throw a hook: Swing the left arm (bent at a 90-degree angle) and swing as if punching someone in the jaw. Pivot front foot so that knee and hips face to the right.

E. Throw another cross.

F. Step back to the left to return to start.

Do 2 sets of 3 to 5 reps.

Shadowboxing: Uppercuts

A. Start in boxing stance with fists up.

B. Rotate right hip forward, pivot on ball of right foot, loop and swing right hand up as if punching someone in the chin. Protect chin with left hand throughout the movement. That's a right uppercut.

C. Repeat on the left, but don't pivot the rear foot; instead, thrust left hip forward to put more power behind the punch. That's a left uppercut.

D. Throw another right uppercut.

E. Weave to the right, then repeat, throwing three uppercuts.

F. Step back to the left to return to start.

Do 2 sets of 3 to 5 reps.

Shadowboxing: Punch Combo

A. Start in a boxing stance with fists up.

B. Throw two jabs and a cross.

C. Weave to the right. then throw three uppercuts.

D. Step back to the left to return to start.

Do 2 sets of 3 to 5 reps.

Shape Magazine, December 2019 Issue

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