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I Thought Boxing Was All Arm Strength — Here's Why It's Not

I Was Intimidated by Boxing Until I Learned It's Not Really About Arm Strength

Powerful young woman punching. Thailand, Bangkok

Arm toning is the bane of my fitness existence, which is why I've always copped out of boxing classes — even virtually. And guess what? I was wrong to think I needed impressive arm strength to keep up with a class.

"It's a misconception that boxing is an upper-body focussed workout" are words I wasn't expecting to hear from FitReserve boxing coach Steph Dietz after inquiring about the sport.

"In reality, [boxing] is truly a full-body workout, as your power comes from your core and the engagement of your lower body."

Dietz described boxing as a 2-for-1 strength and cardio workout, stating how it's actually one of the best aerobic exercises you can do. Improved balance, coordination, reactivity, and agility are some other physical benefits, too.

"While arm strength is important while boxing, strength and stability in your legs and core are just as important when it comes to throwing powerful punches," Dietz explained.

What really shifted my POV was when Dietz referred to boxing as an endurance-heavy arm workout, as you are consistently moving your arms through punches and various combinations.

Muscle power plays a role in throwing long, strong punches and keeping your arms up to block your face, she added. But that's just a small part of the overall workout, and comes with practice.

Since boxing constantly strengthens muscle throughout the body (not just the arms!), Dietz noted that the sport could be great for injury prevention, too.

Keep in mind, though, that too much of a good thing can be harmful. Listening to your body is an important part of avoiding overuse injuries — especially if you're more susceptible to shoulder or knee injuries. According to Dietz, these joints are most frequently used during throwing punches and defencive moves.

Oh, and did I mention that Dietz loves boxing's meditative benefits, too? To her, boxing is cathartic, as you have to focus on executing each punch and defencive move when you are hitting the heavy bag.

Dietz has basically given me no reason not to "be fearless and up for a challenge." (Yes, those were her exact words!) "You will feel so strong, powerful, and confident after your first time boxing and won't want to stop from there," she explained to me — which applies to other newbies out there, too.

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Image Source: Getty / FilippoBacci
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