Kickboxing and Weight Loss
By Christopher E Hinton
You may not have noticed, but there are already a LOT of articles about kickboxing on the web. So what's one more, right? Hopefully I'll give you some information and advice that you haven't previously encountered.
This article does not cover kickboxing in general, but kickboxing on a heavy bag. More specifically, it pertains to a program developed in order for the average person to have a complete workout system, at home, all on the heavy bag. What's great about using a heavy bag during your routine is that you actually have resistance to all of your strikes. Without resistance, how are you going to be toning your muscles? Cardio kickboxing can be fine for some, and if you don't have a heavy bag, really that's the only kickboxing you're going to be able to do. And if you enjoy it and will actually do it, then you've already found the 2 key factors to an effective exercise program, so do not allow me to dissuade you from it. The problem for most people is, however: it ceases to be all that much fun after several times through the same program. If all you're going to be doing is punching and kicking the air, then you might as well be doing dance, zumba, aerobics classes, or whatever. There is no particular advantage to "kickboxing" if you are training at home and don't have a heavy bag. It is analogous to: "I like bike riding and I heard that cycling is a great workout, so I'm going to sit in a chair and peddle my feet around just like someone would on a bicycle." It might seem like a silly analogy, but think about it: if you're not actually doing the activity, why mimic the motions as though you were? Just choose something else... something more fun.
Without the bag, the skills you are developing are not as transferable to an actual self-defense situation as you might think. When you punch or kick someone in real life, it has to be at a certain untelegraphed speed, and it ends with an impact. A kick to someone's midsection, for example, requires a "push" from you into the opponent, and at the same time their bodyweight is being forced back onto you. Your muscles are having to account for this and your stance is fortified to prevent you toppling backwards as a result.
If you performed this same action without an opponent, or in this case a heavy bag, there is actually zero "push" forwards taking place, and you're not resisting ANY backwards force from the impact. You actually have to "stop" your own leg from moving forwards and yank it back. That is going to be using little more than your hip flexor muscles, just a tiny portion of "what should have been". Aerobic kickboxing is more rhythmic in nature, and the punches are thrown more slowly in order to avoid hyper-extending your joints. You will also be developing very little upper body muscle tone if you're not striking a bag. Your legs are having to support your upper body, so they're getting worked, but still not as much as if they were pushing a heavy bag back and forth and resisting its weight.
So there are a few disadvantages of kickboxing without the heavy bag, that's a given; but its still a decent workout for people who enjoy it and are looking for aerobic exercise at home. But now lets take the best-case scenario and assume that you DO have access to a heavy bag to use; now your kickboxing workout is taken to a whole new level. Your triceps and shoulders strengthen with EACH straight punch into the bag. Your chest and biceps strengthen with each hook punch. Your quads strengthen with each kick, and all of your other major muscle groups are constantly working as your body has to steady itself with each impact into the bag. Each punch and kick makes your core snap into immediate contraction. And the best part is, you don't even have to think about working those muscles, it happens automatically. No pushups, crunches or situps necessary. When your whole body is being used, your abs and core by necessity get an awesome workout. Lets say I throw a Left Hook into the bag: the energy for the punch is coming up from the ground (through the legs), the abs/obliques are twisting the upper body first to the left, then immediately to the right as the left hand speeds into the bag. Upon impact, the bag is actually pushing back on you with an equal force. Your abs and core are making sure that you don't disconnect your upper from your lower body due to the force of the bag, so they're contracting at full force. And you have a hundred or so of these maximal contractions during the course of the workout.
So that "core contraction" burns fat off your waist, right? Not really, and anyone who tells you so is simply misinformed. However, what DOES burn fat off your waist is the sum total of all your muscle mass being engaged throughout the duration of the workout. The more muscle you can get pumping, the greater your fat-burning efficiency. kickboxing on the heavy bag not only engages a TON of muscle, but it does so at the same time you're getting a great cardio workout. The technical name for this is "more bang for your buck"!
Now most people know many of the advantages of the heavy bag, and they know kickboxing is a great workout, so is there a disadvantage that maybe we've overlooked? Yes.
The truth is, most people, especially if they have a limited background in this type of thing, become bored during the workout because they can't think of what to throw at the bag. And I don't mean they can't think of "anything", sure they can: they remember to throw a jab, a cross, a hook, a kick, and then they do it again, and again, and again, and pretty soon they've run into a routine that is stale and uninspiring. You see, it takes a lot of mental energy to constantly be thinking, "OK, NOW what do I do?" When your workout consists of this kind of "winging it" round after round, your mind gets tired, and bored, and suddenly you're not so enthused about your workout program anymore. What you need is a very structured step-by-step program that tells you EXACTLY what to do each and every round. When you use this, your workouts become AWESOME! Its so much more fun when your brain can relax and all your energy can go into the "performance" of your workout, rather than in the "creation" of your workout!
Searching through the web, you will find many examples of people giving you combinations to do during the course of your workout. This is good. You can write them down, and hopefully remember them as you're performing your routine. A complete system has been developed that has done all of this "leg work" for you, and you can read all about it by linking to it in the "resources" section of this article. Its a lot easier to be consistent in your exercise habit when you're doing something fun, interesting, productive, and that you don't have to think about. All you have to do is show up: you put the Workout Sheet in front of you, set your timer (which are available as FREE apps on your smartphone), and let the program take you round-by-round through what just might be the BEST workout you've ever had in your life!
So, why do kickboxing rather than just going to a gym and workout out?
Here's some reasons kickboxing makes such a great workout program:
•You'll be practicing a form of self-defense. You're spending time on something valuable. And you'll be building into to your muscle memory things like proper distance, timing, balance, technique, combinations that are effective, etc.
•You'll be getting in great cardiovascular shape (your heart and arteries).
•You'll be keeping your body (bones, muscles, and joints) healthy and strong so that you can enjoy life to the fullest as you get older.
•This is a great workout for your ABS AND CORE!
•You'll be exercising with a purpose, not just pushing yourself to expend energy like most machines, calisthenics, plyometrics, etc. Instead, you'll be busy concentrating on technique, and visualizing striking an opponent, and constantly trying to improve your strikes, balance, power, speed, fluidity, athleticism, etc... This removes the drudgery from your exercise.
•Its fun. You'll be working so hard that its hard to really call it "fun", but what I mean is that you'll like it, which is important. Music is an important part of the equation here too; it contributes to the overall "feel" of the session. You'll be playing your favorite workout tunes, which will help keep you going.
•Its efficient. You're doing everything at once: aerobics, fat loss, strengthening, flexibility, abs/core, learning self defense, etc... all in one 45-minute workout.
•It's done at home, so its super convenient. You have a program you can use for the rest of your life, and you won't have to join a gym or drive there, pay membership fees, etc. It saves a lot of time and hassle. Over a year you'll save countless hours in drive time alone!
•If you need to lose weight, there is no better method. All of your muscles are being used, so you're burning fat like a machine. And your bone density will increase too, like with any weight-bearing exercise.
I used to own a kickboxing gym, and I've seen many people lose lots of fat due to their workouts. When people start burning fat, losing weight, getting in better health, having stronger bodies, it has a great spillover effect into the other areas of their lives. That's why I'm passionate about helping people get started on exercise programs and ultimately start leading lives of physical fitness. Kickboxing is one such way to do it, but it doesn't have to be YOUR way. The reality of the situation is: there is no need to pick ONE way. There are many choices of exercise open to you. The world is yours. Pick something you like, because if you like it you'll do it. Don't try to pick something just because its effective and then "force yourself" to do it. That's a bad strategy if you're trying to build a lifestyle of fitness. If you find yourself unmotivated to work your current program, try something else until you find the best fit for YOU. But kickboxing, especially on a heavy bag, is one of the most productive uses of your time if burning fat is your goal. If you have never given it a try, maybe now is the time!
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