All The Muscles You Work In A Boxing Workout

Throwing jabs and crosses does a whole lot more than you might think.

Originally Published: 
What muscles does boxing work? Trainers reveal.


Whether you box in a group fitness class or throw hooks and jabs one-on-one with a trainer, boxing is guaranteed to work your muscles, make you sweat, and help you release pent-up energy. But what muscles does boxing work, exactly?



The triceps are the primary muscles that fire when you throw a punch or drive your glove into a heavy bag or your trainer’s mitts, says Gwen Dannenbaum, a trainer and director at KickHouse. You’ll feel it all through the back of your arms.



The biceps also light up during hooks and uppercuts. “They bring the power from your arm and also assist in the rapid retraction of your arm after you’ve thrown a punch,” Dannenbaum says.



As you punch, your forearm muscles work to straighten your hand and stabilize your wrist, Dannenbaum tells Bustle. Strong forearms also help protect your joints at the moment of impact.

Whether you do jabs, hooks, or uppercuts, your arms are guaranteed a good workout.

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You’ll definitely feel the burn in your shoulders, too. Not only do you hold your fists up the whole time to guard your face, but you also power through your shoulders whenever you extend into uppercuts or pull back after jabs, Dannenbaum says.



“Most people assume boxing mostly works your arms, but actually your legs and core are what fuel your punches,” says Lo Santos, a head coach at Title Boxing Club. The quads and hamstrings, in particular, drive your punches and move you around the bag or ring.



Boxing requires you to do a constant boxer’s shuffle to stay light on your feet as you await your opponent. Not only is this a great cardio element, but all that fancy footwork and quick movements work your calves, too, Santos says.

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Your hips get in on the action as well. They connect your legs to your core to keep you balanced and help generate power through each swing, Santos says. Strong hips also help you quickly snap back to your boxer’s stance before steadying yourself to throw another punch.



The obliques get a good workout whenever you “slip” to duck or dodge a punch and when you twist to throw your own, Santos says. Boxing is all about winding up and rotating through the core so you can put your whole body weight behind each swing.

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“A strong core is one of the hallmarks of a boxer,” adds FightCamp trainer Aaron Swenson. “It allows you to throw more powerful punches.” Along with the obliques, he says you’ll also work your rectus abdominis and transverse abdominals when you box.


Finger Flexors

Want to improve your grip strength? The finger flexor muscles activate whenever you close your fist, Dannenbaum says, which happens a lot when boxing. They also help stabilize your hands when you land a punch.

Clearly boxing is a true full-body workout.

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