If you think kickboxing is only for Chuck Norris types, you might be surprised. Kickboxing moves provide a plethora of cardio benefits for everyone.
Where were you when Jean-Claude Van Damme roundhouse-kicked his first coconut in half, or for Keanu Reeves’ slow-motion leg sweep? Chances are you were in a theatre watching them. But kickboxing offers a plethora of health-enhancing benefits. Get in the game and kick a few coconuts of your own!
Cardio kickboxing 101
Before you try any underwear-tearing split-kicks, focus on four crucial fundamentals: strength, endurance, balance, and flexibility. The beauty of cardio kickboxing is that you don’t have to work on each one of these pillars individually, as most exercises utilize a combination of all four!
Cardio kickboxing is a fantastic workout. You can burn as many as 450 calories in a single one-hour session by employing precise, powerful movements using both your arms and your legs. Once you become skilled enough, you can even use padded targets to increase your power and speed. The resistance provided by the pads will help to accelerate gains in strength and maybe even relieve a little bit of boss-induced work-related stress (imagine boss’s face on target?).
In fact, kickboxing and martial arts have such terrific health, strength, cardio, and coordination benefits that they have recently been included in many elementary and high school physical education curriculums.
Kick it with a friend
Along with being an encompassing mind, body, and soul workout, cardio kickboxing classes can be a great way to meet new people. What better way to say hello to a new friend than by snapping a head-high left hook or by delivering a front kick or two to the head, nodding beats of Britney Spears?
Of course, for all his kicking, punching, and squinting, Steven Seagal wouldn’t be caught dead eating a Whopper (or maybe he would). But a real kickboxer wouldn’t, so if you want your hard work to pay off in physical fitness, consult your local natural health and nutrition store to put a little power back in your punch. In the meantime, if you want to kick your current routine up a notch, give these exercises a whirl!
This is your home base; begin every exercise in this position. If you are right-handed, left shoulder and foot is forward. Left hand is your lead hand; it starts at your left cheek. Back hand is your right, on your right cheek. If you are left-handed, it is opposite.
(2 sets of 15 per side)
To perform a head-punch block, lower to a slight squatting position.
- With your lead arm, raise your elbow up to eye height while tucking your cheek in to your armpit (your hand should come behind your head).
- As you lower your lead arm, raise your back arm to the same position on the other side of your face and then lower it. While still in your half squat, return your hands to the starting position.
- You will then go right into a body-punch block. While keeping your core tight and your hands up protecting you, crunch to your lead-hand side, bringing your elbow to touch your hip bone.
- In a quick smooth motion come up and do the same to your back side. When complete, return to fighter’s stance. This is 1 rep. After finishing 15 reps, repeat with your other side.
1, 2, 3 Slip Combo
(2 sets of 10 per side)
- The first punch is a jab. Shift your weight onto your front foot. At the same time, take your lead hand and throw a quick punch straight in front of you, extending your arm until it is straight, and then immediately return your fist back to its starting position.
- The second punch is a cross. Quickly open your hips toward your target. Pretend there is a bug under your back toe and that you are trying to squish it. At the same time, throw a punch at your target with your back hand, extending your arm until straight. Quickly bring it back to the starting position.
- The third punch is a lead-hand hook. This time the “bug” is under your front toe. Twist your hips clockwise while making an L-shape with your front arm. Throw the punch, hooking around your body, and then return to starting position.
- Throw all three punches as quickly as you can in order, then duck down, and, finally, return to your fighter’s stance. Be sure to keep your hands up protecting your face as you duck. This is 1 rep. Do 10 reps in a row without pausing, then switch sides.
Kickin’ 3s: front, side, back
(2 sets of 10 reps of each kick per side)
- Without moving your hands, shift your body weight forward onto your lead foot. Raise your back knee up in front of you to waist height and then, leading with your heel, kick your foot forward until your leg straightens out. Step back into your starting stance and then repeat 10 times.
- Immediately after completing front kicks, you are going into side kicks. They will be completed in a similar manner, except that after shifting your weight onto your lead foot, you will raise your knee up to your side with your heel tucked into your backside and your toe pointed. Extend your leg until straight as if kicking a soccer ball. Tuck your heel back into your backside, lower your knee, and step back into fighter’s stance. Do 10 of these before moving on.
- For a back kick, shift your weight to your lead foot while leaning your upper body forward. Leading with your heel, kick your leg out behind you until straight. Bring it back in and return to starting position. Complete 10 kicks and then do the same sequence with your other foot forward.
Poetry in motion
(2 sets of 10 reps per side)
It’s time to shadowbox! You may want to watch yourself in a mirror for this one—you will be surprised at how cool you look. Put on some music with a good quick beat and then perform the following in order, transitioning from one to the next as smoothly as possible:
- lead-hand jab
- back-hand cross
- 1/2 squat, lead-side body-punch block
- back-side body-punch block
- front kick
Return to starting position and then complete 9 more reps. Switch sides and complete 10 more reps.