Shadow boxing is often underrated. Many amateur boxers are quick to use heavy bag or speed bag in their training, but often neglect other forms of effective practice. Shadow boxing is a technique that all fighters can use, in fact, they don’t necessarily need any equipment to practice.
By definition, shadow boxing involves a boxer simply fighting in his imagination whilst making movements in real life. This may sound tedious, but in fact, it is one of the best ways of training. The technique is used by all types of boxers from the most elite and professional boxers to the amateurs. Here are the top 10 benefits of shadow boxing.
Aerobic and Anaerobic Exercise Aerobic exercise, as opposed to anaerobic exercise, is the key to physical fitness. In aerobic activities, the muscles use oxygen to burn calories needed for energy. The opposite of aerobic exercise is anaerobic exercise. Where the body adapts to lack of oxygen and produces lactic acid in the muscles—that’s that sore feeling you get when you over exert yourself.
In general, aerobic exercise involves a longer duration of activity with a constant use of energy. This is great for losing fat and burning calories. And, elevates one’s general rate of fitness. On the other hand, anaerobic exercise involves short, small bursts of energy over a shorter period—less effective of fitness levels.
Shadow boxing is generally an aerobic activity. Which means the emphasis is on one’s fitness rate. It is a great source of cardio for people looking to lose weight, burn fat and lower their heart rate.
Shadow boxing can also be altered for a more anaerobic effect. Boxing at a higher intensity over a shorter period will have an anaerobic effect on the body. This is great if you’re looking to increase speed and power.
They said that 90% of sport is in fact mental. Yet most athletes tend to only practice the physical and technical parts of their game. Variably, visualization through shadow boxing is a way to train your mind as well as your body.
In shadow boxing, you create your opponent, you adjust and move according to your imagination. You can visualize how your opponent will strike, you can dodge and dip, and perform all manner of movements.
Though inexperienced boxers may underestimate the importance of visualization and shadow boxing, experienced boxers will know the intrinsic benefit. To win you must see yourself winning and what better way to experience that than shadow boxing and visualization.
Balance is a key attribute that is common to the best boxers. Staying on your feet is literally everything in boxing. But it is often difficult to train for balance. And some amateur boxers neglect this area of their game.
Speed bag and heavy bag are great for training. But such exercises don’t involve a lot of movement. You may become a better striker and your punches may become more powerful and accurate but your balance will remain poor.
Also, heavy bags can be easy to hit. They simply remain in the same position once you punch them. This barely replicates a real match. Shadow boxing puts no receiver on the end of your strikes. This forces you to adjust your movement thus increasing your balance.
Full body Workout
Shadow boxing is unique to other forms of exercise because it keeps the whole body in constant motion. Every part of the body including the legs, the arms, and the core are all engaged in shadow boxing. Most gym goers run on treadmills, using only their legs to run. Shadow boxing allows you to incorporate the whole body, burning up to 300 calories in 30 mins. That s much better and more fun than being on a treadmill.
It is common that some boxers use dumbbells and resistance bands to shadow box thinking that it may help their boxing. In fact, it may hurt their joints and effect their technique. Note that it is best to stay away from resistance bands and dumbbells when shadow boxing.
Shadow boxing is often used as a way for boxers to get ‘in the zone’ and prepare for training. Warming up is essential in any sport that you do. Top level athletes spend ample amounts of time not only warm up but also cooling down. Loosening and warming up your muscles before you get into training will prime them for optimal performance.
Shadow boxing, as a method of cooling down, is also a great way to end your training. This way your heart rate can come down gradually and your muscles can loosen up once again. After which they can be stretched and recover better for other training sessions.
Prevention of injury
Boxer’s hands and wrists often get sore after a workout. Shadow boxing can help quell the pain and allow for better recovery. Through shadow boxing, a boxer’s muscles loosen and relax. From there, effective stretching and massaging of muscles can take place. With these techniques, a boxer is likely to avoid injury and can perform on a more regular basis.
Shadow boxing can also be a great way to come back from an injury. With the low impact and low intensity of shadow boxing, it is a great training method for boxers returning to the sport.
Watching yourself Often shadow boxing involves a mirror. Using the mirror, an athlete can watch themselves. And with the help of their coach they can begin to see areas where they may need to tweak their technique. This will drastically improve a boxer’s form and technique, allowing them to perform better during sparring or in an actual match.
Taking the pressure off
Sparring and match situations put a fighter under constant pressure. Yes, this may be beneficial in some instances, but it can also be overwhelming and stressful. In high-pressure situations, boxers may tend to compromise their form, which leads to poor practice and bad habits. However, in shadow boxing, a fighter can take the pressure off themselves because they are essentially fighting against themselves. This not only helps their confidence but also allows them to practice proper techniques and form better fighting habits.
The back muscles of a boxer control the retraction of the arms, say after a missed strike. Unfortunately, when training with a heavy bag or punching bag, the back muscles are relatively inactive. This may be detrimental to a fighter.
Shadow boxing allows you to retract your strikes and replicate the effects of missing in an actual match. A boxer is then able to coordinate their back movements with the rest of their performance.
Beginner boxers tend to focus their effort on technique. This is essential to developing good fighting habits. Though once a boxer’s technique is up to standard, they should start focusing on the speed and explosiveness of their punches. Shadow boxing is a great way to practice and improve a fighter’s hand speed and explosiveness.
Shadow boxing is every bit as important as any other form of training method. It is best used not only for its physical and technical benefits, but also for its mental benefits.
Unfortunately, many boxers remain unaware of the benefits of shadow boxing. We hope this article has enlightened you to a new method of training that holds the key to perfecting your technique as a boxer.