If you’ve ever taken a boxing class before, you know that there is usually some portion dedicated to just your abs. If you haven’t, now you know what to expect—it can be an intense 10-, 15-, or even 20-minute circuit. There’s actually a good reason for this, though, other than the instructor just wanting to squeeze in some abs work for fun: Boxing requires a ton of core strength.
When you throw a punch, your abs brace your entire body against the impact of whatever you’re punching (in class, that’s probably a very heavy bag). You also have to do a lot of rotational movements—throwing a punch involves twisting your torso toward the bag or your opponent, and ducking also requires some turning. In any boxing class, you’re working your abs the entire time, even if you don’t realize it.
Plus, each different type of punch, from a hook to a jab to a cross, taps into a different part of your core. Meaning, your whole midsection needs to be strong, not just one muscle, to support you fully.
Alicia Napoleon, co-founder and head trainer at Overthrow Boxing in New York City and professional boxer and world champion, tells SELF that it’s essential to have core strength as a boxer. “To even throw a punch, you have to have a strong rotation,” Napoleon says. She’s taught hundreds of boxing classes and always incorporates abs moves into them so that her students can build that strong foundation.
We asked Napoleon to give us a little taste of the abs portion of her class. The mini workout she demos below will work every section of your core. Some of these moves also strengthen your shoulders and forearms, which help with power and endurance during boxing, too.
Here’s how the workout is set up:
- Thread the Needle — 25 reps or 30 seconds
- Flutter Kicks — 30 seconds
- Up Down Plank Dolphins — 30 seconds
- Scissors — 30 seconds
- Crunch Ups — 25 reps or 30 seconds
- Bicycles — 30 seconds
You can add this to the end of a larger workout, or do it on its own for a mini abs blast. As you get stronger, try to work up to doing each move for one minute. Or, do more than one round, resting in between rounds, to make this a longer workout. Napoleon suggests doing these moves every other day, or at the least, every two days, to notice changes in your core strength.
Here’s how to do the moves: