Shadowboxing offers a viable alternative to bag training.
Bag training can help you improve form, build strength and increase endurance all at the same time. The high cost and bulky size of punching bags sometimes make them impractical for home use. Despite their benefits, punching bags take up a good deal of space and can be difficult to hang without the proper ceiling supports. Alternative workouts such as shadowboxing can help you reap similar rewards without the added hassle of owning a punching bag.
The practice of shadowboxing has been used to improve form and build endurance since the 1800s, according to Ohio University Mixed Martial Arts. Like bag training, shadowboxing can help you practice correct punching form until it is ingrained in your muscle memory, helping you execute more efficient attacks in the ring. While traditionally practiced using a candle and your own shadow, shadowboxing is now typically performed in front of a mirror. To begin, square off in front of your own reflection and adopt a basic defensive stance. Act as if you were fighting your own reflection as you perform jabs, crosses and roundhouse punches in alternating sets of 30 repetitions each.
Substitute Makiwara Training
The makiwara is a type of punching board used in traditional Japanese martial arts, such as karate. Unlike punching bags, makiwara are very slim and typically attached to the ground, requiring no overhead suspension. Simply a board topped with padding or a straw wrap, the makiwara is made to take heavy punches and can be used to develop strength and accuracy, according to Blue Cottage Taekwondo. For best results, wear bag gloves and start with light to moderate punches until you build up sufficient calluses.
Add Wrist Weights
One way to boost the strength of your punches is to train while using wrist weights. These small, portable weights attach snugly to your wrists using Velcro straps, and can help increase the resistance on your arms and shoulders. Even an extra 3 pounds per wrist can increase your heart rate by 10 beats per minute, according to the American Council on Exercise. Try adding wrist weights to your shadowboxing routine for an intensive exercise that rivals the strength training and aerobic benefits of bag training.
Prioritize Your Safety
Always practice caution when engaging in any boxing or martial art exercise. Even freestyle workouts like shadowboxing can be harmful if performed at an extreme intensity for too long. When punching the makiwara board, make sure your wrists are straight and your knuckles are aligned with your forearm to reduce the risk of injury. Aim your punches so that your first two knuckles bear the brunt of the contact, thereby reducing the risk of breaking your smaller knuckles. Keep your wrist weights limited to three pounds per wrist to prevent undue stress from your joints during training. When in doubt, consult your personal trainer or physician about the safety of your exercise.