Know Before You Go: Kickboxing 101

If you’re hoping to mix things up in your regular, ho-hum cardio routine, consider kickboxing. Not only is this martial arts-inspired workout a great way to boost your heart rate and burn major calories, but it also helps tone everything from head to toe in a short period of time.

You also don’t need to invest in any sports-specific gear or gadgets. So long as you’ve got a solid pair of sneakers and sweat-wicking exercise clothes, you should be good to go. Here’s everything you need to know to kick your way fit.


Kickboxing classes vary in size and style, depending on whether you’re at a martial arts studio or at a more traditional gym, but they all have a few things in common: punching, kicking and tons of sweating. This workout is super high intensity and each class lasts anywhere from 45 to 60 minutes.

Some studios use boxing bags, for which you’ll want to wear boxing gloves or hand wraps to protect your knuckles, thumbs and wrists, while others do not. Read a full class description before your first session to make sure you’re adequately prepared for the particular class experience.


Start with a small, beginner-friendly class, and as long as you follow your instructor’s lead, you should be fine. However, there are a few key terms that you will want to familiarize yourself with pretty quickly: 

  • Boxer’s Stance: Stand with feet hip-width apart and staggered (one foot in front of the other), knees slightly bent, shoulders down, and chin in a cage (chin up with elbows by sides and fists on either side of it). Stay light on the balls of your feet.
  • Jab: Start in a boxer’s stance, and punch your lead arm out at shoulder level in front of you, while shifting weight to the ball of your front foot; immediately return to start.
  • Cross: Similar to the jab, but punch out with your back arm, pivoting your rear foot and rotating torso forward as you do.
  • Hook: From a boxer’s stance, bring your front elbow out to the side at shoulder level and swing your fist forward, in an arc, while pivoting your front foot in the same direction, as if you were trying to hit someone in the cheek in front of you.
  • Upper Cut: From a boxer’s stance, dip down on your front side, leading with your shoulder, bring front elbow behind you, and then punch up with your fist, while thrusting your hips forward, as if you were hitting someone in the stomach in front of you.
  • Speedbag: Lift your arms in front of you, with elbows out to sides, and move both fists in a small, circular motion as fast as you can, while shuffling back and forth from one foot to the other.
  • Front kick: Keeping chin in a cage, lift one foot off floor, lean back slightly, and then bring lifted knee up to hip level in front of you, and kick forward with flexed foot; reverse back to start.
  • Roundhouse kick: From a boxer’s stance, lean back onto your rear leg with body and back toes facing the same direction, lift front knee out to side, and then kick front leg in a circular motion in front of you, with toes pointed.


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