Derived from Japanese 'kikkubokushingu', kickboxing refers to martial arts and stand-up combat sports based on kicking and punching. Historically developed from karate, Muay Thai and western boxing, kickboxing is practiced for self-defense and these days for general fitness.
Having got into the mainstream in the late 1990s, kickboxing has since captured the interest of men and women throughout the world. Cardio kickboxing is a combination of dance and martial arts. This is performed to improve cardiovascular fitness and tone up muscles, shed abs and improve endurance.
High intensity intervals coupled with toning recovery periods to literally 'zap' calories is the specialty of cardio kickboxing. This fitness trend is catching up popularly and has hit the gymnasiums.
On an average, a kickboxer trains twice per week according to Martial Arts incorporated. These workouts are intense, total body workouts performed to improve strength, aerobic fitness, flexibility, coordination and balance.
Indeed the American Council on Exercise (ACE) notes that an hour of kickboxing workout can help burn 500 to 800 calories which is almost twice that calories you burn during a one hour step aerobics class. Kickboxing classes should be a great option for those who are bored with routine cardiovascular activities such as brisk walking, jogging and treadmill.
Those who enjoy dance movements and are fond of aerobics can step into cardio kickboxing. American Council on Exercise (ACE) advice for those who wish to participate in cardio kickboxing:
- Check with a professional if cardio kickboxing is appropriate activity for you. She should be doing aerobics at least thrice a week for half an hour and maintain target heart rate.
- Those who have had orthopedic surgery, heart problems must check with their doctor before commencing this activity.
- Ensure that the instructor is properly qualified and certified.
- Perform kickboxing only at that level which you feel right for your body. Otherwise, you may end up very tired and hurt, drink plenty of water throughout the class.
- Avoid wearing or holding weights during kickboxing sessions. This can result in joint injury risks.
Boxing with 'no contact'
Cardio kickboxing does not include contact. This is hassle free with no bags, gloves but just a killer workout. In kickboxing, even punches, kicks and blocks are modified enough to reduce the occurrence of injury.
Benefits of kickboxing
In addition to burning about 500 - 1000 calories in an hour, your body can perform moves that tone the body unlike other cardio workouts. Such moves could be:
- Zig zags, knee strikes, twisting moves like cross punches, tone abs and obliques.
- Kicks burn fat and tone legs.
- Punches target arms and back.
Specific benefits of kickboxing
Reduces stress: Within a minute of high energy kickboxing, you enter a stress free zone; kicking and punching.
Boots confidence levels: Dr Rose Windale of Healthzine.org opines that kickboxing helps to release endorphins which can give a mood boost and help feel more confident.
Improves coordination: Posture problems and poor coordination can be strengthened by kickboxing.
Burns mega calories: A Muscle and Fitness Magazine reports that over 800 calories per hour can be burned by kickboxing. Your entire body and metabolism can be revved up.
Ideal cross training workout: You can add some weights by wearing wrist weight or ankle weights.
This is a physically demanding sport and kick boxers need to be in top shape. Kickboxing workout routine strengthens the arms and legs giving some cardiovascular exercise. Adequate stretching before the exercise is imperative.
For upper body
Step 1: Stand in a fighting stance with left foot in front of the right foot. Make fists and put hands near the sides of face. Quickly jab in front of oneself with left fist. Deliver the jab to the face of an imaginary opponent. Then turn the fist to a horizontal position and extend arm. Strike with knuckles and return the fist to the starting position. Perform this ten times and switch feet to repeat jabs with other hand. Three sets of jab with each hand are good.
Step 2: Drop to push up position and do five pushups without rushing. Lower body so that chest almost touches the floor with each repetition.
Step 3: Stand up after completing pushups and get back into a fighting stance with left foot forward. Use right fist to deliver a reverse punch to the imaginary opponent's mid section. Turn hips to get to maximum power from the punch. Return to the fighting stance after completing the reverse punch. Complete ten repetitions and three sets of this technique with each arm.
Step 4: Drop to the floor and do five more pushups. Keep back straight while performing pushups.
Step 5: Get back into a fighting stance with left foot forward once again. Do a jab with left fist followed by a reverse punch with right fist. Hips should be turned on the reverse punch. Ten repetitions can be done combining and switching legs.
For lower body
Step 1: Get into the fighting stance mentioned above. Lift knee and point it straight ahead and kick out with the ball of foot to your imaginary opponent's midsection. Quickly snap the leg back and return to fighting stance. Do ten repetitions of the front snap kick and switch legs.
Step 2: Place the feet side by side at about shoulder width apart. Slowly squat like sitting on a chair. Return to a standing position after completing the squat. Do five repetitions.
Step 3: Return to fighting stance with right leg behind and raise the right knee and kick across horizontally to the imaginary target. Kick with the instep of foot and turn hips and pivot left foot to perform this roundhouse kick. Reset leg behind after kicking. Ten repetitions with three sets of this kick for each leg are good.
Step 4: Complete five more squats and keep arms extended out in front during the squat
Step 5: Return to fighting stance and perform a front snap kick with left leg followed by a round house kick with right leg. Return to fighting stance after each kick and repeat ten times with three sets of this combination on each side.
Risks and warning
It is recommended to use lightweight dumbbells during the punching exercises in addition to strengthening the arm muscles. As you get stronger, improve the repetitions of each exercise. A free standing heavy bag can be used as target for your punches and kicks. Upbeat music can motivate you throughout the routine. Short breaks can be taken between sets if necessary.
Muay Thai, also known as Thai boxing or Thai kickboxing originated from Thailand. Thailand has a long history of martial arts used by the military. Thai kickboxing slightly varies from the original art and uses kicks and punches in a ring with gloves similar to those in boxing.
Muay Thai technique uses hands, elbow, kicks and knees to punch and kick the opponent, A small amount of standup grappling is used to bind the opponent for both offensive and defensive program. Muay Thai heavily influenced the development of kickboxing which was later created in Japan, Europe and North America.
Kickboxing can help even those who have been exercising for years to get and stay fit. It is a kind of cross fitness exercise program that will train the whole body at once. Even if you are a newbie to fitness kickboxing workout at least once a week can help you feel re energized and fit.
For a motivating fitness routine, you might consider high energy kickboxing workout to the schedule. Heart pumping cardio, total body workout can whip you into great shape - as kickboxing targets the arms, shoulders, abs, thigh and butt, all in one workout. It is also an amazing positive and productive stress buster as you can pretend to beat up your arch enemy.
Include kicks, punches, shadow boxing, jump rope drills, foot work et al. A cool down period that follows this aerobic workout, can include strengthening and abdominal exercises and when the heart rate decreases, stretch for about five to ten minutes.