Psst… 

Can I tell you a secret?

There have been times when I felt like a complete idiot while I shadowbox.

Not feeling confident or just not knowing what to do while I’m doing it!

I didn’t know why it was so important and what I was gaining from it. I was sure all I was doing was making a fool of myself along with just wasting time when I could be doing push-ups or hitting the bag.

In a ring full of endless possibilities I didn’t know where to begin, I didn’t know what was my objective.

For alot of people I’ve trained, they have hated shadow boxing with a passion, begging to remove it from our workout.

If you are one of these people, let me help guide you through a successful and fun shadow boxing routine. 

What is shadow boxing

You ever see that one person in the grocery store looking like they are fighting the air in aisle 3, just randomly throwing punches.

Yeah… 

You are sparring with an imaginary opponent as a form of training. You should shadow box as part of your warm up and part of your cool down.

Warm up visualizing a fight situation and you work on form technique, movement, balance, mindfulness of where you are in the ring.

Cool down after your workout by honing in on what you practiced during your session to lock it in.

That’s shadow boxing anytime anywhere and any local grocery store can get it! We get excited when we get to eat a good meal after a workout or just had a good sparring session at the gym.

I’m getting off-topic here but I want you to know you might be catching yourself do this on runs, at family parties, in your room listening to music, and it’s fun. 

Frequently asked questions

  1. is shadow boxing a good workout
  2. is shadow boxing good cardio
  3. is shadow boxing effective
  4. is shadow boxing good for weight loss
  5. is shadow boxing with weights good
  6. is shadow boxing bad for joints
  7. is shadow boxing useful

Is shadow boxing…

A good workout, yes it isn’t just used as a tool for preparation. It can also be used to get a good sweat in. This depends on the intensity and duration. 

Good cardio, yes the longer you shadow box the better cardio you get. Start by shadow boxing a couple of rounds then add on to your rounds the easier the workout gets.

Effective, depending on what you are talking about. It is an effective warm up, cool down, concentration endurance.

Good for weight loss, only if you plan on doing this for a good half hour. I would choose jogging or hitting a heavy bag instead, but this is a good substitute if you liked disguised cardio or have hand injuries.

With weights good, very good with weights and builds good endurance with the shoulders and arm.

Bad for joints, this is what is best for your joints there is no impact and you can work at your own pace!

Useful. Why? Well, I just gave you all the reasons above.

Overall this is a safe workout to warm up and cool down with, go light or intense totally up to you. Boxers competing for competition this is a must, average joes I still recommend for you to get in a couple of rounds, no excuses let’s go!

Where do I start

Have a plan, don’t overthink it too much if you are getting started. I would start from the bottom up, footwork, and if you need to be specific choose something simple like lateral movement.

Next, choose one defense move to use after you are done throwing punches like a slip.

Then, choose one punch, the jab, and if you feel good a combination.

Visualize what’s happening, you move your feet to get out of danger, use slips to dodge punches, and strike with your attack to put the hurt on them. This is also really good just for staying mentally sharp.

Stay smooth, there is no need to go hard when you are working on form and technique, just move smoothly and flow while you work.

Don’t get stuck, you have to move around, shadowboxing is using your footwork if you don’t use anything else. Get comfortable moving and then settling your feet to punch. Getting out of danger or lateral movement to catch your breath are situations to work on.

Breathing isn’t talked about enough and it should be. You cant hold your breath and all beginners do is hold their breath. Practice exhaling sharply as you punch and make defensive movements. Calm breathes as you are regaining your energy on the outside. 

Frequently asked questions

  1. Can I shadow box with gloves on
  2. Can I shadow box as a southpaw
  3. Can I shadow box with a blindfold
  4. Can I shadow box my shadow

Can I shadow box… 

With gloves on, yes you can! This is like shadow boxing with weights in your hand, those 14oz gloves get heavy real quick.

As a southpaw, sure why not, you want to be good at both stances I see the advantage in that. To start I would stick to one and get the basics down, but there is no wrong way and you may learn differently and better than others. Try it out

With a blindfold, I can see where this is going and I like it. We’ve all been watching these young fighters on social media doing some fancy tricks. Though they are just for show and not necessary, you can do this if this makes it fun for you.

My shadow, here are 4 steps to defeat your dark side. I’m just playing I don’t give advice on inner work like that, but yes if you have a shadow that looks like it mimics your movement and helps you, by all means, do it!

Development takes time and practice, be patient don’t overthink it, throw on some music and face your demons of not wanting to shadow box by just doing it!

Workouts

First, throw on some of your favorite music that makes you move.

Next, find some open space where you won’t trip or slip.

Last let’s get working champ, you should already have your plan of what you are working on before you start.

One footwork in mind, one defensive movement, and one combination.

How to make it fun

While you have your favorite music pumping in the background, try these extra tools.

  1. In front of a mirror
  2. Slip rope 
  3. Slip bag
  4. Tape on the floor
  5. With a partner
  6. In a pool

In front of a mirror, great for feedback on what you look like and what you might be doing right or wrong.

Slip rope, alot of dips side to side and working off the line.

Slip bag, free movement around the whole bag more circular and a lot of pivots. 

Tape on the floor, set up the tape in the ring or on the floor in front of a bag to work on in and outs, and getting to specific positions while setting the feet fast to punch.

With a partner, you can just have them move around forcing you to make space or take space, or you can shadow each other monkey see monkey do.

In a pool, you all know the famous Muhammad Ali picture of him under the water shadowboxing, great for resistance and cooling off during the summer. Two for one right here you can’t go wrong.

Conclusion

There is no wrong way to shadow box if you are trying. Yes, we all talk about bad habits and not wanting to make mistakes. So scared of making mistakes, but that’s where we do all our learning and you aren’t learning anything if you aren’t doing it at all!

Let’s change the narrative from we don’t want to create bad habits, to let’s show up and get started!

I applaud all my risk-takers, this sport is a risk, life is a risk vato locos and we get nowhere by being scared or never starting. Get unstuck and out of your head. 

Tell me are you the next champ? I want to know what makes you the next champ.

Why you? All the excuses and the roadblocks being put in front of you are going to stop you, are you quitter when the road gets bumpy.

Are you going to take a knee and stay down or are you going to get back up?

Or… 

Are you the type to overcome the excuses, plow through the roadblocks, work so hard your road work smoothes out that bumpy road you run on every morning?

You don’t give up easily, life knocks you down every day and you return to fight for some more.

A better question might be then why not you?

But how do I become the next champ I don’t know where to begin.

The next step is to start training and a good corner to support you.

Are you going to have someone with you who keeps you moving forward?

Who believes in you when you don’t?

The good news is we know how to get you started, but we also know how to help you finish.

This article is how to get started with the basics, lets begin champ!

Boxing safety equipment

This is the fun part, also known as the wardrobe of boxing, you get to color match or mismatch with all the gear you choose to wear.

I’m going to go over some basic gear just to get started, although there is more to list we can start with these essential items for beginning your journey.

Shoes

The reason you need boxing shoes, these leather boxing shoes were to be light, generate traction to prevent slipping, had rubber soles, and provided sufficient ankle support. Without them, boxers would not be able to maneuver as quickly.

Basic types of shoes you will see, high tops, mid-tops, and Ummm low tops?

High tops, are not as common as they were back then but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a shoe to consider. They provide a lot of ankle support, with all the shifts and cuts.

Mid tops, everybody is wearing the mid-tops with the tongue out and the tassels hanging, and they look super cool. Style points for sure! If you have good stability in the ankle and balance you can rock these bad boys.

Low tops, I’m going, to be honest, I wouldn’t recommend this. The reason is they are just too low and on top of that they don’t look as cool. Ok, the real reason is they just don’t look as cool.

But if you want to go ahead and do you, I support you.

So, are boxing shoes worth it? Yes! They make a huge difference in your performance and feel way better on the feet cutting and pivoting.

How should they feel? Like a regular shoe. You want to feel comfortable in them with added support that’s all.

Weird questions like do I wear socks, yes. 

Can I run in them? Yes, but I wouldn’t recommend it. 

Can I wear them outside? Of course, but you wear out the bottom of the grip a lot faster and then have to get a new pair.

Are wrestling shoes okay to wear? They are very similar and I would say that is your next best option with the intentions of the shoe being the same.

So what are the best boxing shoes? In no particular order here are some to name a few.

Rival

Adidas 

Everlast 

Wraps

Hand wraps help secure the bones in your hands, increase padding across the knuckles, and add additional wrist support. When you're wearing hand wraps make sure you have the proper length to provide support and protection.

How long

For a traditional cotton hand wrap, a length of 180 in is preferred. It is better to have too much rather than too little.

For kids 120 in is recommended for their still-growing hands.

Slip Ons

Beginners go to, or if you just don’t have the patience to learn, these are specifically for you. They come in different sizes and are infused with padding for the knuckles.

Ringside and Everlast have both traditional and slip-on check them out and that wraps this about up.

Boxing training gloves

Starting you don’t need anything fancy, we will start with the training gloves. 

Training gloves are a hybrid between bag work gloves and sparring, they can be used for both.

What size

I would say this is a preference, but here is what available.

10 oz, 12 oz, 14 oz, and 16 oz.

I would use bigger gloves to tone up my arms, when I switched to lighter gloves I felt lightning fast with great-looking arms. I would also get a lot of protection and support while hitting the heavy bag.

The general rule, heavyweights bigger gloves, lighter weight lighter gloves.

Everlast, you can get these from your local big 5 or spend a little more on higher-quality at a boxing store.

Rival, right in between with alot of comfort and padding, solid grab if you ask me and you are, so that’s my take.

Winning, spend the extra money on these bad boys they last long and are the best investment if you plan on being in the game long term. Comfortable, light, and simple.

Mouthguard

AVOID boil and bites! They are no good unless you have no mouthpiece at all.

My best mouthguard came from the mouthpiece guy, look him up it’s worth it!

Do you have braces? I recommend going to your dentist to get fitted for something a little more personal.

Headgear

This is another preference for what you like during training.

You have 3 types of headgear 

Open face, usually used for competition but I have seen and used it myself for sparring. The upside is you can see more, the downside is you can get cut up and bruised easier.

Cheek protectors, my favorite kind of headgear, and probably will be yours too. You see just enough of what’s going on and you have just enough protection.

Nose guard, you get the most protection but it comes at a cost of obscuring your vision. You trade off not being able to see as well for max protection of being bruised or cut.

Everlast, the cheaper side of headgears not usually worth it.

Title, decent, and some are regulated for competition.

Winning, the best headgear, it feels the best but isn’t regulated for competition. 

Cups

Men wear your cups, ladies, too! I would try different cups as they all fit a little differently. The biggest factor here, are you comfortable moving around. It will take some time to get used to if you never wear one but it should be good enough that you don’t play with it every couple of seconds, readjusting.

Breast protectors

This is for female boxing. Some like wearing these and some don’t, it is optional and you will be the judge of that. I recommend giving it a try at least a couple of times.

Boxing training equipment

Must-haves to start your training.

Jump rope, improve footwork by staying light on your feet, and prepares you to be fast on your feet when moving around the ring.

Heavy bag, practice all your combos and footwork while building strength and power. Grab a sturdy bag that swings back and forth.

Double-end bag, perfect for practicing timing, rhythm, and speed. You need this bag because it imitates head movement and teaches you how to throw more than one punch at a time.

Slip ball, learn to move your head with negative reinforcement, this tool is small but mighty. Usually filled with sand and compact, trust me you don’t want to get hit with this. Slip sided to side, duck under, or move your feet as the ball swings.

Mirror, a must-have in my opinion. You need to be able to see yourself work once in a while to correct your own mistakes. Visually seeing yourself is a big help. 

Video, if a mirror is not in your budget or you just don’t have room for a big enough one, record yourself on a phone, study tape on yourself. Easy, affordable, and doesn’t take up much space. 

Go to your local boxing store, if you don’t have one online boxing stores are the best supply for your equipment.

Workouts

Is there no gym near you, or schedule that matches yours? Or you simply just like to work out at home? This is your at-home workout. 

Conditioning, jogging, and jump roping 

Footwork, lateral movement, and ladder drills

Shadowboxing, head movement, footwork, and punching

Heavy bag, work on basic combinations while moving around the bag

Strength, push-ups, sit-ups, squats

Quick routine: in this order

Jump rope, 3 minutes on 1 min off, 2-4 rounds

Lateral movement, 3 minutes on 1 min off, 2-4 rounds

Shadowboxing, 3 minutes on 1 min off, 2-4 rounds

Heavy bag, 3 minutes on 1 min off, 4-6 rounds

Strength, 3 minutes 1 min off, 1 round of ea. (push-ups, sit-ups, squats) 

*track how many you do and hit the same goal or better for next time.

Train every other day to get started and on your days off 1-mile jog to start.

The gains the cuts the power!  

You get shredded as a boxer, get ready to take alot of selfies!

Do I need a coach

No, you can go out there and do it all on your own… of course you need one!

They can see what you cant see, they have tips, tricks, and cues to help you better understand what you might be doing wrong or how a move or punch works in a fight if you lack experience.

Listen if you can’t find a coach or afford to train with one that’s okay. Start with strength and conditioning. Watch videotape on old fights and listen to what good commentators pick up on like the jab or head movement.

Coaches always are needed, coaches need coaches. We are all students of the game and we should always be learning from someone.

Stay humble and open, you are never too good for a coach.

The secret

There is one last thing I didn’t mention and it is probably the most important one.

No one likes to be forgotten, and everyone likes to feel good. How do you do both? Style baby!

If your personality is like Mike Tyson and you are a killer, simple is respected you are here for business and everyone knows it.

Or…

You can be a Floydmayweather Jr. drawing up all attention to yourself good or bad and dress with the expression of yourself and style.

Yes, there is an in-between and that is the style you will come up with for yourself and how far you will take it in either direction.

Have fun don’t be scared you are a badass, where what you want and if anyone has anything to say about it, well, they can meet you in the ring.

Conclusion

Safety equipment is non-negotiable, you need to protect yourself at all times. You wouldn’t ride a bike without a helmet! 

Or would you…

Either way, I promote safety to all ages and levels of experience, this is the hurt game for a reason. There is no need to get hurt before you go compete or explain to your boss why you look like you just joined “fight club” with Brad Pitt.

Now that we got that out of the way, don’t forget about style points with the judges but most importantly your fans. You don’t want to be a forgettable fighter. At the very least it is fun to have a wardrobe that makes you feel good.

Boxing equipment will help you if you have no gym but are not necessary if you have a boxing gym to go to. 

And yesssss you need a coach! Find one asap, no one does anything on their own and this sport is no different. Take yourself seriously if you decide to compete and if you are just looking for a workout you are still going to need one to teach you the basic techniques at the very least.

Don’t skip your workouts, take days off from injury, overuse muscles like strains and fatigue, and just don’t lie to yourself.

If you arent truthful the truth will find you. I warn you because you don’t play boxing, this has serious consequences, be serious take yourself seriously and your opponent when you step into the squared circle.

He hit the canvas, my coach yelled “Stop”! I took a step back while a 10 count began. My eyes were wide, I was processing what just happened, but before I could internalize that moment I heard “Box!” and I was back to fighting.

The sparring match ended, I stepped out of the ring and I thanked my opponent for the work. I walked over to a corner to replay the events in my head.

I had seen he was tired, breathing through his mouth, this told me his next punch wasn’t going to be as crisp.

He threw a weak jab to set up a cross, at this moment it was instinct to shoulder roll, also known as the Philly shell, and come back with a snapping cross of my own.

He went down and never saw it coming!

It worked and it worked with great timing and technique. 

It wasn’t easy to get to this point as that was my first successful attempt in real-time. But I understood finally what had gone right in that moment and what had gone wrong countless times before.

I never really had one style, I was adaptive, and I want to share the benefits of this style of fighting with you.

Learn what the Philly shell is and how to use it to your advantage, and take advantage of this technique.

I can tell you from experience this is a tool that needs to be added to your toolbox.

Why the Philly shell?

Joe Frazier is famous for using the Philly shell. But he didn’t make it popular, even with his success in the ring with 32 wins 4 losses, and 1 draw. 

No sir.

The man who really put this style under the spotlight was Floyd Mayweather Jr. With an unblemished record of 50 wins and 0 losses, he has been in the conversation as possibly the greatest of all time!

Why does this matter you ask?

One, it gives you two success stories of why you should use it, and two how they were utilized differently.

What is the Philly shell?

This is a guard, you can use this offensively or defensively. What makes this guard unique is how you place your hands.

Traditionally it’s always hands up, this is not the case for the shell.

Philly shell or shoulder roll. The lead arm is placed across the torso usually somewhere in between the belly button and chest and the hand rests on the opposite side of your torso.

The backhand is going to be held tight against you. Hand on the face, elbow tucked into the ribcage.

A common mistake that boxers make is that they believe that Philly shell is just another name for shoulder roll. 

The shoulder roll is a defensive move that can be made from any stance or position. You can hide your chin behind your shoulder and avoid opponents' punches.

There are two ways two execute this, you can be aggressive applying constant pressure, or you can be passive looking for an opening to counter an attack.

Oops that’s an actual cheesesteak...

Philly shell offense

“Smokin” Joe Frazier was an offensive fighter, his style of coming forward with the Philly shell led him to victory over Muhammad Ali in their first fight.

Pros, you are an exciting fighter that everyone wants to watch fight. Your relentless pressure can break the soul of a fighter. It is a fun way to box because almost all rules of a traditional stance are broken.

Cons, most likely you are going to eat some punches working your way in. You lose the ability to lead with a jab effectively, and you must have great endurance to keep a pace that makes this style useful.

Philly shell defense

“Money” Mayweather was the best to ever do it. He made it look easy, but if you have ever tried this variation of the Philly shell you know it can almost be impossible to get right all the time.

Pros,  waste less energy by picking your shots when to strike. You are always protected and become frustrating for your opponent, causing them to unravel if they can’t keep their cool.

Cons, you can be a snooze fest with this style. Waiting too long for the right shot can put you behind in the fight, sometimes you get stuck on defense while your opponent is simply outworking you.

Take away

There are two ways to use the Philly shell, one is for an offensive mindset fighter with batteries included.

The 2nd is a defensive-minded fighter with quick reflexes and the timing to counter mistakes.

Both can be used successfully in the ring.

How to perform the Philly shell

The lead arm is placed across the torso usually somewhere in between the belly button and chest and the hand rests on the opposite side of your torso.

The backhand is going to be held tight against you. Hand on the face, elbow tucked into the ribcage.

The cornerstone behind using this technique is simple, rotate the torso like you are throwing a lead hook or a backhand cross without actually throwing them. 

With the lead shoulder, you will deflect their right hand. Your rear hand will parry their left hand and your forearm that’s in front of crossing the torso is blocking the body shots.

How should I stand?

You will use a traditional stance, the key here is not to square up by bringing that back foot forward while you rotate. If it helps, you can place your back foot out to the side further to free those hips as you twist and turn.

Am I crouching?

This option is flexible, boxing isn’t one-size-fits-all. Identify who your opponent is.

If they are taller, you should crouch and get underneath them. If they are shorter stay tall, using your height and reach.

Your kryptonite. 

Be careful of the overhand right - this is the punch that will most likely catch you on the top of your head. Mayweather Jr. was rocked by Sugar Shane Mosley in the 2nd round of their fight and almost floored.

Conclusion

Where do you find the best Philly cheesesteak in Philly?

Asking that question beats any ice breaker, opening line, or fight starter in that town.

The good news is the Philly shell is no doubt one of the best styles in boxing.

A high-risk, high-reward is the hot take. 

It takes years of practice to get it right, but I believe in you if this is the guard you want to use.

I recommend you apply this to your training. At the very least you learned more about what it’s like to use and can pull it out of the toolbox if needed.

Quick tip, practice on the shoulder roll first. Keep your chin tucked and eyes on your opponent to see what’s coming next.

Study videotape on the best to ever do it, you will learn a lot from “Money” Mayweather himself.

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