Cardiovascular exercise has got to be the most boring and unpleasant form of exercise for most people. Typically it involves continuous exertion which places strain on the entire body and which moreover just takes a long time. Let's be honest: who has time to go for a long run these days?
What you have to remember though, is that running is just one option for cardiovascular exercise and is just one option for losing weight and burning fat. With limitless options out there, you should be able to find at least one that you enjoy and that fits into your schedule – and once you do that, you'll find that the weight loss really starts to come.
For me, that 'right type of CV' just so happened to be punching a punch bag. Read on and find out why this is such an effective form of CV and what makes it so easy to stick to.
Why Punching Is More Fun Than Running
Hitting a punching bag – for me at least – is one of the few types of CV that is genuinely 'fun'. Cycling on the spot or running long distances involves very little variation and is hard to really engage with. This is so much the case in fact, that many people will opt to listen to headphones while they use these forms of CV, which actually remove the focus from the exercise and thus result in decreased performance and benefits.
On the other hand, punching a bag is actually incredibly satisfying and can give you a great sense of catharsis. Had a bad day at work? Got something on your chest? Then hit a punch bag and vent! Meanwhile, punching a bag allows you to imagine you're fighting an invisible opponent. If you like watching action films, then you can relive your favorite scenes, pretending that you're Jackie Chan, Goku or Batman.
Meanwhile, punching a bag also allows you to hone your technique and to improve clearly with each punch. You can keep it varied too, by incorporating kicks and ducking and weaving and you won't need to worry about 'getting back' (as with running) or hurting your knees which allows you to go full throttle. In fact, you'll find that you can bring on a heavy sweat and really get yourself out of breath in just a few minutes of hitting a punch bag. This makes it incredibly satisfying and it's much easier to stick to a training program when you can actually feel it working.
How Punching a Bag Is Highly Effective
Punching a bag doesn't just feel highly effective, it actually is. When punching and kicking a bag, you will be using your full body for an extended period which actually produces a more pronounced anabolic and metabolic effect resulting in the production of more of the right hormones as well as burning more fat in the short-term.
Punching is also a form of 'resistance' cardio, because you're hitting a target. This means it can not only burn fat, but also tone muscle resulting in developed legs, buttocks, arms, shoulders and abs. A good punch should really involve your abs too as you twist into the movement and generate the power throughout your entire body.
Punching a bag also lends itself particularly well to a more effective form of cardio called 'interval training', which we will look at next.
How to Use Punching to Effectively Burn Fat and Tone Muscle
While punching a bag is a powerful tool, you also need to use it correctly if it's going to be of any value. It's no good approaching the bag and throwing out a couple of hits casually: rather, you need to maintain a constant flurry of punches and kicks so that you remain constantly on your toes and constantly active. You should also be exerting yourself the entire time, while being careful to avoid injury to your knuckles or wrists from punching with too much force.
In fact, the very best way to burn lots of calories with boxing, is to go full out at 70-100% of your energy output. Obviously it would be impossible to keep this up indefinitely, so instead the objective is to alternate between periods of extreme exertion and rest – which is interval training.
One of the most intense forms of interval training is 'tabata', which involves going flat out at 100% for 20 seconds and pausing for ten for a total of six rounds. The result is a four minute workout that is just as intense as many half hour runs and which can be enjoyably practiced from the comfort of your own home.
What If You Don't Have a Punching Bag?
If you don't have a punching bag, then don't worry – you can still enjoy many of the benefits of punch bag training using similar, different training methods. One example is to use shadow boxing, where you simply punch and kick at the air. Despite lacking the satisfaction of something to hit, this can actually allow you to burn just as many calories. The only potential danger is that you can end up hyperextending (locking out) your joints. Make sure then, that when you punch you finish the movement with your elbows still very slightly bent.
Another option is to ask a friend to hold a pad for you to punch and kick. Alternatively, they can use two pads and get you to punch at different angles and dodge incoming swipes. This can make your CV workout into a great fun game that helps both of you to burn calories.
Finally, with thick gloves on, you can even try lightly punching against a wall or a tree which again is just as effective.