Boxing burns a large number of calories, so it can be an excellent way to burn fat and lose weight. People with little prior training experience can also build muscle, but there are more effective means than only boxing for gaining muscle mass.
This article will explore whether or not boxing is an effective tool for both fat loss and muscle gain. You’ll also discover some tips for helping you to lose fat and build muscle with boxing training.
Does Boxing Burn Fat?
Boxing is an activity that requires full-body movement, concentration, and repeated powerful muscular contractions (during punching efforts). As a result, the number of calories burned from a boxing session can be extremely high.
According to this popular calculator, a 180lb person hitting a heavy bag for an hour burns around 617 calories. Although this figure won’t be exact since so many other factors come into play concerning calorie burn, it displays an estimate that shows high calorie burn from boxing.
For some context, we can use the same calculator to compare boxing to another high-energy sport like basketball. For the same 180lb person, basketball’s hourly calorie burn is approximately 549 calories.
With such a high calorie burn, you can see why boxing can be an excellent tool for fat loss, provided your diet supports it.
The Basics of Fat Loss
Unfortunately, using boxing to burn calories might not be enough for fat loss by itself. Just because you’re burning a ton of calories, it doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to lose fat.
In the most basic terms, weight loss comes down to a simple equation:
Calories intake – calorie burn
If you take in more calories (food and drink) than you burn (daily activity and exercise), you will gain weight. Burning more calories than you take in will lead to fat and weight loss.
The key takeaway of the above is that you could be burning hundreds of calories from boxing, but you won’t burn any fat if you are still overeating.
You need to have both your training and diet in place to support your fat loss goals.
With that being said, boxing is an excellent form of training for fat loss since it burns so many calories, which means your food intake can be higher while still burning fat compared to other sports.
If your goal is to burn fat, I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up a pair of quality boxing gloves and start hitting that punching bag or mitts with a trainer.
Does Boxing Build Muscle?
This question becomes more nuanced than the fat loss argument since it can vary from person to person.
In most cases, boxing training alone will not build a large amount of muscle for most people.
Individuals who are entirely new to training will find they can build some muscle mass with boxing because they are using untrained muscles. The response to a novel training stimulus will produce some growth.
In particular, the muscles around the core and shoulders could see some growth.
It is a different story for people who already have some training experience. Individuals whose muscles are already trained to some degree will need a greater stimulus to encourage muscle growth. In most cases, boxing alone doesn’t provide enough stimulus for appreciable growth.
For more highly-trained athletes, traditional methods of building muscle like weight training should be added to their training if gaining muscle mass is one of their goals.
Even when you use traditional weight training to build muscle, it can be difficult to gain mass alongside boxing due to the significant number of calories you’ll burn during your boxing workouts.
Building Muscle and Burning Calories
To understand why it is hard to do so much cardio and build muscle at the same time, we need to reference the equation from earlier:
Calorie intake – calorie burn
You already know that burning more calories than you intake will lead to weight loss. Unfortunately, for building muscle, you need the opposite.
Repairing and growing muscle tissue requires an excess of calories. In other words, you need to eat more than you burn if you want to build muscle.
You know from earlier that boxing is an awesome calorie-burning activity, which can actually make things more difficult when it comes to gaining muscle.
Of course, you can still gain muscle and train for boxing at the same time but you need to ensure your diet contains enough calories to support your strength training and muscle growth on top of all the cardiovascular work you will be doing.
Keep a close eye on your weight and body fat levels as indicators of how much you should be eating. If you are gaining a lot of fat along with the muscle, you are likely overeating and need to scale it back a bit.
It is important to know that many people who take up boxing acquire the appearance of gaining a lot of muscle, even if that isn’t necessarily the case.
Burning many calories and losing fat will make you leaner, making your muscles more visible, and give the illusion of increased muscle mass even if little to none has been built.
Final Thoughts on Boxing for Fat Loss and Muscle Gain
As a fat-burning activity, boxing is one of the best out there since it burns a massive number of calories in a shorter time than many other forms of exercise.
Provided you aren’t eating an excess of calories; boxing will be a powerful tool for fat loss.
For building muscle, boxing on its own is not a very effective method. Untrained individuals can see some initial muscle growth from boxing, but most people won’t gain an appreciable amount from boxing workouts alone.
To gain more significant amounts of muscle mass, traditional strength training with weights is favorable.
However, athletes who are serious about their boxing performance need to consider whether or not gaining large amounts of muscle will benefit them. Any strength training a boxer performs should be geared towards improving a specific aspect of their boxing skillset.
Gaining too much muscle mass could be detrimental to movement and cardiovascular performance, so you must consider these potential drawbacks against the potential benefits.