In the journey of weight loss to muscle gain, many people often try many approaches in order to achieve their desired results. Some of the means they use are highly recommended, and safe, while some are still recommended but rather extreme, and not safe at all.
In the end, only what’s suitable for a person will give that person the desired results in the end. One of the ways that is said that people have used to achieve their desired muscle gain is Shadow Boxing.
So you might be asking, really? Does shadow boxing build muscles? What is this shadow boxing? What are the benefits of shadow boxing? Can it really help you lose fat and weight? And so on.
Ask no more. The answers are in this article. Keep reading to learn all there’s to know about shadow boxing.
What is Shadowboxing?
Shadowboxing is a form of boxing training in which one spars with an imaginary opponent. Specifically, we attack the opponent by throwing punches but at the same time, defend against him/her by using footwork, blocking, and other techniques.1https://boxingholic.com/boxing-workout/shadowboxing-benefits/
Well, how is shadow boxing different from an exercise where we throw punches in the air? It is completely different: we don’t just blindly hit the air without thinking, but rather throw punches and boxing combos that we would really do if we faced a real opponent.
Additionally, in this situation, we visualize the opponent’s attack and perform defensive techniques such as blocking or slipping punches.
So, What are the Benefits of Shadow Boxing?
1. Shadow boxing Builds Muscle
Shadowboxing is a good workout that builds a lot of muscles around the body. Particularly, shadow boxing builds the muscles around the chest, shoulder, arms, core, and leg.
This is because shadowboxing is an all-body workout that is designed to imitate the condition you would face in sparring or a boxing match. In such a situation, it is natural that you will need to throw combos at your opponent all while defending against him/her by slipping, footwork, or blocking punches.
Another muscle group trained in this workout is the fast-twitching muscle fibers that could help you not only jab faster but also a vital ingredient for use in setting up knockout combinations.
2. Improve Muscle Memory
The reason why they say that ‘inactivity is the greatest sin of boxing’ is partially linked to the most important reason why you should shadowbox and why it is such a great workout.
Boxing is a sport in which muscle memory plays a crucial aspect. When boxers fight, they do not actually think of every move they make – there is no time for it. Boxers’ bodies are trained to react in certain ways.
What boxers do when fighting is use certain combinations and patterns of movement learned previously at training. The key aspect of learning those patterns of movement is muscle memory – and there is no better exercise to learn muscle memory than shadowboxing.
Often repetitions of certain movements for instance slip and cross contribute to encoding such movements in the memories of our muscles.2https://sweetscienceoffighting.com/does-shadowboxing-build-muscle/ When someone attacks us with a jab, boxers do not have to think of what to do, but their bodies perform slip and the right-hand counter.
3. Fighting Conditioning
Shadowboxing demands endurance and cardio. When performed at a good pace and with a proper speed, it can make you as tired as the fight. More importantly, we improve our ‘fighting conditioning’ which is different from other types of conditioning.
I have met many people who can run for miles and outrun boxers, but when they step into the ring, they quickly gas out. Boxing and fighting conditioning are different from conditioning for other sports. Therefore, an important benefit of shadowboxing is that it gives you great ‘fighting conditioning’.
4. Weight Loss
As we mentioned previously, shadowboxing is physically demanding. It is an exercise that engages absolutely all muscles and imitates the fight. When done properly, it requires a lot of energy and thus burns a lot of calories.
There is no doubt that one of the benefits of that exercise is weight loss. Of course, shadowboxing should not be used as a weight-cutting technique as there are more efficient methods in the context of boxing.
But nonetheless, it does help to lose weight and it happened to me that before some fights I used shadowboxing to cut some weight.
5. Improving Technique and Correcting Mistakes
Shadowboxing, especially one that is recorded or performed in front of the mirror, is a great way to improve technique and see/correct mistakes. It is very easy to see what improvements need to be made when you watch yourself or when your coach watches you while shadow boxing.3https://www.healthshots.com/fitness/muscle-gain/from-fat-loss-to-muscle-gain-heres-what-shadow-boxing-can-do-for-you/
Specifically, analyzing the recorded shadowboxing will allow you to see the gaps in your armor as well as make punches smoother and crisper.
When you build proper technique, you will be truly invincible, and Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather is the greatest example of that. There are very few exercises that improve your technique more than shadowboxing.
6. Release Stress
Shadowboxing is a great way to release stress and strengthen the mind. During this exercise, you imitate a boxing bout and that allows you to literally throw your emotions away.
More importantly, it is not as damaging as releasing the stress during an actual bag, on pads, or on a heavy bag. When hitting the bag or pads, the hands are susceptible to injuries and at times, we cannot hit the heavy bag due to injuries.
As shadowboxing does not require hitting physical objects, we therefore can release stress without a chance of injuring ourselves.
7. Visualization and Implementing Strategy or Game Plan
Shadowboxing is a great tool that helps with fight visualization and allows us to work on a game plan. When I know who I fight, I always imagine that person in front of me when I shadowbox.
It makes me ready for that particular fighter and makes me less surprised when I see the fighter in the ring, as I have already envisioned his size, weight, height, and the way he will attack me. This is a great benefit of shadowboxing. During shadowboxing, one can also work on the strategy.
One can adapt the strategy to the opponent. If your opponent is stronger but slower, during shadowboxing you can practice picking him apart with fast shots. If you know he starts slow, work on attacking straight away and then slowing down or speeding up during the fight. No better exercise than shadowboxing to practice those.
8. Improving footwork
Shadowboxing is simply great for footwork. It is a great tool with which you can work on your feet. The majority of people associate boxing with hands, but contrary to popular belief, the lower body plays an equally important if not a bigger role in boxing.
If one does not stand properly and does not have a balanced positioning, one will not be able to generate power. The power and speed of punches are in balance and movement. Shadowboxing improves those.
9. Improves Coordination
Shadowboxing makes your body more coordinated and therefore an important aspect of boxing. Coordination is everything.
In order to be able to fight, one must be coordinated. The epitome of boxing’s technique is the coordination of legs, hips, and shoulders that generate the power that is transferred through the fist.
Shadowboxing helps to coordinate hands and feet and coordinate the movement of the entire body.
How to Make Shadow Boxing a Good Workout? - Practical Tips on How to Effectively Shadowbox
Here are some practical tips on how to effectively shadowbox and maximize the benefits gained from shadowboxing:
- Imagine your opponent in front of you. Make sure to visualize the opponent and see his/her size, weight, height, reach, and body.
- Fight the imaginary opponent as if you fought him/her in the ring. For example, if the opponent is taller and has a superior reach, cut the distance and put in the hooks and uppercuts. In contrast, if the opponent is shorter and likes to brawl, then keep a distance using your jab.
- Shadowboxing is not only about offense but also about defense. The opponent will not stand and wait in front of you to receive blows. Therefore, while shadowboxing, imagine defending yourself from your opponent’s punches.
- Work through a strategy, that is, don’t hit aimlessly. You wouldn’t and shouldn’t be throwing a 10-punch combination to your opponent during a bout. Instead, plan your fight by thinking about what opponent you are facing and execute the plan by throwing relevant combinations that are adapted to your opponent.
- Work on your feet, move around, and change tempo. That will allow you to dictate the pace of the fight and you will be forcing your opponent to fight you at your strength.
How Much Should You Shadowbox Per Week?
There is no single and unanimously accepted rule on how often you should be shadowboxing. It depends on many factors such as boxing experience, level of boxing, how many mistakes you’re making, and the date of your fight.
There are boxers who shadowbox once a week and there are those who do it twice a day. In general, it would be beneficial to shadow box as often as possible but doing it 3 times a week will be a good start.
A good time to shadowbox would be during or right after warm-up. Furthermore, it would be beneficial to have it looked at by a coach or do it in front of a mirror in order to fix mistakes in form.
Does Shadow Boxing Build Muscles - The Truth
So Does Shadow Boxing build muscles? The answer is no. Why? The reason shadowboxing doesn’t build muscle comes down to the key mechanisms of hypertrophy (aka muscle growth or building muscle). These are mechanical tension, metabolic stress, and muscle damage.
Mechanical tension is maximized by force production while the muscle is put through stretch. To maximize force production, heavy loads must be used through a full range of motion. For example, a heavy ass to grass squat.
Mechanical tension can also be maximized with lighter loads when taken to failure as the slowing velocity of the exercise allows more cross-bridges to be formed within the muscle resulting in greater tension.
Metabolic stress is simply the build-up of metabolic by-products that occur as part of creating energy for your muscles to use to contract. This is often associated with the “burn” sensation you get when performing high-rep exercises.
Muscle damage is a by-product of these two mechanisms. High levels of mechanical tension and/or metabolic stress can cause a lot of muscle damage which signals the body to repair and create new muscle tissue.
Shadowboxing ticks none of these boxes. When you first start shadowboxing, you may experience the “burn” sensation in your shoulders and arms since you are not used to keeping the boxing stance for long periods.
But this subsides quickly and you don’t want this burn as shadowboxing should be relaxed and fluid. If you are finding your arms and shoulders are tiring quickly, you may be too tense.
Shadowboxing however will help develop shoulder and arm endurance that can carry over to your boxing performance.
Watch the video below to know more on shadow boxing and what it does to your muscles:
So, unfortunately, shadowboxing does not build muscle due to inadequate resistance and not maximizing the key mechanisms of muscle growth. However, shadowboxing can help you get ripped by helping create a caloric deficit through exercise.
Shadowboxing with weights may be helpful for general shoulder and arm endurance. It is not suitable for punching faster, building muscle, and may hurt your punching technique if used too often. Thanks to the fact that shadow boxing engages many muscles in one go, this is the one exercise you can do on a daily basis to tone every part of your body. Toned muscles are naturally denser, have less fat within them, and look just amazing.
Frequently Asked Questions on the Benefits of Shadow Boxing
Shadowboxing with weights may be helpful for general shoulder and arm endurance. It is not suitable for punching faster, building muscle, and may hurt your punching technique if used too often.
Thanks to the fact that shadow boxing engages many muscles in one go, this is the one exercise you can do on a daily basis to tone every part of your body.
Toned muscles are naturally denser, have less fat within them, and look just amazing.