Women's boxing will make its debut at the 2012 Olympics in London, marking the first time that all summer sports will have female athletes. (Took 'em long enough!) The landmark decision reflects the sport's fast-growing popularity among women. (Search: US Women's Olympic Boxing)
Over the past few years, chicks have been pouring into boxing gyms and boxing-based fitness classes in record numbers, hooked on the one-two punch of high-intensity cardio and muscle-sculpting moves. (Cardio kickboxing classes, for example, have grown 37 percent in the past three years.)
"Boxing gives you a sleek, defined body and improves your speed and reflexes," says Michael Olajide, co-owner of Aerospace High Performance Center in New York City. There are some serious mental perks too: Because boxing requires a focused mind, it can almost serve as a form of meditation. "Students often walk in with a problem, and it's gone by the end of class," says Olajide. (Related: The Best Workouts to Banish Stress)
Perform this explosive total-body workout, created by Olajide, up to five times a week: Do round 1, rest up to one minute; move to round 2, rest, and finish with round 3. The boxing moves you need are below. Nix the breaks to boost your calorie burn.
Bust Out of Your Workout Rut
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, one slightly in front of the other, knees slightly bent. Bring your fists up, one slightly in front of the other, palms facing each other and elbows close to your body. (This is boxing stance.) Punch your back fist straight in front of you at shoulder level, rotating your torso and fully extending your arm.
From boxing stance, keep your elbow bent and punch your fist in a circular motion (like you're reaching around a small tree) as you raise your arm. Your forearm should be parallel to the ground and in line with your shoulder.
From boxing stance, quickly extend one arm straight in front of you at shoulder level, rotating your palm toward the ground.
Get into boxing stance. In one motion, drop your shoulder, turn your wrist so that your palm is facing you, and punch your fist upward.
1. Hit: Left Jab, Right Power Punch, Left Uppercut
Stand with your left foot forward and hold light weights as you complete all three punches in order (that's one rep) at a slow, controlled pace. Do 12 reps. Drop the weights and do eight more reps, pausing for a few seconds at the end of each uppercut, then immediately complete 16 reps as quickly as possible. Switch to the opposite side, leading with your right foot and using your right hand for jabs and uppercuts and your left for punches, and repeat the entire sequence.
2. Lunge and Squat
Step your left foot forward and bend your knees to lower your body until your left thigh is nearly parallel to the ground. Return to start. Do eight reps slowly, then step a few feet out to the right and bend both knees to lower your body until both thighs are parallel to the floor. Do as many as you can in 30 seconds. Switch sides and repeat the entire sequence.
3. Jump Rope
Holding a rope in one hand, hop from side to side for 10 seconds, then grab the handles with both hands and jump rope for 30 counts. Repeat five times.
Related: Blast Fat by Jumping Rope!