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Use This Five-Minute Boxing Drill To Earn KO Cardio Credentials

Boxing with punching bag
(Image credit: Getty Images / Thomas Barwick)

Forget connected spin bikes and interactive fitness mirrors for a moment. Sometimes all you need for a cardio fix is a good old-fashioned punching bag (and a guide to getting started with punching bag workouts). And this drill from Declan Taylor, head trainer for boxing at BLOK, certainly cuts to the chase. 

“We’re not looking to reinvent the wheel with punch selection in this non-stop finisher – instead we’re focusing on going through the gears and leaving it all on the bag,” Taylor tells Coach. The drill is five rounds of this sequence.

  1. Jabs – 20 seconds
  2. Freestyle combinations – 20 seconds
  3. Non-stop straight punches – 20 seconds

“Think of the first 20-second block in each round as your active recovery,” says Taylor. “Keep moving around the bag while keeping your hands high, chin down and elbows tight while offering a stiff jab whenever appropriate.”

In the second block you can throw any punches you choose. “If you’re a beginner, keep it simple with straight one-twos and the odd hook or uppercut,” says Taylor. “If you’re more experienced feel free to really mix it up.” Whatever you throw, the idea is to keep your intensity at around 70-80% of your max.

Then, in the final 20 – the championship seconds – plant your feet and unload with non-stop straight punches to and from the chin. “Make sure you keep your distance correct and don’t be tempted to ‘run’ your feet or drop your shots to the body,” says Taylor. 

The challenge is to transition seamlessly from this all-out sprint back into your first block of active recovery jabs. “Don’t drop your hands once your sprint is finished. Instead get your guard straight back up and keep popping off those jabs while you recover for that 20 seconds.” 

The idea for boxers, Taylor explains, is to condition yourself so that you still offer a dangerous jab even when tired, which will help you dictate both the distance and tempo when you have an opponent in front of you. However, this ability to keep functioning under acute fatigue has transferable benefits to almost any sport or athletic discipline. 

What if your garage or gym doesn’t happen to house a punching bag? Taylor says you can perform this  drill kit-free, shadowboxing-style. “Throwing non-stop lefts and rights will test your ticker whether there’s a bag on the receiving end or not.” 

Seconds out. Round one.

Sam Rider
Sam Rider

Sam Rider is an experienced freelance journalist, specialising in health, fitness and wellness. For over a decade he's reported on Olympic Games, CrossFit Games and World Cups, and quizzed luminaries of elite sport, nutrition and strength and conditioning. Sam is also a REPS level 3 qualified personal trainer, online coach and founder of Your Daily Fix (opens in new tab). Sam is also Coach’s designated reviewer of massage guns and fitness mirrors.