Core Exercises for Boxers

The shoulders are heavily involved as you throw punches and boxing combinations. The legs are fully engaged as you weave under incoming punches. The core, though, is called upon for almost every movement you make, and serves as the foundation of the body. This guide breaks down several exercises that strengthen and stabilize your core muscles and enhance your abilities in the boxing ring.

What Makes Up the Core

The core is the area that spans from below the chest all the way down to the hips. From an anatomical perspective, the core involves many muscle groups. Here are the main components of the core:

  1. Abs (transversis abdominis and rectus abdominis)
  2. Sides (internal obliques and external obliques)
  3. Lower Back (regions of the multifidus and erector spinae)
  4. Hips (hip flexors)
  5. Buttocks (gluteus maximus)

These muscles work together to coordinate movement and stabilize the spine, hips, and pelvis. Whether you’re bracing to absorb a body shot or rotating to land a powerful hook, the core is engaged. The best boxers target these various muscle groups during training in order to prepare themselves for the rigors of the ring. The follow exercises require nothing more than your body and a workout mat.


The plank develops stabilization and involves most of the core muscles. Your shoulders are also targeted.

Normal Plank

Follow these steps to properly do a normal plank:

  1. Lie on your belly.
  2. Align your elbows underneath your shoulders with your forearms flat in front of you.
  3. Lift your midsection off of the ground while anchoring your body on your elbows and toes.
  4. Maintain a neutral spine position by keeping your butt flat and pulling your navel toward your spine. In addition, keep your head aligned by focusing your eyes at the area between your forearms.
  5. Hold this position for a predetermined amount of time (30 seconds to 2 minutes).

Side Plank

The side plank has the same goal as the normal plank, but it targets the oblique muscles. Complete the exercise on one side, and then switch to the other. Here are the steps:

  1. Lie on your side.
  2. Align your elbow underneath your shoulder and rest your top leg on top of your bottom leg.
  3. Lift your hips off of the ground while anchoring your body on your elbow and the outside of your bottom foot.
  4. Keep your body aligned as you engage your core in this position.
  5. Hold this position for a predetermined amount of time (30 seconds to 2 minutes).


This exercise focuses primarily on the abs and hip flexors.

  1. Lie flat on your back with your legs together on the floor and your arms stretched overhead.
  2. Lift your legs off of the floor and bring them up towards the sky while keeping them straight.
  3. While completing step two, simultaneously lift your upper body off of the ground and reach up with your hands in an attempt to touch your ankles.
  4. Do this exercised in a controlled manner. Do two or three sets of 10 to 20 reps.

Wood Chopper Crunch

As you box, you constantly rotate your upper body. This exercise mimics such rotation.

  1. Lie flat on your back with your legs together on the floor. Start with your right arm stretched overhead and your left arm out laterally to the side.
  2. Lift your left leg upward towards the sky, while keeping it as straight as possible.
  3. As you lift your leg, simultaneously lift your shoulder blades off of the ground.
  4. Keep your left hand in contact with the ground while moving your right arm upward and rotating slightly to the left.
  5. The back of your right hand should end up on the outside of your left ankle.
  6. Do this exercise in a controlled manner. After completing this exercise with your left leg and right arm, switch and do the opposite. Complete two or three sets of 10 to 20 reps.

Hot Tip: Another Way to Rotate

“Bicycles” are another great way to improve rotational strength. Lie on your back with your knees lifted. Pump your knees in the air as if you’re riding a bike. Keep your hands behind your head with elbows pointed outward. As you pump your legs in the air, touch each elbow to your opposite knee. Keep your shoulder blades off of the ground throughout the exercise.


Many people neglect their lower back when engaging in core strength training. In order for your core to be balanced, you have to train your lower back and buttocks. This exercise handles both:

  1. Lie on your belly.
  2. Choose either to extend your arms overhead or to your side.
  3. Lift your legs off of the floor while keeping your toes pointed directly at the ground.
  4. As you lift your legs, simultaneously raise your chest and shoulders off of the ground.
  5. Hold this position for a set amount of time (i.e. one minute), or complete a set number of reps in a slow, controlled manner.

Supplement to Your Skill Workout

Core exercises, when combined with road work and strength training, can greatly improve your capabilities as a boxer. Don’t limit yourself to the exercises listed above, either, but challenge yourself to learn new and difficult exercises that force your body to engage various muscle groups. Always remember, though, that skill training must always be your first priority if you want to become a successful boxer.

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