No boxing gym is complete without a body protector. Focus mitt drills are great on their own, but strapping your coach into the best boxing body protector you can find transforms every session into a clinic on the lost art of gut-punching.
With that in mind, today's post is all about helping you find the best boxing body protector for your budget, gym set-up, and training style.
First, we explain some unique benefits of body protector training. Next, we review what features the best boxing body protectors should have. Finally, we share our top-5 body protector picks to get you started on your search.
Benefits of Buying a Boxing Body Protector
In this section, we review the 6 best boxing protector benefits for fight training to help you decide if this equipment is right for your gym.
Body protectors aren't required for boxing training, but they do make it much, much better. Besides being a great way to "thank" your coaches for all the grueling drills, tough love, and starvation diets they put you through, body protector workouts are the most authentic fight simulations you'll find outside of sparring.
1. Free up your hands for better fight simulations.
Catching body punches with focus mitts is possible, but it limits how much you can test your fighter's defense and counter-punching.
Instead of gluing a hand or two to your body as a makeshift target, body protectors leave you free to throw punches and flawlessly recreate fight situations. This gives every mitt work session the training value of sparring without the impact, which is great to avoid burnout and ease beginners into real fight training.
Saul "Canelo" Alvarez simulates the fight in preparation for Miguel Cotto.
2. Effortlessly teach safe body punch positioning.
Wearing a body protector during mitt work is one of the best ways to teach your fighter proper positioning. Unlike with heavy-bag work, body protectors allow the fighter to use their trainer's hands as a reference point to know when they've moved to safety. As a trainer, you'll know when your fighter side-stepped enough once you need to turn to face them after the combination lands.
For example, to attack the liver, an orthodox fighter would first step left, outside of their opponent's right hand. Besides adding leverage, this move gets them "off the tracks," forcing the opponent to adjust before they can return fire. If your boxer didn't move far enough, give them a smack with your right hand - they'll thank you for it on fight night!
3. Work powerful body punches from any angle.
Body protectors let you work full-power punches from any angle both safely and effectively.
Though experienced focus mitt holders can catch "shovel punches" and straight shots to the body easily enough, certain impact angles are hard to replicate with hand pads alone.
For example, think about how hard it is to work with the simple circular trajectory of a traditional hook to the body. To catch this punch, the trainer has to rest the back of their hand against their body so the striking surface faces outward. While this creates a suitable target, it's not practical for serious power punching. If a heavy hitter struck your mitt in that position, the back of your hand would hammer into your ribs with almost the full force of their punch. It'd be a lot like a mitt holder catching punches by laying the pad against their face rather than meeting the shot in mid-air - sure, there's an inch or two of protection, but you're still going to feel it!
4. Develop deadly body punching accuracy.
Body protector workouts teach your boxers to get the most out of their shots by reinforcing proper placement. Simply instruct your fighter to aim for high-value targets like the liver, solar plexus, spleen, and floating rib. Unlike hitting the heavy-bag, your fighter will have real human anatomy to work with, helping them develop knockout accuracy while you stay safe behind the best boxing body protector money can buy.
5. Add a "low-impact" power punch training option.
Throwing power punches on a body protector is extremely easy on the hands, as your fighter gets the combined protection of hand wraps, bag gloves, and body protector padding. Aside from water-filled uppercut bags, it may be the gentlest option out there.
Floyd Mayweather uses the body protector to keep his injury-prone hands safe.
6. Learn to stop movement with body punches.
The body protector is the perfect tool for teaching boxers how to stop movement with body shots.
For example, the trainer starts circling to their left, simulating an opponent who's "getting on their bike" and refusing to engage. Immediately, the fighter should throw a right hook to the body. In a fight context, this attack gives the opponent two options: stop in their tracks, or walk into a big body punch. Similarly, a left hook to the body will stop an opponent circle right, while straight shots work against forward movement.
For best results, teach your fighter to follow up with combinations to your focus mitts immediately after stopping your movement with the body shot.
Best Boxing Body Protector Essentials: What to Look For
In this section, we highlight 5 essential features you'll find in all of the best boxing body protectors. Any body protector that lacks these qualities is not worth your money!
- Shock-absorbing padding is equally important for protecting trainer and fighter. Look for dense and durable material that dissipates the force of punches well. Some designs use hollow spots behind their built-in punch targets to cut the impact even further.
- Manageable bulk is crucial for body protectors. Though this equipment is inherently a bit bulky, overly large pads will limit your mobility and ability to punch, which hurts the fight realism this training is meant for. To that point, bulky body protectors are usually less anatomically correct, which lessens the accuracy training benefits mentioned in the previous section.
- Durability is a given for body protectors. This piece of gear is designed to absorb power punches, so the stitching, materials, and straps need to be rugged.
- Easy on-and-off is big for trainers who might want to run their fighters through multiple "stations" as part of a training circuit. You shouldn't need to call over a helper to put on or take off your body protector. Look for intuitive Velcro or buckles, and avoid protectors that need to be laced up like the plague!
- Adjustable body protectors are the only way to go, even for home gym set-ups where equipment sharing is rare. Ordering online can make sizing a bit of a gamble, so play it safe with models that offer adjustable back and shoulder straps.
WARNING: #1 mistake made by first-time body protector buyers
DO NOT BUY a "chest protector" that looks like this for training purposes:
Don't be fooled by the lower price tag or similar product name.
These are designed for Taekwondo and karate tournaments. Generally around 3/4" thick, they are much too thin to protect you for high-volume body punch training.
Top-5 Best Boxing Body Protector Reviews
By now you've decided to buy, and you know what features to look for. Start your search with a review of our top-5 picks.
Ringside Fairtex Protective Vest
- Premium body protector
- Lightweight (ships at 4 pounds)
- Synthetic leather
- One size fits most
- Handmade in Thailand
- Multi-layered foam core
- Anatomically correct targets
The Ringside Fairtex Protective Vest is the most expensive on our list, though only by a few dollars. That said, it offers great value for its price, combining big-time shock absorption with excellent mobility.
If you're shopping with mobility in mind, this is probably the best boxing body protector on the market. It's very light and fits so close to the body that it's easily confused for one of the "chest protectors" we warned against earlier. Great for movement-focused training.
Though lightweight, the multi-layered foam core can really take a beating. Being handmade in Thailand, it's very durable, with strong stitching and tough synthetic leather exterior designed with the "art of 8 limbs" in mind.
The shock-absorption is good, but not perfect, and this is reflect in our rating. You may still get bumped around by heavyweight hitters, but the force doesn't "penetrate." Watch elbows and bare knuckles bounce off harmlessly in this badass review from beyond the world of boxing (but also mind the expression on the receiver's face!):
Finally, though minor in the grand scheme of things, the targets do come in handy.
Overall, it's a quality body protector, but it does sacrifice some shock-absorbing for the sake of mobility.
Fairtex Leather Belly Pad
- Premium belly pad
- Lightweight (2.8 pounds)
- Real leather construction
- Hook-and-loop closure for easy on-and-off
- Handmade in Thailand
- Multi-layered foam core
- Anatomically correct targets
Echoing some of the same value and drawbacks of our last pick, this extremely lightweight belly pad offers excellent protection against heavy hitters, being built to handle kicks, knees, and elbows.
Aside from its shock absorption and portability, one of the Fairtex Leather Belly Pad's best features is its Velcro hook and loop closures. Anyone who's been in a boxing gym is familiar with this closure system, which is increasingly popular with bag gloves. Not only is it easy to handle with gloves on, but it can be adjusted enough to fit snug on any waistline.
This belly pad does come with anatomically correct punch targets, though the midsection does leave something to be desired.
If you're a big fan of the shot-gun jab to the chest, this belly pad won't do your trainer any favours. The Fairtex Belly Pad's lightweight qualities come from the fact that it's a stripped down "midsection shield" rather than a full body protector, so keep that in mind as you make your decision.
TITLE Gel Body Protector
- 3" multilayer foam
- Added protection from Gel Enforced Lining (GEL) system
- Reasonably lightweight (ships at 6.1 pounds)
- Moisture-wicking inside liner
- 3 adjustable nylon straps (back and shoulder pads)
- Broad "striking area" targets
TITLE's Gel Body Protector is a sturdy and protective model that is surprisingly affordable.
The padding is very thick, layering 1/2" gel targeting zones over 3" of multilayer foam to keep the wearer safe. The liver, spleen, and upper chest areas are particularly heavy-duty, though you will feel the shots a bit more towards the solax plexus and upper chest. Even so, the shock absorption is great, but this may be something they'll address in later products.
Though somewhat bulky and heavier than previous picks, the adjustable strap system makes it feel a bit more sleek. Still, you're dealing with roughly double the weight of the Fairtex Belly Pad, so be prepared to work a bit harder.
TITLE made the effort to install target areas, but they're really more for added protection than precision punching. The "striking zones" are so broad that they won't really challenge you, though a few strokes of a marker can solve that.
Finally, the moisture wicking liner deserves some attention, especially if you plan on passing this around the gym. There are few worse feelings than wearing somebody's sweaty sloppy seconds...
Ringside Gel Super Body Protector
- Full body protector
- Synthetic leather exterior
- Interior Gel Shock Technology
- Striking targets reinforced with Dome Air Technology (DAT)
- Reasonably lightweight (3.7 pounds)
- Completely adjustable back and shoulder straps
The Ringside Gel Super Body Protector might be the best boxing body protector for first-timer buyers. As the second most affordable option on our list, this model is surprisingly high-quality, striking a nice balance between portability and protection.
Weighing just under 4 pounds, this protector can really take a hit. If the gel interior isn't enough, DAT technology places a hollow spot behind each target to ensure the impact fully dissipates. If you have any doubts about this thing's shock-absorption, just watch:
As with our other picks, this body protector is adjustable, though the strap system does lose points for being slightly more complex than some others.
RDX Boxing Belly Pad
- Lightweight belly pad
- Gel integrated molded hard wearing exterior
- 3" multi-layer high density padded interior
- 1/2" thick low density foam targets on front and sides
- Ships at 2.2 pounds
- Adjustable Velcro and one-snap attachment, one size fits all
The RDX Boxing Belly Pad is our most affordable option, but it's arguably the best boxing body protector in its price bracket.
The sleek, compact design make it ideal for rounds where movement is a focus, but buyer's should know that it's not fit for training punches to the chest.
That said, it can take a hammering to the belly and side areas. The midsection striking target is a little broad, but the added protection is appreciated. Moreover, the soft foam targets give a bit more under impact, which feels a lot like landing a real shot to the body.
The RDX Boxing Belly Pad fits very snug once you're strapped in, which is great for limiting any shifting or awkward mid-round adjustments. The straps themselves are easy to get on and off, with the adjustable Velcro and one-snap attachment giving you two wearing styles and being fully workable in gloves. Word of warning, though: bigger coaches may find the form-sitting quality of this body protector a little uncomfortable.
Body punching has become a lost art in all combative sports, but it doesn't have to be! Find yourself a partner, grab the best boxing body protector for your budget, and start honing your body-snatching skills today.
On behalf of the Warrior Punch team, I hope our buyer's guide, top-5 picks, and best boxing body protector review takes your training to the next level. If you have any additional questions about our picks, or just want to learn more about body punching, contact me on Instagram (@mac_rea), Twitter (@macrea), or message us on Facebook.
I leave you with some inspiration: