Boxing is the perfect workout. It’s strength conditioning and cardio fitness rolled into one pedal-to-the-metal, balls-to-the-wall workout, which also teaches a valuable life skill. Oh, and the other big win, is that you can learn boxing at home.
That’s right. You can teach yourself boxing, and this post gives you everything you need to become a self-taught pugilist.
Is it Really Possible to Teach Yourself Boxing?
Firstly, let’s address the naysayers. I know that despite my best efforts to convince you otherwise, some people are going to remain skeptical about self-directed learning.
I get it. Boxers spend years of their life in a gym honing their skills under the tutelage of battle-hardened coaches. Now, you’re trying to tell me that I can bypass all that and learn boxing on my own?
What, even if I’ve never boxed before?
The answer is still YES.
You don’t need to attend a boxing class or put up with an instructor yelling in your face. You can learn boxing in the privacy and comfort of your home, at your own pace, whenever it suits.
But let’s be clear on one thing - you’re not going to become a world champion boxer by smashing the bag in your garage for fifteen minutes a day. To be a fighter, you have to train like a fighter. However, you can become a self-taught boxer and be able to beat most untrained guys your size.
Also, know that boxing at home is no walk in the park. Just because you’re learning in a convenient and comfortable setting, you’ll still have to bust your balls if you want to improve.
Now you know what to expect, let’s move on to the advantages of boxing from home.
Training at a boxing gym will be the best training you'll get and it's the fastest way to improve. However, at-home fitness does offer several advantages and there's nothing wrong with it forming part of your training routine (or all of it if it's done correctly).
Boxing training is one of the toughest workouts. Period. I challenge you to find another sport that pushes you to your physical and mental limits the way boxing does. This is true regardless of whether you train on your own or with a coach.
For enduring the hardship, people that regularly train in boxing benefit from great cardiovascular health, develop an incredible physique, and gain through-the-roof self-confidence. What other sport produces results on this level?
Boxing workouts are also highly efficient. You would have to spend hours jogging to burn off the same amount of calories as a 30-minute heavy bag session. It’s ideal for people that have limited time to train, but who want maximum bang for their buck.
Boxing is also a workout that remains challenging. As you become fitter, you only end up being pushed further, and the routines never get any easier (trust me, this is a good thing). You’re always pushed to your limits which makes the workouts exciting while helping you to sustain motivation.
Learning boxing at home allows you to train around life’s obstacles. You have the flexibility and convenience of being able to train whenever you want.
Not having enough time is no longer an excuse. Everyone can find at least 20 minutes a day to squeeze in a session on the bag. If you can’t, then you’re not making boxing a priority.
Boxing from home means you can work out a routine that fits into your existing schedule. You don’t have to miss your favorite TV show, give up your social life, or stop spending time with the kids.
All it takes is to block off 20-30 minutes a day (more if you can spare it) to dedicate to learning boxing.
You’ll still have plenty of time for all your other commitments and your usual routine isn’t disrupted, so you’re more likely to form a long-term habit.
Makes Boxing Gyms less Intimidating
Being a beginner at anything and joining a club full of experienced members can be intimidating. When the club you’re signing up to fight for fun, that experience can be particularly nerve-wracking.
Learning to box at home is a great way to learn the basics before training with experienced boxers. You’ll have the valuable foundational knowledge and a good base level of fitness to hit the ground running.
Having a little bit of boxing know-how and being in reasonably good shape can give you the confidence you need to join a boxing gym.
Learning to box at home is by no means a perfect solution and it isn’t without its drawbacks. Here’re four reasons why home-schooling doesn’t cut it.
Many people would struggle to find a committed training partner outside of the gym. Training without a partner can be limiting, and at times, BORING.
No partner means you’re training will be limited to road work, skipping, exercises, and hitting the bag. It also means you’ll be missing out on mitt work - which is good for improving hand-eye coordination and lets you practice hitting a moving target - as well as one other fundamental part of your training, sparring.
If you don’t spar, you’re skills remain untested in a fight setting.
While you may be able to make the heavy bag beg for mercy, I’m willing to bet that you’re boxing skills would be useless for self-defence if you aren’t sparring – assuming you didn’t get the first punch in.
Dodging, blocking, parrying, and countering are essential boxing skills that will be missing from your repertoire.
Lack of Motivation
Another big flaw of training at home is sustaining motivation. Unless we’re being challenged and feel as if we’re making progress, it’s natural for our motivation to dwindle.
You may begin enthusiastically, but give it a week, month, or year of training by yourself, and you may find that you’re training sessions are shorter, fewer, and further apart.
Without an experienced coach to correct you, you will have to educate yourself on proper form. It’s so easy to pick up bad practices that can take months to unlearn when you’re your own teacher.
Luckily, there’s a good solution to this last drawback that we’ll dive into below.
Courses and Teaching Material
There are thousands of resources you can use to learn boxing at home. Most are absolute crap and just have the same old generic guff, while others are phenomenal teaching aids that offer age-old, invaluable boxing advice.
We’ve saved you the hassle of having to trawl through the sea of garbage to find those rare gems. Here’s a round-up of the best books, DVDs, websites, and online courses for learning boxing.
Boxing Basics: The Techniques and Knowledge Needed to Excel in the Sport of Boxing
Boxing Basics is a step-by-step guide for anyone that wants to learn boxing. Through clear illustrations and in-depth explanations, the book breaks down boxing movements into simple, easy-to-follow steps.
The book isn’t solely focused on techniques and also delves into fitness and conditioning, fighting styles and strategies, as well as covering all the equipment you’ll need to get started.
The title of the book is a bit misleading, as this 186-page boxing manual includes way more than just the basics. This book is a complete how-to guide ideally suited for beginners who want a thorough overview of boxing.
Championship Fighting: Explosive Punching and Aggressive Defense By Jack Dempsey
Jack Dempsey is a former heavyweight champion (1919 to 1926) and legend of the sport who is widely considered to be one of the best boxers of the twentieth century.
In this classic book, Dempsey condenses everything he knows about boxing theory, training, and application, resulting in a complete instruction manual for fighters.
It is an older book – which you can tell by the language used and the pictures – but the boxing knowledge he shares is timeless (and priceless).
Boxing (Naval Aviation Physical Training Manuals)
When it was first published in 1943, the U.S. Naval Institutes boxing manual was given to recruits during World War II to fulfil their hand-to-hand combat training. The manual far exceeded expectations, and it has since been passed on to generation after generation of navy cadets.
As the book is a reprint, the quality of the images is poor. However, the minute details of stance, punching, defence, counters, and weight transfer, taken from the minds of coaches and fighters during the “golden era of boxing”, are captured beautifully in this well-written piece of boxing history.
"Ultimate Boxing Lessons" COMPLETE 8 DVD BOXED SET
Boxing Coach, Christopher Getz, has had a successful fighting career in amateur boxing, kickboxing and muay thai. What’s his secret to winning fights in multiple disciplines? Simple, being able to outbox his kick-focused competitors.
Ultimate Boxing Lessons shares what Getz’s has learned in 18 years as a fighter and coach. This comprehensive eight DVD box set imparts Getz’s wisdom on boxing concepts, techniques, and training drills in a methodical fashion. The depth and quality of instruction on offer make this the perfect training aid for anyone wanting to master the art of boxing.
The only gripe is that for the price of the box set, the production quality could be better. However, what it lacks in visuals, Ultimate Boxing Lessons more than makes up for in valuable boxing knowledge.
Boxing for MMA (Anderson Silva)
In Boxing for MMA, the supremely talented Anderson "The Spider" Silva thoroughly dissects the sweet science.
The DVD is great instructional material for beginners. Each technique is broken down into simple movements and performed by the UFC Middleweight Champion in clear videos.
Starting with footwork, Silva takes you through the techniques for all boxing elements from correct punching technique, to sparring and shadowboxing drills. His insights into distance and timing of punches are pure golden nuggets of fighting knowledge.
Although the lessons are aimed at mixed martial artists, the knowledge shared by this world class striker is still highly relevant for traditional boxing students.
If you’ve not already done so, you’ll want to check out the 40+ free instructional videos on myboxingcoach.com.
Fran Sands shares a wealth of boxing knowledge on the site gained from 60 amateur fights and many more years of coaching students.
The site comes with high recommendations due to Fran’s clear, concise, and easy-to-learn-from teaching style.
The Foundation is Fran’s end-to-end course. It includes 3 hours and 30 minutes of high-definition video and a 140-page eBook all delivered in Fran’s trademark easy-to-follow, systematic style.
The course covers all the fundamentals of boxing - warming up, skipping, footwork, offensive and defensive moves, shadow boxing, bag work – and delves into the nuances of the body mechanics behind the actions.
At $77, the course offers incredible value. However, if you sign up to receive the My Boxing Coach newsletter, you’ll be able to purchase the course for only $47!
Johnny Nguyen has been chronicling his encyclopaedic knowledge of boxing on expertboxing.com for years. The result? A massive resource on boxing covering every boxing-related topic imaginable.
If you’re not sure where to start, Expert Boxing’s Beginners Guide is a great introduction to the sweet science.
If you like Johnny’s teaching style, then you’ll want to check out “How to Box in 10 Days” which is an accelerated learning product that does exactly what it says on the tin.
Despite the ambitious title, the course has a very methodical approach teaching a major boxing skill one day at a time. Here’s a peek into what you can expect to learn:
Day 1 – Stance & Footwork
Day 2 – Straight Punches (jab, right cross, 1-2 combination)
Day 3 – Curved Punches (hooks, uppercuts, body shots)
Day 4 – Basic Defense (blocking & parrying)
Day 5 – Advanced Defense (rolling & slipping)
Day 6 – Punch Combinations (basic combos, advanced combos, mitt drills)
Day 7 – Counter Punching (steps and details of over 60 common counters)
Day 8 – Advanced Skills (tips to improve your punching, defense, body movement)
Day 9 – Boxing Training (weekly workout plan to develop fight conditioning)
Day 10 – Sparring (sparring drills, fight tips, fight strategy)
As you can see, the course wraps all the fundamentals of boxing into an easily-digestible 10-day package. The course is delivered through a 300 page training manual, 32 page workbook, and 1 hour 45 minutes of high-quality video.
At only $77 - which is similar to what you would pay to join a boxing gym for a month - I’m sure you’ll agree it represents outstanding value.
With 43 amateur fights (40 wins) and 38 professional fights (34 wins) under his belt, Cornelius Carr is the real deal. Sneak Punch is the former world middleweight champion’s free resource on boxing.
Yes, you heard right. Cornelius shares his world champion boxing experiences on his blog…FOR FREE! The blog posts are top-notch, and his videos are packed full of boxing wisdom. If you’re not familiar with the site, a good place to start is the Learn Boxing Online section.
Fight Yourself Fit is Cornelius’s skills development fitness course that will get you fighting fit in just 60 days. Once educated on proper boxing technique, the high-intensity drills will have you shredding fat and replacing it with lean muscle.
The core of the course is the eight HIIT heavy bag workouts – 4 x speed and power and 4 x technique – but there are also additional videos for skills learning and a tough-as-nails 12 round challenge (completed on day 60 of the course). The workouts are 30 minutes long and should be done five times a week for maximum benefit.
In total, you’ll receive five hours of boxing training with a former world champion along with an ebook to guide you through the workouts. At $117, it is a little pricier than other courses available, however, there is also a lite version at a more affordable $77.
Equipment – Setting Up Your Home Boxing Gym
If you want to learn boxing at home, then you’re going to need a home gym.
But don’t worry; your gym doesn’t need to be huge, fancy, or expensive. There’s no need to go overboard. There are only a few essential items that can be picked up at garage sales or auction sites (Ebay) if you’re on a budget.
As the majority of your training will be centred on the heavy bag, kit yourself out with a good pair of bag or all-purpose gloves. This is the only item you have to buy new and where it makes sense to splash out a little to get the best pair for your needs.
Choose modern bag gloves (more padding) over traditional bag gloves, as you’ll want as much hand and wrist protection as possible until you’re used to the impact from punching. Make sure to wrap your hands for extra support.
Besides your gloves and hand wraps, the only other things you’ll need are a skipping rope, heavy bag, timer, and enough clear space to move around.
The most important piece of gym equipment, not surprisingly, is your heavy bag. It doesn’t matter if you use a free-standing or hanging bag, as long as it can hold up to powerful punches.
If you’ve got a buddy to train with, you’ll also want to invest in a set of good-quality focus mitts.
For strength conditioning, free weights, kettlebells, or even TRX tucked away in a corner of your gym are all great options. A stationary bicycle or treadmill would also be nice to have for warm-ups or cardio workouts. However, none of this equipment is fundamental to your boxing training and it’s your choice if you wish to inject variety into your workouts.
As narcissistic as this may sound, you should have a mirror in your gym. Watching yourself shadow box is a great way to keep your technique on point. Without a trainer overseeing your movements, you’ll need to watch and self-correct your technique.
Your gym can be indoor or outdoor, but if it’s outdoor, make sure there’s shelter protecting your equipment from wet weather conditions. You don’t want to go through all the effort of setting up a home boxing gym to then have all your equipment saturated and left to rust.
The floor of your gym isn’t too important, but given the choice, I like training on a soft surface. You can easily convert a concrete floor into a comfortable training surface with interlocking one-inch foam mats.
What to Concentrate On
Now you’ve got your home gym set-up, it’s time to actually start learning how to box.
Boxing is a skill – a collection of skills in fact, and just like any other skill, it can be learned by anyone willing to put in the time. The problem is, with so much to learn, where do you start?
If you’ve bought any of the before mentioned resources you’ll have a clear roadmap for your training.
If not, I advise your home boxing training begins with the following three critical skills. If you can perform these skills as well as any other boxer, you can consider your homeschooling a success.
Your stance is fundamental to you becoming a good boxer. Your stance will determine everything from the speed of your attacks and defence, to how much bang your punches have.
Make sure that a solid and proper stance is tightly ingrained into your muscle memory. As soon as you pull guard, it should feel natural and you should be relaxed in your stance.
Your stance should be your starting point before attacking or defending, and what you automatically revert back to after each action.
As regimental and restrictive as it may feel, stick to a classic boxing stance. Have your hands up high, chin tucked, elbows in, lead foot pointing to the target, the other angled at 45 degrees, and your knees slightly bent.
Unconventional, or Mayweather-style stances, are a no-go for the home schooled pugilist. You want to stick to the basics, and do the basics well, without adding anything fancy that has the potential to set your learning back.
2. Straight Punches
Straight punches can win a fight in the ring, or out on the street. If you only ever learned the jab and cross, but were able to throw them with accuracy, speed, and power, you would be well-equipped for any trouble that was to cross your path.
Becoming proficient at straight punches may mean you throw nothing but the jab and cross for multiple training sessions until you have it nailed.
Learn how to throw a solid jab first – it’s your best weapon. This simple punch is highly effective, fast, and can be used for both attack and defence. Make sure it has both speed and accuracy but don’t worry too much about the strength of your jab - the power punch is the work of the cross.
Your cross is your knockout punch – it has to have devastating power. However, don’t sacrifice speed and efficiency by winding up to put power into the cross. You still want to make sure you can pop it off quickly or you’ll stand no chance of landing it.
The strength of the punch is determined by technique more than anything else. Concentrate on proper form, shoulder and hip rotation, and putting your weight behind the punch.
You also want to make sure your straight punches travel directly to their target. Too often, beginners make the mistake of extending their elbow out to the side when throwing straight punches. “Chicken winging” not only makes your punches slower and inefficient, but also gives your opponent warning of an inbound punch way before it arrives.
In addition to being able to throw a strong jab and cross individually, you’ll also want to master the following straight punch combos:
Double jab, cross
Triple jab, cross
Jab, cross, jab
Jab, cross, jab, cross
You’ll notice that all of these combinations lead with the jab. That’s because the jab hand is closest to your target making it the quickest and the most likely punch to connect. Use it to set up punches with greater power in a combination.
3. Blocking and Dodging
I purposely didn’t tile this section ‘Defense’, as I want you to drill down on and master only the block and dodge before working on anything else.
These two defensive techniques are our natural reactions, whereas the slip, roll, and counter are learned behaviours. For example, when an object is fast approaching our eyes, we blink (block) to stop it entering the eye. Or consider when we flinch (dodge) when we anticipate getting hit.
Evading or shielding ourselves from an impact is a natural response, so it makes sense to work on and improve natural forms of defence first. If you perfect these two skills, you’ll be able to defend yourself against any attack.
So that’s it for what to practice in the beginning. Nothing fancy, but all very practical.
If you have a proper boxing stance, tight guard, can throw a solid jab and cross, and you can block and move out of the way of attacks, you’ll be able to fight better than the majority of people and you will have a solid foundation to build upon.
Beginner Boxing Routine
To help you get started, here’s an easy boxing routine that you can follow. It will take around 30 minutes to complete. I recommend sticking to it five days a week if you want to see the most improvement.
Full Body Stretch
Stretch out all the muscles in your body from your neck to your toes.
Skipping or jogging on the spot.
Preferably in front of a mirror and working on the three focus areas highlighted above. After you’ve got the basics nailed, slowly drip feed in hooks, uppercuts, rolls, feints, etc into your routine.
5 x 2 min rounds with one minute rest between rounds. Once you’ve mastered correct technique, go hard, and give your cardiovascular system a good blow out.
Cool Down / Stretching
Take a couple of minutes to stretch and reflect on your workout (what was good? What do you need to improve? What should you learn next?).
There are no rules that state you must join a gym to learn boxing.
It’s certainly possible to learn boxing at home, and it’s made all the more easier with all the resources and training mediums available.
Training at home is the perfect solution for those that lead busy lives. It offers convenience and eliminates many of the roadblocks that get in the way of training. However, it still requires dedication and persistence, and just like anything else, it will take time to become good.
Nevertheless, if you keep learning and developing by engaging in daily practice and devouring anything boxing related that comes your way, it won’t be long until you’re a proficient, self-taught fighter.