Photo courtesy of Shutterstock / Iaroslav Neliubov

Imagine moving like Mayweather, jabbing like Klitschko, even developing a terrifying Tyson-like scowl while at the same time getting ripped like Khan. Sorry, those first three won’t happen. However, it’s still possible to improve your fight game—even without the use of gloves, a heavy bag, or the risk of taking one to the chin—and burn enough fat to give yourself a world-championship physique.

Shadow boxing is a staple for fighters—it’s also a sneaky killer cardio workout. While burning upward of 400 calories per hour, shadow boxing also helps you develop foot speed, hand coordination, and technique. And best of all, it can be done anywhere, anytime for a quick and heart-pumping fight session.

“Shadow boxing is a great full-body workout with minimal impact,” boxing instructor Cole Williams says. “Every punch is like a pulley system, working your hips, core, and shoulders—just shredding your body.“

Of course, Williams, one of the coaches at L.A.’s newly launched BoxUnion studio would much prefer if you’d sign up for one of his signature high-impact, higher-energy boxing classes. But if SoCal isn’t your locale, there’s no reason why you can’t make the beach, your office, virtually anywhere your ring with Williams’ 30-minute, full-body shadow boxing workout.

For a half hour, you’ll be throwing hooks and jabs, running all-out quick sprints, even dropping for a few burpees, leaving your arms and legs trembling, lungs gasping, and heart rate elevated to full fat-burning mode.

“This workout can be done at home, in the backyard, park, gym, and hotel room,” Williams says. “The only thing you need is an open mind! No equipment necessary. Just have fun!”

Just make sure to hydrate, ‘cause you will sweat, Williams says. Pick a good playlist (Williams suggests G-Eazy’s “Good Life” as a good intro). Then get punchin’.

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Photo courtesy of Shutterstock / Dean Drobot



  • Jog (1 min.)
  • Pushups (30 sec.)
  • Jumping Jacks (1 min.) “This will help loosen up the arms come punching time,” Williams says.
  • Mountain Climbers (30 sec.)  
  • Walking Lunge (1 min.)  
  • Squat Jump (30 sec.) “Create a huge explosion, like you’re reaching for the stars,” Williams says.
  • Rest (30 sec.)
  • Repeat “This time harder,” Williams says.

THE FIGHT (Two-minute rounds of the following)

  • Shadow Boxing: Nonstop punching—jabs, crosses, lead hooks, rear hooks, upper cuts, as well as defense slips and rolls. “Stay light on your feet, with nonstop motion,” Williams says.
  • Run: Two minutes, hard, at 75-90% of  your max. “You should be breathing heavy; your opponent is right on your heels,” Williams says.
  • Shadow Boxing: This time, you’re doing four-punch combos, pivoting after each one, playing with speed, and focusing on your footwork. “This is the time to look all Rocky, showing off your best moves,” Williams says.
  • Rest: “Take a minute to reset,” Williams says. “Catch your breath and get focused as you go into Round 2. Make your punches cleaner and snap even faster than in Round 1. By the end of Round 2 you want to feel like you’ve just gone eight rounds with Tyson!”
  • Repeat: “With this sequence, try to go right into the next exercise,” Williams says. “[After shadow boxing], hit that run. If you need to, take 30 seconds and grab a sip of water. Then keep pushing!”

FINAL ROUND (Perform each exercise in 60-second intervals)

  • Broad Jump  
  • Burpee 
  • Alternating Lateral Lunge: Keep one leg straight as you lunge out to the side, knee, toe, and hip in line, chest up—and have a big smile.
  • Sprint Punches: Mix just jabs and crosses, Williams says. “Let ‘em rip. Speed is the name of the game.”  
  • Rest: (1 min.)
  • Repeat


  • Catch your breath and perform a light stretch. “Take a moment to appreciate your ability to move the way you just did,” Williams says.