The short answer is, “very”.
Kickboxing, with its high intensity, range of movements, and the ability to do it almost anywhere, is a fantastic activity for people looking to get toned and ready for beach season.
Part of the benefit of kickboxing is that almost every movement requires your body to move in unison and in a coordinated manner. A jab, hook, or uppercut works your arms, but it’ll also help to engage your legs, glutes, core, and shoulders. This is no less true (and probably even more true) for explosive kicks that need your lower body to maintain coordination with your upper body. A kickboxing workout is equivalent to a full-body workout, with all your muscle groups being engaged.
With kickboxing, not only are you moving your whole body, but you also have to move it in coordination. Putting all these pieces together, kickboxing is a fantastic way to elevate your heart rate and tone down body fat. You’ll burn calories, build muscle, and learn a martial art.
Kickboxing is a good type of cardio workout that keeps your heart elevated for an extended period of time, making it an aerobic cardio exercise.
Experts say that adults should be getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of intense aerobic exercise per week in order to lead a healthy lifestyle and maintain a good weight. You can see how including a few intense 45 to 60-minute sessions of kickboxing throughout the week will not only meet this goal, but also surpass it.
Kickboxing has been said to be able to burn up to 900 calories for every hour of an intense session. Keeping in mind that a pound of fat is about 3,500 calories, that’s a very solid chunk. Eat at a caloric deficit each week and you’ve got a recipe for a toned, beach-ready body. While 900 calories is the upper bound, you can expect a 125-pound person to burn 300 calories in a 30-minute session, or a 185-pound person to burn about 444 calories in the same session.
This activity also has the benefit of building muscle along with burning fat.
Gaining muscle mass is a great way to move forward with fat loss, even though the two aren’t often connected. Because muscle burns more calories throughout the day, the more muscle mass you have the more calories you’ll be burning—even at rest.
There’s no doubt about it that kickboxing is a juggernaut of an activity when it comes to burning fat quickly and efficiently.
Kickboxing’s benefits are numerous, and many of the individual benefits translate in some way, shape or form, into fat loss.
For example, because of its cardio-heavy nature, kickboxing is a fantastic way to boost your endurance levels. Part of this is learning the proper breathing technique in kickboxing, which can prevent you from getting winded sooner than you otherwise would. Furthermore, improved endurance will carry-over to other great weight loss activities, such as running or swimming.
While you might be tired right after an intense session, kickboxing over the long term will also help to boost your energy. By improving blood flow and oxygen circulation throughout your body, you can expect to have more energy after having consistently kickboxed for awhile. And what can more energy lead to? More calories burned.
While the weight loss is by itself a good reason to take up kickboxing, there are plenty of other things to keep you coming back for sessions.
For one, it’s a fantastic change of pace. It introduces your body to new ways of moving at a relatively high intensity, which is good for holistic development. It’s also easy to get into the rhythm of things in sessions, which works for motivation and giving it your all.
We already touched on the improved coordination benefits, but it warrants repeating. Kickboxing relies on a lot of hand-eye and foot-eye coordination, with your body always changing direction and movement patterns. This is both good for your coordination and your balance.
Tied into this are the posture benefits. Because your core will be getting a good workout along with the rest of your body, your posture will improve, helping with the stability of your trunk and overall postural stability during workouts.
Kickboxing can also be a great way to relieve stress. Throwing a bunch of punches at a punching bag or glove is fantastic for getting out both anger and stress, instead of keeping them bottled in. You’ll already get the stress relief that comes with physical activity, but studies have even shown that kickboxing can reduce feelings of anger, depression, and anxiety.
And all this punching and kicking is going to have its practical benefits as well. With a good kickboxing class or personal trainer, kickboxing is a fantastic way to learn some self-defense skills. While some of it might be basic movements, it’s definitely going to teach you more about fighting off an attacker than other cardiovascular workouts, such as swimming. This will not only get you toned and in shape, but you’ll also have some self-defence skills under your belt to use if circumstances call for them.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that there’s more likelihood for injuries to occur, at least when comparing to more traditional workouts.
Due to the movements and the intensity, this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. But it’s good to be aware because an injury is one of the worst things that can happen when you’re chasing a goal. It might leave you bedridden, and it’ll definitely demotivate you to keep going.
Another key aspect is that kickboxing—while great for weight loss—isn’t going to get you all the way to a flat stomach and a 6-pack. It’s important to work hard, and it’s a good idea to introduce other workouts (such as resistance training) into your routine to compound the benefits of kickboxing. However, when it comes to losing weight there are several other key pieces to incorporate.
Take this as your daily reminder to drink some water. But when you’re working up a sweat with an activity like kickboxing, it’s more important than ever to ensure that you’re hydrating yourself properly.
Drinking enough water helps to keep your joints lubricated, for one. This is of course important in an activity like kickboxing where injuries can happen if you’re not properly prepared. Staying hydrated can also help to regulate your body temperature, prevent infections, keep organs functioning up to snuff, and allow for the proper delivery of nutrients to your cells. Not to mention the improvements in your mood and sleep quality.
Staying hydrated also has important consequences for weight loss, since that’s what we’re really looking at here. Instead of indulging in some snacks when we’re feeling kind of hungry, it’s often a good idea to drink some water first. The issue might be that we’re thirsty instead of hungry, saving us some calories.
And obviously, it’s best to avoid drinks with a lot of sugar in them as well. It’s good to opt for a drink with plenty of electrolytes after a heavy kickboxing session, but the majority of our hydration should come from unsweetened sources—such as water. Not only will this help our overall health and body’s functioning, but it’ll also help our waistlines.
For men, experts recommend drinking 16 cups of water per day, while that number stands at 11 cups for the average woman. That’s quite a bit of water, but not all of it has to be plain water either. Nevertheless, it won’t just be water and kickboxing that gets you the toned body you’re looking for. A much bigger part of the picture is food.
If you’re putting in the work for kickboxing, there’s no doubt that you’re going to have to eat plenty in order to replenish your energy stores and keep your muscles healthy and developing. However, that’s not a reason to throw dietary restrictions out the window and eat whatever you feel like, either.
It’s often said that you can’t out-train a bad diet, and the same can be said for anything else. You can’t out-kickbox a bad diet—no matter how hard you go during sessions or how often you do the activity. This is why diet should be the most important focus of your weight loss journey, and it should also be appropriate and complement your kickboxing and other workout routines.
In the end, it all comes down to calories-in and calories-out. A pound of fat is about 3,500 calories, so if you want to get rid of the pounds you’re going to need to eat at a deficit of calories. Do this consistently enough, and the number on the scale will begin to fall.
However, it’s just as important to keep in mind that not all calories are built the same. One hundred calories of fructose corn syrup is going to do wildly different things to your body than 100 calories of leafy greens or nuts. For one, the former will not fill you up while 100 calories of vegetables can make a significant dent in your appetite.
And while calorie counting is a good way to get into the swing of things and learn the general idea of what foods are calorie-dense and what foods are calorie-light, it’s important to understand what you’re putting in your body and the effects it’ll have on you. When it comes to toning down and keeping those losses over the long-term, understanding and applying this knowledge is the most important piece of the puzzle.
So, saying that, let’s take a look at what you should be avoiding and what you should be eating.
Different diets will tell you about the different things you should be avoiding, but in general, it comes down to cutting back on sugars, starches, and refined carbohydrates.
Cutting back entirely on carbs is a legitimate strategy as well, known as the keto diet. Many people find success with it, and it’s worth checking out if you’re looking to replace the carbs with other foods. The way it works is that your body goes into ketosis, meaning that it begins to burn fat for energy rather than stored carbs. And what does burning fat lead to? A slimmer waistline, for one.
However, you don’t have to give up bread and pasta completely to reap some of the rewards of this dietary plan.
For example, eating more complex carbs such as whole grains and also maintaining a calorie deficit will help you benefit from the higher fiber content of complex carbs. This will lead you to digest them more slowly and keep you feeling full for longer. Some research has even suggested that lower-carb diets can curb your appetite as well.
So, avoid the:
And instead, try opting for the healthier, complex variety of carbs. These are high in fiber and will boost your metabolism as well.
However, eating healthy and slimming down goes much further than simply eating the right carbs—although that helps a lot.
The three macronutrients are proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Unless following a specific diet, each of your meals should contain each of these three, with complex carbs taking up the carb slot. Making vegetables a main part of your meal will also give you plenty of micronutrients in the form of vitamins and minerals to keep you working like a well-oiled machine. We’ve already looked at carbs above, so let’s take a closer look at the proteins and fats.
Eating enough protein is necessary when you’re trying to lose weight since you still want to preserve the muscle mass you’ve got. This is especially important if you’re doing something like kickboxing. Furthermore, since proteins tend to be filling, they’ll also help you better control your appetite.
Getting enough high-quality protein can reduce your cravings and reduce your desire to snack since it’ll make you feel fuller for longer. But how much is enough? For the average male, it’s in the range of 56 to 91 grams per day while for females it’s 46 to 75 grams. However, this largely depends on how active you are.
Sources of healthy protein include:
But while we made a note above to avoid the fattier red meats, fat is still a crucial aspect of your diet—yes, even when trying to lose weight.
Fat, to a large extent, has been largely vilified when it comes to losing weight, but it’s an absolutely essential part if you stick to healthy fats. These healthy fats can come from fish, olive oil, and avocados. The key here is to avoid saturated fats, such as those that come from butter, for example.
Other good sources of fats come from:
And obviously, you’ll want to round everything off with plenty of vegetables. They have the benefit of being filling since they’re not very calorie-dense, and they’re also filled with micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals. If you’re a volume eater, make sure to include some of these in your dietary plan:
A key part of losing weight is being consistent, and sometimes it’s very difficult to be consistent. Consistency is, after all, being on your game 100% of the time, right? Yes and no.
Keeping spirits high and motivation going, it’s important to include some relaxation and cheats into your plan. Putting these things into your routine (rather than them randomly happening) will give you control over everything and prevent you from going off the rails.
This can take the form of a cheat meal once a week, or even a cheat day. The important thing is to remember that a cheat day shouldn’t destroy your diet—it’s only meant as a treat, and it’s entirely possible to work mostly within the restrictions you’ve set while also enjoying yourself.
Maintaining your progress also comes down to regularly resting. Just as it’s important to relax your willpower every now and then, it’s maybe even more important to give your body a rest. More work, more kickboxing, and more sweat do entail more weight loss—to a point.
But with an activity like kickboxing that has the potential to injure you, it’s best to give your body the time it needs to recover. Treat your body right and it’ll pay you back in dividends when it comes to looking sexy.