Benefits Of Boxing With Dumbbells – Must Read Guide

Light Dumbbells For Boxing

Whether you have aspirations to jump in the ring or not, shadow boxing can provide a solid workout and is an excellent way to improve your fitness. For boxers, it is a perfect way to warm up, practice the techniques you have been learning, try out new techniques and visualise yourself in the ring against a real opponent.

For fitness enthusiasts, it is a great way to increase cardio, burn calories and tone the arms, while also learning important self-defence skills. Whatever your goal is, once you add some light dumbbells to the exercise it opens up a whole extra world of benefits.

One of the golden rules of shadow boxing with weights is that you should keep it  light and use a maximum weight of 3 pounds in each dumbbell. Anything heavier than this isn’t going to allow you to move with the same freedom you need to improve your punching endurance.


Increase punching power

If you want to punch harder, shadow boxing with dumbbells is a great way to achieve it. By holding dumbbells in your hands and throwing repeated shots, your body will get used to punching with the heavier weight and will become stronger to deal with the extra load.

When you release the dumbbells, the extra strength will have built up for when your hands are free of the additional weight.

It’s important to note, that shadow boxing with dumbbells won’t turn you from a soft puncher into Mike Tyson, but it will help you to potentialize your punching power, meaning, you can reach the maximum power in your strikes that your body is capable of.


Increase Punching Speed

Much in the same way that holding a heavier weight while you punch and then releasing it will help you to punch harder, it will also help you to punch faster following the same principal.

Your body gets used to to the heavier weight and it starts to punch faster with that weight. When you leave the weight go, your punches are faster than when you started out. Again it will not make you, Manny Pacquiao, if you were a slow puncher, but it will help you to potentialize your punching speed.

You might think that if using a 3 pound dumbbell will make you a bit faster and more powerful, then a 5 pound dumbbell will have an even greater effect. The problem with this is that using the higher weight will result in a breakdown of your technique and you won’t get the same results.


Builds Arm Endurance

Mayweather Shadow Boxing

Every newcomer to the sport of boxing will notice how quickly their arms get tired in the very first session. Increasing the amount of time you can keep throwing punches for is a worthy goal to aim at.

Even if you are a decent amateur or have your sights set on fighting or winning titles, increasing your arm endurance is something that should be at the top of your prioritise list.

Adding a weight while you punch makes your shoulders, lats and arms work that bit harder and if you keep going for 3 – 5, 3 minute rounds with dumbbells, it will allow you to increase your punching endurance. This will allow you to last longer throwing heavy shots, in training or in a fight.


Excellent Cardio

Shadow boxing is great cardio on its own or as part of a full boxing workout. When you add light dumbbells it makes the exercise more challenging and that allows you to increase your aerobic capacity even more.

If you add in exercises like jumping rope or hitting a heavy bag, shadow boxing with weights becomes a key component of a full boxing workout. Increasing your cardio is crucial for boxing or if you’re involved in any other sport, increasing cardio will still benefit you greatly. That’s why athletes from so many other sports love to train in boxing.


Builds Muscle

Muscle is built when we perform actions that require us to push our muscles to the limit. This results in small tears in the muscle before it repairs, but it comes back stronger and better able to cope with that challenge should it meet it again.

Shadow boxing with weights, won’t make you bulky but it will help you to add lean muscle and create an impressive physique.


Tones The Arms

Shadow Boxing With Weights For Fat Loss

Toning the arms can be just as important as increasing your muscle mass if you want to look good. What’s the point in having big arms if all the muscles are covered by fat. Shadow boxing with weights is literally one of the best ways to strip your arms and shoulders of all the fat and reveal bulging muscles that have been hiding underneath.

If you have holidays coming up and you want to get lean, shadow boxing with weights is a great way to do it. If toning your arms is one of your key goals, fast straight punches within a time limit of 1 to 3 minutes for a number of rounds, would be ideal.


Lose Weight

Shadow boxing is great cardio and can lead to good weight loss, when you include light weights in each hand, it forces your body to work harder and burn more calories. If you are consistent with your training and you keep your diet clean, this can lead to good weight loss over time.

The key to losing weight is to be in a caloric deficit. That means our body burns more calories than we consume. Shadow boxing burns calories and if you limit the amount of food you eat, especially carbs, which will turn into sugar and then fat the most quickly, you can achieve good and lasting weight loss through shadow boxing with weights.


Burns Fat

Shadow boxing with weights won’t just burn fat in the arms, if you turn your hips into the punches and include other boxing movements, like rolling under punches and squatting down to throw body shots, it will also help to burn fat in the legs and belly areas.

If you include shadow boxing with weights as part of a full boxing workout that you could even do in the comfort of your own home, you can achieve effective fat loss everywhere in your body.

A simple additional exercise you could add, would be 10 burpees at the end of each round or 30 mountain climbers.


Can Be Used As Part Of A Full Workout

As we’ve touched on already in this article, shadow boxing with weights can be a good workout on its own but it is even more effective as part of a full boxing workout.


Jumping rope

Warming up for shadow boxing with jump rope is a great way to get the heart rate up, the blood flowing and the muscles warm.

Jumping rope is really good for boxing as it develops the coordination between the hands and feet, builds arm endurance, tones the arms and burns calories.

Shadow boxing with weights as we’ve discussed, burns calories, eliminates fat, builds muscle, tones the arms and increases aerobic capacity.


Conditioning circuits

Conditioning circuits, where you work continuously for 3 minutes and perform exercises like push ups, sit ups, squats, lunges, mountain climbers and the plank are a great way to burn fat and increase fitness.


Full Workout Example


Jumping Rope – 3 – 3 Minute Rounds

Jumping Rope Female
Start off the workout with three, 3 minutes rounds of skipping. Include as much variation as you can, with at least 30 seconds of sprinting by raising your knees to your chest as fast as you can. At the end of round one, do 10 push-ups, round two, 10 squats, round three, 10 sit-ups.


5 Rounds Shadow Boxing – 3 Minutes Each

Start off each round of shadow boxing with your light dumbbells, practice trying the jab, the 1-2, the 1 – 2 hook, squat down and throw the jab to the body, throw the jab, lead hook combo, throw the left uppercut, right cross.

In the middle of the round, throw 10 uppercuts as fast as you can to really burn the biceps.

For the last minute of each round, drop the weights and just work with the weight of your hands to get the most out of your exercise, burn more calories and get that last cardio push.

Take one minute rest between each round and at the end of each round do 10 push-ups, 10 burpees, 10 mountain climbers or 10 sit-ups.


Heavy Bag

If you have a heavy bag available, do 5, 3-minute rounds on the heavy bag. Include 30 seconds in each round where you will either throw straight punches as quick as you can or else powerful hooks.

Between rounds, do the 10 push-ups, sit ups, burpees or mountain climbers.



boxing Circuit

If you don’t have a heavy bag available, move onto the circuit.

We will have 10 stations and work for 30 seconds each. When done, move as quick as you can onto the next station and we will do 5 rounds, with one minute break in between rounds.


Station 1 – Squats

Station 2 – Push Ups

Station 3 – Sit Ups

Station 4 – Lunges

Station 5 – Shoulder Press – With Dumbbells

Station 6 – Plank

Station 7 – Jumping Squats

Station 8 – Bicep Curls With Dumbells

Station 9 – Mountain Climbers

Station 10 – 20 Straight Punches – 20 Uppercuts



Frequently asked questions


Can I shadow boxing  using resistance bands?

Resistance bands are a great way to get the same benefits as you would with light dumbbells. The Bands made specifically for boxing will have two handles and the unit will wrap around you’re back to use as a base.

Different bands have different strengths so it’s perfect for choosing a suitable brand for your level or increasing resistance over time. It’s definitely something worth trying out to see which you like better or combine both.


How many calories does shadow boxing with weights burn

As with anything it depends on how much effort you put into it. Shadow boxing with weights for an hour can burn upwards of 600 calories and that could even be 1000 calories as part of a full boxing workout.


Dumbbell uppercuts benefits

The uppercuts will utilise the back and the bicep muscles more than the shoulders and triceps like straight punches.

Dumbbell punches with uppercuts will work to get those areas lean, ripped and muscular.


Shadow boxing with egg weights or weighted gloves

Egg weights fit perfectly inside your hands and provide a similar level of resistance to dumbbells so whatever you find feels better, then you should stick with that, or combine them both.

We also like the weighted gloves, they do much the same job as the dumbbells except it feels more natural. You could also just wear a pair of 16 oz or 20 oz boxing gloves during a regular workouts and it should have a good impact on your hand speed and power for when you are wearing lighter gloves.

That’s something I personally found beneficial and even a perceived advantage can be important for when you jump into the ring.


Shadow boxing with ankle weights

We like the idea of this, boxing is 50% footwork at 50% with the hands so it makes sense that if you can improve by adding weight to your hands then you can also improve by adding weight to your feet.

Just remember if you’re wearing ankle weights, to work on your footwork, moving in and out from the target and pivoting to create angles.

You could also do your entire workout with ankle weights to build up your calves, quads and glutes while adding power and speed.


What muscles does shadow boxing with dumbbells work

Boxing is a full body sport so it should work all of your body as you move around with your feet and throw punches with your hands.

Straight punches with the dumbbells will primarily work the front head of your shoulder, your triceps and your lats. The movement will start at your feet go through the hips, through the back and extend through the arms.

Uppercuts will primarily engag to biceps and the lats in your back. It’s a great way to add endurance, power and speed.


Floyd Mayweather shadow boxing with weights

Mayweather Weighted Shadow Boxing

Floyd Mayweather incorporates shadow boxing with weights as part of his rigorous workouts.

He will throw basic combos with very light dumbbells including jabs to the head and body, the lead left Hook, right crosses to the head and body, uppercuts and a few short combos.

Check out Floyd’s full training routine here:


Shadow boxing with weights adds resistance to an already effective form of exercise. This extra resistance helps to maximize our potential in power and speed, get’s us ripped, increases our aerobic endurance and adds a little muscle.

This is a very effective workout that should be incorporated by fitness enthusiasts and boxers for both amateurs and professionals for its many benefits.


Aidan Lehane has been involved in the fight game for well over 10 and has trained in some of the leading boxing gyms around the world including Sinbi Muay Thai and MTK Global Marbella. He wants to offer as much advice to beginners and pros as possible.

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