So, you’ve gained some interest in boxing, and you want to start training. But, for whatever reason, you don’t want to go to a gym just yet. It’s perfectly normal. Whether you feel you’re not athletic enough, or the thought of going to a gym is intimidating, we have all considered training at home when first getting started. There are many opinions, factors, and pros and cons related to this topic, so in this article, I’m going to break down whether or not it is possible to learn boxing on your own.
Yes, it is very possible to learn the basics of boxing on your own. There are countless boxing videos online that you can use to start learning. However, you will always learn much quicker by joining a gym, and having an expert boxing trainer correcting your mistakes and giving you advice will help your progress immensely.
Facing Your Fears
Look, I understand. I have been there too, every person who ever considered training in any martial art has considered it. “I’ll just train on my own for a while, and I’ll go to a gym when I’m ready”. There is nothing wrong with training on your own as you begin gaining interest in boxing.
However, know that you could be limiting yourself by not going into a gym as soon as you decide that you want to train. The first thing you should do when you think, “maybe I should train myself” is this: ask yourself why. What is the real reason that you don’t want to go to a gym yet? You’ll find that the most likely reason is irrational fear.
A good trainer will encourage and help beginners in their progress, and won’t force them to spar or fight.
It is completely normal to feel anxious, nervous, and even scared before joining a boxing gym. But you should also understand that not joining a gym is cheating yourself out of progress in boxing.
Also, gyms that spar hard aren’t even that common anymore. Beginners will usually be welcomed and never forced to spar or fight with experienced fighters.
If you’re worried about safety when joining a gym as a beginner, check out a post I made on a similar topic which also applies to boxing, called: Is learning Muay Thai dangerous? Spoiler: It’s not dangerous at all! The post will explain how to find a good gym, how to stay safe, how to know when you’re ready to spar, and how to avoid injuries.
Training by yourself through online trainers will never be comparable to an in-person demonstration of techniques. Not only that, but building a relationship with your trainer is very beneficial to your progress. A good trainer will correct the things you do wrong, and encourage you in the things you do right, aside from motivating you.
Professional boxer Manny Pacquiao training with renowned trainer, Freddie Roach.
I’d recommend making the jump, and trying some gyms out. Many gyms have first week free trials, and this is a great way to find a gym that is not only comfortable, but also conducive to learning and progress.
Despite everything I’ve said up to this point, there are some benefits to training yourself. Of course, the most obvious one is to calm the nervousness about joining a gym without knowing anything, which is understandably intimidating.
A lot of the fear associated with joining a combat gym for the first time is looking out of place, or having really bad form. If you train correctly, training at home will help you understand the basic movements involved in boxing, which will make you look a lot better when it comes to your form and perceived skill level.
The two things that should be worked when you train on your own are fitness and skill. Your fitness level will gradually increase as you begin exercising consistently, and should be less of a worry than skill. Skill should be the main focus, as good fitness can be achieved while learning boxing drills.
Learning to throw basic punches with good form (such as in the image) can help you accelerate your learning once you do join a gym.
Skills in boxing, such as knowing different combinations and proper form, will help you to fit in very quickly at your boxing gym. If you train yourself correctly, you will be able to land shots as the trainer/partner calls them out. Your shots will be tighter and quicker, when compared to a true beginner.
How You Should Train
While it is true that people who are new will look out of place due to their form, it should still not be a concern before joining a boxing gym. However, if you want to work on your form and fitness, here is what you should do, and how it will help.
Jumping rope is an essential part of any boxing workout. I can almost guarantee that whatever gym you join, jumping rope will be involved. This is an exercise where your coordination (or lack thereof), will show.
Therefore, if your fear is based on looking uncoordinated, then start jumping rope. I’d recommend any type of unweighted speed rope if you’re a beginner.
However, if you are also looking to improve overall fitness, I’d recommend the Crossrope (link to Amazon) which features an interchangeable rope system, allowing you to gradually increase rope weight. The set linked comes with a 4 oz. rope, the standard weight for beginners. It also comes with the slightly heavier, 8 oz. rope, which is a good way to track progress and get stronger.
Use any online boxing timer, and set it 3 rounds of 3 minutes each. This is the typical round time for most boxing competitions, and will also likely be the round length in your gym.
As a beginner, you probably won’t be able to complete a round without stopping, and that’s fine! This is normal. When I first started boxing, one of my goals was to jump rope for just 3 minutes without tripping!
Professional boxer Floyd Mayweather, skipping rope. Notice how close to the ground he stays in between skips.
A speed rope will help you get your timing and rhythm while also strengthening your calves, muscles that are used extensively in boxing.
Although jumping rope is a generally a leg centered exercise, it engages many of the muscles of your body. If your goal is to lose weight before joining a gym, a jump rope will be one of the most helpful tools you can use.
Drilling techniques by shadowboxing is an excellent way to get the muscle memory needed to create basic combinations. It will also help you get conditioned if you use it with a timer.
To learn the techniques effectively, I would recommend dedicating some time to learning one specific technique. For example, I would take a couple of days to focus on only your jab. Watch every video you can find on perfecting, executing, and moving with the jab.
Then, after you have practiced using your jab, study the cross, and focus on only your cross. After a few days with each technique, including stance, movement, jab, cross, hook, uppercut, and bobbing and weaving, you can start to combine them into combinations during shadowboxing.
I would also recommend doing this in a mirror or recording yourself while training. This way, you can compare your technique to the trainers or fighters you see online, and see what the differences are.
A screenshot of a Muay Thai workout video I used when I first started training. It is 48 minutes long, and will help you understand basic movements and techniques.
Running is one of the best exercises for boxing conditioning. It is the staple exercise for many professional boxers during preparation for their fights. Running will give you the stamina that you need to last more rounds in the gym, as well as the mental focus to push yourself in any endurance related activity.
Running should be your go-to exercise whenever you are unsure what you should work on for the day, aside from skipping rope. Conditioning is a major part of boxing, and running is by far the best method of achieving it.
…you should join a gym. There are countless benefits to joining a boxing gym that you will miss out on if you train alone! For one, you will be interacting with other people while practicing a hobby you will come to love.
This interaction builds camaraderie between gym-goers, and this is something that can motivate you, especially if those gym-goers can give you some pointers to help your skills.
Also, there are detriments to training by yourself. It is very easy to build bad habits, especially when you don’t have an expert watching nearby. The longer you go without joining a gym, the harder it will be to revert these bad habits.
The goal of training yourself is to become as coordinated and mobile as the average person as soon as you can, so that you can make the most out of your time while at a boxing gym.
If you absolutely feel that you MUST train yourself before joining a gym, I would recommend limiting this time as much as possible. I would train on my own for at most one month. This is enough time to learn basic techniques and gain a fairly average level of fitness, while still short enough to have a malleable and growing fighting style. Train hard, and when you find a gym that interests you, take the plunge! Thanks for reading.