Does shadow boxing burn belly fat? Nutritionist tries boxing

does shadow boxing burn belly fat

Are you looking for a fun way to vary your cardio routine?

Are you tired of linear, monotonous, boring exercise machines at the gym?

Let me introduce you to shadow boxing.

What is shadow boxing?

Does shadow boxing burn belly fat? 

How does shadow boxing burn belly fat?

So many questions, so little time.

Does shadow boxing burn belly fat?

Before we get to how, let’s answer, “Does shadow boxing burn belly fat?”

The short and simple answer is, yes. 

I can compare shadow boxing to jogging when it comes to burning calories.

You could probably burn more when you are angry.

Somehow, anger makes a person exert effort and punch a little harder.

Now that we established shadow boxing can burn belly fat, let’s get into the how and what.

What is shadow boxing?

girl punching man


gerund or present participle: shadow-boxing

  1. spar with an imaginary opponent as a form of training.
  2. “train for agility with fast shadow-boxing”
  • make a show of tackling a problem or opponent while avoiding any direct engagement.
    • “a fortnight of political shadow-boxing”

[source: Shadowboxing]

Shadow boxing is used by beginner boxers to professionals to practice their moves. It’s mainly for warm-ups, but it’s been used by some trainers for cardio purposes.

How does shadow boxing burn belly fat?

Shadow boxing burns belly fat by punching the air or an imaginary opponent, one would think. But boxing is not all about punching.

You also need to practice defense, footwork, head movements and positioning. 

You will burn fat if you are just punching an imaginary opponent for 30 minutes. However, you will lose more calories when you are incorporating head movements, body weave, and footwork. When you do, your shirt will be soaking wet after 30 minutes, guaranteed.

Why does shadow boxing burn belly fat?

When you are exerting energy, you are burning fat, not just belly fat.

You see, you can’t target fat. If your trainer told you that you could spot target fat, run away!

There is no easy way to get that perfect body. It always comes down to hard work, dedication, and mindset.

The easiest way, involving minimal effort to lose your belly fat and keep your butt or boob size is through liposuction. 

I advise against it because it is expensive and very invasive. Easy, yes, but the cost out of your pocket or health could be dire.

How to train like a boxer and lose weight

boxer throwing a punch

Training like a boxer involves minimal equipment and knowing the fundamentals.

Since we are only covering shadow boxing, let’s skip the equipment because you don’t need any.

You do need to learn the fundamentals of boxing, not just punching. 

When you learn the basics of boxing, you will exert more energy into your shadow boxing.

The following are the basics of punching. We will not go in-depth here because I’m not exactly a professional. But I will tell you proper forms, so you are maximizing fat loss with your shadow boxing.


“No one gets knocked out with an arm punch.”

An arm punch is using your arms only.

To put some heat in your punches, you have to pivot and put your body into the punch.

Let’s try a jab.

Jab is used to judge your opponent’s distance, set up your right, or for defense.

To throw a proper jab when engaging an opponent, you have to step in. 

The only time you don’t step in is when you are being backed up.

When you are going backward, throwing a jab may cause your opponent to have doubts, second guess, or back up. 

Let’s try a straight.

When it comes to street fights, people usually throw a hook. However, a quick straight will get to your opponent first before a hook.

To throw a proper straight punch, your torso, your shoulders, and legs have to work together.

If you are orthodox (right-handed), when you throw a punch, pivot your right foot like you are squishing a bug. Sequentially turning your torso and at the end of the punch, your shoulders should be hitting your chin. Make sure your right-hand goes straight back like a piston. That is how you throw a straight.

Upper-cut that belly

When you throw an uppercut, bend at the knee, using your legs, and foot to drive your fist under your opponent’s chin. 

At the snap or the end of the punch, your palm should be facing your face.

The uppercut is excellent to use at close range.

Hook the fat

Hooks are devastating punches similar to upper-cuts. To throw a crushing hook, you should pivot your foot and turn your body with the punch. 

Some people wind-up by throwing a wild loop with their hooks. But I prefer to keep my hooks tight so that it can get to my opponent’s face faster. 

That is pretty much the basics of punching in boxing. You don’t need to know much more than that to burn belly fat with shadow boxing.


boxer's footwork

Footwork is crucial to succeeding in boxing. Don’t dismiss footwork because you don’t need to win title fights.

Footwork can dramatically increase the calories you lose when shadow boxing.

Punching alone will get your heart rate up, but when you combine this with footwork, you will also be working your quads, hamstrings, and calves.

Start by going into your stance. There are 2 stances in boxing, orthodox and southpaw. An orthodox will have their left foot, left hand forward and right foot back, right hand back while the southpaw stance is the opposite—right foot and hand forward, and left food and left hand back.

When you move forward and backward, both your feet should follow each other.

For example, if I move my lead foot forward, my back foot should follow suit. It’s the same as moving backward and sideward. You should never have your feet parallel to each other.

Balance is everything in boxing. Never cross your feet.

Your feet should always at the ready position to strike. To get good at footwork, you need to strengthen your calves to be explosive and support your weight. 

Improving footwork is the reason why boxers incorporate skipping ropes in their training.

These are all the basics that I picked up while training as a child. There is more advanced stuff which you can learn in boxing gyms and with a trainer. 

There are lots of resources on the internet to learn pretty much everything. But nothing beats the actual smell, the feel, the ambiance of a real boxing gym. You just get motivated to push harder.


boxer slipping punches

Doing slips can also add intensity to your workout. Slipping involves your legs, body, head, arms. Your whole body.

Slips are great to evade a punch and return it with your counter.

Start with an orthodox stance; if you are a lefty, then start with a southpaw stance.

Imagine a straight is coming at you, so you evade it with a left slip by moving your body with your head and pivoting your right foot to the right. 

Slipping to the right is the opposite. Move your body and head to the right with your left foot or lead foot pivoting to the left.

The backward slip is moving your whole body and head back.

How to shadow box

Now that you got a hold of some fundamentals of boxing, let’s shadow box.

Hold your hands close to your temples for protection. 

The 3 key areas you need to protect, so you don’t hit the floor unconscious are the following:

  1. The temple
  2. Back of your ear
  3. Your jaw

The following are moves you can do with your shadow boxing:

  1. Start with a jab, make sure you step in and pull it right back to your head so to block any imaginary counters that you may not be able to slip.
  2. Combine the jab with a cross (straight), then a left hook, and dip your head sideways to the left. Then either use a left hook or a right cross. That’s just one of the combos you can do offensively. 
  3. Practice footwork by moving forward, backward, side to side. 
  4. Practice your slips.
  5. Add some punches with your slips. Slip left and counter left hook or straight. Slip right and counter right cross.
  6. Now steal a punch. Throw a quick 1, 2, then using the balls of your feet, drive yourself backward to try and evade a counter. 
  7. Throw a sharp jab and jump back out.

I suggest practicing the basics on their own first then combine them in your shadow boxing routine.

That is how you shadow box, and it’s a whole-body workout. When shadow boxing, you are engaging your legs, arms, shoulders, abs, and chest. 

You won’t get it at first, but the more you practice, the better you get. But you have to start somewhere.

The video below will get you started with shadow boxing. Emulate, imitate, and evolve it to your routine.

Shadow boxing benefits

The benefits of shadow boxing are many. The following are just some of them:

  1. Heart health
  2. Weight loss
  3. Confidence boost
  4. Can be done in the bathroom (anywhere)
  5. Improve balance
  6. Easy on the joints

Heart health

Shadow boxing works out your heart like any other cardio. It’s a proven fact that cardio will improve your cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and can even reduce stroke.

Weight loss

Since you are burning fat and calories, you will lose weight. Shadow boxing will work your entire body to flush the fat away.

Confidence boost

Seriously, kicking your imaginary opponent can lead to an increase in confidence. Don’t believe me? Try it for a couple of weeks. Soon you’ll be walking like a stud and staring at bigger dudes than you. I don’t recommend staring at bigger dudes, by the way.

Can be done anywhere

You don’t need much space to shadow box. You just need enough, so you don’t end up punching a hole in the wall.

Improves balance

Practicing the footwork, slipping, and punching requires a great deal of balance. Without balance, you can’t throw a strong punch. You can get caught or fall on your butt.

Easy on the joints

Shadow boxing is friendlier on the joints compared to running or jogging. Boxing forces you to use the balls of your feet when moving, defending, and attacking. Forefoot running has been proven to reduce the amount of runner related injuries.

[source: Why forefoot striking in minimal shoes might positively change the course of running injuries]

Does shadow boxing burn belly fat: the short version

Does shadow boxing burn belly fat? 

Well, yes. I consider shadow boxing as cardio. 

Like any other cardio, you will burn fat by exerting maximal effort.

To start shadow boxing, you need to learn the fundamentals to maximize fat burn.

You have to know how to punch using your entire body—proper footwork and defense.

There are also many benefits of shadow boxing, including:

  1. Heart health
  2. Weight loss
  3. Confidence boost
  4. Can be done in the bathroom (anywhere)
  5. Improve balance
  6. Easy on the joints

So, what are you waiting for? Get up, get out, and shadow box your belly fat away.

There are other exercises you can try to burn fat, click here to find 22 of them.