Best Cardio For Boxing – 8 Brilliant Exercises

We all know that cardiovascular endurance is integral in boxing. Professional boxers are typically sanctioned to fight 12 rounds at 3 minutes each, producing a grand total of 36 minutes of combat. To those who haven’t trained in boxing, this may seem relatively easy. It’s definitely nothing in comparison to a marathon. At least when looking at the duration.

However, I’d argue that boxers have a different and in my opinion, better type of endurance than long-distance sprinters. Even people who are fit and in shape are often stunned by how draining fighting is. It is like no other exercise. This is why you should use to best and most effective exercises if you take boxing seriously. Below we’ve compiled a list of some of the best exercises for improving cardiovascular endurance in boxing.

Why Boxing Cardio Is Different

It might not make sense at first glance but even someone who is incredibly fit and generally speaking has good endurance, will more than likely be diminished after a couple of rounds of intense sparring. Sprinters, marathon runners, cyclists, footballers, you name it. Other athletes who have very good cardio in their own respect, will often find that their endurance doesn’t translate very well to boxing.

This is down to a number of reasons. Primary of which is fear and adrenaline. People are naturally afraid of fighting. This causes them to fatigue very quickly. As they breathe irregularly and lose composure. Taking punches will also drain you, particularly body shots.

Another reason why boxing cardio is so different is that the work rate is usually sporadic and irregular. See, with exercises like running and cycling, the work rate is usually quite linear. In boxing, however, you never know when you’ll have to use your energy so the rate is constantly changing which is very draining.

Why Sparring Is Best For Increasing Fight Endurance

Sparring is by far the absolute best way to increase your fight cardio. Frankly, nothing else comes close. This is how fighters used to train in the past and they had endurance like no one today. This is because sparring is effectively a tuned-down version of fighting and therefore there is nothing else that will be as effective for increasing your fight endurance.

You can really check every box with sparring. Someone, you can choose to box carefully and learn how to manage your gas tank in an efficient manner. Other times you can let loose and really test the limits of your endurance with endless forward pressure and back-and-forth action. It will also help you gain composure which is integral when managing your gas tank. The point is, sparring regularly will get you in excellent fighting condition.

However, there are some downsides to sparring as well. First of all, it can cause concussions and you can get hurt if your partner isn’t careful. This can lead to your ability to withstand punches deteriorating over time. So while sparring is incredibly beneficial from a boxing perspective it can have bad effects on your health if you spar too hard and too often. A good way around this is to practice technical sparring which means you don’t put much power behind your punches.

Bagwork Is Excellent For Boxing Cardio

After sparring, I’d say bagwork is the second-best thing for improving your cardio in boxing. Not only does it allow you to practice your technique and fluidity but it also accustoms you to throwing punches in a repetitious fashion. There are two types of bagwork that I’d recommend for the specific goal of improving cardio.

Firstly, we have the heavy bag. The heavy bag is a very versatile piece of equipment but the best way to improve your cardio is by training in intervals. This means hitting the bag lightly for one minute and then practicing your power punching for a minute and so on. This is great as it often imitates the back-and-forth rhythm of a fight.

Secondly, you have the speed bag. This is primarily about rhythm and timing but it can get very tiring quickly. While it is a linear exercise, it sharpens your reflexes and will make you sweat heavily if you stay consistent.

Running With Sprint Intervals Imitates Fighting

Of course, any forming jogging will be good for improving cardio. However, this is a specific drill designed to emulate the nature of fighting. What you want to do is sprint in intervals between regular jogging. This means setting a comfortable pace for a few minutes and then sprinting for 30 seconds before returning to your comfortable pace.

By repeating this drill you condition yourself for the extra exertion required in boxing, even when your already working. This is great for increasing your heart rate and working on your explosive strength, along with your cardiovascular endurance. You can do this on the road but its better suited to a treadmill which will also be softer on your knees long-term.

Circuit Training & HIIT Is Ideal For Boxing Preparation

Circuits are excellent for burning calories and increasing endurance in general. They are often used by boxers in training camps to increase general fitness. These HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) workouts often bring you to failure in both cardio and muscles, leaving your body completely exhausted.

Below we’ve outlined a great HIIT circuit that incorporates a lot of boxing elements and will help improve your overall fitness:

Push-Ups50 Reps
Shadow Boxing2 Minutes
Sit-Ups30 Reps
Skipping2 Minutes
Burpees30 Reps

It may not look too bad on paper, but that is a solid HIIT boxing workout that requires no equipment. You can ramp up the reps and time as it starts to get easier or cycle through the workout.


Rowing is an excellent exercise for cardiovascular endurance in boxing because it engages so many muscles in both the upper and lower body. This means that it is a full-body workout. Boxing, similarly, also engages every part of your body. Rowing is tough, gritty work. It requires you to work immensely hard and therefore will help improve your work rate and output when it comes to boxing.


While many fighters choose roadwork as their primary endurance exercise, swimming has definitely gained popularity over the years, and for good reason. Firstly, like rowing, it activates the whole body which makes it very well suited to boxing. It also improves fluidity and many boxers even like to train underwater. On top of this, swimming can also be used for recovery as it doesn’t put pressure on joints like some other exercises will.

Exercise Bike

The exercise bike is another substitute for running. Like swimming and rowing, it is less hard on your joints. However, the real benefit of the exercise bike is the development of the legs and core. Both of which are important in boxing. Having strong legs is important as your legs are what generate power when punching. Having a strong core will allow you to transfer this power efficiently through your

Vertical Climbing Machine

The climbing machine is extremely difficult. This machine is more about intensity rather than duration. This machine also engages all of your body and almost emulates the fundamental movement of punching. This will help improve your boxing cardio, particularly in hard sparring where you have to exert yourself for prolonged periods of time.

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