This article originally appeared on DailyBurn.com.
It’s time to give your cardio routine a kick in the you-know-what. Just like other cardio workouts, kickboxing offers all the benefits of a high-intensity routine, including better coordination, mobility and strength. You’ll not only knock your muscles into high gear, but you’ll squash the stress of the day.
Anja Garcia, one of the lead instructors for Daily Burn’s new Undefeated kickboxing program (available now), guarantees this is one workout you can’t fake. “The choreography combinations force you to stay connected throughout the entire workout. And let’s be honest, punching and kicking helps get out any aggression, fear or sadness.”
Although these kickboxing moves will knock out major calories, they don’t skimp on strength either. “The punching and kicking helps to strengthen everything from your shoulders and back to your abs and legs,” Garcia says. “As with all your punches, it isn’t just about the upper body. So much of the punch also comes from your legs. You are working your abs and lower body, too.”
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5 Kickboxing Moves to Squash Calories and Build Strength
Before you jump in the ring, take a few minutes to review proper boxer’s stance. “Your foot positioning is super important as the power of the punch actually originates from the glutes,” Garcia explains. The traditional boxer’s stance is with your left foot forward, feet shoulder-distance apart. “Your feet should be in a staggered fighting stance with your back foot slightly out to the side so that you’re able to use your hips through the punch,” Garcia says. Next, bring your fists up to your cheekbones and keep your elbows in by your sides — also known as guard position. Your fists should be close enough to your cheekbones that your thumbs can touch them.
Guess what? You’re ready to rumble. For the kickboxing workout below, perform eight reps of each exercise and repeat for as many rounds as possible in 30 minutes.
1. Jab, Cross, Hook, Uppercut
Throughout the Undefeated program, you’ll do different variations of this classic combo. But to help you maintain form, here are a few pro pointers: “In the jab, the punch comes straight out from the shoulder. Imagine the point of contact being someone’s nose,” Garcia says. For the cross, utilize power from your back hip to strengthen your punch, and for the hook, keep your arm at 90 degrees, Garcia adds.
How to: Get into guard position (a). Jab: Extend your left fist straight with your thumb pointed toward the floor. Pop it back to guard position (b). Cross: Turn your right foot inward and bring your right hip and shoulder forward. Keep your elbow in as you punch your right fist straight out with your thumb pointed to the floor. Pop it back up to guard position (c). Hook: Lift your left heel off the ground to shift your weight to your right side. Bring your left elbow up to shoulder height, forming a 90-degree angle, with your thumb facing up. Pop it back up to guard position (d). Uppercut: Turn your right hip and shoulder forward. Punch upward with your thumb facing you. Pop it back up to guard position (e). This is one rep.
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2. Sweep, Squat, Kick
The sweep squat is a new take on the basic squat, engaging other muscles in your glutes and quads. But adding the kick also fires up your hamstrings, Garcia says. “The great bonus in this move is that the sweep down engages the core a bit more.”
How to: Get into guard position, feet shoulder-distance apart (a). Sit into a deep squat, while keeping your hands by your cheekbones (b). As you come up to stand from the squat, sweep your arms laterally to your left side and kick your right leg straight out (c). Repeat on the left side (d). This is one rep.
3. Jab, Cross, Slip
This move is all about good offense and defense. Here, Garcia says to step into the punch and then defensively slip back and duck away from someone else’s potential punch.
How to: Get into guard position. Stand with your feet shoulder-distance apart facing forward (a). Extend your left fist straight out with your thumb pointed toward the floor. Pop your fist back into guard position (b). Bring your right hip and shoulder forward to punch your right fist straight out with your thumb pointing the floor. Pop it back up to guard position (c). Keeping your hands in guard position, sit into a squat and duck your head, slipping it to your right side (d). Repeat on the left side. This is one rep.
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4. Front Kick, Back Kick
Control is everything during this combo of kicks that also demands flexibility and mobility in your hips and hamstrings. Garcia recommends starting your kicks low at knee height before gradually going up to hip or chest height.
How to: Stand in guard position with your hands by your cheekbones and your feet in a staggered fighting stance (a). Kick your right leg forward, and then your left leg back, while maintaining upper body form (b). This is one rep.
Uppercuts are deceptively lower body moves. The real power behind them comes from your shoulders, back and legs, too. “Firing up these big burners helps increase your metabolism and makes kickboxing a total-body workout,” Garcia says.
How to: Stand with your feet shoulder-distance apart (a). Pivot your right hip and shoulder forward (b). Keeping your elbows in, punch upward with your fists. Be sure your thumbs face you (c). Right then left is one rep.