An Exercise Knockout

By Kimberly Dawn Neumann

September 29, 2005

Do you usually have to be dragged kicking and screaming to the gym? Before you throw in the exercise towel completely, why not capitalize on your natural tendencies and try a kickboxing workout instead?

"Freestyle kickboxing will tone your body from head to toe," says Anna Luzzi, a certified instructor and 2nd Degree Black Belt who teaches kickboxing at the Mohegan Sun Casino and Resort in Connecticut. "You can literally kick and punch your way to a new level of aerobic fitness while increasing your agility and energy levels."

Another plus, freestyle kickboxing is an entirely portable workout. "Because you use your own bodyweight as resistance, once you learn the basics, all you need is some high-energy music and a little room to move, and you can be on your way to burning [up to] 500 to 900 calories an hour," says Luzzi.

With Luzzi's help, we've compiled six basic kickboxing moves to get you started. Once you've mastered the correct form for each punch or kick, try stringing them together in sequence for a fat-blasting TKO.

The Rules
No matter what the move, this is where good form starts!

Body is in neutral position, abdominals contracted, back straight.

Hands are always "on guard" in a defense position, which means chin level, fists facing each other (as if forming a hexagon with knuckles and wrists); elbows close to body, arms in front of shoulders.

Stay light, weight centered forward on balls of feet, almost as if skipping rope (unless planting a foot firmly to throw a kick). This allows for quick, easy weight transitions in all directions.

Breathing is vital! Try counting with each punch or to the beat of the music. It will force you to inhale and exhale more air.

Kick only to current level of flexibility. Kicks should start low until form is perfected, but eventually they'll get higher and higher.

Remember "95% extension, 100% power." Don't ever fully "lock out" elbows or knees when throwing a move.

The Moves
1. Front Jab – Stand with feet hip distance apart, body facing front, hands "on guard" (chin level, fists facing each other), shoulders relaxed and down, elbows close to body. Keeping wrist straight punch right fist forward, directly in front of right shoulder, as if trying to hit a target with the flat part of first two knuckles. Recoil, bringing fist back to starting position. Repeat with left.

2. Cross Punch – Assume same starting stance as in the Front Jab. Keeping wrist straight, throw punch with right fist across the centerline of the body, hand ending in front of left shoulder. Torso twists into the move, right heel lifts, right hip and shoulder rotate slightly forward, following the transit of the punch. There should be no twist in the knees. Recoil, bringing fist back to starting position. Repeat with left.

3. Upper Cut Punch – Assume same starting stance as in the Front Jab, except fists face in towards body instead of palms facing each other. Circling from right shoulder, bring fist out, around and up in a clockwise motion close to body. Stop short just under chin (if there were a target, punch would come up and under object, connecting with first two knuckles). Repeat with left arm.

4. Front Snap Kick – Stand with feet hip distance apart, abs tight, back erect, hands "on guard" for stability and balance, though they won't be used during the kick. Bring knee up to hip height (called the "chamber" part of the move) and aim at imaginary target in front of body. Thrusting hips slightly forward, extend lower leg and "snap" flexed foot forward as if contacting target with the instep of foot. Keep kick low (about 45-degrees). Return to "chamber" bent- knee position. Lower foot to floor. Repeat with other leg.

5. Side Kick – Start in same position as Front Snap Kick, but as right knee is brought up to "chamber" position, pivot on ball of left foot, such that heel of left foot points towards an imaginary target to right side of body, Slightly bend left leg, weight on supporting foot. Using momentum from the turning motion, extend right leg side, pretending to strike target with heel of right foot (heel should be slightly higher than toes which point towards floor). Keep kick low. Return to "chamber" knee bent position and lower to floor. Repeat left. Note: Torso should naturally tilt slightly away from kicking leg during move.

6. Back Thrust Kick – Start in same position as Front Snap Kick. Bring knee up to "chamber" position front, foot flexed. Kick back with heel of lifted foot, as if striking something behind body with heel. Keep kick low (never higher than waist). Lower foot to floor. Repeat with other leg.

The Combinations
Try stringing these moves together in sequence to the beat of the music to get started. Then make up some combinations of your own!

Front Jab two times with right arm, one Front Jab left, Cross Punch right. Then start left.

Side Kick with right leg, Front Jab right. Cross Punch left. Then start kick left.

Front Snap Kick right foot, immediately followed by a Back Thrust Kick with left foot. Repeat series four times. Then start left.

Throw four Upper Cut Punches (alternating right, left, right, left), then do a Side Kick with left foot. Reverse starting punches with left arm.

Website Designed by Mark Ledbetter © 2013