What Is The Point Of Shadow Boxing?

man shadow boxing

Have you ever seen a professional fighter training or warming up before their match, where they are pivoting around on a mat and throwing punches into thin air? Well, they are shadow boxing. Fighters do this as part of their routine warm up or work on their technique, it is also a form of exercise you can do at home as a workout. But is there really a point in shadow boxing?

As part of a training or exercise, shadow boxing is when a person throws punches at an imaginary opponent in front of them or while in front of a mirror. When shadow boxing the individual can get a build their skills as a fighter, as well as loosening up the body before a workout.

It is also often used by boxers as a warm-up method to loosen muscles and to work on their form and foot work.

When shadow boxing, you have the freedom to be creative without the pressures of hitting a real opponent or an inanimate object. It is during this time, where you can see how your technique is growing or finding areas of improvement.

2 women shadow boxing

How Do You Shadow Box

Shadowboxing starts either in front of a mirror or imagining an opponent in the open space in front of you. The process of this is creating the fight in your head, where you throw punches at the opponent, and move your head and body as if they are returning punches.

This would be the time to really focus on how your body moves and feels when doing so. Make adjustments if you’re not moving fast enough, or if the flow is a bit awkward.

From a training stand point, this is where you train your body to recognize what you want to do while boxing or whichever MMA discipline you chose.

The repetitive motion familiarizes your body with your movements making them gradually feel more natural and intentional. And to add more of a challenge you can use light weights to help build strength and endurance. You can read more about that in our article here.

Why Do You Shadow Box? What Are Some Benefits?

A main reason as to why a MMA fighter or boxer would want to shadow box is to work on their movement and form in combat sports.

Visualizing an opponent or using a mirror gives the fighter the opportunity to practice for a real life scenario and see how their body is adapting.

Also a great source of working on your foot and head movement, use of shadow boxing as a training technique helps you perfect your form and fix any problem areas. Warming up your body, loosening your joints and increasing your punch speed are other benefits as well.

Here are just a few things you would naturally be building when shadow boxing consistently.

  1. Foot Work – a main focus of shadow boxing is imagining the fight is actually happening. This gives your a form of practice to work on your foot movement without pressure from the actual thing.
  2. Head Movement – are you moving quick enough, low enough? sometimes what you’re actually doing and what your think you’re doing are two totally different movements, especially if you’re a beginner. Using a mirror and shadow boxing gives your the complete picture of what you would need to work on.
  3. Balance Improvement – get your body accustomed to your growing speed and moves. Working on the right time to pivot, how much weight to put on which foot and stepping from side to side, will help you to control how your body will move in the ring.
  4. Body Control – while shadow boxing, you get an opportunity to evaluate your movement and form. constant adjustment and correction will get your body to feel natural and concise when boxing.
woman shadow boxing

Shadow Boxing As An Exercise

You don’t have to be a boxer or a professional MMA fighter to reap the benefits of shadow boxing. Including a shadow box routine into your work out breaks out a sweat and gets your body moving, and you don’t have to leave your house.

Useful as a warm up or cool down exercise and coupled with the work out you plan to do, shadow boxing is a great complement and can help elevate your heart rate, tone muscles and give a bit of a cardio work out.

  1. Cardio – When shadow boxing you will never be in a stationary position. Your body will constantly be moving from your feet to head. An effective work out would be timing your routine as if it were a real boxing match, 3 minutes of boxing and 1 minute rest, do this for 30 minutes.
  2. Toning Muscles – when shadow boxing you’re using many muscles and areas of your body other then your arms. The twist motion of a punch, stability of your legs and controlling your power from your core are all effected. Adding ankle and wrist weight puts extra resistance.
  3. Building your Core – notice how many boxers and work out instructors say to keep your core tight? well there is no difference here, when in your boxers stance and throwing punches you also put a lot of focus and emphasis on your abdomen area, in return building those abs!
  4. Learn a skill – if you’re looking to keep your work out fun and not repetitive. Incorporating shadow boxing is not only good for fitness, but also gives you practice with self defence all while getting a full body work out.

There is tremendous up side when starting with shadow boxing. If you’re beginner and it seems a bit much. Remember to start slow, learn the movements, get comfortable in your routine. When doing this, you will train your self, and be able to move faster when the time comes.

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Does Shadow Boxing Help With Weight Loss?

Calories in and calories out is the main focus of proper weight loss. Shadowing boxing is another way you can burn calories through out your day.

A 140-lb. person burns approximately 382 calories per hour when boxing. 


Through what I have seen online is a general consensus that shadow boxing can burn up to 300-400 calories per hour. Its also a good alternative to going for a run, where you can just stay home and work out for 30 mins.

When incorporated with your work out routine and diet, shadow boxing will be helpful with your weight loss goals. Being a full body work out you can burn a few calories while doing this, it’s a great way to switch things up and prevent your work outs from becoming to predictable and boring, it also challenges your body in different ways.


Shadowing boxing is a form and expression not only for professionals. Many people at home can and do enjoy this training exercise. Whether you’re looking to be a boxer or just want to get the weight off. Shadow boxing would be a great step to reaching those goals.

There may be times where there may be not many options in getting a workout. Shadowboxing could surprise you in the amount of cardio and intensity it provides.

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