Hailed as the ultimate all-over body workout, plenty of us have considered pulling on a pair of gloves to give boxing a try.
But with beginners often sporting blister-covered knuckles and debilitating DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), it's important to get the basics right so you actually want to keep up the fight.
Luckily five-time Australian champion and Olympic contender Taylah Robertson, 21, has some ground rules for anyone thinking of stepping into the ring or class.
1. Wrap your wrists and knuckles
Wrist wraps are not just for professional boxers – Robertson insists anyone punching bags or pads use them to protect your hands from blisters and injury.
"Hand wraps cover your knuckles and are the biggest preventer for getting blisters," says Robertson, who is an ambassador for 12RND Fitness.
"They soften the blow and also protect your wrists [by] restricting the movement and keeping things stable."
There are plenty of wrapping techniques, but Robertson says she likes to wind her wrap around her wrist and palm, then weave it through each finger and around the knuckles before finishing at the wrist again.
"Once you start using them, you'll see how much more comfortable you're going to feel to hit hard on the bag or pads," she says.
"It feels more stable, safe and cushioned [compared to] not having a wrap on."
2. Find your perfect pair of gloves
For comfort and performance, Robertson recommends finding a pair of gloves that allow you to naturally form a compact fist with a closed thumb.
"Your hand should not be moving around too much inside the glove, nor should they be too [tight] – look for a happy medium," she says.
"When you first try them on, aim for a compact fit because as you use them, the stitching will stretch and the foam will compress [and] if your gloves are too loose to begin with, you may find that after they have stretched and worn in, they may not fit correctly any more."
At the same time, you want a glove that has a solid cuff and a strap you can tighten for good wrist support.
"You are not looking for rigidity … but a nice firm cuff helps lock the wrist," she says.
"If you find you sweat a lot in [your gloves], look for gloves with mesh panels or pressed holes that allow air in and out. After you use them, keep them in an area that gets plenty of fresh air."
3. Perfect your punch
Robertson says that the aim of a good punch is to hit the pad or bag with the knuckles of your first two fingers.
"You want to make sure you're getting the right punching technique, where you're turning your knuckles over at the end of the punch," she explains.
"You want to hit with the big two knuckles, so you're turning your [fist] over so it's parallel to the floor."
A poor punch technique can also occur when you're only moving your arms without using your hips, legs and trunk as well.
"A lot of people who are boxing for fitness don't fully extend their arms or throw their hips into it," Robertson says.
"It's a lot easier to just stand in front of the bag and just move your arms [but you want to do] a full body punch, where all of your power and strength goes into it. It means you're getting a full-body workout."
4. Have recovery days
As much as you might want to keep perfecting your technique or toning your muscles, Robertson says boxing can lead to a lot of soreness if you don't let yourself recover.
"Don't be scared of being sore – if you're sore, that means [the workout] is working," she says.
"But when you're feeling sore, you definitely should lower your loads or focus on recovery stretching or using hot and cold pools. As an elite athlete, I incorporate recovery three days a week."
5. Find your tribe
Boxing clubs may have traditionally been a men's domain but Robertson says that there are plenty of female-friendly places around these days.
"Find a good coach because you'll have a really good experience in learning and developing and becoming good at something," she says.
"There are so many [gyms] out there that you're bound to find one that caters to what you like or you feel comfortable with."
You might start out with boxing for exercise, but if you can build up to a fight, Robertson says you'll experience a thrill like few others.
"I've seen women get really intimidated … they fear being hit or getting hurt but once they get in and work lightly and spar, they end up becoming more and more aggressive and the fear of being hit is not even a factor," she says.
"Everyone I have spoken to who has gotten in the ring for the first time, wants to do it again. They want to get faster and stronger and get better at attacking."
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