Shadowboxing is one of the most fundamental training exercises, especially for developing and honing technique. It can be so much more than just a warm-up or a light workout. I actually spend some training days doing nothing but shadowboxing because it's a great way to improve your ability to move fluidly. So for those who want to take their boxing game to the next level, here is my favorite advanced shadowboxing workout: The Fight Simulation.
What Is a Fight Simulation Workout?
A fight simulation workout is exactly what it sounds like. It is a boxing workout that mimics how you would move and behave during an actual, 12-round boxing match. When I do a fight simulation workout, I use 3-minute rounds with one minute of rest in between. However, it took time for me to get to that point. If you want the benefits of developing your boxing technique, but feel like 12, 3-minute rounds is a bit much at your current level, start with 1.5- or 2-minute rounds instead. Once you’ve established your timing, here’s how to break down each round into sections.
Rounds 1-2: Feel Out Your Opponent
The first two rounds are the opening rounds of the fight, and you usually aren’t quite used to your opponent yet. Maybe you’re a little stiff, maybe the ring feels different under your feet–it's always something. For the first two rounds, you should focus almost entirely on your lead hand with quick, light jabs. Test your opponent’s defenses, feint to find reactions, and most importantly, always be moving. Move your head, move your feet, never be still. If you’re in a tight workout space and can’t move around in circles you can do steps and pivots instead.
Rounds 3-7: Break Down Your Opponent’s Defenses
Now that you’re getting more comfortable and understanding your opponent, it’s time to go to work. These next rounds are when you put in your punch combinations, execute your defenses as your opponent fires back, and either chase an evasive opponent or matador a bully. During these rounds, you should be moving with very high-intensity and throwing powerful, fast, controlled combinations. Whenever you aren’t throwing punches, you should be blocking, slipping, moving around, looking for a chance to counter, or throwing light jabs to disrupt your opponent's timing. For your punch combinations, I suggest 3-punch combos as a standard, and only if you’re feeling flashy, you can throw in a few 6-9 punch combinations once or twice in a round.
Round 8: Recover
Putting in five rounds of high-intensity boxing is no easy task–even the best boxers in the world take rounds off. This round should be all about movement, controlling engagement, and hitting without getting hit. Move around, let your body bounce, toss jabs, and get out of the way. Use pivots, lateral movement, and only throw punches when you have to (when you decide your opponent has caught you). Focus as much as possible on your breathing here--in through the nose, out through the mouth, with a smooth pace.
Rounds 9-12: Go For Broke
Maybe you’re behind on points, or maybe you’re just a crowd-pleaser, but this round is where warriors live. Everyone is tired in the last four rounds of a fight, but that doesn’t mean you can stop fighting and coast. These four rounds will not be as clean as rounds 3-7, they won’t be as flashy, but keep fighting! Throw punches in combinations, move, and remember the basics. Incorporate body shots to take advantage of your opponent's exhaustion level. If all you can do correctly right now is a jab-cross (1-2), then throw that 1-2 to the head or body. Two good punches will always be better than 40 windmill shots. The important things for these rounds are to keep fighting throughout the duration and maximize your recovery in between by breathing deeply and steadily.
Recovery and Celebration
The fight is over, you won in spectacular fashion, and now you need to recover. Keep breathing deep, and stretch. People usually think that because shadowboxing isn’t a weight exercise, it isn’t taxing on your muscles. But this is wrong. You have to properly recover, which means stretching! Spend at least three minutes stretching as a cool down, and then you can move on to the rest of your workout (or your day). You’ve earned it!
The Fight Doesn’t End There
The key to a Fight Simulation Workout is truly getting in the mindset of being in the ring. Even if you don’t wish to compete in boxing or kickboxing, adding an advanced shadowboxing workout to your at-home fitness routine is a valuable way to add variety and technique practice.
Are you ready to train like a fighter? Get access to hundreds of boxing, kickboxing, strength, conditioning, recovery, and stretching workouts that will push you mentally and physically. Download the FREE FightCamp App and train with real fighters from the comfort of your own home.