shadow boxing

Making shapes with shadow boxing


I spend a lot of time searching YouTube for pro boxers and their shadow boxing routines.  Something to do with my trainer always telling me to keep loose and keep flowing so I’m always looking for examples.

I started learning to shadow box by reading a guide by Johnny N then watching YouTube videos of Paul Williams, Manny Pacquiao, then Amir Khan, even an Instagram clip of Ivan Delgado.  Yesterday I came across Chris Eubank Junior’s 10-minute warm up.

His warm up was really impressive.  He’s stretching all his limbs and in between he’s shadowboxing – really small arm and shoulder movements at times but what I found impressive was watching him practice shifting his body weight:  A small step back, a little shuffle right, a subtle tilt of his body left.  Really deliberate.  It was like watching a sleek panther limbering up and moving.  Just watching him made me want to  start throwing and that was around midnight.

Like watching performance art.


You’re always lucky if you find something that makes you feel free.  Exercise can be a horrible thing (I personally hate interval training!) but I don’t think of boxing as exercise (or football/soccer) – more about expression.  Hope everyone reading this has an activity that makes them feel the same.  It’s good to unburden the soul.

The benefits of shadow boxing for fitness

As a general note this is a fantastic way to keep fit and loosen up.  You can shadow box anywhere where you have a bit of space.  It costs absolutely nothing and you don’t need any fancy equipment and you don’t need weights.  Forget spending mega money on joining a fancy gym.  I reckon if you shadowboxed 45 minutes everyday in your living room, you could work up a sweat and shave off some weight easily.

You can use it to warm up or warm down or practice a particular movement or technique.  It teaches you to be comfortable within your own body and to focus and zone out anything going on externally, around you.

I had my first ever one-to-one personal training with Gary, my boxing coach, the other week so I had to warm up.  I did some skipping and I shadow boxed with just him watching.  I was a bit nervous at first because it’s a little different to people on a boat just casually walking past you (which is where I first started to shadow box).  Gary was full-on watching me so I tried to relax as quickly as I could and just tried to concentrate on staying loose and zoning out the fact I was being watched.

I could have been looser but I didn’t do too badly for a first time audience.  I’ll become more relaxed when I get used to him being there!  When I was on the vessel shadow-boxing one of my specific aims was to memorize and go through 7 or 8 basic punching combinations I printed off the internet.  These were “bread and butter” combinations that I’m supposed to know inside out.  Later, I’d also focus on my head movements, ducking and slipping and I’d also practice what’s called pivoting and just general movement.

I warmed up in front of Gary last week and my shadow boxing lasted just 5 minutes, I was just trying to loosen up and get my body moving.  On the boat, when I was off shift, I was spending at least half an hour a day in total, every day.

The thing is, you’re not supposed to be tired out doing shadow boxing.  If you’re getting tired punching clean air, you’re in serious trouble!  Slow it right down if you need to.

Try to have an agenda.  Are you practicing rhythm and timing, specific movements?  Maybe you’re trying to work up your hand speed. Or are you simply just warming up your muscles.

As a guideline, I read a serious boxer will spend a minimum of 30 minutes a day shadow-boxing and a pro will spend an hour.

Whether you’re an aspiring boxer or someone who likes fitness… Try it out…  you’ll be surprised how fast you can build up a sweat!

Some of the more stranger places I’ve thrown out some shadow-boxing shapes:

  • Alone in an elevator in various hotels and department stores.
  • The desk at work.
  • Inside the toilets of various establishments.
  • Yesterday, sat outside, by the wall of Croy train station.  (I was getting the odd strange look from a guy waiting in his car and the two female cops in the car park)

The link below is an excellent article by Johnny N on shadow boxing from his ExpertBoxing website: – Guide to Shadow boxing

Lastly, I picked out a 3 minute video I clipped and uploaded onto YouTube.  It shows Amir Khan shadow boxing in front of a packed press.  It’s one of my favourite ones.

I can see his technique for his left and right hook which was something I was looking into.  He’s practicing his pivoting and just warming up his hands with a few of his favourite combinations.  You can differentiate when he’s employing full force, full extension of his hands and when he’s just gently working his limbs up and he’s always breathing correctly and he’s very relaxed.


There are lots of videos on YouTube of various people demonstrating their shadowboxing.  All of them focusing on certain aspects.  Have a try, take a look, then try some more if you see something you like.

Fitness and exercise that doesn’t cost a penny – and the kind you can do in your own home – the best kind!!!

Feel free to comment!