mbg moves: A 15-Minute Cardio Boxing + Abs Workout

Fitness Instructor By Mindy Lai
Fitness Instructor
Mindy Lai is a rare combination of dancer and boxer. She earned her dance degree from The Ailey School and Fordham University, has performed on Broadway, and works as a boxing instructor at bande.
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Welcome to mbg moves! We've been working out at home more than ever lately—and we know our readers are, too. To help keep your fitness routine feeling fresh, we're releasing a new at-home workout every Monday to start your week off strong. Each month will feature routines from a different incredible trainer we adore. Now, let's get moving with our spotlight trainer: Mindy Lai.

A lot of people think boxing is purely an arm workout, but I'm here to tell you that's definitely not the case. Anyone who says otherwise probably isn't boxing correctly!

The truth is, boxing is a fantastic full-body workout that also gives you a wonderful cardio burst. One area that's particularly important for boxers to strengthen is the core. Not only does a muscular middle help shield you from the impact of body blows, but it also adds more power to each one of your punches. That's right—a truly strong punch comes from your core, not your arms.

That's why I put together this boxing-inspired abs workout. In just 15 minutes, you'll feel your abs burning like never before—and get your heart rate up, too. Ready to hit the ring?

Your 4-week challenge: Every Monday for the rest of this month, I'll be sharing a boxing-inspired workout to get your heart pumping and muscles firing. I challenge you to make it a goal to try something new, get back into a boxing routine, or take your stamina to the next level—aim to do my workouts two to three times a week to really feel the burn.

Workout Summary
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Equipment: Yoga mat (optional: light weights)
  • Instructions: Move from one exercise to the next, following the movement prompts for each one. After you've completed one circuit, move on to the next.
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Warmup

For your warmup, move through the following exercises:

  1. Downward Dog
  2. Mountain Climbers
  3. Jumping Jacks
  4. Squats

Round 1

Cross-Cross-Hold-Left Hook (2, 2-3)

boxing combo

Image by mbg creative

  1. Find your boxer's stance: Start in a standing position. Pretend your body is in a square box, and step your right foot back. Twist your hips to face the front right corner of the room. Bring your hands into fists, bring them in front of your face, and tuck elbows into your sides.
  2. For the first part of this combo, keep your left fist by your face, pivot at your hips, twist that back foot, and extend your right arm in front of you. Reverse the movement and return to your boxer's stance. This is referred to as "2" or a "cross."
  3. Repeat the cross once more, and pause for a second. Then, quickly pull your arm back to start.
  4. Finally, keeping your left arm at a 90-degree angle, bring it out to the side of your body, then quickly punch it to the center of your field of vision. This is a left hook (3).
  5. For the complete combo, do one cross (2), come back to start. Then another cross (2), hold it, then finish with a powerful left hook (3).
  6. Repeat this combo for 1 minute.

Mountain Climbers

mountain climbers

Image by mbg creative

  1. Start in a plank pose, with shoulders over wrists. Pull waist in, drag shoulder blades down the back, and engage the core.
  2. Fire up the belly by pulling one knee in, then the other.
  3. Continue for 30 seconds, then repeat that 2-2-3 combo for 30 seconds.

Situps

situps

Image by mbg creative

  1. Begin lying on your back with knees bent and feet on the ground, hip-width apart.
  2. Take your hands behind your ears (you can also cross your arms over your chest), and keep the neck neutral. Inhale.
  3. On your exhale, engage your core to sit all the way up, with your entire back off the ground.
  4. Slowly lower back to the starting position as you inhale. Repeat for 30 seconds, then move into V-Ups.

V-Ups

v-ups

Image by mbg creative

  1. Lie on your back with your arms and legs straight.
  2. Simultaneously raise your arms and legs as high as you can, keeping them as straight as possible. Try to touch your feet to your hands before lowering back down and repeating.
  3. To make this exercise easier, tuck your knees toward your chest instead. 
  4. Continue for 30 seconds.

Round 2

Left Hook-Pause-Right Hook-Left Hook-Right Hook (3, 4-3-4)

left hook right hook boxing

Image by mbg creative

  1. For this combo, start with a strong left hook (3).
  2. Come back to your boxer's stance, then immediately throw a right hook (4), left hook (3), then right hook (4) again—in fast succession.
  3. Continue for 1 minute.

Bicycles

bicycle crunches

Image by mbg creative

  1. Lie on your back with your hands gently behind your head and elbows out wide.
  2. Lift your shoulders off the mat and extend your left leg out long to hover as you twist your right elbow to your left knee. Repeat on the opposite side. 
  3. Continue for 30 seconds, followed by 30 seconds of that 3, 4-3-4 combo.

Russian Twist + Overhead Press

Russian twist + overhead press

Image by mbg creative

  1. Begin in a seated position, with your knees bent and heels on the ground.
  2. Lift your arms into the air, pressing your hands together. Then, engage your obliques and twist to the right side. Repeat on the left side.
  3. Then, lift your arms back into the air, overhead.
  4. Continue this three-part motion for 1 minute.

Round 3

Jab-Cross-Left Hook-Right Hook (1-2-3-4)

jab-cross-left hook-right hook

Image by mbg creative

  1. For this combo, extend your left arm out straight in front of you. Twist your fist as you come forward, ending with the bottom of your fist parallel to the ground. Reverse and return to your boxer's stance. This is referred to as "1" or a "jab."
  2. Next, throw a cross (2), followed by a left hook (3) and right hook (4).
  3. Continue this combo (1-2-3-4) for 1 minute.

Crunches

crunches

Image by mbg creative

  1. Begin by lying on your back with knees bent and feet on the ground hips-width apart.
  2. Take your hands behind your ears (you can also cross your arms over your chest), and keep the neck neutral. Inhale.
  3. On your exhale, engage your core and lift just the head and shoulders off the ground. Inhale as you come back down.
  4. Continue for 30 seconds, then repeat 30 seconds of your 1-2-3-4 combo.

Dolphins + Knee Tuck

dolphins + knee tuck

Image by mbg creative

  1. Start in a high plank position, with your shoulders stacked over wrists.
  2. Lift your hips into the air, in a downward dog position, and bring your right knee to touch your right elbow. Repeat on the opposite side.
  3. Alternate for four reps, then add a jump tuck: Jump your feet so they land under your chest. Then jump back to start.
  4. Continue for 1 minute to close out your workout.

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