12 Benefits And Reasons To Start Shadowboxing

12 Benefits And Reasons To Start Shadowboxing

Shadowboxing is more than just flicking your fists through the air. It is a fight against your imagination that can serve many purposes inside a complete boxing training regimen. A former trainer and coach of multiple world champions Teddy Atlas so famously says:

“Shadowboxing is a universal language, all you need is your hands and eyes. Let your imagination do the rest.”

Taddy Atlas

In this article, we will provide 12 benefits and reasons to start shadowboxing.

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1. Improves technique

Each new skill you learn in boxing must first be adopted and understood in shadowboxing, then implemented into your game. Perhaps the best way to improve your form is through shadowboxing. There is no pressure on an opponent or even a partner.

You can calmly observe yourself and the biomechanics of the moves you are doing. Regularly use a mirror and make sure you are practicing with the correct form and not reaffirming poor execution. Even film yourself to make sure you are making progress. Technique is vital if plan on being successful at boxing.

2. Develops visualization

Visualization is the most overlooked aspect of shadowboxing and in general when training solo. Observe videos of top-level boxers and notice the look of focus and intention while they shadowbox every single training session.

A key element of shadowboxing should always be visualization. Imagine an opponent or scenario in front of you and use punches, footwork, and defensive maneuvers against him. This way you can be at least mentally prepared for any scenario in the ring long before it actually happens.

3. Strategy and rhythm

As a continuation of the previous point, shadowboxing work provides ample time to work on specific strategies and rhythm. Works on the inside, work from the outside, pressure, backpedal, every aspect of boxing strategy benefits from goal-specific shadowboxing.

See Lomachenko above shadowboxing beautifully with a vast range of punches and movements.

4. Build muscle endurance

We enter the more obvious physical benefits of punching the air. Muscle endurance is crucial in combat sports and one of the ways to improve it exactly for the demands of boxing is through shadowboxing.

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5. Builds cardio

Aerobic endurance is improved by working and maintaining a steady moderate heartbeat rate for long periods. While this is usually done with running or cycling, shadowboxing also allows working in the aerobic range for long enough.

6. Increases speed

on the other side of the aerobic range is the high-intensity explosive anaerobic type of effort. The so-called anaerobic threshold (the highest intensity you can sustain for prolonged periods of time until there is too much lactate in your blood) is trained by multiple methods, but the maximum punching speed is best tested with shadowboxing. Regularly working on speed during shadowboxing sessions inevitably increases it.

7. Improves balance

Balance is extremely important in boxing, especially after the beginner levels. Shadowboxing develops it and allows you to closely monitor how your body behaves during various movements and how to keep your center of balance where it needs to be while punching, slipping, ducking, or moving.

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8. Creates muscle memory

Rarely in a fight do we have time to think. In stressful situations, the brain quickly resorts to what it knows best. The more you drill certain punches and techniques, the more they will get ingrained in the muscle memory. And when the demand comes, the brain will use the right technique with the correct form.

Shadowboxing is the best way to throw hundreds or even thousands of punches without taxing the body too much and this makes it the best method solidify specific muscle memory.

9. Stress relief

A more casual but still important benefit of shadowboxing is the calming effect that it can have. Beating an imaginary opponent will surely shed some stress off.

As great as visualization and strategy building is, sometimes the brain just needs to be left alone and a relaxed shadowboxing session can work wonders on your nerves while still getting a decent workout. It can really help you to focus on the task at hand instead of the worries of the past or future!

10. No need for equipment

To shadowbox you don’t need any equipment. You don’t need a bag, a partner, a trainer, or weights. Nothing. Even a small area is enough, although some more space to move around is better. You can even work on different aspects of your boxing game in your bedroom. This is one of the main conveniences of shadowboxing and its strongest perks.

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11. Can be enhanced by the right equipment

boxbandz review | shadow boxing resistance bands

But the right equipment can also enhance shadowboxing. Adding suitable resistance can intensify shadowboxing greatly. But don’t make the mistake of using inappropriate equipment. Punching with heavy weights is actually detrimental and promotes bad punching form. It also puts too much strain on the elbows and shoulder without any benefit.

There are two correct ways to add resistance to the punches. The first is by holding small hand weights. They may not seem much at first, but the usually extended length of shadowboxing adds up over time. There can be significant improvements to shoulder endurance and punching speed. Try not to exceed 3 pounds, however.

Even better for the task are resistance bands. Holding weights inevitably drags the arms down, especially at the end range of the punch, which is not the direction punches are going, they travel forward. Hence the best way to add resistance to punches is using something that pulls the punches back, not down. This is where resistance bands shine. Make sure to check out the following articles to find out more:

12. Does not stress the body

An overarching benefit that appears in many of the above points is the low stress shadowboxing puts on the body. Focus and intention are very important in improving technique, form, and muscle memory.

But the only way to really improve them is by countless repetitions. Shadowboxing provides the most energy-effective method of doing these repetitions without putting too much stress on your body.

Final thoughts

These benefits should not sound like I’m trying to tell you that shadowboxing is the only thing you need. Boxing is complex both technically and in terms of variety in physical demands. So, every training method serves its purpose in the whole picture, but properly executed shadowboxing is irreplaceable and should be an important part of your boxing training routine.


Hopefully, this article was able to inspire you to start or use shadowboxing more or start implementing as part of your overall boxing training plan.

I recommend you check out some more useful training related articles below:

I highly recommend you also check my other related article around this topic below. 

Jamie - Boxing Life

I'm an amateur boxer and blogger trying to pass on my boxing experiences and passion to anyone looking to learn or find out more about the sport of boxing. Whether that be reviews, news, training tips or my own personal journey, I'll be covering it on "Boxing Life".

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