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What Muscles Does Boxing Work?

man at kickhouse hitting a bag

What Muscles Does Boxing Work?

man at kickhouse hitting a bag

Boxing is a full-body workout that focuses on improving your upper body muscular endurance and tone. When boxing, you will engage your aerobic energy system which is great for burning fat and improving cardiovascular health. Additionally, you’ll activate muscles in your upper and lower body as you are throwing punches.

Let’s dive into what specific muscles boxing works and strengthens.


Biceps are used when you throw hooks and uppercuts. They bring the power from your arm and feed that power through your fists and also assists in the rapid retraction of your arm after you’ve thrown a punch.


The triceps is the primary muscle that is fired when you throw a punch, pulling all the power through your body from the ground up, driving it into a heavy bag or your trainer’s mitts, depending on how you’re training.

Abdominal Muscles

Boxers have great abs for a reason!  Your abdominal muscles are worked with the twisting motion of a punch. As you move through the motion of a punch towards your heavy bag, you’ll twist from the waist to fully extend the punching arm and then recoil back to starting position. The obliques are fired during this torso rotation, also adding power to the punch.


The shoulders, primarily your deltoids, are actively being engaged during boxing workouts. The motions that control shoulder motion are extending an uppercut and pulling back after a jab. While training in any boxing session, expect to feel the burn in your shoulders and soreness the following day.

Hamstrings & Quadriceps

The two main muscles in your legs are your hamstrings and quadriceps. These muscles are engaged when making a punch or avoiding a punch. The energy transfers up through your legs to drive through a punch, take a step to avoid being hit or to squat as you duck and weave.

Some of the lesser known muscles that are also getting a workout during boxing are your calves, finger flexors and forearm.


In boxing workouts, you’re always on your toes, so your calves will be getting a great workout the entire session. The calf muscles extend from the backs of your ankles up to the backs of your knees and are used every time you take a step or rock back and forth on your feet. The power of every punch you throw is generated by your calves first. As you draw up power and strength from the ground to push up through your body and exert through your fists, it’s your calves that are activated first.

Finger Flexors

The finger flexor muscles are activated to close your fist, together with the wrist flexors, these both stabilize the joint at the moment of impact.


In your forearms, the radialis longus, and extensor carpi radialis brevis straighten the hand and stabilize the wrist, protecting the joint at the moment of impact.

Written by Gwen Dannenbaum, Director of Programming at KickHouse 
NASM Certified Personal Trainer
ACE Certified Group Fitness Instructor
RYT200 Yoga Teacher
Precision Nutrition Level 1 Coach
CrossFit Level 1 & 2 Coach Certifications

Learn more about Gwen here.

About KickHouse:

KickHouse is a modern kickboxing studio offering a variety of class formats, each rooted in kickboxing but with additional fitness flare added in. The KickHouse mission is to help members and communities take their health and kick it up a level via a consistent kickboxing practice! KickHouse is the perfect kickboxing gym for beginners or advanced athletes. The new kickboxing brand has quickly grown to over 35 locations across the country. To find your nearest KickHouse location visit To sign up for your first class offer please visit to book your first sweat session with our fight fam.

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