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Kicking and Kickboxing as Exercise

Not all exercises have to be cardio or weightlifting or yoga / stretching (which reminds me, I need to write more posts about proper stretching)... Sometimes activities can just be fun.

#1. Dancing - Yes, technically its a cardio, but you forget that it is and just have fun exercising without realizing it.

#2. Sex - Again, its a cardio... and it can also be weightlifting, depending on what you are doing. *wink*

#3. Martial Arts...

The simple act of kicking as high as you can kick does two things:

#1. Its cardio. So you can get a decent workout by doing 100 high kicks with each leg per day.

Note: If you have a sedentary lifestyle don't start with 100 per day because you could injure yourself since your legs aren't used to it. Start with 20 per day and work your way up gradually. (See the comments near the bottom about patience.)

#2. Its stretching. You feel it especially in the back of your leg, where your muscles aren't used to being stretched like that. Stretching helps to increase and maintain flexibility.

So if you're exercising at home and you want to add some flexibility exercises to your routine, kicking is a good place to start. Just make sure you have plenty of room to practice your kicks.

If you get really into it you may be tempted to get into Kickboxing, which as the name implies, combines boxing with various kicks into a martial arts-based sport.

Note: I did kickboxing back when I was in high school and later I did Taekwondo when I was living in South Korea (Taekwondo is focused on kicking and tripping opponents), so I feel confident speaking on the topic of kickboxing and Taekwondo even though I don't formally teach either of them. And frankly I prefer traditional boxing.

Kickboxing, is also sometimes referred to as "cardio kickboxing" or "boxing aerobics", because it is often employed as an exercise routine combining a mix of boxing, martial arts and aerobics that really packs a workout wallop.

Because Kickboxing uses both the muscles of the upper and lower body, as well as the core muscles, you get a great all-around workout in a short amount of time. You may discover that many sports have a tendency to do provide a full body workout, with several exceptions (eg. golf is a lazy man's game).

A typical martial arts class begins with some stretches and a light cardiovascular warm-up including push-ups and jumping jacks. The remainder of the class is usually comprised of a series of repetitive punches, alternating hand-strikes and kicks - typically switching between all three -- followed at the end by some kind of cool down/floor work/stretching combo.

Unlike other cardio exercises like running, cycling, etc which focus on only your legs, martial arts training (boxing, kickboxing, judo, karate, etc) requires a full body workout and also fuels an adrenaline rush, making it an adrenaline high workout too - which burns added calories in a hurry and helps tone muscles. And its good for developing functional strength, balance and coordination.

According to the American Council on Exercise, a kickboxing workout will burn about 350 to 450 calories/hour. That is a huge number when you consider its recommended that you only eat approx. 2,000 calories per day.


Because kickboxing is such a strenuous exercise the risks for beginners are also higher. People with back or joint problems (eg. arthritis) should avoid this kind of workout. Beginners are always wanting to learn something in a hurry. They have no patience and no commitment.

Kickboxing is very strenuous and the problem with a sedentary person trying to get into a kickboxing program is that they end up in over their heads very quickly. They're trying to do something that's too hard for them and they don't have the patience to practice just a little bit daily and instead they are trying to do a lot daily, which results in muscle fatigue and injury.

An hour of kickboxing for someone new to the sport is too much. 30 to 45 minutes is more recommended and then after 10 or 20 lessons they can work up to an hour. They have to build up gradually and be patient about it otherwise they will either injure themselves or give up due to lack of patience.

This perhaps explains why so few people get into any of the martial arts. They simply lack the patience and determination to keep at it and learn gradually. Learning patience and humility are arguably the two biggest steps.


If you live in Toronto you can hire me as your personal trainer and we can add kickboxing lessons to the list of things to do if you are interested. Kickboxing (and boxing in general) is a lot of fun and makes a great cardio exercise.

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