Hilary Swank trained alongside hardcore pros for four months at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn to prepare for her role as an ill-fated boxer in Million Dollar Baby, then showed up to collect her Oscar in a body-baring gown that showed off the fruits of her labor.
Take note: All that sparring gave Swank a sculpted yet feminine physique. She got carved but stayed curvy. Who wouldn’t want a body like that? “Boxing seems like the most macho sport on earth, but it’s a great way to get in shape and transform your body,” says Michael Olajide, owner of the Aerospace High Performance Facility, a brand-new boxing gym in New York City (AerospaceNYC.com). “Because it includes short, intense bouts of high-energy activity it reshapes muscles, burns tons of calories and elevates metabolism in a way no other workout can.”
Olajide has designed a boxing workout especially for you that consists of five “rounds,” each with an emphasis on a different aspect of fitness. Olajide promises, “All it takes is 24 minutes, three to four times a week, to get into fighting shape.” So put on some boxing shorts, crank up the theme to Rocky and come out swinging.
Round 1: Warm up (6 minutes)
Alternate one minute of step touches with 30 seconds of jumping jacks for a total of 4 times each.
Step touches: Tap your right toe lightly in front of your left, then your left toe in front of your right. Swing your arms as you continue alternating left and right taps. Move at a comfortable pace that elevates your heart rate and quickens your breathing.
Jumping jacks: Start with your feet together, arms at your sides. Jump with your legs slightly wider than hip-width apart as you lift your arms up to shoulder level.
Round 2: Punch (6 minutes)
Move continuously from drill to drill without any break in between.
Drill 1: Alternate left and right punches 4 times, then alternate lefts and rights as fast as you can 8 times. (2 minutes)
Drill 2: Alternate right and left punches 4 times, then alternate rights and lefts as fast as you can 8 times. (2 minutes)
Drill 3: Alternate left and right punches in sets of 8 with a slight hesitation between sets. (2 minutes)
- Start by making a semitight fist by curling your fingers into your palms and placing your thumbs on top of your index fingers ‑- not inside your fists. Be sure to keep your fists aligned with your wrists as you punch rather than slightly turned in or out.
- Stand tall with abs tightened and your feet shoulder-width apart, left foot forward, right foot back. Keep your weight evenly distributed between your feet, and lift your right heel up.
- Raise your fists in front of your face, lower your chin and keep your elbows in tight to your middle.
- To throw a punch, thrust your right hip forward and pivot quickly on the left heel. Extend your arm from the shoulder ‑- imagine it’s an extension of your back ‑- and take care not to lock out your elbow.
- As you strike out, keep your other hand up in front of your face and your chin tucked. Return to the start and punch with the left.
- When your arm returns from the punch, it should travel back along the same path with equal speed.
- Fire punches out as hard and fast as you’re able. Aim to elevate your heart rate and breathing and to work up a sweat. Exhale forcefully through your mouth each time you throw a punch, and remember to use your core to help power your movement.
Round 3: Jump (3 minutes)
- Hold an end of the rope in each hand and stand with your feet together in front of the rope line.
- Bend your elbows and hold your arms out to your sides at about hip level. Spin the rope quickly and, as it approaches your toes, skip over it.
- Stay low ‑- only jump an inch or so off the floor ‑- and when you land allow knees to bend slightly to help absorb impact.
- The rope is powered by the turn of the wrist ??‑- not the entire arm. The wrists are the motor, so to speak. Think of your legs as shock absorbers and springs that push you up and off the ground.
- When you get into a comfortable rhythm, move into a “boxer’s shuffle”: Continue spinning the rope and, as it approaches your toes, shift your weight slightly to the left, move your left foot a small distance forward and jump, again staying low and slightly bending knees on touchdown. On the next spin, shift your weight right.
Round 4: Pump (6 minutes)
Do these five strength moves with a 15-second break between exercises.
Boxer Twist: Place a broomstick across your shoulders. Stand tall with your arms draped over the stick. Keeping your abs tight, do tight, small twists left and right. Exhale each time you twist to the side and inhale as you move back toward the middle. Twist for 30 seconds, then rest briefly and repeat.
Last-Round Squats: Stand tall with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, hands on hips. Bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor, then stand back up, taking care not to lock your knees. Do 32 reps and hold the last rep in the squat position for 20 seconds.
Championship Push-Ups: Get into a push-up position: Kneel on the floor with your legs together and your hands placed slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Shift your weight forward so that you’re balanced on your palms with your thighs just above your knees. Bend your elbows to lower your body. When your elbows are parallel to the floor, press back up to the start without locking elbows. Do 8 reps, and on the last one, lower slowly, taking 20 seconds to complete the rep.
Heavyweight Dips: Sit on the floor with your legs straight out, arms at your sides, palms pressing into the floor and fingertips either pointing out to the side or behind you, whichever is more comfortable. Lift your butt and legs up so you’re balanced on your palms and heels and your weight is supported by your arms. Bend your elbows a few inches, and then straighten back up. Do 8 reps, and on the last one, lower slowly, taking 20 seconds to complete the rep.
Contender Crunches: Lie face-up with your hands under your butt and your abs pulled in tight. Lift your legs 1 to 3 inches off the floor without allowing your lower back to arch up. Holding this position, curl your head, neck and shoulders up and in, hold a moment and lower back down. Repeat 8 times.
Round 5: Cool Down (3 minutes)
Stretch out and cool down with these three flexibility enhancers.
Million-Dollar Babies: Stand tall and straighten your right arm across the center of your body, placing your left palm behind your right elbow to create a stretch through your right arm and shoulder. Hold 30 seconds and repeat with the left arm.
Rocky Thigh Stretch: Stand tall, holding on to a chair with one hand for balance. Lift your right leg up and bend your knee to move your heel up toward your buttocks. Gently grasp your right toe in your free hand to create a stretch through your right thigh. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat with the left leg.
Olajide Back Extender: Lie face-down with your elbows bent and your palms a few inches in front of your shoulders and shoulder-width apart. Gently press up through your palms to straighten your arms and arch your back as far as you comfortably can. Hold for 60 seconds as the stretch spreads through your abs and into the tops of your thighs.