8 Exercises a Pro Boxer Does to Sculpt Strong Abs

Get into fighting shape with these core exercises.

Throwing punches in the ring is only part of the reason why professional boxers have knockout bodies. They also sculpt their muscular physiques with tons of cross-training—focusing on building a rock-solid core

"Core conditioning is crucial for boxing," said Chris Algieri, a professional boxer and two-time world champion. "Most of the power in a punch comes from being able to forcibly rotate your core, giving the strike explosive power."

A sturdy core helps keep a boxer's body safe during a match. 

"The boxer has to be able to take blows to the body without damaging their ribs and organs," explained Algieri. "The muscles in the abdominals and obliques act as body armor against opponents' attacks."

You don't have to be a pro fighter to reap the ab-chiseling benefits of a boxer's training. Doing strengthening exercises is essential at every age, especially as we age because we lose muscle mass—as much as 3% to 5% per decade after age 30.

Algieri demonstrated his go-to conditioning exercises for a strong, stable core in the video above and the GIFs below. Here's what you need to know about the workout that will have you ready to roll with the punches.

Bicycle Crunches

This move is excellent for boxers because it focuses on core stability while rotating the shoulders and incorporating the lower body. And it's great for everyone (not just fighters) because it slims the waistline while improving strength, flexibility, and coordination.

What to do: Begin by laying on your back with hands behind your head, then alternate, bringing each elbow to the opposite knee while maintaining a tight core. Do 10 to 20 continuous crunches with each elbow. Rest and then repeat two to three times.

Side Plank

Side planks are vital for a boxer since the movement promotes core stability and shoulder girdle strength—crucial for throwing those strong punches. 

Side planks are good ab exercises for most people because they don't stress the lower back, and strong abs can help prevent lower back pain and injuries.

What to do: Turn to one side with your legs extended and your feet and hips planted on the ground. Put your elbow under your shoulder and push your abs and hips up until the top of your body forms a straight line. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Return to the starting position, then move to the other side and repeat.

Alternating Hands Plank

This excellent move challenges balance, coordination, and core strength. Studies show a strong core helps athletes and non-athletes have better balance and stability, which could help prevent falls and injury.

What to do: Start in a plank position. With your weight resting on your left forearm, slowly lift your right arm off the ground, reaching it out in front of you. Lower back down and alternate to the left arm. Do this 10 times with each arm.


Boxers experience a lot of wear and tear on the shoulder, so it's important to strengthen each part of the shoulder. The T-push-up will help you build core stability, posterior shoulder strength, and flexibility

Plus, the push-up works the anterior deltoid, vital for movement and power when punching forward. For non-boxers, having strong shoulders and chest muscles can help improve posture.

What to do: Begin in a standard push-up position. Lower your body slowly, as you would for a regular push-up. But as you push yourself up, turn to one side, raising that side's arm towards the ceiling. Return your hand to the floor, then repeat on the other side. Do this 15 times on each side.

Alternating Leg With Ball Pass + Seated Underhand Pass

This exercise works your lower abdominals and also promotes full-body coordination. Boxers will often explode out of a crouched position, so it's essential to have strong lower abs to support this movement.

And the second part, the seated underhand pass, uses isometric holds to promote core strength and stability. Plus, it hones the hand-eye coordination necessary to be a great fighter.

What to do: From a seated position with feet off the ground, squeeze your abs and pull your knees in as you pass a weight (or medicine ball or an imaginary object) under your bent leg. Repeat 20 times.

Accordion Side Crunch

Research suggests that strong obliques and other ab muscles improve low back pain for some people. This isometric hold promotes core strength, while the crunch tones your obliques and increases endurance. It's also another move that supports coordination between the upper and lower body.

What to do: From the side position, simultaneously crunch and pull your knees in, keeping your feet off the floor and focusing on your obliques. Repeat this 15 to 20 times.

Russian Twist

This classic ab move will improve your core rotational strength, which is important for maximizing power when throwing a punch.

What to do: Starting in a seated position, explosively twist from one side to the other. Aim to twist to each side 15 to 20 times.

Sit-Up With a Twist

This is a full-core movement, which works your upper and lower ab muscles in the initial sit-up and then fires up your obliques during the twist. Similar to the Russian twist, this sit-up variation strengthens rotational core movement and improves your ability to generate power from the core (also known as the essentials for throwing a punch).

What to do: Starting on your back, roll up into a sit-up, with one leg extended and one foot pressed into the floor, knee bent. From here, explosively twist to the side, bringing your opposite elbow to the bent knee. Do this 15 to 20 times, then switch to the other side.

A Quick Review

A boxing ab workout is excellent for building a solid core, even if you're not a boxer. A strong core can improve balance and posture while preventing lower back pain or injury.

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3 Sources
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Harvard Health. Preserving your muscle mass.

  2. Barrio ED, Ramirez-Campillo R, Garcia de Alcaraz Serrano A, RaquelHernandez-García R. Effects of core training on dynamic balance stability: A systematic review and meta-analysis [published online ahead of print, 2022 Aug 17]. J Sports Sci. 2022;1-9. doi:10.1080/02640414.2022.2110203

  3. Smrcina Z, Woelfel S, Burcal C. A Systematic Review of the Effectiveness of Core Stability Exercises in Patients with Non-Specific Low Back PainInt J Sports Phys Ther. 2022;17(5):766-774. doi:10.26603/001c.37251

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