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MMA has burst onto the scene as one of the premier brands of Martial Arts. The culmination of different styles fighting to see which art was the best, has now inspired the development of Mixed Martial Arts as its own unique artform. MMA combines elements of Wrestling, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo, Sambo, Catch Wrestling, and different forms of striking, into one highly dynamic skill set. Training for professional combat can be extremely rough on an athlete, and finding innovative ways to improve their training methods, while still maintaining their performance is pivotal.

What this article covers:

Training full contact all the time will put too much strain on a competitive athlete. So there needs to be a balance between the full contact training, the light drilling, the strength and conditioning, and the mental, and physical rest periods. Using training methods like muay thai shadow boxing is a successful way to improve the quality of an athlete's game, and doing it with little resistance on the body.

Improve your fitness and your striking skills with James Campbell and DynamicStriking.com!

does shadow boxing build muscle

All of the greatest strikers in the UFC like Anderson Silva, Junior Dos Santos, Jon Jones, Israel Adesanya, and Connor McGregor will all shadow box in preparation for their fights. shadow boxing routines can be an extremely effective training program, which can help an athlete in numerous ways to become a more efficient Martial Artist. 


There is a long list of reasons why shadow boxing can benefit an athlete. One of the main benefits is that an athlete will significantly improve their technique and their form. The technique is how they execute a technical movement, and the form is the quality of their flow of technical movements. Using an athlete's own style of movement, they can really develop their technical systems during shadow boxing exercises. Having the ability to get creative, and practise the finer details during a real cardio based exercise, is influential in how an athlete will showcase their striking capabilities. In a shadow boxing session, an athlete can afford to make mistakes, and ultimately that is how they will fine tune their processes.

Another important benefit is how shadow boxing can improve an athlete's muscle memory. The concept of muscle memory is neurological, and athletes will remember various motor skills without using any of their conscious thoughts. Studies have shown that forming skills with muscle memory can last forever, as performing certain actions repetitively will fire off neurons in different parts of the brain. This creates a neural pathway between the muscles an athlete is using, and the central nervous system. Shadow boxing repetitively can be a great muscle memory to form, because athletes will perfect a smooth flow within their striking form, and when they are deep in the trenches they can rely on their instincts. 

Hand and eye coordination is another key component athlete's will improve from shadow boxing. This type of exercise promotes functional movement, and athletes will be able to bolster their fine motor skills. Improving in striking ability takes dedication, hard work, and consistency, and being able to do this without coping damage is ground breaking. Moving around the mats and utilising shadow boxing combinations involves coordination between an athlete's hands, their feet, and their head. This is where drilling certain aspects like punching with one hand, and blocking with the other, or countering a punch with a parry, and then landing a punch, is how the athlete can develop their coordination skills.

Improving posture and balance is crucial to a combat sports athlete. In MMA the necessity to stand in base is vital to an athlete keeping their balance. Centre of gravity is important for a striker, so they can access their most functional structures like accuracy, and power. Athletes must learn not to exert too much energy, or they can fatigue quicker, which will lead to poor execution of their technical systems. Using shadow boxing is a great way to workout where the best positioning for an athlete's feet are, and this will lead to a more comprehensive series of effective punches. Having a postured stance in MMA will also enable an athlete to stifle any takedowns that an opponent may try, and this is crucial to staying on the feet so the athlete can use their striking advantage.

Shadow boxing is a full body workout that can give an athlete the edge over their competitors. What makes shadow boxing so diverse is how it can be practised anywhere, and athletes don't need any equipment to sustain their training. Shadow boxing will engage all of the athlete's important muscle groups, and this can lead to a stronger, and fitter athlete, with a more comprehensive balance structure. The days of the impulsive and aggressive striker have been replaced with the smarter and more calculated athlete, and using patience in a fight is a skill that can only be learnt through repetition. Shadow boxing enhances the athlete's striking flow, which gives them more opportunities at advancing their position and catching their opponent with punches.


To build an effective shadow boxing workout, the athlete should focus on a few basic striking moves, and work on integrating them together. Shadow boxing requires an athlete to combine proper punching technique, power, and speed together, and doing this will help the athlete to develop good habits within their own form. The more the body uses repetitive movements, the better muscle memory is formed, and this can lead to a more developed game style. To maximise an athlete's shadow boxing session, they need to start off slow, and treat it like a warm up. This means to walk the mats from end to end, and throw light punches like jabs, straight punches, hooks, and uppercuts.

Once the athlete has built up some flow they can step up the pace, and begin to filter in more movements. Using circling, ducking, feinting, and blocking, while exercising good footwork is how an athlete will increase their performance. By this stage the athlete should be showcasing a high energy output, and using perfect form, this is a great way to build technical proficiency. To step up the training, the athlete can add different forms of exercise like short sprints, squat jumps, burpees, and sprawls. This can make the shadow boxing session extremely hard, and athletes will be rewarded by becoming a more seasoned athlete. There are other methods that can help like using a boxing bag to circle around, while shadow boxing, this is still a good way to work on an athlete's game. Training in front of a mirror is a good way that an athlete can watch their form, and develop better quality striking. Athletes can also utilise long jogging sessions, and simply add shadow boxing into the equation. There are a multitude of different avenues available, and athletes can get as creative as they want, if they want to improve their skill set.


Shadow boxing can also be a great form of strength and conditioning, and the workout can be highly beneficial to an athlete's cardiovascular system. Shadow boxing can burn anywhere from five hundred calories up to thousands, depending on how long an athlete trains for, and the relentless moving around will enhance the athlete's overall fitness level. When an athlete slips, and ducks, and uses punching combinations, they are transforming their cardio exponentially, and only twenty minutes per day is highly beneficial to an athlete.

Incorporating shadow boxing with weights is a great way to build up a functional strength for striking. Too often athletes will spend time lifting weights, and will forget that there may be better ways to improve their overall strength, and tailor it to punching an opponent. Throwing strikes while holding dumbbells is one of the best ways to build functional strength, and this can be a good way to fast track an athlete into becoming a faster, and fitter athlete. Adding strength related exercises to a shadow boxing drill like squats, burpees, lunges, or sprawls can be a prolific way to boost an athlete's strength and conditioning level.


Incorporating shadow boxing exercises into an athlete's training regime will help them to lose weight. Twenty minutes of shadow boxing can benefit an athlete, as they will lose anywhere from four hundred to eight hundred calories per session. Athletes that put in more time into their sessions will benefit extensively, but they must make sure they have eaten enough calories. Burning too many calories can lead to losing muscle tone, which is a reverse effect, and athletes will ultimately want to lose fat cells, and gain more muscle tone. All athletes must make sure to burn more calories than they eat, but there is a fine line between burning too much. All in all if an athlete puts time into shadow boxing they are guaranteed to lose weight, build strength, and improve many of their striking proficiencies.

The act of shadow boxing will see an athlete constantly moving, throwing punches, using evasion techniques, and getting creative. This type of workout is going to benefit anyone who is looking to shed some kilos, and the best part about this workout is that anyone can do it, and they can do it in private. Losing weight has always been a hard task for many people, and now with exercises like shadow boxing it has become easier. Burning the right amount of calories is crucial so an athlete doesn't gain weight, and sorting out the right calorie intake will help an athlete to turn this training method into a science.


Mental health has become an extremely serious talking point, and many people of today are suffering from some form of mental health problem. This is where a person needs to find some form of connection, like spending time with family, joining a group, and putting time into training. Exercise is a proven rehabilitation process for people that suffer from all kinds of ailments, and on a scientific level the brain will release chemicals like endorphins, dopamine, and adrenaline, which can help people to reduce their stress levels, and feel happier. This is why it is important to exercise, so that a person has the right mindset to be able to deal with any obstacles they may face in their life. Exercises like shadow boxing can help to improve a person's energy levels, which in turn can help to motivate them to make changes in their life. Exercise is also a great stress relief, and having a good distraction from a person's problems can result in a more stable frame of mind.

Improve your fitness and your striking skills with James Campbell and DynamicStriking.com!

benefits of shadow boxing

Shadow boxing is an extremely effective method of training, which involves a significant amount of intellect. Athletes must use multiple calculations while shadow boxing, and learning how to engage the opponent, while thinking about balance, speed, power and posture takes high levels of energy. This means that any person struggling with mental health conditions will have a comprehensive challenge on their hands, and this may be exactly what they need to focus, or distract their mind. Any training method that relieves stress, and boosts a person's mood, is definitely something to experience. The fact that shadow boxing can be utilised when a person is alone, and there is no equipment required, it becomes an easy workout to train. 


There is always a psychology behind all sporting activities, and combat sports is one of those sports that requires strategy, athletic ability, strength and conditioning, and calculated decision making. Understanding how to train and fight the right way, means the athlete should always have a positive mindset. Everything they are doing is systematic, and routine, and their confidence is extremely high. Shadow boxing is the perfect tool for sharpening up an athlete's form, and using the right psychology will highly benefit an athlete. An athlete should focus on strengthening their opportunities, and visualising themself using the perfect technique. Setting achievable goals is important, but how the athlete achieves the goal is the main objective. 

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