I am interested in maintaining overall health but get bored after a few weeks of aimlessly pulling weights and running. I was wondering if I could take up Boxing (or Muay Thai) for overall fitness.

After some thought, I've decided that it sounds fun and I will stay motivated.

Are there any possible medical concerns of boxing? I will not fight/spar though, but I am a PhD student and the last thing I want is brain damage.

I can't do hybrid strategies (like both weights and boxing). If I commit to my boxing coach, he will design my schedules and he is really nice, trust-able and reputed.

In summary, as a PhD student with brain being the only source of income, does it make sense for me to take up Boxing/Muay Thai for my fitness?


4 Answers 4


It really depends on how you define "overall fitness".

Boxing is an excellent source of cardio training, and a good traininer will have you not only pounding the bag, but running, doing sit-ups, push-ups, chin-ups, bodyweight squats, skipping, and who knows what else.

All of these things are going to build some lean muscle mass and will help reduce fat (as much as any other high intensity training). Good training will also give you excellent coordination - for both both hand-eye and footing.

Three or four boxing sessions a week will leave you much fitter and healthier than not. Obviously, it woun't build as much muscle as similar time in the gym. But equally, you won't run as fast as someone who spent that time sprint training, or as far as someone who spent that time long-distance training.

When it comes to damage preventing, ensuring your trainer teaches you how to wrap your hands well is important. If you aren't sparring then your hands are the only real concern you need to look after. Even under gloves, I busted a pinky finger on a boxing bag because my hands were poorly wrapped.

To a certain respect "health and fitness" is a very hazy goal and one that you can only really see over a lifetime in hindsight. If you enjoy boxing and it gets you up and active, and you can keep it up for the long term then it is the perfect activity for you.

  • 1
    I don't know. I guess I just want to stay active in order to prevent as many diseases as possible arising from modern sedentary lifestyle.
    – user2759
    Jul 15, 2013 at 20:15

I boxed for 5 years - the last two professionally. When I boxed - in the projects - it was at a "real" gym.

I have also instructed people in classes and "boxing gyms". And I put that in quotes because I was more personal trainer that used boxing techniques and workouts for my clients. Probably in the same category you are in - you aren't looking at becoming a boxer.

You may be working with a great personal trainer but no well respected boxing coach is taking on clients that don't spar.

What you get out of your boxing workouts depends on what equipment and exercises that you do. If you gave me an example schedule I could probably tell you what to expect.

If you are "boxing" with a good trainer 4 days a week your work would include small amount of weight work (normal day might include 4 sets of 20 squats at moderate weight), it would include abdominal work every day, it would include speed work (sprints, jump drills, lateral movement), it would include endurance training (jumping rope, long jogs, shadow boxing), and it would include lots of heavy bag work.

What can you expect out of a real boxing regime? Answer is simple - an efficient body. A true boxing workout slims down your body to its optimal weight while retaining as much speed and explosion as possible. Don't be fooled by Rocky - that body doesn't exist at most gyms. Having large muscles is slow, lessens your length, and makes you jump to a higher weight class...

What do you need to worry about? If you aren't sparring then nothing will ever hit your head (my trainer did used to smack the sh!t out of me with his mitts if I dropped my hands). I would say for the new boxer the elbows would be my main concern - over extending is the #1 injury from experience. Make sure your hands are properly wrapped, you have gloves on when you are hitting something, and you work into the routine slowly the first few weeks.

The benefits of a good boxing routine. You will use muscles that you will never have a chance to use in your life. You will become quicker and leaner. You will get the best natural high you can get. And how do you know if you have a good trainer... he should be more worried about your intensity not your "form" or giving you "boxing lessons". If you aren't putting in the effort and just jumping rope and hitting a bag, you will see little to no results (other than sweating).

  • +1, I used to work in the factory with a guy who boxed professionally, he was 5'7-9" and told me about how he'd have to slim down, because otherwise he'd have to box guys who were like 6'2 b/c (and the reach to match) because of the different weight class lol.
    – MDMoore313
    Mar 24, 2017 at 13:37

I am a PhD student in computer science and an amateur Muay-Thai boxer :-)

I will not tell you anything about "brain damage" --- because I am not an expert in this topic (though I do not think it is a real problem on the amateur level). I will not tell you that Muay-Thai is a great, fascinating, enjoyable sport, perhaps the best I have ever tried. Because these things do not really matter in light of the following fact. Muay-Thai is "brain consuming" --- you can simultaneously run and think about mathematics, you can cycle and solve your favorite problems, you can swim and design algorithms; but when you go to a Muay-Thai gym you have to focus on Muay-Thai. Moreover, after the training you are mentally exhausted. This actually means that from the perspective of a researcher Muay-Thai costs a lot of time...

Try running/biking/swimming instead --- these disciplines will definitely boost your research :-)


I would add to Lego's great answer that boxing and muaythai are often seen as beeing good for your back, because you train the core and you often move your whole torso. I got this from numerous friends who had in turn heard this from their doctors.

As for myself, for long stretches of my life muaythai has been the only sport I could do for longer without getting bored, it's for the same reason the sport I can do with the highest intensity. If you are more disciplined than me, that will not apply of course - but it could be a consideration.

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