Should I Shadow Box With Gloves On?

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Exploring the benefits and considerations of wearing gloves while shadowboxing could significantly impact your training style and muscle fatigue.

Shadow boxing with gloves helps beginners learn proper defensive hand positioning after throwing a punch. It could also add some diversity to resistance training but has the potential to create more injuries over time as you punch with more weight (force) that has no target to pass the energy.

I have more to say on the topic, so keep reading.

Benefits of wearing gloves while shadow boxing

Shadow boxing while wearing gloves is one way to add extra resistance to your striking movements and develop your conditioning in the same movement patterns you’ll often use to box.

Boxing gloves typically weigh between 12 oz (3/4 lbs) to 18 oz (1 1/8 lbs).

The extra weight wrapped around your hands adds extra resistance to every movement you make with your arms.

Throwing jabs, crosses, hooks and even holding your hands defensively close to your cheeks will put more strength requirements on your body.

It’s subtle, but it definitely adds up. If you think back to the first time you learned boxing techniques, it’s likely that your first challenge was having the stamina to keep your hands up.

This is something that comes with consistent training. I know that for me, personally, I noticed my deltoids ache for a long time until they built up extra muscle fibers and became visibly more defined—now I don’t feel the weight at all.

You’ll wear your gloves during regular training, but keeping them on for a shadow warmup or cooldown could add a few extra layers of endurance-building challenge for your body.

It would be sport-specific, too, as you are training your body to build the fortification for boxing movements.

It isn’t uncommon for even professional boxers to use this method to condition and train their ability to throw punches with the extra weight.

If it’s good enough for Anthony Joshua, then it’s good enough for amateurs, too:

Shadow boxing combinations with gloves

If you want to give shadow boxing a try with gloves, then here are a few suited for beginners:

Jab-Jab-Body

This one is super simple but develops your striking height and movement variety.

  • Double Jab to the head
  • Cross to the body
  • Push backward off your lead foot and move away

1-2-Step-2

This one is important to learn, particularly if you get a chance to practice on the pads with a trainer, but equally good to practice with shadow boxing to develop your reaction to expect a counter and fire back with your own!

  • Jab to the head
  • Cross to the head
  • Push backward off your lead foot, lean your head backward expecting a counter-hook
  • Fire straight back with a Cross to the head, pushing off your back foot for power

1-2-1-Slip-Body

This is essential in your boxing toolkit to make your opponent expect a second cross coming their way, but as they shell up (or counter), you instead sneak a body shot with a hook with your lead arm where they’re not expecting it.

This is great to practice with shadow boxing as you develop the movement.

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  • Jab to the head
  • Cross to the head
  • Jab to the head
  • Step to the outside and slip to avoid any counter strike, then pivot your upper body towards your lead foot and throw a hook with your lead hand to the body
  • Wind your upper body in reverse and be ready to move away or roll under a counter

Drawbacks of shadow boxing with gloves

The primary drawback of shadow boxing with gloves on is that it potentially adds more stress to muscle groups that are already overworked.

What most people don’t realize until they start boxing for the first time, is how much this extra little bit of weight can add to their exhaustion levels and demands on their body (particularly the shoulders and arms).

It’s all too common for a beginner, or even someone within their first year, to feel the strain on their shoulders, triceps, biceps, forearms, and even areas of the back, until their body catches up by building stronger punching muscles to withstand it.

Until your body has adjusted, the last thing it needs is to have even more strenuous activity put on the microtears and growing muscle tissues that are already trying to develop.

If you overuse muscles, then they’ll snap (eventually).

In boxing, this can be a really common problem since you are repeating many of the same movements dozens, even hundreds of times, in a single session.

The repetition helps your muscles to adapt, but there is always a breaking point and you need to know what that is.

I found that certain muscles in my body would get over-stressed, whether it be from certain muscle weaknesses or imperfect form. For me, it was often deltoids, the Serratus Anterior (boxer’s muscle), and the mid-back.

These muscles were already getting worked out hard in strength & conditioning sessions and boxing—drills, technique, and sparring classes—on top. They didn’t need more of it, they needed time to rest and rebuild.

You can do more than you think and as your experience grows, you’ll uncover mental strength to push through the most difficult barriers. But sometimes, that comes at a price and that’s where injury happens.

If you want to be a boxer or, at least, a regular boxing class-goer, then staying injury-free in your arms, shoulders, and back is key.

Shadow boxing in 16 oz gloves

You can try slow shadow boxing in a heavier glove size, like a 16 oz pair that is usually intended for sparring.

This might give you some extra resistance if that’s how you want to advance your training methods.

Can you buy shadow boxing gloves?

There aren’t any boxing gloves that are specifically designed for shadow boxing.

There are different ways to train your abilities in shadow boxing without gloves, like holding small weights in your hands while you shadow box or using resistance bands.

You can also get weighted boxing gloves that are heavier than normal to help you increase your resistance. This added resistance could improve your power, speed, and durability to keep your hands up.

Do I recommend shadow boxing with gloves or not?

Overall, I think it’s unnecessary to train wearing your gloves outside of actually punching a target or keeping your hands up.

It’s good to let your body get used to the weight of gloves in a defensive stance to build that resistance early on, but I wouldn’t want to throw too many punches into thin air while wearing gloves.

I say that because I think it will add up to unnecessary strains and even injuries over time.

There’s nothing more important than rest and recovery if you want to enjoy boxing for a long time. Getting temporarily hurt and injured is a part of the journey, but the less you get banged up; the better.

I enjoy the feeling and training I get from shadow boxing without gloves and working on footwork, visualization, and speed.

When it comes time to move to the pads or the heavy bag, I’ll put my hand wraps and boxing gloves on and start the heavy part of my session. I think it’s best to keep things simple like this!

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