Why Punching DOES NOT Build Muscle – The answer inside


Learning to fight- is demanding and challenging. But, it provides numerous benefits to the trainees, including physical and mental ones. One of the more widespread techniques is also the most intuitive one; punching. So, does it build muscle?

Punching does not build muscle since it’s not an optimized action that causes hypertrophy. As a result, it won’t build muscle in an efficient matter. Nonetheless, in general, boxing training and punching is a fantastic workout that improves cardiovascular shape and burns many calories. 

Before we continue, I’ll include a quote from an article from a trusted fitness website (HealthLine). It explains how a workout builds muscle. I encourage you to understand it, as it’s the basics of muscle building. 

Hypertrophy is an increase and growth of muscle cells. Hypertrophy refers to an increase in muscular size achieved through exercise. When you work out, if you want to tone or improve muscle definition, lifting weights is the most common way to increase hypertrophy. 


I want to point out that although punching isn’t an optimized workout to build muscle, it’s a fantastic way of training that can also provide enjoyment. Thus it’ll be suitable for many people looking for a different way of working out. 

Still, combining your boxing training with a muscle-building workout may be detrimental to your progress. If you desire to build muscle while learning boxing or performing various punching drills, integrating your current activity with weight-lifting training- will provide you with what you wish to achieve. 

This article will demonstrate whether punching and other forms of boxing training build muscle. If that’s your primary pursuit, this article will provide rich value and may aid you in your fitness journey. Let’s dive in. 

What is shadow boxing?

Punching comes in various forms. The following sections will discuss which one is which and their benefits. For instance, while shadow boxing may be suitable for one, bag punching will be fitting for another. Thus understanding their differences- is crucial. 

Shadow boxing is a boxing workout- that involves the trainee punching in the air. As a result, you can train it at home and without any equipment. Today, many elite fighters indulge in shadow boxing since it improves their ability to respond and improve their boxing ability. 

However, the workout doesn’t involve any impact. In that case, it’ll be challenging to build muscle with it. For example, if you expect to cause hypertrophy in your muscles with shadow boxing, you’re in the wrong.

Nonetheless, shadow boxing is a fantastic workout- that burns plenty of calories, as it uses many body parts. Consequently, one can improve one’s physical condition by constantly involving oneself in such a training routine. 

However, shadow boxing punches can be merged in two-three minute rounds which burn tons of calories, elevate your heart rate and strengthen the muscles of your back, arms and shoulders. A 30-minute shadow-boxing routine can consume up to 300 calories


600-calories per hour isn’t a joke. In fact, it’s the difference between increasing your fat storage and losing it. Thus involving yourself in such a workout will immediately grant you many physical benefits, such as burning body fat. 

What is bag punching?

Thus far, we have discussed the workout that is shadow boxing. We understood that if you want to build muscle, shadow boxing isn’t the most suitable nor optimized workout you can do. Now, let’s discuss the next exercise, which is bag punching.

Bag punching is a workout where one performs various punches to a punching bag. Moreover, contrary to shadow boxing, you’ll experience an impact while punching. As a result, it’s more optimized as a muscle-building workout. Therefore, if that’s your desire, consider doing it. 

Additionally, bag punching is fantastic since it provides more realism to your workouts. Therefore, more people may prefer it, as it’s more enjoyable and realistic to the trainees. 

But still, it’s not as optimized for building muscle as weight-lifting. Because of that, I stand my ground and would still recommend that you involve yourself in your weight-lifting training routine. 

I’ve been doing boxing for the past 3-years. Additionally, I’ve been lifting weights for over 5-years now. So if I could choose a single workout that built my physique and assisted me in reaching hypertrophy, it’s lifting weights. 

Nonetheless, bag punching is a fantastic aerobic exercise you should do. Although it isn’t optimized for muscle-building, one can benefit from consistently doing it. For instance, your overall physical condition will drastically improve. 

According to Valdosta State University, boxing calories burned per hour while using a heavy bag range from 354 for a 130-pound person to 558 if you weigh 205 pounds


Does punching nothing build muscle?

As we discussed, punching nothing is called shadow boxing. Essentially, it’s training your boxing abilities without any equipment, such as punching bags and gloves. First, let’s examine whether it builds muscle.

Punching nothing or shadow boxing- does not build muscle since it won’t cause sufficient hypertrophy in your muscles. As a result, it’s an unoptimized exercise for building muscle. Nonetheless, it’s a suitable and practical activity for improving your physical condition.

Every boxer involves himself in shadow boxing, as it improves boxing skills and capabilities. However, if your goal is to build muscle in an optimized workout, it’ll be best to stick to weight lifting, which is more suitable for causing hypertrophy. 

Should I learn boxing?

Like any martial art, boxing is a fantastic way of learning to fight. Depending on your goal, you can receive many physical and mental benefits, including confidence, self-esteem, and lower stress levels. So, should you learn boxing?

You should learn boxing since it provides numerous mental and physical benefits while making you a solid fighter. As a result, you can improve your physical condition while simultaneously improving your confidence and self-esteem and lowering your stress and aggression levels. 

Boxing fight
Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

Eventually, boxing became one of the leading martial arts- since it’s simple. Thus you can learn its basics in under a month, which is low compared to other more complex fighting styles

The physical benefits of boxing training Source

  • Improved Cardiovascular Health.
  • Better Overall Body Strength.
  • Increased Hand-Eye Coordination.
  • Increased muscle mass.
  • Better Stamina and Endurance.
  • Decreased Stress.
  • Better sleep quality.
  • Improved Confidence.

Is punching a good workout?

Boxing training (HIIT) in adults with abdominal obesity is feasible and may elicit a better therapeutic effect on obesity, cardiovascular- and HRQoL outcomes than an equivalent dose of brisk walking 


Boxing is a fantastic workout since it uses many parts of your body while involving a higher-than-usual heart rate. As a result, burning more calories than the average workout, such as walking- is natural and feasible. For instance, in an hour of boxing training, you can burn up to 800 calories.

boxing heart rate
Boxing’s heart rate compared to walking

From the above graph, we can interpret that you should involve yourself in boxing, as it’s a fantastic and effective workout. You can burn many calories using such a training routine, which may be the difference between losing and gaining fat. Thus I encourage you to train in boxing.

Will boxing make my arms bigger?

Many people desire to build their bodies using martial arts, such as boxing. Although that sounds good in your starting plan, you won’t be capable of doing so, as punching isn’t an optimized workout for building muscle.

Boxing won’t make your arms bigger since it’s an unoptimized exercise for muscle building. Nonetheless, it’s a fantastic workout, effectively burning calories and improving your aerobic and overall physical shape. Thus, doing it is remarkable for your boxing capabilities and physical self. 

How should I build muscle?

Learning boxing- is a fantastic way of improving your well-being while learning self-defense and general fighting. However, it usually involves unoptimized workouts, such as shadow boxing. Well then, how should you build muscle?

You should build muscle by involving yourself in activites that will cause hypertrophy in your muscles, such as weight-lifting and street workouts. Nonetheless, boxing is a fantastic way of involving cardiovascular activities in your weekly training routine. 

Boxing is different. It will aid you in learning to fight, which by itself- is fantastic. It’ll also improve your well-being, thus enforcing your self-esteem and confidence while lowering overall aggression and stress levels. 

Final words

If there’s a single piece of advice I most want you to take, boxing is a fantastic martial art. Additionally, you can drastically improve your well-being by staying consistent with your training routine. 

Additionally, many people who begin their boxing journey quit since they don’t see immediate results. I prefer if you avoid the mindset of seeing quick results, as the only path it’ll lead you to is quitting. 

Punching isn’t an optimized workout to build muscle since it doesn’t cause hypertrophy. As a result, it’ll be best if you involve yourself in other more optimized ways of muscle building, such as weight-lifting. 


I've served in the military as a special forces operator for 4-years. In that period, I've trained in many martial arts, including karate, MMA, BJJ, boxing, and even Krav Maga. I want to share my passion with you, so here it is!

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