09/29/2011 07:53 am ET Updated Nov 29, 2011

Boxing Moves For Beginners

By Hanna Brooks Olsen for

In every gym, there are at least a few pieces of mysterious equipment. But for the most part, you’ve got them all cracked. You’ve mastered the medicine ball, kicked butt at the kettlebel and you’re practically reformer royalty. But it’s that hulking, hanging thing in the corner that burly men circle around like hungry shark that’s got you intrigued. Are you dying to try the heavy bag?

Sure, kickboxing classes are great for a cardio boost, but actually boxing, with a punching bag, is one of the most exhilarating (and effective) workouts you can do solo. And if you’re lucky enough to have a gym with a bag, you may be itching to take advantage of it. But before you do, there are a few elements that may be the difference between falling in love with a new sport and fracturing your wrist with a bad punch. Here are some pointers for getting started:

1.) Wrap it up. Invest in some hand-wraps. These long canvas strips (which sort of look like Ace bandages) will protect your knuckles, as well as support your wrists. They’re not expensive and take up barely any space in your gym bag. A good video tutorial of how to properly wrap your hands is here.

2.) Double down. Wraps are important, but a good pair of bag gloves is also important. Don’t bother with the gigantic curved ones -- just some thin practice covers will do the trick. TKO makes a decent, inexpensive one for women.

3.) Stretch. You wouldn’t dive right into weights or running without a stretch, would you? Of course not. Stretch your arms, back, and neck a little before you get started.

4.) Straighten up and stand right. It’s time to get in front of the bag. Before you throw the first punch, you’ve got to get into position. To set up your stance, place your dominant foot (right if you’re right-handed, left if you’re a southpaw) behind you, pointed at about two o’clock. Your non-dominant foot should be pointed just to the side of the bag at about a 45-degree angle. Your feet should basically be staggered. Get a good look at how to stand from this video.

5.) Punch like a pro. Once you’re in position, throwing a good punch is key to keeping yourself from breaking something. There are four basic punches you can throw: the cross, jab, uppercut, and hook -- all of which are highlighted in this helpful video. Just remember: keep your wrist straight, and your dukes up.

Of course, these are just some pointers if you’re looking to try something new for your work out. Start gentle to see how it feels -- and if it hurts, stop immediately.

If you’d like more expert advice, ask one of the trainers at your gym. Odds are, if there’s a heavy bag present, there’s probably someone who knows what they’re doing.

Now go forth and hit something.

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