Sample Class: Fully Functional Kickboxing

Merge dynamic combos with functional strength intervals.

By Pamela Light, MA
May 18, 2016

Kickboxing is functional in nature. Doing a combination requires your arms and legs to work in sync, anchored by a strong, engaged core. What if you were to up the ante and throw in some dedicated functional strength intervals? You would have one knockout class and a fully functional body!

Fully Functional Kickboxing Details

TOTAL TIME: approximately 55 minutes

GOAL/EMPHASIS: cardio and strength intervals mixed with kickboxing combinations for a total-body workout

EQUIPMENT NEEDED: a set of moderately weighted dumbbells and an exercise mat, per person

MUSIC: 140 beats per minute for cardio intervals and kickboxing combinations and 130 bpm for strength intervals

Warm-Up (10 minutes)

So that the kickboxing intervals will flow smoothly, review and practice punches and kicks. Practice reps at half speed and then at full speed, walking the room to offer corrections. Put together two to three moves in simple patterns to build heat and confidence. Make sure you practice these movements:

  • jabs
  • crosses
  • uppercuts
  • hooks
  • ascending elbow strikes
  • knee strikes
  • front kicks
  • side kicks
  • back kicks

Work Phase (30 minutes)

This workout includes three sets. Each set has a cardio interval, a kickboxing interval and a functional strength interval.

The cardio interval boosts heart rate with simple and repetitive combinations. Encourage participants to push themselves to a “hard” rating of perceived exertion. Repeat the cardio interval for approximately 1 minute.

The kickboxing interval contains a punch combo and a kick combo. Teach the combos separately, practicing each about eight times through. Then combine the punch and kick combos and repeat them together about eight times.

For the functional strength interval, slow the music down and have everyone grab dumbbells. Teach the upper-body move followed by the lower-body move, for 16–24 reps. Practice upper and lower moves separately, going through each twice, and then put them together (creating a compound move) for 16–24 reps. Cue proper core engagement, and encourage participants to modify the exercise by keeping the moves separate if needed.

One set runs as follows:

  • cardio interval, 1 minute
  • kickboxing interval, right lead, 3 minutes
  • cardio interval (repeat), 1 minute
  • kickboxing interval, le_ lead, 3 minutes
  • functional strength interval, 2 minutes

SET ONE

Cardio interval (1 minute): Shuffle R (4 counts), R knee strike, R side kick; repeat L. Keep low on shuffle, covering as much ground as possible to boost heart rate.

Kickboxing interval:

  • Front jab, front hook, 2 back uppercuts (4 counts).
  • Front knee strike, side kick (front leg). Repeat back to back, sinking low into supporting leg (4 counts).
  • Combined: front jab, front hook, two back uppercuts + front knee strike, side kick, front knee strike, side kick (8 counts).
  • Repeat cardio interval.
  • Repeat kickboxing interval, L lead.

Functional strength interval:

  • Overhead press: Holding one dumbbell in each hand, press to ceiling and return 90-degree elbows to shoulder height.
  • Squat: With feet parallel under hips, sit hips back while chest lifts; hold one dumbbell against chest using both hands.
  • Squat with overhead press: Holding one weight close to sternum, press overhead while sinking into squat. Engage core to prevent back from arching.

SET TWO

Cardio interval (1 minute): Four jabs, while shuffling R; four alternating uppercuts. Repeat L. Make punches sharp and fast to amp up intensity.

Kickboxing interval:

  • Jabs high/low/high/low (squat to deliver low blows); four alternating uppercuts (8 counts).
  • Back knee, back kick, front knee, front kick (8 counts).
  • Combined: jabs high/low/high/low; four alternating uppercuts, back knee, back kick, front knee, front kick (16 counts).
  • Repeat cardio interval.
  • Repeat kickboxing combo interval, L lead.

Functional strength interval:

  • Reverse fly: From lunge position, with back angled forward 45 degrees, lift dumbbells with posterior deltoids, raising long-lever arms to shoulder level.
  • Reverse lunge repeater: Do reverse lunge, dumbbells by sides of body, same leg. Option: Test balance by eliminating foot touch. Hold.
  • Single-leg squat: While balancing on one leg, with opposite leg extended and hovering just above ground, sink into single-leg squat as dumbbells lift into reverse fly; repeat. Modification:
    Touch back leg to floor at bottom of movement.

Note: Repeat reverse lunge repeater with opposite lead; add balance.

SET THREE

Cardio interval (1 minute): Descending elbow strikes R and L, ascending elbow strikes R and L, four alternating knee strikes. Make knee strikes high impact to boost intensity.

Kickboxing interval:

  • Jab/cross/jab/cross, front descending elbow, back ascending elbow (8 counts).
  • Two front knee strikes, front kick, back foot tap (8 counts).
  • Combined: jab/cross/jab/cross, front descending elbow, back ascending elbow, two front knee strikes, front kick, back foot tap (16 counts).
  • Repeat cardio interval.
  • Repeat kickboxing combo interval, L lead.

Functional strength interval:

  • Lateral raise: Lift dumbbells to sides, no higher than shoulder level. Arms can be slightly bent.
  • Wide squat: With feet in wide stance, toes pointed out, bend knees and squat while holding dumbbells against center of chest.
  • Combined: Lift dumbbells into lateral raise while lowering into wide squat. Modification: Alternate arms in lateral raise.

Core Work (10 Minutes)

To maximize time, pair core exercises. Each move targets opposing muscle groups.

  • Plank + back extension: Hold plank on elbows and toes for 30 seconds. Modification: Keep knees on floor. Lower into supine, arms reaching back to toes, palm up. Lift chest and thighs
    away from floor, hold for 3 counts and release; repeat 8x. Complete both moves 3x (alternating).
  • Crunch + bridge pulse: With knees bent, feet on floor, arms long by sides, bring ribs to hips, lifting shoulders and reaching hands toward feet. Pulse three times and lower; repeat 8x. Lift
    hips into bridge, pushing through heels and squeezing gluteals with pattern of 3 counts up, 1 count half-way down; repeat 8x. Complete both moves 3x(alternating).
  • Cool-Down and Stretch (5 minutes)

    Hold a static stretch for 30–45 seconds, focusing on all major muscle groups: gluteals, hamstrings, quadriceps, chest, deltoids, triceps.

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Pamela Light, MA

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