The Kickboxing Workout

Learning Objectives

  • How to hold the pads
  • Stance
  • Guard
  • Jab
  • Cross
  • Lead hand hook
  • Lead leg front kick
  • Rear leg roundhouse kick

The purpose of this article is to help trainers teach and conduct a simple kickboxing and fitness session. The workout detailed below provides an effective and exciting training session for their clients. Although aimed at the technical beginner a degree of basal cardiovascular and strength endurance conditioning is needed. Emphasis should be placed on development of technical proficiency rather than focusing on how hard your client can hit the pads. As your client’s skill level develops so will their ability to generate power and focus without compromising good form. During the course of each workout build the intensity as the client improves his/her technical ability and neuromuscular facilitation. Make the last four rounds mentally and physically intense using appropriate imaginary and role-play. Continually monitor fatigue and recovery rates throughout the session as the mental intensity many clients apply to this type of training can encourage them to push themselves beyond their physically capabilities. As the trainer you are responsible for controlling the session appropriately. Be prepared for sore bodies the next day!

How to hold the pads

Good technique in pad holding is essential both for the trainer and the client’s safety. It is also necessary to ensure good striking technique. There is a range of pads available, for example focus mitts, Thai pads and kick shields. Thai pads tend to be a useful and versatile choice.


  • Pads must be held firmly and at the correct angle for the relevant technique practiced.
  • Move pad slightly into path of oncoming technique, maintaining correct distance and not endangering your client by making contact with the hand or foot too early.
  • For punches hold the pads at head height and no greater than shoulder width apart.
  • Hold punch pads flat.
  • Line your front foot with the rear foot of the person kicking or punching.
  • Never pull pads away from the person kicking or punching as they are delivering the technique. pull pads away from the person kicking or punching as they are delivering the technique.
  • Keep the pads close to the body, as it is safer for you and more realistic.
  • Maintain basic stance as much as possible.
  • When punching strike diagonally to the contralateral pad.


The correct stance allows fluid, strong and effective delivery of techniques.


Feet are shoulder width apart and same distance in depth. The lead (front most) foot toes face straight ahead and the rear foot is rotated 45° laterally. Weight is evenly distributed with the pressure on the balls of the feet. The knees are slightly flexed, abdominals contracted and spine is neutral.


The correct positioning hands, arms and head enables good defense of both head and body and ideal position for delivery of striking technique.


Fists are clenched with palms facing each other. Thumbs locked over the fingers, the little finger facing forward. Fists are held at chin height with lead hand parallel to lead knee and rear hand retracted to same side jaw and elbow is held close to the body. Shoulders are down and relaxed.


The jab is a lead hand snap punch used to target the point of the chin or the solar plexus.


Punch fist out from its guard position rotating 90° to its point of impact. Keep the shoulders down and body and hand relaxed until point of impact when the fist must be clenched tightly with thumb locked over fingers. Contract deltoids and triceps at point of contact to ensure that elbow is not hyperextended. Keep the rear arm still throughout and return the striking fist quickly along the same trajectory to guard position.


The cross is a rear hand straight punch used to target the point of the chin or the solar plexus.


Rotate rear hip and shoulder forwards to allow the body to ‘throw’ the hand in a straight line to the target area. Rotate the fist so that the thumb faces inward and palm faces downward. A cross is delivered as if throwing a shot put, i.e. using the whole body to add momentum and power. Maintain core stability and neutral spine throughout. The striking fist is quickly returned along the same trajectory to the guard position.

Lead Hand Hook

The hook is a circular punch. The target area is the side of the face or ribs.


To load the technique rotate the lead hip backwards. Using a single smooth action the lead elbow is lifted through 90° laterally so that it is level with the shoulder and forearm is parallel to the floor. At the same time the lead hip is rotated through 90° in the same direction as the punch and allow the same side heel to rotate laterally. At the point of impact the fist is level with the rear side ear, the wrist should be in line with the elbow and the elbow at 90° . Contract biceps, anterior deltoids and chest to focus the technique. Return to guard by dropping the elbow straight back to the side. Maintain core stability and neutral spine throughout.

Lead leg front kick

A straight kick to the front used to counter or create an opening to deliver further techniques. Best used when the target is either stationary or moving forward toward kicker. The target areas are the groin, torso and occasionally the face.


From the guard position the lead knee is lifted to the front with the upper leg parallel to the floor and lower leg vertical. Toes are held dorsiflexed throughout so that the striking surface is the ball of the foot. The leg is straightened (the quadricep is contracted to avoid knee hyperextension). Lean slightly backward to maintain neutral spine. Return foot along the same trajectory.

Rear leg roundhouse kick

A circular kick utilising the shin or dorsum of the foot as striking surfaces. Targets areas are the outside thigh, ribs, solar plexus and the body of the mandible.


Lift rear knee and point at the desired target area and simultaneously medially rotate the knee so the knee and hip are in alignment. Point the foot and snap the kick out to target. Contract quadriceps to prevent hyperextension of the knee and ensure the support knee remains flexed. Return kicking leg along same trajectory. Step back into basic stance. Maintain core stability and guard throughout. Avoid forward flexion.

The training session

Warm up (10 mins)

Either skipping, rowing or running

Kickboxing circuit (30 mins)

Each round should last 90 seconds with 60 seconds active (e.g. rebounding or skipping) or passive recovery periods.

  • Rounds 1 & 2
Jab » » x 10
Jab »cross » x 10
Jab »cross »jab x 10
Cross »jab »cross x 10
Jab »jab »cross x 10

Mix the above combinations in the remaining time

  • Rounds 3 & 4
Lead hand hooks » » x 20 take care to perfect these techniques
Cross »lead hand hook » x 10
Cross »lead hand hook »cross » continue for remainder of round
  • Rounds 5 & 6
Jab »cross »hook »cross » x 20
Jab »jab »cross »hook »cross » continue for remainder of round
  • Rounds 7 & 8
Lead leg front kick » » » » x 20
Lead leg front kick »jab »cross » » x 20
Lead leg front kick »cross »hook »cross » continue for remainder of round
  • Rounds 9 & 10
Rear leg roundhouse kick » » » » x 20
Jab »jab »cross »rear leg roundhouse kick » x 10
Rear leg roundhouse kick »cross »hook »rear leg roundhouse kick » continue for remainder of round
  • Rounds 11 & 12
Lead leg front kick »jab »cross »hook »cross for the entire round
Rear leg roundhouse kick » »

Rest & drink (2 mins)

Strength endurance (10 mins)

Continuous punching 20 sec) » superset for a total of 2 mins
Press-ups 20 sec)
Rest 1 min
Squat kicks 3 sets x 20 with 20 secs rest between each set


e.g. torso twists, crunches superset X 3


Quadriceps, hamstrings, psoas, adductor, chest, back etc.

Basic Checklist

The following points must be adhered to for any technique:

  1. Hands held in guard position.
  2. Feed in basic stance, knees flexed, body weight evenly balanced.
  3. Kicker/punchers’ lead foot is in line with pad holders rear foot.
  4. Shoulders down and relaxed.
  5. Punches are delivered and returned along correct trajectory and strikes are delivered with the index and middle finger knuckles.
  6. Pad holder maintains correct distance to avoid hyperextension of knees or elbows and to ensure maximum efficiency.
  7. Client maintains neutral spine and core stability throughout.