Adults looking for a new workout challenge may have some questions about the difference between kickboxing vs. boxing. Both of these activities have soared in popularity recently and are beneficial for overall health. Although both of these are within the same family of combat sports, there are key differences between kickboxing vs. boxing and unique benefits of each.
For example, each of these workouts focus on different parts of the body and employ distinct techniques. Kickboxing uses the entire body from head to toe, while boxing moves focus mostly on the upper body. Both can be used for competition and for sparring with a real opponent, though each can also be practiced in a group workout setting. Generally, though, boxing tends to lean more on sparring with another human whereas kickboxing has increased in popularity as a group workout class, where you get some of the amazing benefits of practicing a combat sport, including the self-defense skills, without all the blood and bruises.
6 Critical Differences in Kickboxing vs. Boxing
While both kickboxing and boxing are incredible workouts that can help supercharge your workout, build self-defense skills and increase confidence, there are a number of key differences between them. Here are six of the most prominent ways that these two activities and workout classes differ:
1. Kickboxing vs. Boxing: Body Areas Used
As we briefly noted above, a key difference in kickboxing vs. boxing is the body areas used during a workout or match.
Boxing focuses primarily on punches and requires a sturdy base from your hips down through your feet. When boxing, your upper body, and core are the main focus areas as you duck, twist, and punch in order to strike your opponent or avoid their attempts to strike you. The footwork involved in boxing has less to do with strengthening the leg muscles and more with helping the boxer defend against blows to the head and upper body. However, glutes and legs inevitably get a workout as well. Boxers must be nimble and fast on their feet as they glide with their opponent around the ring.
In contrast, kickboxing utilizes the upper body, core, and lower body equally. As you duck, pivot, twist, kick, and punch your opponent, which often in kickboxing class is a heavy sandbag, you’re working out nearly every muscle group in your body, including your arms, glutes, core, and legs. You’ll be lunging and hopping while throwing your momentum behind strikes with all four of your extremities in kickboxing.
2. Kickboxing vs. Boxing: Types of Movement
Boxing primarily uses punching moves, while kickboxing combines both punching and kicking in addition to elbow and knee strikes. Kickboxing can lead to more significant full-body contact and require more exaggerated movements, whether against an opponent or a piece of gym equipment. Boxing, on the other hand, requires quick and tight foot movement and carefully placed quick jabs with your fists.
3. Kickboxing vs. Boxing: Balance and Coordination
Boxers remain on their feet for the duration of their workout. This means that boxing training does not inherently focus on helping participants improve their balance. You must have a solid base for the entirety of your boxing workout or match in order to maintain the position you need to effectively strike. Of course, when you’re practicing paying attention to incoming strikes in addition to determining the best time to deliver your own strikes, you will inevitably be exercising your coordination.
In contrast, kickboxing requires mastery of both balance and coordination. Kickboxing frequently asks participants to balance on one leg as they kick the other leg toward their opponent or gym equipment. As a result, kickboxing participants are more likely to find that balance and coordination improve as their training progresses because of the more exaggerated movements and at times opposing forces at play.
If you’ve never tried either of these, it’s safe to say that your balance and coordination will improve no matter whether you’ve chosen to focus on kickboxing vs. boxing. Kickboxing can be competitive and faced off against a human opponent, but it’s often practiced with an inanimate object. Boxing, too, can be practiced with sandbags but often also leads to sparring with an actual opponent. Anytime you must prepare to strike or defend against a quick-moving opponent, your concentration and balance will flourish.
4. Kickboxing vs. Boxing: Defensive Maneuvers
One key difference between kickboxing vs. boxing is how participants defend themselves against opponents. In boxing, participants primarily use their hands and arms to block incoming punches to their faces, chest, and core. Boxers must frequently duck to dodge a hook or punch, which requires strong core muscles and quick instincts.
In kickboxing, participants cannot simply duck away from a punch or hook. They risk getting a knee or leg kicked into the face if they do. So, kickboxers learn defensive moves that allow them to constantly be ready to block both kicks and punches. In that sense, kickboxing is better at teaching well-rounded full-body defense, whereas boxing training more specifically concentrates on face-to-face standoff.
5. Kickboxing vs. Boxing: Points of Contact
Because boxing is focused entirely on punches to the upper body, boxers have no opportunities to punch below the opponent’s belt. Instead, participants focus on landing strikes on the opponent’s head and upper body. This takes concentration and precision.
With kickboxing, the entire body is fair game. Kickboxing hits can land anywhere on an opponent’s body, whether above or below the belt. This gives kickboxers more flexibility and range of motion when they’re determining how to debilitate their opponent. This also is why kickboxing is such an effective full-body workout.
6. Kickboxing vs. Boxing: Workout Focus
A final significant difference between kickboxing vs. boxing is the focus of the workouts for each combat sport. Boxing workouts focus on endurance and strength training for the upper body so that punches and jabs are effective. Footwork is incorporated, but it is rarely the focus. At X3 Sports, we will incorporate more traditional strength and conditioning exercises into the class, so you will work out your entire body. But generally speaking, boxing is tighter and more upper-body-focused.
In contrast, kickboxing workouts focus on endurance and strength training for the entire body. Kickboxing requires the use of the upper body, core, and lower body so it’s essential to build strength and endurance in every major muscle group from head to foot. This will happen naturally at X3 Sports, of course, as you’re bouncing, punching, kicking, pivoting, and doing more traditional drills and exercises to upbeat music in a high-energy group environment.
Considering Kickboxing vs. Boxing? Try Both at X3 Sports!
Both kickboxing and boxing provide excellent workouts that help participants get stronger physically and mentally. X3 sports offers kickboxing and boxing classes that use a lot of similar punches, such as jabs, crosses, hooks, and elbows. Because kickboxing focuses on the entire body, it can be an excellent place for beginners to start so they can get a full-body workout while also learning boxing moves. The supportive environment X3 offers will help even the most novice adult learn how to box and kickbox safely while having fun, burning calories, and meeting new friends.
There’s no need to stress about trying kickboxing vs. boxing. X3 Sports offers options for interested adults to try a free class of kickboxing and boxing. Sign up for a free boxing class or a free kickboxing class. These free classes will introduce participants to the fundamentals of each combat sport and offer an excellent idea of what to expect when progressing through kickboxing or boxing training.