Abandon all weakness, ye who enter here.

Skill Specific Cardio

This post is dedicated to my brother, who taught me to shadowbox and is celebrating his 25th birthday today. Here's to you, big bro.

In-step, duck, jab, side-step, that head slip was too slow! As a reward, you get a warm, comforting right hook to the face. 

Metaphorically, at least. Because you're only shadowboxing. Shadowboxing is a skill that is practiced often by boxers, kickboxers, and fighters in general to hone instincts for a fight. Yet, it's an underrated skill by non-fighters, and it's something that I do quite often for cardio.

I often run in intervals in order to boost cardiovascular strength, but as a whole I'm not a big running fan. When I'm not running, this skill specific cardio style is my preferred method to work up a sweat before I work out.

Running does not lack skill; far from it. But when you train running, you get better at running. Your endurance will increase, as well as core and leg strength, but ultimately if you are not a runner, you'll gain no specific skill from it. 

With shadowboxing, you improve coordination. You deepen your connection between your muscles and nerves. You have deep mental concentration in trying to take out your mental opponent who is seemingly always one step ahead of you. You develop the physical instincts of a beast. 

When I take up a boxing or wrestling stance and prepare to shadowbox, I'm not zoning out because my goal is not just for endurance. I'm zoning into every step, every movement that my body makes for ultimate focus. Any misstep I take is my opponent's advantage, so I'm constantly working to gain skill and grace with each movement. You'd be hard-pressed not to give it a try. You'll be amazed with the results.

Boxers, runners, karatekas, wrestlers, swimmers, and your average Joe can truly improve physically and mentally from skill specific cardio. Shadowboxing does not have to be the skill; as long as the training draws incredible mental focus, and maintains an appropriate level of intensity, you'll see and feel yourself transform into something marvelous.