Shadow boxing is an activity that can offer some extra movement. A popular question is how many calories are burned with shadow boxing.
Whether you do it for fun, to practice technique, as a form of exercise, or for any other reason, one of the benefits of shadow boxing is that it helps you burn more calories.
The average person can expect to burn around 81 – 140+ calories per 15 minutes of shadow boxing. This number will vary from individual to individual due to a variety of factors.
For example, a 125-pound (56 kg) individual will burn around 81 calories during 15 minutes of shadow boxing. On the other hand, a 215-pound (97 kg) individual will burn around 140 calories during the same session of shadow boxing at the same intensity.
Something to keep in mind is that how intense you do this type of exercise influences the number of calories you burn a lot.
This article will also show you a more detailed chart that takes multiple factors into account, how shadow boxing compares to running in this area, how many calories different types of boxing burn, and more.
Biggest influences on calories burned
A fact that many people find annoying is that the number of calories you burn while doing something like shadow boxing is hard to predict and measure correctly.
This fact can make things like weight loss feel like a guessing game when you are trying to balance these numbers with the calories in food.
Even so, good estimations for the number of calories burned while shadow boxing can be a helpful starting point. By taking a few important factors into account you can make your estimations more accurate.
Some of the biggest factors that influence how many calories you burn while shadow boxing include:
- Weight: To move around your body needs energy, measured in calories. The more you weigh, the more energy your body needs to fuel its movements.
- Body composition: Body composition is how much of your body weight is made up of different tissue. Two people can weigh the same but for one individual most of the weight can come from fat while the second individual has a lot of muscle. The reason that is important is that the same weight of muscle requires more energy than that weight in fat.
- Intensity: If you’re looking at calories burned per minute of shadow boxing this can vary a lot by moving your body at a fast vs slow speed.
- Using extra weights: You can wear weighted gloves, wear wrist weights, or hold light weights in your hands while shadow boxing. This will make it so your body uses more energy.
Hidden calorie burning from shadow boxing
There are many other aspects that make it even harder to put how many calories you burn while shadow boxing into an exact number. This includes the fact that the calorie-burning effects of shadow boxing are not limited to during the workout.
As mentioned, how much you weigh plays a relatively big role in how many calories you burn. This doesn’t just apply to your workout, this is also the case during everyday activities.
Some people also build or preserve a little amount of muscle mass by shadow boxing, especially if they use extra weights.
This amount of muscle mass will definitely not be as much as something like weight lifting but it does help you burn more calories day in, day out.
It is however extremely hard to put this amount into a number since this muscle mass will be so different from person to person. Individuals more experienced with resistance training will likely not build any muscle by shadow boxing.
Next, doing an activity at high intensities can also cause something called “afterburn”. This is basically having an increased metabolism for a while after you stop doing the exercise.
Lastly, by moving your body more you influence the levels of certain hormones that in turn can benefit your metabolism.
Estimations of the number of calories burned with shadow boxing usually don’t take these effects into account.
Estimations calories burned shadow boxing
The centers for disease control and prevention simplifies the number of calories burned with boxing into between 3.5 – 7 calories per minute for punching the bag and more than 7 calories per minute for sparring or boxing in the ring (1).
In reality, there are tools to make more precise estimations. To calculate calories burned during certain exercises more specifically you can use a formula with MET values.
A MET value is an exercise-specific value to indicate how intense a specific type of workout is. This number represents how many times more intense the exercise is compared to sitting still.
You can use this in the following formula: METs x 3.5 x (your body weight in kilograms) / 200 = calories burned per minute
Unfortunately, there are no MET estimations for shadow boxing specifically. However, the MET estimation for punching the bag is 5.5 (2). Since that activity is similar, this article will use this MET for shadow boxing.
You can look at the number of calories burned while shadow boxing from different perspectives. The first table will show estimations for the calories burned when using the MET mentioned for different body weights and time intervals.
You can also find charts comparing the difference in calories burned between shadow boxing and running and how other areas and types of boxing compare.
Again keep in mind that these are estimations. This formula doesn’t take into account certain important factors that do influence the number of calories burned while shadow boxing.
To put these estimations into perspective, 100 grams of boiled potatoes contains about 87 calories (3).
Calories burned shadow boxing
One of the most convenient ways to see how many calories you burned while shadow boxing is by looking at how much time you spent doing it.
|1 Minute||15 Minutes||30 Minutes||45 Minutes||60 Minutes|
|125 Pounds (56 kg)||5 calories||81 calories||162 calories||244 calories||325 calories|
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||7 calories||101 calories||201 calories||302 calories||403 calories|
|185 Pounds (83 kg)||8 calories||120 calories||240 calories||361 calories||481 calories|
|215 Pounds (97 kg)||9 calories||140 calories||279 calories||419 calories||559 calories|
Calories burned shadow boxing vs running
Next, shadow boxing is not the only way to get some extra movement. Running is another popular option. The numbers in the table below are for doing the activity for 30 minutes.
From these numbers, it looks like running at 5 mph (8.1 kmh) burns about 82.1% more calories than shadow boxing. These are of course estimations, the intensity of both shadow boxing and running can vary a lot.
(5 mph/8.1 kmh)
(6 mph/9.7 kmh)
|125 Pounds (56 kg)||162 calories||295 calories||340 calories|
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||201 calories||366 calories||421 calories|
|185 Pounds (83 kg)||240 calories||437 calories||503 calories|
|215 Pounds (97 kg)||279 calories||508 calories||584 calories|
Calories burned shadow boxing vs other boxing types
Shadow boxing is only one type. There are a variety of different boxing areas and types. These have different activity levels and will in turn burn different numbers of calories.
In the table below you can find estimations of calories burned with different boxing types like boxing a punching bag, sparring, kickboxing, etc. when doing the activity for 30 minutes.
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||185 Pounds (83 kg)||215 Pounds (97 kg)|
|201 calories||240 calories||279 calories|
|201 calories||240 calories||279 calories|
|Sparring||286 calories||341 calories||396 calories|
|Kickboxing||377 calories||450 calories||523 calories|
|469 calories||559 calories||650 calories|
How to burn more calories with shadow boxing
The number of calories burned with shadow boxing is certainly not something set in stone. There are a few ways you can increase this amount per time interval.
The challenge for most people is fitting in activities in their busy schedules. They want to burn as many calories in the least amount of time, which means burning more calories per minute of shadow boxing.
If you do have more time, spending more time shadow boxing will generally burn more calories although at some point overtraining may cause the reverse.
A more obvious way to burn more calories while shadow boxing is by doing more intense sessions where you move your body faster. At some intensity point, you also get the added afterburn effect.
The second way to burn more calories while shadow boxing is by making the weight you have to move heavier.
You can do this by wearing weighted gloves, wearing wrist weights, and holding light weights as long as your body can deal with the extra weight. Another method is building some extra muscle mass with other exercises.
Can you lose fat by shadow boxing?
Shadow boxing is an activity that can help you burn a nice amount of extra calories. In combination with good habits in other lifestyle areas, this can lead to fat loss.
One pound of body fat is about 3500 calories (one kg +-8000 calories). How long it takes to see fat loss results from shadow boxing will also depend on the number of calories in your diet.
One person might eat more than the other. This might make it so they need to exercise longer or more intensely to see the same fat loss results. You can even lose fat without exercising so there are many factors that influence it.
15 minutes of shadow boxing a day could help you burn an extra 1010 calories in 10 days which is about 0.29 pounds of body fat. 30 days, 3030 calories (= +- 0.87 pounds of body fat), and so on…
Keep in mind that losing weight too fast can be suboptimal. In general, a 500 calorie deficit per day is considered to be a healthy weight loss rate.
What muscles does shadow boxing work?
Shadow boxing mainly works muscles like your shoulders, triceps, biceps, upper back, chest, calves, obliques, abs, lower back, and erector spinae.
If you are relatively inexperienced when it comes to resistance training, shadow boxing could help you grow and strengthen some of these muscles a small amount. Especially if you use extra weights.
For individuals more experienced with resistance training, shadow boxing is likely not enough to build a lot of muscle mass.
Both groups of people generally benefit from giving their bodies enough nutrients, rest, and sleep to repair and grow their muscles after an intense session of shadow boxing.
Should you do shadow boxing to burn calories?
As you can see, shadow boxing is a decent workout that can help you burn a nice amount of calories. That being said, there are definitely also many exercise options that are more effective in this area.
Whether you should choose shadow boxing as your main form of workouts also depends on factors like personal preference.
If calorie burning is your main goal, implementing some exercises in your schedule specifically for building muscle can be helpful.
The extra muscle mass will help you burn more calories day in, day out, including during your shadow boxing sessions.
Also keep in mind that the things you eat stay important no matter what movement routine you’re following. It’s hard to out-exercise a bad diet.