The move I love to hate: Boxer Marlen Esparza's 'punch-outs'
Olympian Marlen Esparza has always been ready for a good fight. When her dad, David, didn't want her to be a boxer, she finally wore him down and proved women could box -- and be really good, too. The 28-year-old would go on to be the first American woman to qualify for the 2012 Olympics in boxing, the history-making year in which the women's sport was added to the Games. She brought a bronze medal home from London in the flyweight division, and in 2014 she won the world championship title.
This past spring Esparza made the decision to go pro, and has picked a new battle: the length of the rounds women fight. Females have always been limited to two-minute rounds as opposed to three minutes for males -- a distinction WBC boxing organizers say is based on additional safety risks due to a higher rate of concussions among women. But Esparza isn't having it. She believes a third minute could make the difference that allows the best boxer to win, and that in two minutes, boxers run out of time just as the fighters are finding their groove. In May, she defeated Samantha Salazar in Las Vegas using three-minute rounds, becoming the first women in Nevada to compete in that format.
As she gears up for her next fight, slated for December in Montreal, Esparza shared with us one of her favorite moves -- an endurance-builder that helps her stay strong even at the end of a round.
The move: Punch-outs
How to do it: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart or staggered with one foot forward in your boxing stance. Hold a dumbbell in each hand (I use a 5 pound weight), and punch weights forward, alternating arms. Make sure your shoulders are hitting your chin and your elbows come back to your waist with each punch. Punch for 15 seconds, then rest for 30 and repeat for as many rounds as you like.
When I do it: Leading up to a fight, I do this every day for six weeks at the end of any boxing workout.
Why I do it: This gets my arms in shape to be able to keep my hands up in defense during a fight. I know that my arms will not be too tired to defend myself if I can do this workout every day.
Why it's so killer: The burn!