Sometimes, a little physicality is all you need to reinvent your training. Boxing and combat sports can serve as great fitness disciplines, combining elements of cardiovascular, strength and agility training all rolled into one regimen. But to effectively — and safely — throw those high-intensity haymakers, you need the right gear.
One such piece of vital boxing equipment is a solid pair of boxing gloves. These padded accessories range in weights to allow for ultimate comfort and protection during training and competition. Additionally, as combat sports have progressed, so have gloves, with a number of models and styles catering to specific combat disciplines like Muay Thai, MMA and others.
To weigh in on which boxing gloves reign supreme, we trained with amateur fighter Mike Kocjancic, an instructor at American Top Team Happy Valley in central Pennsylvania. What we learned first and foremost, however, is that it pays to understand just what to look for in a glove before you begin to punch your way through an effective training session.
What to Look for in Boxing Gloves
Before you embark on your own personal fight camp, you should consider how you intend to use your boxing gloves. There are a few factors to consider, all of which can play a role in your training experience.
Fit and Function
According to Kocjancic, these are the two most important factors to consider when choosing a proper pair of boxing gloves. Gloves are sized according to their weight — measured in ounces — and each brand has an appropriate sizing chart that corresponds to a user's height, weight or hand circumference. The higher the glove weight, the more padding that's showcased in the build.
While larger fighters are typically instructed to opt for heavier gloves, like a 16-ounce mitt, Kocjancic notes that it's important to listen to your instructor, as glove weight is intended not just for your safety, but others in your class. "You can't be using 12-ounce gloves when everybody in the class is using 16s. Your hands will be faster," he says. "It's definitely worth it [...] to plan and get the right gear for the right activity [...] It all comes down to talking to instructors and people that have experience in the realm."
While following a brand's size chart should lead to a comfortable, snug fit, Kocjancic doubles down on this notion, as this can greatly affect the efficiency of your gear. "You want to make sure that your wrist is firm, you have padding on your knuckles and a bar to grab onto so you can make a good fist," he says. Having a properly sized, snug glove with comfortable yet secure dexterity can allow you to throw punches and jabs while remaining protected from potential injury.
You should also look for boxing gloves that provide some ventilation, durable stitching and an ergonomic, cozy feel over your hand — what's the good in making a protected fist if it's uncomfortable, after all?
Lace-Up vs. Hook-and-Loop Boxing Gloves
You might be stepping into boxing for the first time and think that, "If the professional fighters wear this specific glove, it has to be proficient for my use, right?" Well, according to Kocjancic, doing a little bit of research can help you get a better fighting experience, all while saving you a little coin, too.
"A lot of people, they go for the nicest gloves they can buy, and that ends up being lace-ups," Kocjancic notes. "Then, they have to have their buddy lace up their gloves every time. It takes five to 10 minutes, so, really, unless you're a person that's fighting professionally, you don't need the lace-ups."
Instead of going with whichever gloves you see Tyson Fury or Floyd Mayweather wearing, Kocjancic recommends sticking with hook-and-loop gloves that offer an easier on-and-off experience. These options can still provide plenty of wrist support without the need for a dedicated training partner or coach to lace up your mitts every time you intend to throw blows.
We took to the gym and tested a number of these top-tier boxing gloves, noting the fit, features, comfortability and durability of each mitt. With Kocjancic's guidance, we sweat through the jabs and punches, getting a feel for each boxing glove through bag work, shadowboxing and more. Now, let's dive in and get you suited up for your next round.
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