If you’ve ever taken a boxing class before, you know that there is usually some portion dedicated to just your abs. If you haven’t, now you know what to expect—it can be an intense 10-, 15-, or even 20-minute circuit. There’s actually a good reason for this, though, other than the instructor just wanting to squeeze in some abs work for fun: Boxing requires a ton of core strength.

When you throw a punch, your abs brace your entire body against the impact of whatever you’re punching (in class, that’s probably a very heavy bag). You also have to do a lot of rotational movements—throwing a punch involves twisting your torso toward the bag or your opponent, and ducking also requires some turning. In any boxing class, you’re working your abs the entire time, even if you don’t realize it.

Plus, each different type of punch, from a hook to a jab to a cross, taps into a different part of your core. Meaning, your whole midsection needs to be strong, not just one muscle, to support you fully.

Alicia Napoleon, co-founder and head trainer at Overthrow Boxing in New York City and professional boxer and world champion, tells SELF that it’s essential to have core strength as a boxer. “To even throw a punch, you have to have a strong rotation,” Napoleon says. She’s taught hundreds of boxing classes and always incorporates abs moves into them so that her students can build that strong foundation.

We asked Napoleon to give us a little taste of the abs portion of her class. The mini workout she demos below will work every section of your core. Some of these moves also strengthen your shoulders and forearms, which help with power and endurance during boxing, too.

Here's how the workout is set up:

Thread the Needle — 25 reps or 30 seconds
Flutter Kicks — 30 seconds
Up Down Plank Dolphins — 30 seconds
Scissors — 30 seconds
Crunch Ups — 25 reps or 30 seconds
Bicycles — 30 seconds

You can add this to the end of a larger workout, or do it on its own for a mini abs blast. As you get stronger, try to work up to doing each move for one minute. Or, do more than one round, resting in between rounds, to make this a longer workout. Napoleon suggests doing these moves every other day, or at the least, every two days, to notice changes in your core strength.

Here's how to do the moves:
Thread the Needle — 25 reps or 30 seconds

Thread the Needle — 25 reps or 30 seconds

Start in a forearm side plank with your right shoulder over right elbow, left hand extended to the ceiling, and your left foot stacked on top of your right.
Engage your abs, and reach your left hand down toward your right obliques. Follow your arm movement with your eyes and head. Try to keep your hips from lowering or twisting.

Lift your left hand back up to the ceiling for one rep.
Do 25 reps or continue for 30 seconds.
Switch sides and repeat.

Flutter Kicks — 30 seconds

Flutter Kicks — 30 seconds

Start lying face up and place your hands right along the sides of your butt to give your lower back some support.
Engage your abs and lift both legs about 6 inches off the floor.
Kick your feet (like you’re swimming freestyle). Make sure to keep your core tight and lower back on the floor as you move your legs.

Continue for 30 seconds.
If this move strains your neck or back, try putting a pillow or towel under your neck for support.

Up-Down Plank Dolphins — 30 seconds

Up-Down Plank Dolphins — 30 seconds

From an all-fours position, lower onto your forearms one at a time and then extend your feet, with your core engaged, so only your toes and forearms touch the floor and you are in a forearm plank.
Keep your core engaged, press your shoulder blades down your back, and keep your head relaxed and in line with your spine to avoid tension in your neck.
Place your right hand on the floor directly under your right shoulder, then your left hand under your left shoulder, and push up into a high plank.

Come down one arm at a time back to a forearm plank, keeping your hips stable and core tight.
Repeat three times.
After the third rep, lift your hips up and back creating an inverted “V” with your body.
Return to a forearm plank.
Repeat three times.
Continue for 30 seconds.

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