Along with being perhaps the most complete and beneficial workout there is, fitness boxing is also one of the most fun workouts around - which is why you're hooked!
However, now that you are taking part in boxing workouts on a regular basis, you realize that the loaner-gloves which your gym offers you may be more "aromatic" than useful, so perhaps it is time to invest in your own personal pair.
But which gloves should you get? Are they all the same? And if they aren't all the same, do you need more than one pair for different workouts?
No worries! Choosing a quality pair of boxing gloves for your workouts isn't hard, and is in fact much easier than continuing to use gloves which smell like old gym socks - even if countless others before you have found them to be adequate!
Why do You Need Gloves?
Sure, you probably won't be sparring during your fitness boxing workouts, so why do you need protective gloves anyway?
Well, it is not about minimizing the damage you inflict upon an opponent, so much as it is keeping you from having bruised, bloodied knuckles - or worse.
In fact, not only can performing punching workouts without gloves hurt, it can also break hands and fingers if you're not careful, so unless you are made of iron or some other indestructible material, you need gloves.
What Kinds of Gloves Are There?
There are three basic kinds of gloves for boxing workouts - only one of which you will need, unless you plan on sparring or boxing:
- Bag gloves - For use only when working out on heavy bags and other specialty bags, since they have harder, denser foam than do sparring or training gloves. They don't have enough padding to protect an opponent, so any use other than hand protection while working out on bags is to be avoided.
- Sparring gloves - Sparring gloves are padded to protect an opponent, and are usually rated in ounces, with the heavier weights providing more padding and increased safety for those being hit. They also typically avoid any loop-and-hook fastening systems, and instead use laces or have a wrap-around closure to prevent cuts and abrasions for sparring partners.
- Training gloves - While technically designed with enough padding to be used as either a sparring or a bag-work glove, a single pair of training gloves should not be used for both purposes. This is because hitting bags tends to roughen the punching surface of the glove, which can lead to abrasions for an opponent; and the gloves will likewise break down faster during bag work, making them harder and less safe for use when sparring. However, they can be used for either one or the other - just not both.
Other things to consider are glove weight and closure system.
Heavier gloves can be worn to increase workout effort, and you may even want to consider using a couple of different weights of gloves for different workout intensities.
Closure systems which use lacing are best for those who have someone available to help tie them, and a wrap-around Velcro enclosure should be considered if you prefer gloves which can be put on and taken off without the aid of a partner.
How Should They Fit?
When shopping for gloves, think of it as you would be shopping for shoes - as in, try them all on, and see which ones fit the best. Be sure the fit is snug without being overly tight and restrictive, and make sure they feel completely comfortable, and nothing is pinching or cutting off circulation in your hands or wrists.
Another aspect to be considered is that you will likely be wrapping your hands and wrists when working out, which takes up some room in the gloves, much in the same manner as thick socks make a difference in how shoes fit.
Ideally, you should try on gloves with your hands wrapped. However, going from store-to-store with either wrapped hands, or wrapping and re-wrapping them every time you go into a new store is not the easiest way to shop. Instead try holding something roughly the size of a roll of quarters in your hand to take up the extra slack when trying gloves on, which will help to ensure an accurate fit.
Sure, you can do punching work without wrapping, although doing so is HIGHLY discouraged (as in, don't do it!). This is because loose gloves and supple wrists lead to injuries, period.
And, while there are hand wrap gloves available which are quicker and more convenient to put on than fully wrapping your hands every time, they tend to not be as effective as wrapping, and it is advised that you simply spend the time to wrap and be safe. It isn't hard to do, and once you get it down, it will be part of your fitness boxing routine which you will go through whenever there is punching involved.
You can go here for more information on wrapping, as well as to see a "how to" for proper wrapping technique.
However, by ensuring that the bones in your hands and wrists are secured and not moving around independent of each other when punching, sprains and broken bones can be avoided.
What About Glove Material—Does it Matter?
When it comes to what material is best for your gloves, there are basically two options: vinyl, or leather. While there are variations on this, such as gloves with breathable nylon palms, you really need not look any further than either of these two materials.
And, speaking of "breathable nylon palms," it is best to avoid these types of "build a better mousetrap" bells and whistles, and just stick with tradition. For one thing, they're boxing gloves, not sports cars—use what works, and no need to reinvent the wheel!
That said, leather is usually worth any extra cost over vinyl, as it is suppler, breaths better, and wears better than vinyl. Vinyl also has an annoying tendency to split with fatigue, which not only means needing to replace them (and so much for the savings over leather!), but it can also endanger sparring partners due to the risk of cuts and abrasions.
Leather also has a nicer smell, which can be kept fresh by storing your new gloves with cedar chip-filled socks in them.
Happy fitness boxing!