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First Lady Fitness Routine: Michelle Obama’s Boxing-Inspired Workout

By Joe Pietaro

If it’s good enough for the First Lady, then it is good enough for the masses. Michelle Obama needs to be commended for her dedication to physical fitness and trying to set an example for the entire country with her “Let’s Move” campaign and #GimmeFive challenge.

Besides the mainstream weight lifting and cardio exercises, Mrs. Obama also implements a number of boxing-related movements into her routine. She is not merely going through the motions, mind you, but rather kicking some ass by throwing the leather with authority. She wears 12 ounce gloves and puts her game face on and has good mechanics.

In a recent video posted online, Cornell McClellan – a member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition – gives some tips and details during her workout.

Here are some of the important aspects of what was covered:


This old favorite is very beneficial and a perfect choice to be used as a warm-up. But some attention to detail is necessary, even for an exercise that seems simple enough. “You don’t want to come off the floor too high; just enough to see the light” McClellan says in the video. “It’s not that much of an impact exercise, but also make sure to keep your elbows tucked in.”

Doing so keeps the arms from swinging and all you need to do is slightly turn the wrists to properly perform this exercise, which will also improve your hand – eye coordination and timing. These are obviously important in the ring.


Another throwback piece of exercise equipment is the medicine ball. It is a great tool to add additional resistance to abdominal exercises and “challenge the abs at different planes,” as McClellan put it, “to add symmetrical strength.”

Lying v-ups with the medicine ball overhead were shown, but there is a litany of other exercises available that can be done – lying on the floor, on a bench (flat or incline) and standing up. The obliques can be taxed with movements such as woodchoppers, overhead ball slams and side-to-side twists.

Take advantage of the versatility of the medicine ball and use different weights that will be conducive with that particular movement. Your abdominals respond just like any other muscle and using only your body weight does not work them enough to be stimulated to the max. Holding a medicine ball overhead while performing crunches will be a much better way to go.


Once in a while, it’s okay to include an exercise that is fun to do in addition to being good for you. Punching and kicking a heavy bag fits that description perfectly and you will not only get the conditioning aspect, but also work on your hand-eye coordination and transference of power.

“In this particular (sequence), we’re going to do a jab, cross and then incorporate a roundhouse kick,” McClennan explains.

Not your soccer mom attempt at a roundhouse kick, either. No, Mrs. Obama get some impressive height with it and lands it textbook style. Not easy to do for anyone, even those with kickboxing and/or martial arts experience.


Box and long jumps work on your explosiveness and lifting weights improves your strength and builds muscle. A well-rounded program that includes aspects of all of these things will get you in great overall shape and that is the ultimate goal. You want to improve your health, strength and appearance.

So having such a public figure like Michelle Obama practice what she preaches is a very positive thing.

Joe Pietaro is the Founding Editor of MuscleSport Magazine

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