How to Properly Break in Boxing Gloves

How to Properly Break in Boxing Gloves

You’ve just got yourself a brand new pair of gloves, they smell like new leather, the inner lining is soft against your skin. You put them on, and they’re a bit tight even without hand wraps. You take them to your next training session, you’re buzzing to use them and you start hammering the heavy bag and slamming into the pads. And before too long your knuckles hurt, your fingers are numb and you’re regretting the enthusiasm. It’s not a problem with the gloves, it’s because they’re new.

With most synthetic gloves you can normally start using them right away, they might be a little stiff but you can normally get past that after the first session. Leather gloves are different though, they normally start stiffer and are sometimes constructed with higher quality padding, so often need more time before they’re completely comfortable. Googling how to break in your gloves you’re going to find good advice, great myths and weird suggestions, so we’ve sorted through and found the best tips for breaking in gloves (and a couple of things you shouldn’t be doing!)

Gently move and squeeze the glove

This is probably step one in breaking down the gloves, though it’s important not to do it too much. Put one glove on, make a fist and extend your fingers a few times, use the other hand to squeeze the padding round your fist, against your knuckles. This will start easing out the stiffness of the gloves, but avoid doing it too much because you can affect the durability of the glove if you start damaging the foam padding.

Hit the pads (lightly!)

You’re going to use the gloves to hit stuff, so it’s pretty logical that the best way to get them broken in is… to hit things. The issue is going to come if you go all in and throw punches the same way you did with an older, well used glove. Go at 50%, let the leather and padding move and adjust within the glove. It may take a few sessions before you can up the power but protecting your hands is worth the wait.

Hit a punch bag

This is the main areas where you start to find disagreement between people. Forums are full of people saying that hitting heavy bags makes the padding more dense on a set of gloves and hardens them up. If you’ve got a set of gloves that you’re going to use for sparring then I’d avoid doing round after round of work on really heavy bags. But using lighter punch bags, double end bags or other bags for a few rounds is a great way to break in gloves. The bags also going to be useful if you want to go hard during your session, which you’ll want well broken in gloves for, but you can throw your new gloves of for a few rounds on the bag at the end of your session until they’re comfortable for everyday use. At the end of the day, if you’ve brought gloves and the padding compresses and becomes hard after a couple sessions on the bag you’ve brought a terrible pair of gloves.

Do not:

  • Moisturise your gloves – there are various pieces of advice about using oils and moisturisers to soften the leather. I guess this is up to you, but I’d be concerned about the oils damaging the seams or getting into the foam and limiting the durability of your gloves.
  • Hit brick walls – do we really have to explain this? Years of design has gone into padded bags and focus mitts to make them safe to hit without messing up your hands, don’t disappoint everyone by hitting walls in your new gloves. The bricks are going to mess up the leather too.
  • Put them in the tumble dryer – I’ve heard of this done with shoes, but the reality is this is going to destroy your new gloves. The same goes for putting them in the washing machine to keep them fresh.

All you need to do is gently stretch the glove, do some light pad and bag work for a few sessions (how often you train is going to alter how long this actually takes) and your gloves should be nice and comfortable, ready to use them for regular training. Just make sure you take care of them and they’ll last you for ages!

12 thoughts on “How to Properly Break in Boxing Gloves

  1. I just started boxing 2 days back. I bought a pair of gloves but my fingers hurt a lot and I’m never able to finish my workout. I’m also finding it hard to close my fist inside the gloves maybe because of the wraps.
    After 2-3 rounds with a heavy bag, I find it hard to even move my fingers inside my gloves. Kindly suggest something.

  2. The best and quickest way to break in a new pair of gloves, assuming they’re genuine leather, is to use them on the heavy bag for about 10–20 rounds.
    This will soften up the leather and the padding, making them more comfortable to use and much better for sparring.

    However, you should not use the same pair of gloves for sparring AND bag work.
    The bags will eventually pack the padding down and make the glove too soft to spar with safely.
    Lots of cuts are caused by gloves that are too soft.

    Synthetic leather gloves don’t usually need to be broken in, but I’d still do a few rounds on the heavy bag just to be safe.

  3. I just bought a new pair of 12oz training golves (boxing) but when I try to wear it after wrapping my hands it’s literally impossible, I mean it’s so hard to get it in my hands and after I wear it …it’s cutting off my blood circulation and my wrists are paining too.
    What should I do ….?
    There is a little elastic band after the chip part
    That most probably holds the golves together
    And it’s the only thing that’s making the gloves tight
    So..should I cut those band?
    Pls let me know

    1. Unfortunately different sizes and brands of glove fit differently. It may be that another brand’s 12oz glove may have a looser fit. Or you may just need a higher glove weight, which would usually be roomier.

      But if you’ve already bought the gloves, I’m sure you just want to make them fit.

      If the gloves are comfortable without hand wraps on, then that would be okay for lighter sessions.

      You could also look into getting a shorter length pair of handwraps. Most full length hand wraps are 4.5m (180″) but you can get shorter ones around 2.5m (108″) which should take up a bit less space inside the glove.

      If it seems like the elastic band across the palm/wrist is the issue, then you could cut it off. They’re usually there to help the glove keep it’s shape over time and when worn, but they aren’t essential. If you don’t mind a little stitching then you could always replace it with your own, slightly looser elastic strap.

  4. I’ve bought some new twins gloves and my hand fits in them no problem but after hitting the bag for a good few rounds my knuckles are taking a beating, a friend has the same gloves and his are fine as they’ve been worn in but I really need this process to speed up as towards the end of the seesion my knuckles are hurting ?

    1. That’s never a great feeling, but the points in this article should help. If you can, try and use them for shorter sessions. This might involve having a backup pair of gloves to switch to if you’re taking a class. The tip about moving and squeezing the glove is something you can do in between sessions.

      In the mean time, make sure you’re wrapping your hands properly, to make sure your knuckles are being supported and protected correctly. You’d be surprised the difference that different wrapping techniques can make.

  5. I recently purchased two new sets of gloves for heavy bag workouts. I returned both of them for refunds because the gloves made my right hand and thumb go numb after a few rounds. The first pair were Title world v2 bag gloves 16 oz.
    The second pair was Cleto Reyes extra padded 16 oz. training gloves. Both pairs were authentic as I bought them from authorized dealers. I did not want to be stuck with gloves that made my hand and thumb hurt and go numb. I just don’t know how long it takes to for the hand problems to stop. So now I trying two different gloves from Ringside.

    1. That doesn’t sound good at all. You should never be experiencing pain, but those aren’t exactly cheap gloves either.

      Are you wearing proper hand wraps, and checked you’re punching with correct form?
      If you’re still having issues we’d probably suggest trying to go lighter for a while and focusing on technique rather than speed or power, until the gloves hopefully soften up.

    2. I have an old pair of Ringside ultimate bag gloves that I can hit the heavy bag with no pain or thumb issues. The problem is i am trying to find a replacement as the padding is worn. The gloves fit great. I just can’t believe I can’t find find a pair that fit as good as my old gloves.

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