Boxing Where Does Power Come From


boxing where does your power come from

Boxing Where Does Power Come From?

Having a big punch in boxing, is like having a get out of jail card in Monopoly – a big punch has the potential to get you out of trouble and has the potential to change the tide of the fight. It is often called the equaliser as it levels the playing field. A fighter may be more skilled than you, but if you’ve got that knock out power punch, then your power can make up for any lack in boxing skill if you happen to land it. The current WBC Heavyweight champion is a great example of this, yes he does have boxing skills, possessing a sharp jab and a great control of distance – but technical skills for boxing certainly aren’t the best or even amongst the best. What Wilder does possess though, is extreme power. Wilder possesses game changing power and can end the fight at any moment and out of nowhere. It is this ability big punchers have that their opponents have to respect. Julian Jackson was another who could end the fight at any moment, most noticeably his knockout victory over the very slick and skilled Herol Graham. Graham was well on top in the fight, heading towards certain victory and a world title, but Jackson ended the game with one huge punch that had Graham lights out before he had even touched the canvas. Earnie Shavers, a heavyweight from the 70’s and 80’s was another whose punch was so feared he has become somewhat of a cult like figure in boxing, known to have possessed the hardest punch in boxing history.

So where does this power come from? Often we hear the saying that power is something which comes naturally. You cannot teach someone to have a hard punch, they just a born with a hard punch. Guys like Thomas ‘Hitman’ Hearns was one of the best punchers in history and was able to carry his power through the weight divisions. Naseem Hamed may have been competing in the lower divisions as bantamweight, super bantamweight and Featherweight but he was an explosive fighter capable of knocking out his opponent with either hand. Both Hearns and Hamed were huge punchers but each had a different way of delivering their power. Hearns, and the same could be said for Light Heavyweight great Bob Foster, got their power from their leverage, being tall rangy fighters whereas Hamed would summon his power from his lower body, his strong legs providing the launch pad for rare power seen in the lower divisions.

The truth about hard punchers being born and not made is somewhere in the middle. You can improve someones technique enough to make a difference to their punching power and you can also train correctly to bring out that power. We’ve just mentioned Thomas Hearns, well as an amateur he was not a puncher, it was only under the guidance of legendary trainer Manny Steward that he developed into a terrific puncher.
When it comes to technique, if you want to increase your punching power you should ensure your elbows are nice and high when delivering the punch. A jab thrown with a higher elbow than shoulder will be a power jab, or a stiff jab. A cross thrown with a high elbow whilst dipping the opposite shoulder will be a power cross(think Mike Tyson) and a hook with the elbow higher than the shoulder be a power hook – Gennady Golovkin who holds one of the best KO percentages in history likes to mix in hooks with the high elbow, almost in a chopping down fashion.
Repetition also has a lot to say when it comes to punching. If you have been throwing thousands upon thousands of punches over the years, it stands to reason the actual bodily motion of throwing lots of punches will help to increase your power, even boxers you do not consider to have heavy hands, will punch far harder than a non trained athlete and very often harder than a heavier athlete who does not happen to be a boxer but performs in a different sport – the muscles just get used to being used in this fashion, all that really happens is that the punch tends to be in a more whippy fashion if you never train the punching muscles with weights.

When looking at the main muscles you want to use in your boxing training if you want to increase your power then you must start from the ground up. Strong legs will always lead to a stronger punch, this is why exercises such as the squat are so useful. You have to be careful training with heavy weights for boxing, especially in the legs because they are used so much when running and sparring so the best way to train the legs is to use contrast training or speed training.
With contrast training you would train a heavy loaded set such as squats for 5 reps or less and immediately follow this with an explosive exercise such as broad jumps(standing long jump). With speed training you would lower the weight so you are lifting 30-70% of your one rep max and perform 2-3 reps of 5-6 sets. For example, if we are using the squat for speed training, we would lower the weight slowly and then explode up. You want to be training the muscles in an explosive fashion just as punches are thrown explosively.

The deadlift is also a great choice of exercise for increasing punch power. The deadlift and squat train the back and legs, which makes up approximately 70% of your body mass. It makes sense if you train these correctly then the rest of your body will experience a spill over effect. drive from the heels when performing the deadlift which will also help to replicate the motion and power generation of a punch, again you can use contrast training or speed training when deadlifting. With contrast training you want to use an exercise like the kettlebell swing after the deadlift. The deadlift also trains the hips, glutes and core – all essential to producing power in your punches.

With this in mind, a great exercise to train the core is the overhead squat. You can get creative with the overhead squat. Add in tempo sets(hold the weight for 1-3 seconds in the bottom position before exploding up) or again use speed training, take 5 seconds to lower yourself and 1 second to come up.
The overhead squat of course has the added bonus of training the shoulder muscles which are also used in producing power. But I like to call the shoulders and arms as simply the ball at the end of the chain, the real power comes from the waist/hips down – this includes the lower back. The hands just whip the punch out but the power is channelled through the kinetic chain from the feet up. Of course having strong shoulders helps, but even with strong shoulders, to make full use of your power you need to involve an element of hip rotation, without this even strong shoulders will not be using their full potential.

Because the power comes from the feet up, any jumping movements which help to improve explosiveness and leg strength will help to produce extra power. When punching you are using similar movements to jumping and this movement correlates closely to improved punching power so in short, the higher/longer you can jump, the better that translates to a harder punch.

In summary, the power is generated from the ground up – if you want to increase your power, train your body from the ground up, the arms simply deliver the power. For more Strength and Conditioning routines, my book Strength and Conditioning for Boxing will take your hitting power to the next level!

About the author 


Boxing Coach
Strength and Conditioning Coach
Boxing Author of:

The Boxing Cheat Sheet - Your Ultimate Guide to Ring Survival

Strength and Conditioning for Boxing - Work out Hits to get you Fighting Fit!

Forgotten Legends of the Ring - Ten Past Masters of the Squared Circle

*Any videos or images used on this site to support my articles that are copyrighted are used for educational purposes and in accordance to the fair use act and are not my own - all credit is due to the respective owners. No copyright infringement intended.


Boxing Where Does Power Come From, Strength and Conditioning for Boxing

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