Boxing: Where does your power come from?
A very common question for people who Box is how can I punch harder? Alongside how can I punch faster, it is probably the most commonly asked question in the sport. Everyone wants to possess a knock out punch and floor someone with one punch.
Are powerful punchers born and not made? It’s an age old debate and sure, many people are natural punchers but whether you belong in this group or in the group who don’t hit so hard, there are always methods to increase your power – it is all about sharpening your tools. Not all of us want to become Heavyweights to hit harder, some of us want to stay a similar weight and increase power, Boxers such as Julian Jackson and Gerald McClellan were ferocious punchers at Middleweight.
We first have to understand where your power comes from, once we know this, we can then correctly get started on making a difference. The majority of your power will come from your lower body, so this means the legs and hips need to be trained in order to increase your power output. If you are training to increase power, that means less bench press and more squats, less bicep curls and more deadlifts(yes big arms won’t make much of a difference to your punching power, infact it will probably slow you down and decrease power)
Before I go onto how you can increase power I will touch upon technique. Practice your technique again and again. Once you have perfected technique, you will perform the movement better and the end result will be a faster and more powerful punch. So before trying to work on increasing power, work on bettering your technique. Your style of fighting will also have an impact on the power of your punches, it might just be it is not the way you end up fighting or being the style best suited for you. Muhammad Ali was the greatest ever Heavyweight Boxer, Floyd Mayweather Jnr was the best of his generation, yet neither was known for having especially powerful punchers and neither did they have styles which relied on power.
What should you avoid if you want to increase power? Two things immediately spring to mind. Fat and lack of stamina. Too much of one will decrease power and too little of the other will also effect your power. If you haven’t already guessed, too much fat will decrease power. It only serves to slow you down so if you want to hit harder, losing the extra weight will go a long way to increasing your power as you will be better able to involve your whole body when throwing a punch. Having too little stamina will also decrease your punching power because you will not be able to carry your power through the rounds. When you are unfit it is very difficult to fire off powerful punchers whilst gasping for air.
So what should you work on to increase power? As mentioned, focus on the lower body. Squats and Deadlifts are perfect for improving power, if you want to add explosiveness to this power then add in a lot of jumping movements. Jumping squats with a barbell, snatch balance, plyometric based movements are all excellent for adding explosiveness and power to your punches. Olympic lifts will always be a great choice when looking to add power. The medicine ball can also be used to increase power. Choose a weighted med ball and practice hip tosses to replicate hooks for example. These are great because they involve the hips, your fists are really just the ball at the end of the chain. The chain being the legs and hips.
Core power is also essential to becoming more powerful. An exercise which is great for this is the overhead squat.
For Boxing when training power you want to be looking at 1-10 reps per set depending on your goal ie power endurance or explosive power? With power there has to be an element of speed involved. The time under tension is less compared to hypertrophy based workouts. To give an example, 3×10 reps is power endurance providing the movement is done fast. So I would do around 5 reps for the Squat and Deadlift, but when using movements such as the med ball or kettlebell swing I would make the reps slightly higher. Or you could combine the two one after the other, for example Back Squats followed Tuck Jumps to make the final number of reps performed closer to 10.
Remember, power is weight x speed so routines based on this such as speed training will help more so than your typical gym routines where you are doing x amount of weight for 8-12 reps. You want an element of both, weight and speed when looking to add power. For more info on speed training read my article here
Jumping is an excellent form of exercise if you want to increase power and hit harder. Why? because the same muscles you are using for jumping, are the same muscles which generate force for punching. The more mass you can channel into the punch, the more force it will carry. So incorporate jumps into your routines, box jumps, lunge jumps, broad jumps, tuck jumps are all excellent forms of plyometrics for jumping. For weighted movements which involve a jump include Jumping squats and snatch balance. To view how to perform the snatch balance watch the video below.
So that’s my quick run down on power punching, practice technique, run to get fitter, speed training with weights and jumping movements. Adding these movements to your routines will guarantee an increase in punching power!
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