Closing the fist and extending the arm out towards an impending threat to inflict damage and uphold self-defence is a primal instinct present in all human beings. However, some are inclined to pack a better punch than others based on their proper use of techniques, positioning, focus, body type and strength.
Initial power of the punch is launched from the relationship between the soles of the feet and the floor. A strong stance with legs shoulder distance apart will allow the energy from a punch in motion to travel from the floor to the feet, through both legs into the glutes, up the core into the back muscles, out through the shoulder, tricep and eventually the fist. Without the proper technique of transferring energy from the floor into the fist, the strongest person in the world would not be able to effectively throw a powerful punch.
Ever wonder why weight divisions are necessary in professional fighting? To keep athletes safe as a good punch transfers as much of the athlete’s body weight as possible into the shot. A heavyweight athlete with poor utilisation of energy transfer, but with the strongest arms known to mankind would be hard-pressed to defeat a lightweight that can effectively transfer bodyweight from the feet into the punch.
So what can you do to increase your punching power? Although it’s important to strength train arm and shoulder muscles, they only account for about 10 per cent of the power that stems from an effective punch. Spending extra time strengthening the lower and posterior chain of muscles in your hamstrings, glutes, lower and upper back is where you’ll maximize the surge of power from the ground to the fist to achieve the knockout punch effect.
If you’ve been focusing your strength training on bench presses and bicep curls, you’re not doing anything wrong. However, its vital to include the following exercises to strengthen the true muscles responsible for adding extra power to the punch. Having strong legs is often an overlooked key to boxing success.
1. Deadlifts – Deadlifts are responsible for increasing the elastic hamstring muscle length in addition to improving its eccentric deceleration. Both of which have been proven to increase and transfer power through movement up through the upper body.
2. Back Squats – Back squats primarily condition the quads and glutes which are the two biggest muscle groups of our body. The back squat secondarily requires the hamstrings to provide explosive power on the way back up from a squat, improving boxer’s power.
3. Sprinting Intervals – Sprinting is essential to improving the strength and power that stem from the legs as it requires muscle groups to quickly fire up for anaerobic endurance.
4. Box Jumps – Using a quarter squat to allow the hips to engage the glutes and hamstrings while pushing your feet through the floor to propel vertically improves the reaction of fast-twitch muscle fibres throughout the legs and upper body. The more explosive the jump, the more muscle tissues will be activated to drive vertically.