Nothing strikes fear in an opponent like true knockout punch power. Few are born with it, but you can develop it through proper training and by fine-tuning your technique.
Let’s get a little scientific here for a second. Power is basically an expression of work done over time. You become more powerful by increasing your strength and speed—exerting more force—in a shorter period of time.
The best way to increase your strength is to incorporate large multi-joint movements into your workout and use lower reps and heavy loads accompanied by longer rest periods. This teaches your central nervous system to produce more total force by improving variables like intermuscular coordination and contractile properties of muscular tissue.
Anyone who is into combat sports knows that the legs, hips, core and back are the source of all power movements, so prioritize exercises like Front and Back Squats, Traditional, Sumo and Romanian Deadlifts, and Loaded Hip Thrusts.
For the upper body, focus on heavy pushes like Overhead and Bench Presses as well as pulls—Pull-Ups, Pull-Downs and Rows.
For the midsection, focus on movement-based exercises like Resisted Rotations, Hanging Leg Raises and Reverse Crunches, as well as positional maintenance exercises like Weighted Planks, Ab-Wheel Rollouts, and TRX Abdominal exercises.
If you aren’t concerned about staying in a weight class, you can cycle low reps on your main lifts. Do six to 10 reps to really capitalize on the relationship between increasing muscle mass and force production potential.
If you are in a specific weight class and can’t afford to bulk up, keep your reps under five and watch your total volume of sets.
Speed is the other side of the equation—in this case referring to a coordinated motion or specific exercise executed as fast as possible. In sports like boxing, speed can set you apart.
The best way to improve your speed is to combine training the central nervous system to react quickly and developing the intermuscular coordination to perform very fast movements efficiently through repetition.
Effective methods include plyometric drills, short sprints, ballistic exercises using a medicine ball and relatively light resistance exercises that allow you to focus on explosiveness and speed. Jumps and short sprints are fantastic for teaching the body to be more explosive and reactive, which means you can essentially absorb and re-direct force much faster. Keep your sprints under 40 meters to maximize acceleration.
Ballistic exercises are great for the motion-specific strength you need in boxing and its rotation demands. Unlike with traditional strength training, you don’t have to slow down the speed of contraction.
Explosive weight training exercises, such as Olympic lifting, kettlebell work and traditional strength exercises performed with bands or at a weight that maximizes bar speed, will teach your body how to recruit muscular tension quickly to improve your rate of force development.
To develop outright power, keep repetitions low—fewer than five—and make sure you achieve maximal rest between sets so you don’t compromise your next set. Take up to five minutes rest if you need it.
Here is a sample workout after you’ve established a good base of strength.
1A. Back Squat – 4×4
1B. Box Jump – 4×3
2A. Push Press – 3×5
2B. Romanian Deadlift – 3×6
3. Weighted Pull-Ups – 3×4-6
4. TRX Pike (tempo 3-1-1) – 2×10
5. Cable Rotations – 3×8 each side
1. Hanging Power Clean – 5×3
2. Front Squat – 4×5
3. Plyometric Push-Ups – 4×5
4. Rotational Medicine Ball Throw – 3×5 each side
Dedicate yourself to a solid two to three months of strength training before including jumping exercises and sprints (which can be included within a strength workout or on their own separate days, depending on your phase of training).