One of the most common questions I get is, "How do I improve my punching power?" Oddly enough, it's usually not a novice asking this question, but a veteran who can already throw crushing blows.
It's understandable to want to gain a competitive advantage, but it always seems like they are searching for some special secret or magic trick to enhance their punches. Unfortunately, neither exists. (Watch: Stipe Miocic's MMA Training.)
If you want to increase punching power at any level, it's simply a matter of physics.
The Physics of Punching
Force = Mass x Acceleration
This equation shows you how to punch harder—and improve your performance in virtually any sport skill. It's a matter of maximizing the amount of your body you can move as quickly as possible. The end result? Crushing blows.
The more mass you can put into a punch, the more force you will generate. You can see this in action by punching a heavy bag with your arm only and comparing it to the power you can generate by driving through the ground with your legs and rotating your hips. Your full weight behind the punch will create a decidedly different result. (Try this heavy-bag workout.)
Follow these four guidelines to add mass to your punches.
Shoulder and hip in line: Oftentimes, the shoulder or hip will get "in front" of the other, causing the shoulder to lead or follow the hip. This greatly reduces punching power because the largest parts of your body are not moving in a coordinated fashion. Your shoulder and hip on your punching side should always move together in a coordinated and synchronized fashion.
Drive through your legs and rotate your hips: Always drive your legs into the floor to generate power. At Fit to Fight®, clients are encouraged to keep their weight on the balls of their feet and on the inside of their big toes. (Read Build Punching Power From the Ground Up.)
Following the leg drive, rotate your hips toward the target. The hip rotation may vary from person to person because of different fighting styles (i.e., boxing, Muay Tha, MMA, etc.).
Engage your core: Cough. Now cough again and notice how your core tightens. This is how your core should feel when you punch. Make sure you exhale before every punch to help engage your core muscles.
Extend and follow through: Let the punch travel and reach the impact point with a slightly bent elbow. Aiming too far causes a braking action, while aiming too close prevents you from fully driving into the punch. Also, imagine punching through the target to inflict serious damage.
Punching faster is mostly technique driven. Yes, some people can punch harder because they are more explosive, but that takes significant time to develop. Technique fixes can cause instant improvements.
Follow these four guidelines to add speed to your punches.
Relax: It seems counterintuitive to relax when trying to punch a hole in something or someone, but it is critical for achieving maximum speed. If your body is in a tensed state, your muscles are rigid, and therefore slow. Keeping your muscles relaxed until just before impact allows your body to move faster.
Recoil your hip: Recoiling your punch helps you maintain "incidental defense" and puts you in a position to release a second punch. To pull your punch back faster, think about recoiling your hip, not your hand. If the hip returns quickly, everything else will follow.
Punch on a half beat: Your punches should cross each other to inflict maximum damage. For example, consider the basic 1-2 combo. The '1' punch should always pass the '2' punch when it's halfway through the motion.
Load naturally: Loading for a punch should occur after a punch, slip or roll. This allows you to absorb and then transfer energy in a quick and fluid motion. If you neglect this step, you must first pull your arm away from the target to begin the punching process, producing a slow and telegraphed movement.
Watch the video below to see a live demonstration of how to add power to your punches.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock