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S&C – Improving Punch Power in Boxing

Punch power is something which plays a huge part in any boxing fight as it allows the fighter to land more damaging punches which will help to score more points or a knockout. This piece will explain and describe some big factors of punch power and how they can be incorporated into a boxer’s strength and conditioning programme. I will make it very clear, as most boxers will already know these methods mean a far lot less if the technique is poor. As with most things technique plays a huge part, reason being good technique enhances the bio mechanical aspects of the punch which are vital.

Just a brief look at the science behind a punch. A punch is a full body movement which requires synchronisation of various joints and muscle groups. A punch revolves around the impulse momentum relationship (Impulse= Force x Time) (Momentum= Mass x Velocity). So, if you can create a large amount of force in a short period of time this will create a greater impulse and if you can increase momentum you can in turn create a harder punch. However, momentum consists of mass and velocity. Mass is limited by weight divisions, so the key is improving velocity. You can make the mass more effective which will be discussed further on the text. Velocity is improved through the ability to generate force which is where the routines in strength and conditioning play a part.

The ability to produce force can be better known as rate of force development (RFD). RFD can be improved in many ways but one way to improve RFD is strength training. There have been many links with maximal strength and force production, these findings overturn these old tales in boxing of weight training makes you slow. If you are training to become strong, performing the correct exercises and performing them in the right way weights will not slow you down.

The start of force production and greatest contributor of force towards the punch is the lower body, this means the greater force the lower limb muscle groups can produce the harder you will punch. Therefore, lower body compound exercises can be very effective such as squat, deadlift and hip thrust variations. The loading, reps, sets and tempo of these exercises would be indicative to the phase of camp and the individual. Force production also comes from the upper body so vertical and horizontal push and pull variations can be very useful, one thing to be cautious of is there must be a greater pull to push ratio due to the bio mechanical demands of boxing. Increasing the force production capabilities of the core musculature would also prove beneficial.

As previously mentioned, the punch is a full body movement and all the body parts included are part of a kinetic chain. This kinetic chain must be efficient because if any weak points in this chain are present this will mean a reduction in forces generated into the punch. One aspect which is crucial to consider is mobility because force transmission may be limited through tightness or stiffness in certain muscles and joints. Mobility work should be a big focus of a boxers training schedule due to the shear amount of impact which is put on certain parts of the body. For me the shoulders are a body part which should be a big focus for mobility work, however the hips must be mobile to allow for a rapid and forceful rotation at the trunk. The mobility work in the hips can often strengthen the area and benefit lower body lifts in strength training as well as improving the punching action. The ability to rotate smoothly is also important as during a punch the rotation at the trunk and torso engages the core musculature and really adds to creating a more forceful punch. To improve the ability to rotate hip mobility as discussed will play a massive part but thoracic mobility will also be a massive aid.

So, I have discussed the importance of mobility and which body parts I deem essential, I have discussed the importance of force development in the lower and upper body, discussed the importance of efficient force transfer but there is one more thing which I want to emphasise the importance of and this is improving core strength. If the core musculature is stronger it can withstand more forces being transferred from the lower body meaning these forces will be transferred more efficiently and reduce the chance of injury. Added more strength in the rotational musculature of the core means more force can be generated and create a more powerful punch. Rotational strength in the core can be derived from bodyweight, banded and medicine ball exercises. The importance of core strength builds onto my next point which relates to making your mass effective.

As mentioned earlier increasing mass would mean an increase in momentum but this is limited through weight divisions. However, we can make this mass effective. Effective mass relates to the second impulse in a punch which happens upon contact, this is where the body stiffens to increase momentum on a target. To make this stiffening more efficient we can make our mass more effective, the main target is the mass of the core and trunk. In order to increase core mass a lot of work revolves around bodyweight, banded and medicine ball exercises which aim to strengthen the core in a range of different ways. Improving core strength as briefly mentioned above generates more force when a boxer rotates, a stronger core also allows for greater forces to be lost when they are transferred from the lower extremities. Some of my favourite exercises to develop effective mass in the core are dead bugs, pall of press and plank reaches, these exercises may be performed at different tempos and rep ranges, at different stages of the programme to increase difficulty.

From the text above it should give you some training methods to include into a boxer’s strength and conditioning programme and an explanation to why these methods are important and how they help improve punch power. If there is a message, I would give to build a strength and conditioning programme for a boxer it would be is strength training is a boxers friend and is key to developing force, never neglect the importance of mobility and be strategic, different phases for different blocks of training.

If you have any questions or comments on the information above or you are a boxer and are interested in someone helping you out with your strength and conditioning, get in touch.

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Jack Daysley

Strength & Conditioning Coach

James Brereton

Author James Brereton

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