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Have you ever watched a boxer or MMA fighter like Francis Ngannou knocking someone out, and asked yourself from where did this destructive power come from? At first, fighters like Ngannou may look superhuman to us, and the power in their hands mysterious. But in this article, I will explain to you the science behind this kind of punching power using simple language. And also, we will show how you can increase the power of your punches at home.
The thing is, knowing how to throw a knockout blow is very important whether you are a skilled fighter or a regular guy trying to punch in a self-defense situation. Sometimes, it only takes one punch to eliminate the rival that stands in front of you whether it’s a street or a ring.
So if are interested in learning how to punch harder, make sure to read this article. We can’t ensure you will become as powerful as Ngannou. But the tips and exercises below will surely increase the power in your punches.
Muscle Groups that Generate Punching Power
The power behind every punch originates from the specific muscle groups in our bodies. So if you want to punch harder, you must focus on increasing the strength in these muscle groups.
But before you can start working out, you need to know that not all types of muscles increase punching power. So let us explain to you the structure of the muscles and what types are ideal for punching.
Types of muscle fibers
The muscles in our body consist of two main types of muscle fibers known as “Slow-twitch (Type I)” and “Fast-twitch (Type II)” muscle fibers. The difference between them is quite simple, and everyone can understand it.
Slow-twitch vs. Fast-twitch Muscle Fibers
Type I fibers are much smaller compared to Type II, and they actually produce much less force and power. Also, Type I fibers fatigue slower and can keep going for long periods of time. So, slow-twitch fibers don’t play any role in increasing punching power. They are actually great for sports that require high endurance like swimming and running.
The ones that increase the punching power, however, are Type II or fast-twitch muscle fibers. They are larger than Type I fibers and can produce a lot of power in a very short time period. Or in other words, they allow you to generate a huge power in a single punch and KO the rival. Thus, Type II fibers are ideal for combat sports like boxing and MMA.
They can be further divided into two sub-categories:
- Type IIa fast-twitch muscle fibers (is a mix of type I and type IIx muscle fibers)
- Type IIx fast-twitch muscle fibers
The thing is, both sub-categories can produce explosive power for punching. There are various ways you can recruit type II muscle fibers. But the best way is through plyometric exercises which we will explain later in this article.
There is No Power Without the Technique
The most common reason why some people can’t throw a powerful punch is improper technique. You see, it doesn’t matter if you have strong muscles. Power without the technique is useless in combat sports and here is why.
To throw a hard punch, you must generate a lot of force and transfer it from your body to the target standing in front of you. The only way you can do this is to execute the moves with proper technique. For instance, if you rotate your hips too soon or late, you will waste the energy and it will all result in a weak punch.
So, you must learn how to execute punching techniques the right way prior to doing any exercise to boost power in the muscles. In a fight, you will need much more than strong shoulders and forearms to knock the rival out cold.
The secret behind generating a huge punching force lays in the unification of the waist and the proper stance. That said, let us explain to you how you can add extra force to your punch below:
|One of the most important aspects of throwing a powerful punch is the rotation of the hips. So make sure to always rotate your hips in the direction of the punch. |
|The next thing you must learn is how to rotate your knee inwards sync with your hip rotation. To execute this move, you must first move your foot outwards. |
The motion of the foot should be like the way people grind out cigarettes. Try to move your foot outwards now and you can see how your knee goes inwards by itself.
|The final move is to push the back foot off the ground in sync with the hand you are throwing.|
Bear in mind that you need to put many hours into drilling these “simple” moves until they become stamped into your muscle memory. So take 30 minutes of your time every day to stand in front of the mirror and practice how to throw the punch the right way. We assure you will feel huge gains in a short period of time.
Workouts for Improving Punching Power at Home
Knowing how to throw a punch with proper technique doesn’t mean you can punch hard. As said earlier, muscles also play a huge roll in producing the force and energy for a punch.
To increase the punching power, you must focus on recruiting fast-twitch muscle fibers by performing the workouts below. These exercises will help you to increase the muscle mass needed for generating a lot of force.
The best thing about these workouts is you don’t need a fancy gym to improve the power of your punches. You can do these exercises at home and enjoy the same results as in the gym.
Plyometric training (plyos) is a group of intense exercises in which muscles exert most force in short intervals of time. The main goal of plyos is to increase fast-twitch (Type IIa) muscle recruitment. This enables you to generate more energy in the muscles and punch harder.
As we are about to see, these exercises are simple and you don’t need any specific equipment to perform them at home.
Plyometric Push-Ups Explained
Plyo push-ups are an advanced exercise and a great way to improve strength in the upper body section. This exercise might be tough for beginners. But it is very important since it aims at the muscle groups responsible for generating punching power like triceps, abs, and shoulders.
Before shifting to plyometric push-ups, make sure you have enough strength to perform at least 30 regular push-ups.
How to perform plyo push-ups:
|1. Begin from the standard push up position with your hands on the floor|
|2. Make sure to close your feet together and keep the hands slightly wider than shoulder-width|
|3. Like when you do standard push-ups, make sure to keep your back flat and don’t let your buttocks sink |
|4. Start lowering yourself to the ground |
|5. Once you hit the bottom position, push yourself up with one explosive movement and bring your hands off the floor|
|6. Make sure to land with your hands on the ground and repeat the process|
|7. When you feel comfortable, try clapping while in the air|
Box Jumps Explained
This is one of the best plyometric exercises for improving the lower body segment. Boxers and MMA fighters perform this exercise to develop quicker footwork that allows them to throw punches with better technique and more power.
There are many ways you can perform box jumps. But the marching technique is arguably one of the most popular ways among martial artists.
How to perform the box jump (marching technique):
|Put the box in front of you and place one foot on it|
|With one explosive movement, jump and land with the opposite foot on the box and make sure to land with the other foot back on the floor|
|Repeat the process|
When you feel comfortable and ready, raise the height of the box to increase difficulty.
Isometric training is a form of exercise that involves a static contraction of a muscle or a muscle group. This means that the muscle length and joint angle does not change during the contraction of the muscles. Martial artists perform these exercises to develop strength in abs, biceps, and triceps so they can punch much harder.
Since isometric workouts are quite simple, you can perform them at home and they don’t require much time either. Listed below are a few isometric exercises:
Overhead hold is a great exercise for increasing punching power because it improves muscles in the shoulders that are responsible for generating power. The exercise requires light to medium weight to perform. People usually use a light dumbbell or a kettlebell, but, you can also perform the exercise by using any suitable object from your home.
How to perform the overhead hold:
|1. Take the weight in your hands and extend the arms above the head.|
|2. Hold the weight steadily and always make sure that your arms are fully extended.|
|3. As a beginner, hold the weight for 30 seconds.|
|4. Repeat five times.|
You can increase the level of difficulty by standing on one leg while holding the weight above your head.
The body hold is one of the most popular isometric exercises for improving the abdominal muscles. Abdominal muscles are very important for generating power as they connect the whole body together. So, the abdominal muscles actually combine the power generated in your legs, hips and arms into one total force that allows you to punch harder.
Here is how you should perform the body hold exercise:
|Sit on the floor with your feet flat and knees bent.|
|Slowly raise your arms and legs simultaneously to create a V shape with your body.|
|Stay in this position for 15 seconds and repeat it five times.|
Many boxers and MMA fighters perform this exercise because it targets various muscle groups responsible for generating power in the punches. It will increase your power in the abdomen muscles, quadriceps, and the anterior portion of the deltoid. In short, this single exercise will torch your core like no other exercise out there.
How to perform the plank hold:
|Begin the exercise with the body in the horizontal position.|
|Put the weight of the body on the toes and forearms.|
|Make sure to keep your hips forward (butt clenched) and don’t let your hips sink.|
|Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat it five times.|
HIIT (high-intensity interval training)
HIIT training includes a group of intense series of exercises you must perform in a short period of time. It is great for improving punching power because these exercises will increase the recruitment of fast-twitch muscle fibers. As a result, you will enjoy a greater speed in your limbs and arm strength.
HIIT not only recruits Type IIa muscles, but it also improves your balance and coordination. This is very important since you need a good balance to maintain a proper stance and coordination to put all the sequences of a punch together.
The HIIT workouts are very hard to perform, but, the benefits of doing it are huge. HIIT workouts will significantly improve your cardio and endurance levels, and are also great for increasing muscle mass and bone density.
Study at the BMC Sports Science showed that people who followed the boxing HIIT program for 12 weeks have reduced body fat by 13.2% and the total mass by 4.1%. They have also increased VO2 max levels and the sense of vitality by 54%.
HIIT workout should last from 15 to 30 minutes with less intense recovery periods. But the intensity and the duration of workouts really depend on your fitness levels.
To enjoy most benefits, you should perform HIIT workouts four times a week. Since your muscles suffer during these grueling workouts, make sure to have a proper rest between the workouts.
Other Training Tips on How to Improve Punching Power
Increasing strength in your knuckles doesn’t mean you will improve the power of the punches. But harder knuckles allow you to deliver more damage with every punch. Also, it stops knuckle injuries from happening which is very important considering there’s a big chance you can get hurt when throwing punches with full power.
The science behind knuckle conditioning may sound odd. You must perform various exercises and actually damage the knuckles enough to produce micro-fractures. So when the knuckles start to heal, they will deposit extra calcium in these micro-fractures. This will naturally make the bones denser and knuckles much harder.
Bear in mind that, if you feel any pain that lasts more than 2 days, make sure to take a break of at least 1-2 weeks. Also, you should never punch a wall to make your knuckles harder. That stuff works only in the movies.
This form of push-ups is one of the best exercises for developing strong knuckles. If you are a beginner, start with a soft surface like carpet or yoga mat. As you become more familiar with the exercise, move to the harder surfaces.
How to perform knuckle push-ups:
|The first thing you need to do is to close your fists.|
|Get into the standard push-up position and place your fists on the floor shoulder-width apart.|
|Make sure to place your weight on the first two knuckles and keep the back straight.|
|Perform the standard push-up movement.|
If you have a hard time balancing yourself on the knuckles, try to use your thumbs to improve stability.
Although this may sound and look funny, it is actually a great way to develop strong knuckles.
- Take a bowl that’s wider than your fist and feel it with rice at least seven inches deep
- Put your fingers into the bowl and grab a handful of rice
- Squeeze the hand as hard as possible and place it back into the bowl
- Start twisting the knuckles into the rice.
- Punch the rice until the skin on your knuckles break and your knuckles feel sore
There are other ways you can use rice to strengthen your knuckles. For instance:
- Grab the handful of rice and squeeze the hand as hard as you can.
- Release the hand and repeat the process.
Punching a heavy bag
Punching a heavy bag without gloves is synonymous with knuckle conditioning. Here is how you should do it the right way:
|Use the boxing hand wraps or thick cotton to strip over you knuckles before you start punching the heavy bag. |
|If you are a beginner, never use the punching bag without wrapping your hands.|
|Start punching the bag using simple punches like jab and make sure to use less power. |
|As you become more familiar with it, increase the power and speed of the punches.|