Punching Power – The 5 Building Blocks

by Fran on April 19, 2012

Punching power is, quite obviously, a very useful tool in the weaponry of a boxer. When you carry the kind of punching power that can hurt an opponent, it acts as a very useful deterrent against them ‘deciding’ to attack you without showing real caution. But what exactly is punching power and how can it be developed? In this article I’m going to describe what I feel are the 5 building blocks of good punching power and give you some tips on how you can crank up the power of your shots.

Just before we get going, I am going to admit something here. I am often quite reluctant to get involved too much in talking specifically about punching power when working with boxers. This is not because I think that punching power is purely a natural phenomenon and that if you don’t have it you can’t do anything to get it. There are of course boxers that are naturally big hitters, with the kind of punching power that can leave opponent after opponent in the Land of Nod.

No, the reason that I am reluctant to have a boxer focus heavily on punching power per se is that often the urge to ‘load up’ on punches will lead to problems with technique. As we will find out, I rank technique as pretty much the most important of the 5 building blocks of punching power. So, while that fortunate few who carry true dynamite in each hand can be assured of terrifying the opposition, there is plenty that the rest of us can do to really improve punching power. As with everything else around boxing, there’s lots of logic at work. We are not splitting atoms here, merely using some physics to our advantage.

What is Punching Power?

 
Punching power is the ability to hurt an opponent. When I say ‘hurt’, I mean anything from your basic ‘stunning’ to a full on knock out. Bear in mind that in amateur boxing there are relatively few true knock outs with head shots. When a contest does not go the distance it’s usually an accumulation of shots leading to a stoppage. In fact, I reckon that you see more actual count-outs coming as the result of well-placed body shots, so well worth visiting the body punching category on the site!

So, in amateur boxing you are more likely aiming to ‘stun’ an opponent, let them know that you can really hurt them. Getting hit and hurt is not very pleasant at all. I remember once during a spar that I took a head shot that actually made be go blind for a few seconds. Everything went white and initially only my peripheral vision returned, followed shortly after by full vision. Thankfully I took the shot on the way in so was able to stay real close and avoid any follow up shots. Yes, that shot really sticks in the mind, the effect of real punching power.

So, how did that punching power generate my myopia? Not the medical reasons (my brain impacting my skull), but the reasons why that shot was so powerful. There are I believe 5 building blocks of punching power. Each of these building blocks are designed to have dramatic effects on 2 main factors:

  1. Mass (weight)
  2. Speed (velocity)

With this in mind we can use a simple equation:
 

Power = Mass x Velocity


 
I am no physics mastermind, but even with my rudimentary knowledge I can use this equation to help me understand the ways in which we can develop punching power in a controlled and structured way.

Punching Power – Building Block #1

Technique – Make it the best it can possibly be

Make no mistake, correct technique is far and away the most important aspect of true punching power. Firstly, for punching power to be any use at all your punches have to actually land. A real benefit of great technique is that it reduces the possibility of your opponent effectively defending that incoming punch because there will be no tell-tale signs that the punch is coming. These tell-tale signs could be hand movement before the shot, flaring elbows, steps forward and so on.

The second benefit of great technique in relation to punching power is that boxing technique is designed purely and simply to maximize the mass delivered behind the punch. In every punch that I describe within the videos on this site, all are initiated by explosive thrust not from the upper body, but the lower body and specifically the balls of your feet.

This explosive thrust from your either of your feet provides the basis for the mechanics of achieving ultimate punching power. What’s more, it allows you to deliver this power under total and absolute control. If your shot misses, correct technique guarantees that you don’t lose balance. If your shot lands, correct technique means that you can instantly follow up with a shot that can have even more power than the first.

Let’s look at the short range left hook and the short range right hook, both key power punches for infighting. If you’re a southpaw, then obviously you will want to reverse this, but the principle is exactly the same. The left hook begins with massive thrust from the ball of the front foot. As the shot lands the body weight is firmly on the back foot. This means that you have extra leverage to thrash home that short range right hook by driving off the back foot.

A good video to look at this principle of adding leverage in order to increase the ‘mass’ behind the shot (and therefore punching power) is Boxing How To Guide – Left Hook to the Body.

So technique helps us to add to the mass side of our punching power equation.

Punching Power – Building Block #2

Speed – Become a Speed Demon

Improving the speed at which you punch is the next key building block for improving punching power. This is a no brainer. A car travelling at 60 miles per hour is much more deadly to the unwary pedestrian than the same car travelling at 30 miles per hour. There is no increase in the mass of the car, there is an increase in the speed at which it travels and therefore the power generated by any impact.

The exact same principle is at work with punching power. As long as the technique of your punch is exactly the same, the faster your punch travels the greater the power it delivers. Add to this the fact that an old adage in boxing is “It’s the punch that you don’t see coming that knocks you out”. In simple terms, the faster the shot the more likely it will be to land and the less likely your opponent will be prepared for it.

If you are looking for ideas to improve your punching speed, check out the article 5 Simple Steps to Improve Punch Speed.

Punching Power – Building Block #3

Timing – Let’s Add Even More Mass!

I covered the importance of technique and how have great technique means that you can maximize the mass that you deliver with that punch. Well, once you have maxed out your own mass, the question then is how can we add more mass? This is where timing comes in.

In front of you is an opponent, and he or she is walking around with a similar amount of mass to you. So, why not use your opponent’s mass against them? If you can time your shot to land as your opponent is moving their mass toward you, or more accurately toward your shot, then your punching power can be massively increased.

It is worth noting that this movement does not have to be very significant, in fact it can be barely noticeable. For example, if when your opponent throws a left hook their head moves very slightly from left to right with the shot, then by landing your own left hook to meet the opponent’s head as it moves will result in a very powerful punch. Even if your opponent throws a jab and leans in with it, your jab going back the other way will have a real eye-watering impact on the opposition.

When you hear a boxer being described as showing signs of ‘ring rust’, then much of this relates to problems with the timing of landing shots. Whilst you can begin to master timing on the heavy bag or punch pads, the only way to truly nail timing it is to spar, box, compete. The reason for this is quite simple. A punch bag has predictability; you know it will only swing in a certain way. During fight time that predictability is much more difficult to come by, believe me.  A fight situation is extremely dynamic, so spotting the bad habits of the opponent quickly and taking advantage is vital.

So, great timing allows you to add yet more mass to our equation. But I’d like us to throw a little more in so let’s go onto our next power punching building block.

Punching Power – Building Block #4

Strength Training – It’s not about big muscles, it’s about big punches

Boxers are not known for possessing massive muscles, but they are known for having a lean, toned and powerful physique, packing in a massive power-to-weight ratio. There is no conceivable way that a boxer can hope to attain maximum punching power without a structured strength training program.

The strength training program may or may not include the use of weights, but if weights are to be used then they need to be used in a particular way i.e. not to build muscle mass. I like to see boxers use weights, but my preference for the majority of the boxer’s strength work is to use a range of ground exercises covering calisthenics, plyometrics and resistance work.

A boxer’s strength training program should be sport-specific. That is they should develop not only core strength but also the strength in particular muscle groups. These muscle groups are unsurprisingly the ones that work together to throw punches. So, any strength training work that is focused on improving punching power should seek to develop the following broad muscle groups:

  • The calves
  • The quads (front of the thighs)
  • The abdomen (abs and obliques)
  • The chest and shoulders
  • The lats
  • The triceps
  • The forearms

On a final note here, very common across boxing now is the use of resistance bands. These can be attached to a belt and handles on the end of each band held in the hand. This allows punches to be thrown whilst coping with the resistance of the bands and for me offers an outstanding aid for developing punching power.

Punching Power – Building Block #5

Flexibility – Improve your range of movement

In any sporting endeavour flexibility is of paramount importance, and boxing is no different. “But” I hear you say, “how does being flexible improve punching power?” It’s all about the additional range of movement you get by being flexible. A greater range of movement equals a greater amount of available leverage. A greater amount of leverage means greater punching power, pure and simple.

In terms of our punching power equation, this final building block is again about increasing mass. But, we can also contribute to our velocity level because a flexible fighter is also likely to see improvements in their punching speed. So in terms of improving punching power, improving your flexibility has to be a key part of your approach.

Every training session should end with a warm-down, and a warm down is the perfect opportunity to undertake a full static stretching program. It’s a nice part of the session. Your hard work is done and you can work through a head-to-toe static stretches to really loosen up those tired muscles. It will be well worth it.

Now Get to Work!

So there you have it, the punching power equation and 5 building blocks to think about how to improve both sides of that equation. If you’re not one of those fortunate enough to be able to rely on natural knockout punching power, get the 5 building blocks right and you will improve, of that there is no doubt.

Cheers

Fran

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{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

Abdul April 19, 2012 at 9:57 pm

Nice artikel and a lot of wisedom !

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Fran April 20, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Thank you Abdul

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Karl April 20, 2012 at 6:01 am

Hi Fran,

Great article!

My thoughts…

Being a science geek, I’ve read a few studies on the topic of punching power. Technically speaking the key measurement isn’t actually power, (even the word force isn’t specific enough), but impulse. “Impulse” takes direct consideration of the time involved. Like when you catch a ball in a mitt. If the ball is thrown fast, and you simply hold your hand out to accept the impact, it will sting considerably. This is because the force of the ball is absorbed by your hand in one short space of time, ie: the impulse is high. If instead, you draw your hand back as the ball comes into your mitt, you’ll find that the impact doesn’t sting nearly as much (or at all). This is because the “impulse” has been drawn out over time. A typical paper on the physics (there are many available online) is “The Damaging Punch” by J Atha, which measured the impact forces of British heavy weight Frank Bruno. His results on impact showed a peak force of 4096N, with a generated impulse of 53g! Roughly equivalent to a 13lbs mallet swung at 20 mph!!

In boxing, short impulse is critical and we achieve it via high hand speeds.

Achieving high speed in sports has also been studied ad nauseam. No matter what the discipline (boxing, running, tennis, etc), they all rely on what is called “Bunn’s summation of speed principle”, which states…

“when the movement of several members of the body are involved in developing optimum speed, 1) the speed of each successive member should be faster than that of it’s predecessor, 2) should start at the moment of greatest velocity of the preceding member, 3) and be in the direction of the objective”

This is a technical way of stating something we learn over time when practicing our punches.

The first principle is proper muscle recruitment. In another paper (which I can’t seem to find the title of at the moment), the sequence of muscle contraction was measured in boxers. Beginners tended to tense up and flex all their muscles at the same time, whereas the boxers fired off muscles in a set sequence – one after another – each building up energy and passing it onto the next in the 1-2-3 fashion noted above. Think of a rail gun, or a baton race.

Now Fran, I’m going to stop myself right here, because if I don’t you’ll end up with a mini-novel on your website! I’d just like to say two more things…

Point 3 above isn’t as obvious as you may expect. In yet another study (like I said, I’m a science geek) boxers were measured for consistency over a range of about 30 punches. When the boxer allowed his wrist to bend out of alignment – even slightly – he would lose up to 10% of the force in his punch.

Lastly, and science aside, I think anyone who practices continuously will come to know these things intuitively and in their own way. When I throw a heavy punch into the bag I have the same feeling. I’m relaxed, I feel like the punch is ACTUALLY coming up from the ball of my foot and out of my knuckles. My fist doesn’t lurch forward, it snaps out in a blur like a rifle shot.

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Fran April 20, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Karl

Thank goodness for science geeks, that’s all I can say. I have really found those few paragraphs very helpful. It’s interesting how these two things have combined here, your knowledge of physics and my background in boxing. With each element of your explanation of the physics, associations formed almost instantly. For example, you used the ball/hand analogy, and the method of taking the ‘sting’ out of the impact of the ball. This principle was used by Roberto Duran to stay in the game for the best part of 30 years. Even when shots appeared to land, he was taking the sting out of them by allowing his body and therefore head to move in the same direction as the shot, at just the right time.

Also the sequence of muscle engagement. This for me is demonstrated most clearly in the straight back hand, seeking to start everything from the feet in a relaxed way to culminate in the explosive impact of the shot. The power is generated progressively throughout the shot. The secret to making a shot the best it can be, to develop true power punching, is simple; repetition of the correct technique over a period of time.

Great comment Karl, really appreciate that one.

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Ivan April 20, 2012 at 1:47 pm

With all 5 building blocks in place, a boxer shouldn’t worry about power comparisons with others. You do not necessarily need more power than the opponent, enough power will do. Speed is power and if you catch him moving forward, you are King Kong.
According to sports science studies, anyone weighing above 165 pounds theoretically has enough power to knock out any man with a single punch. That is, if he can find a volunteer to stand motionless for the strike. Breaking bricks and boards is one thing, hitting a soft moving human target with a bouncing head is an entirely different proposition. That’s why all karate specialist fighting in the K-1 platform had to cross-train in boxing. The point is that power is nothing without timing and consistence.
I agree that big punchers are born and not made, but that’s not the innate quality that predetermines the level of success in boxing. The most important thing IMO is hand speed, which is a natural gift as well. If you have it, you could become a good boxer, if not – there are other sports as well.

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Fran April 20, 2012 at 10:35 pm

The ‘moving human target’ reference is so true Ivan. I’m sure that as a boxer experiences more and more fight situations they really develop the ability to predict patterns of movement. It’s not quite as complicated as trying to predict the long term weather in the UK, but I’m sure a ‘sense’ is developed as a fighter develops his or her style.

I’ll have to remember your closing sentence, I need to remember that one :-)

Thanks Ivan

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Matt April 20, 2012 at 9:48 pm

Nice article Fran, very informative.

Question for you, you mention technique being the #1 building block, which I do agree with. I am curious about something in terms of the sequence in which a punch develops. So, let’s say I am standing in my fighting stance. I do realize that when using techniques at full speed, there should be little time between the activation of different parts of the body, but if you had to break it down section by section would I initiate the legs, then hips, upper body (shoulder) then fist? Or should the fist start extending and during its extension the legs, hips and shoulders are activated?

I ask partly to generate more power, but mainly, I feel that sequence partly determines how much a technique is telegraphed. And I am trying to tweak my punches to minimize telegraphing. Any thoughts would be grateful. Thank you.

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Fran April 20, 2012 at 10:46 pm

Thanks for the question Matt. As a general rule your first sequence is right on the money. As for when the fist actually begins it’s journey, this is a little different depending upon the angle that you would like the punch to take to the target. The best example I can give of this is the right cross/straight back hand and the long range right hook. With the right cross the the fist begins it’s journey late in the rotation of the hips, allowing the punch to travel a perfectly straight path to the target. With the long range right hook the fist begins it’s journey earlier in the rotation, thereby allowing the fist to travel a slightly different path, arriving at the target from a wider angle.

On telegraphing, you’re doing the right thing in thinking technique. As long as you don’t do anything odd to initiate the punch, for example dropping the left hand just prior to launching the shot. These are by far the easiest habits for an opponent to spot.

Hope this helps Matt

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Karl April 21, 2012 at 2:03 am

Fran,

For the curious, here is an interesting paper on the specific muscles recruited during a rear hand power shot…

http://tinyurl.com/btnby96

An interesting paragraph copied from it…

“…the significance to punch force generation of a linear recruitment of muscles originating from the legs, trunk, shoulders and arms in sequence has been demonstrated in this research. This supports the importance of a boxer having the correct ‘stance’ and ‘on-guard’ position in order to throw effective punches (Hickey, 1980). The relative importance of leg extension at the ankle, knee and hip involving the gastrocnemius, rectus femoris and biceps femoris muscles was notable especially in forceful punch delivery. This work supports the approach that boxing coaches should prioritise the development of sequential muscular recruitment when coaching the technical requirements of rear hand punching.”

Ok, me again with a few more thoughts. :)

I’m not actually suggesting anyone memorize the sequence of muscle contractions recorded during punch delivery. This things are learnt by repetition and practice. It’s not an intellectual exercise, but an intellectual approach can get you there quicker. For example, we mention speed as being critical in punch delivery (and it is) but reading the paper we find that a power punch will sacrifice SOME speed for the sake of power. In fact when power was the priority the force was 38% greater than when speed was prioritized. What accounts for this? Why the rectus femoris
muscle of course! (curious? read the paper) Now a coach wouldn’t bother to explain all this, he’d simply tell you to do tons of jump squats!

Two other points…

1) A coach once told me to “think of your arm last” when punching. This is very helpful. First think of your range, then think of your feet, legs, hips, torso. I try to imagine my legs throwing energy up into my torso and my torso double up on that to throw my arm out. The body is the gun, the fist is the bullet.

2) But what does it actually mean to say your energy comes from the legs? I assure beginners that they will know what this means once they’ve felt it. However, you can’t feel it until you’ve built up a boxers body. I liken it to a chain. Raw beginners are like a chain laying on a table top. You can’t push one end to force the other end to move, the links just collapse on themselves and you have a piled up mess. The body is like that. Boxing training starts to weld all those links together. Strong calves, strong quads, those are critical links if you want to deliver power, but your energy will be dampened considerably if you don’t have strong core muscles as well. All that strong leg power will hit the mushy middle and evaporate. Simply hitting a heavy bag WILL develop all those muscle groups but you will get there much quicker doing all the traditional exercises that don’t involve actual punching. Fran, I believe your Phase 6 in the Boxing Training Foundation series is a great program to start “welding up the links”.

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Ivan April 21, 2012 at 9:23 am

Hi Karl,
Very interesting view on boxing technique describing it as an internal chain reaction, an acceleration due to a phased effort and not a single explosive burst. I would only add tinter muscular coordination to the equation.
On the point of power vs. speed, I am not sure exactly the same technique was used by the boxers in the experiment. When required to be as fast as possible, most boxers would use “arm punches”, sacrificing some leg push and body rotation to cut the time. When told to go for power without the threat of a counter, they would load up, over-commit, over-rotate and even push with the fist at impact, since the dynamo meter is a fixed heavy target. So in effect the comparison is between different punches. Scientists are not coaches after all.
If the participants can be made to perform exactly the same full body weight technique with the same range of motion and rotation, then obviously speed will make the difference in power and the result of the workshop perhaps would be different.

Being relaxed but ready is really important, and not only “think of the arm last”, but think of it as an object that needs to be “thrown” at the target, making a tight fist just before contact. The best results come when you stop thinking at all while punching.
Your research was really enjoyable.

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Fran April 23, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Karl

I’ve printed the paper off and will give it a thorough read, thanks very much for the link.

It’s summation is really helpful, especially the fact that our good old fashioned ton up has remained a core offering in the boxer’s training. People are often surprised when they realize how much leg work is involved in good boxing. You are of course correct, the last thing I want to be doing is describing muscle groups to young boxers. Thankfully they are trusting enough to understand that the murderous final phase of their training session takes place not to keep us coaches entertained, but to help them move and hit to the highest standard.

Interestingly, I trained under Kevin Hickey’s successor (Ian Irwin) when I was on England boxing squads. You won’t be surprised to know that even as experienced boxers we were constantly drilled with tech sparring on punch technique and passages of skills. In fact, I’m just reading a book on Manny Pacquiao and it describes how Freddie Roach worked with the Filipino to re-engineer his back hand. And I’ll wager that this involved a good deal of going back to the drawing board.

Great comment, as usual. Thanks Karl.

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Dave Waterman April 21, 2012 at 6:31 am

Hi Fran,

Excellent article and some really indepth responses above. I’ve often pondered what secrets lie behind the big hitters in our sport. Men like Marcus Maidana spring to mind: nothing particularly ‘special’ in his anatomy, yet he carries unquestionable power in either hand. And while I acknowledge completely the idea that technique and speed equal power we can think of any number of skilled boxers whose technique and speed are beyond question yet their ability to put an opponent to sleep is sorely lacking. This supports the idea that big punchers are born and not created, I guess.

I think that if I could make one addition to your excellent list of creating power, it would be target selection. If one recruits all of your points above and place that in a shot that lands perfectly on the point of the chin; or directly on the solar plexus, the result will be more devastating than landing on the cranium or rib cage.

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Fran April 23, 2012 at 8:42 pm

Absolutely agree Dave, true big hitters are 100% natural. Duran, Tyson, Julian Jackson et al. These guys, when given even minimal boxing coaching, would be able to knock people out for a laugh. Even Gerald McLellan. When he came over to fight Nigel Benn we all knew how dangerous he was, and his incredible power almost set a different path, unfortunately it was not to be. Then again, Mr Benn wasn’t exactly Mr Patter Cake either was he. He was as heavy a puncher ever to come from these islands.

In terms of target selection, absolutely. Precision is key and we often only have a distance of an inch or two as the difference between an opponent being deposited on the seat of their pants or the shot bouncing off to get you no more than a point.

Cheers Dave, nice comment

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Anonymous April 21, 2012 at 9:43 am

Hi Fran

An excellent article and some quality discussion here, as per usual for this site, good work mate.

I read an interview of a fight coach, who’s name now escapes me, who said that a fighter with weak hamstring probably couldn’t punch his way out of a paper bag. This would seem to fit in with the article that Karl linked a couple of posts above, stating that the hamstrings play a vital role in punch power.

You seem to recommend boxers to do bodyweight strength training so what exercises would you prescribe for a boxer with weak legs? Would you ever recommend squats and deadlifts with heavier weights to build up leg strength?

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Fran April 23, 2012 at 8:50 pm

Hey Matt

That coach hit the nail right on the head, probably why you were reading the article!

In terms of exercises, go with squat jumps, star jumps, pike jumps, burpees etc. Phase 6 of The Foundation will help you out, the old faithful Ton Up. Squats with weights will help, but if you were going for the weights option I’d consider lunges with the barbell. This said, the ground work in the ton up will in my opinion be of greater help and if time is at a premium should be the priority.

Cheers Matt. thanks for the question and compliments

Cheers Mat

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Matt Hutch April 21, 2012 at 9:45 am

Sorry, the above post is mine not anonymous, thought I was logged in.

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Dave April 21, 2012 at 3:25 pm

This is some good advice for punching power!

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Fran April 23, 2012 at 8:50 pm

Thank you Dave

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tankman44 April 24, 2012 at 6:53 am

Hi Fran, i have a question. i watch all the greats, roberto duran julio chavez even fighters today miguel cotto. when i watch these fighters i notice that technically they are punching wrong according to how boxers get taught from a young age. my example is, every coach i have ever been taught by says when you throw the right hand your head or body should not be over your left knee (if your orthodox) i was watching duran in alot of his fights, and when he throws his right hand most of the time from how i can see it he always leans over his left knee, the punch is never really straight its more of a over hand right. what would you say about that?

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Fran April 25, 2012 at 8:42 pm

Hey there. That is an interesting question and probably needs a full article to truly answer it, but I’ll try to provide a view in brief.

There is no doubt professional boxers are more relaxed about weight distribution, especially when punching. Duran did have the benefit of being a naturally hard puncher, and true hard punching is most definitely a natural gift. Over thousands of rounds of experience, Duran and others of his level learn by experience. Duran’s legendary trainer Ray Arcel really didn’t want to mess around with his punch technique, I mean why would you? He was knocking guys out left right and centre so why try to change it. Most of a boxer’s learning is from themselves and their experience, not from a coach.

Truth is, I like to coach a set of skills that constitute the ‘safest’ way of operating, and I think lots of other coaches do this. In amateur boxing, throwing the any punch (as an orthodox) without letting the weight go forward is the safest and most beneficial way to do things. It’s the best way to maximize the punching power and range in the safest way i.e. with the minimum risk of taking a punch. By the time a boxer gets into the pro ranks their style will change and are more willing to take risks. A whole range of different tactics and approaches come into play. This may include weight transfer at different points (particularly up close). Would I coach an amateur to take on the characteristics of a pro, well, no definitely not. Why? Because their chances of success will be lessened.

The question is I suppose is the punching power delivered by Duran, Chavez, Cotto and others down to allowing their bodyweight to travel forward over their front leg, whether this is occasional or habitual? Maybe, maybe not. But, there is definitely more risk associated with this.

Hope this helps. Not an easy question to answer in brief, so I’ve made a note in the ‘articles to write’ list.

Thanks Tankman.

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Jerry April 24, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Great article and discussion, I’ve learned a lot from this.
Thanks

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Fran April 25, 2012 at 8:48 pm

Thank you Jerry, and you’re very welcome.

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Ivan April 24, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Punching power crowns the wish list of boxers. But there are people who ‘couldn’t break an egg” and no matter what coaches do and how hard boxers try there is little progress. Power training should be focused on teaching a boxer to “punch his weight” since more than that may be too much to ask. Strength training and more physical strength does not readily translate into more punching power.
It has been determined that it takes 10 000 repetitions to acquire a new motor skill, e.g. a punch or a maneuver. A boxer can do the “one-two” millions of times over the years and hone every aspect of it except power. It is not negotiable, you only have so much and it’d better be enough.
So if punch power can’t be increased, it should be maximized. Timing and range are the crucial elements for applying the power. Every boxer knows his range, although he couldn’t say the exact length, it is known by sight. Reach can be measured by others, range is a perceived personal space. While range is a dimension, timing is an intangible asset measured by the ability to land punches. Both range awareness and timing can be improved to increase the effect of the allowance of power a boxer has. Sparring and mitts are the obvious tools, but my uncle the old amateur coach gave me an interesting exercise for range many years ago. He told to stick some chewing gum to a concrete wall and then hit and touch the gum without touching the wall. Hit it quickly, not just reach out and touch it. It took some practice back then, but it seemed easy after a while. I tried it yesterday and my left hand is fine, the right is just a little red.

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Fran April 25, 2012 at 8:48 pm

Great comment Ivan. True punching power is genetic for me, absolutely agree. And yes, getting them to punch their weight is the true measure. But I also think that it’s important to develop the psychological position also. A boxer has to believe that they can increase their punching power, that they can stop that homicidal opponent from continually attacking them by hitting them hard and hitting them fast. If this equates only to punching their weight, then so be it.

Great description of range, and all I would add it that range understanding has a lot to do with feet position, be this conscious or sub-conscious. This is one of the main reasons why I always stay in my boxing stance when working the punch pads with the boxer. It allows them to continue to develop that awareness that you so eloquently describe. By the way, like the chewing gum experiment!

Thanks Ivan

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Poster April 25, 2012 at 7:01 am

When I was in a training camp in Russia many years ago there was a Russian coach ( I can’t remember his name ) who made us to process our timing in counterpunching. He said that timing is the most important factor in boxing. Even if one has little weight behind the punch or poor technique the impact will be very effective with a good timing. He adviced us to punch at the right time and it was just when the opponent starts to push forward with the back foot. According to him there is two reasons for this:

1. The speed of the moving opponent is greatest right at the start of the push.
2. The opponent can’t avoid the incoming punch when he has just started to push forward. He can’t lean to sides or duck etc. because of his forward momentum.

We had to combine our timing with our own foorwork to 45° angles forward when the effect of our punch was doubled.

However the main issue of the lesson was to get the whole picture of opponent’s way of moving. Without it it was impossible to get the things work. We got to know that if one uses the same footwork pattern again and again he/she will be destroyed by a smart boxer. We learnt that one has to be unpredictable in his/her footwork also.

It went a little bit off-topic but hope you’ll forgive me …

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Fran April 25, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Forgiven and more accurately thanked!

That’s a great comment, thanks very much for contributing. It has certainly helped me to think in some different ways. It’s also very timely as I’m going to be posting an article in the next day or so that is very relevant to your comment, even the ‘Russian’ bit.

Thanks, great comment.

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Kostas April 26, 2012 at 8:11 am

Cheers Fran. As im looking to turn pro soon im always looking for the best ways to improve myself and i found myself being a naturally big hitter but my coaches kept on changing how i punched which i feel took some of my power away. I myself was a culprit of leaning into my punch so thats why i wanted you opinion. cheers

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Fran April 29, 2012 at 11:38 am

No problem Kostas. Keep us informed as you progress mate. Look forward to that.

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Fabricio May 2, 2012 at 7:24 pm

Hi I like to tell something more about punching power it too important ligament ,the force the hips in rotation is one but i think that ligament in the hand ,wrist the knucles they had to be work too
I have see photos of duran ,JC Chavez yes don´t have a big and powewrful look hand ,but i belive in training very hard the hands
because they firm punches . thanks !!

PLEASE YOU CAN SPEAK ABOUT THE VIDEOS OF ´´ RON LIPTON ´
IT ´S A OLD BOXER COACH WHO TRAINED IF ´´Rubin Carter ´´
HURRICANE ,HE TALKS ABOUT PUNCHING POWER TOO

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aarcadian May 5, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Best go back to school. Your formula is wrong. Power = Work/Time.
Force = Mass x Acceleration. Small difference, but it matters.

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Fran May 5, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Hey there

I did say at the start of the article that I was no physics boffin, so thanks for the correction. I hope that the article as a whole achieves it’s aim of providing an understandable way of developing punching power, even though I’d be marked down in a physics test.

Thanks

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Ivan May 8, 2012 at 3:10 pm

You go back to school. Your formula is wrong, it refers to electrical power and so on. In boxing we care about linear power – power = force x distance/time, rotational power – Torque = force x lever arm, mental power – no formula. Most of all the impact of a punch is measured in pressure – the amount of force acting per unit area, or P = F/A.

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Aaron April 12, 2014 at 8:20 pm

You’re both wrong.

Power = Force x Velocity

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Paul Smith December 22, 2012 at 5:56 pm

I think this article is very helpful and educational, particularly Building Block #3.

Thanks.

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Ant March 1, 2013 at 10:08 am

This is a very entertaining and well written article. I will most definitely be frequenting the website.

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Fran March 2, 2013 at 9:32 am

Thank you Ant, I hope that your time browsing the information on the site is worth it. I’m sure it will be :-)

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Marabu April 8, 2013 at 12:26 am

Magnificent article.Truly helpful and really educational. Thanks a lot for sharing Fran and all the commenters, too. Refering to the muscle block 4: Is it true that foot or toe muscles are needed for powerful pushes from the front or back leg (kick ins) in order to generate faster shots and thereby increase power and timing accuracy?

Besides what about accuracy? Not just in terms of target hitting as Mark mentioned but also in terms of hand position and angle in the Moment oft impact. I’m asking because another YouTube video says that, you should aim to hit with your first two knuckles. I wonder if thats true, because you never mentioned something like that…

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Fran April 17, 2013 at 8:25 pm

Hi Marabu

Sorry for the delay in replying.

In answer to your first point, it’s more about he calf muscles than the foot muscles. Performing the movement drills on the site for instance, if done correctly, will cause the calves to burn (especially the back one).

On the two-knuckle thing, never gone for that one, maybe a martial arts technique? I think the full face of the fist does the job kind of neatly :-)

Thanks Marabu

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Ray penny April 16, 2013 at 9:06 pm

Thank you to everybody that contributed to this topic I’ve only just discovered this website , however I have found this whole topic both educational and stimulating .

Keep it up .

Ray

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Mike January 19, 2014 at 9:32 pm

Hi Fran,

Just a quick one on this, how much do you think back muscles are involved in creating punching power?

Mine always feel sore when I haven’t trained for a while but I’m never sure if that is because you work them when you return the punch or whether they are a big contributor to your power as you throw a shot?

Thanks

Mike

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Fran January 26, 2014 at 6:32 pm

Hey Mike

Same here. WHen I’ve not hit a bag for a while and go with a heavy session, my lats and dorsal area muscles really stock up with lactic acid! In terms of power, all of the muscles from the feet upwards play their part. I like to think that technical excellence in terms of execution of the shot maximises muscle use. So, when the shot ‘snaps’ onto the target there is a hell of a load from the rear foot (for the back hand), up through the legs and through the back muscles. Similar to pushing a heavy object, it’s just that you are doing it with the fist travelling at a blistering velocity. Hope this rather garbled explanation helps?

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Mike February 1, 2014 at 9:39 am

Yeah, it does.

Cheers

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Aaron April 12, 2014 at 8:19 pm

Power = Force x Velocity

There is honestly too much to dissect here so I shan’t sit here typing forever. It just looks like you wrote this off the top of your head. No use of science or research and completely unsubstantiated and erroneous on so many levels.

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Fran April 12, 2014 at 8:35 pm

Thank you for the direct and very frank feedback Aaron. I am not a scientist, nor at any point do I say I am. I am however a boxing coach with 20 years worth of experience so I’m speaking from practical experience of teaching boxers to improve their punching power in a structured and controlled way, not writing scientific white papers. Feel free to become in a high-brow scientific debate with yourself and likewise feel free to ignore the ramblings in the ‘off the top of my head’ article. I’ll continue to teach boxers to hit hard without the aid of formulae and wipe boards. Cheers.

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bruce tyson April 25, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Tnx fran very useful tnx for he wisdom…very similar the way brucelee trained to develop punching power..im been a jetkunedo practitioner since high school..and we get power from our hips by twisting it and twisting the balls of the feet…but scientifically, u nid powerful leg muscles to twist ur hips, u nid calves to twist the ball of ur feet and to explosively move ur feet and diff directions..u need powerful obligue muscles to twist ur torso as well as lats…shoulders for arm endurance and triceps for extending ur arms..ur chest for pushing power…lastly, ur forarms asists in ur tight grip and tight fist in punching…all muscles work together to create explosive punches…I like building block #4..ur correct dnt mind wt they argue about formulas..what is important is serious training…imagine a lazy person without experience in boxing or martial arts going into a fight, even if hes gifted in powerpunch, hes not trained to punch harder and doesnt have aerobic endurance..he wont last in a boxing match
bruce lee said..”train hard to hit hard” cuz de amato the legendary trainer of mike tyson said”theres no such thing as natural puncher..u nid to train hard to be the best”..
if ull read brucelees book art of expressing he human body, he trained all these muscle groups, forearms, chest, shoulders, lats, obligue and abs, quadriceps and calves…all these muscles move explosively in punching…even mike tyson did a lot of leg work from 3 mile jogg, 20 mins jump rope, pyometric box jumping and squats to build punching power..
when brucelee punches, he put speed first then power when the fist is about to hit the target..ur #2 principle is so true..the fastest car will have a serious dmage to the pedestrian than the slower car…u cant punch hard if ur slow..its like tapping ur friends back when he needs comfort hehehe….^_^
anyweiz did you notice both brucelee and mike tyson hit hard in their sport..bec they posses all these muscles traned them seriously and how they both punch fast to dmage their opponents..tnx my friend for ur article..at least im more confident to train these muscle groups and to share it to my future students
Godbless more power..
^_^

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Fran May 2, 2014 at 7:41 pm

Hey Bruce

Sorry for the delay in replying. Great comment. It’s always nice when people who study other martial arts draw comparisons and I feel flattered that you can see some of the positives of the article. To get some practical demonstrations of the training methods of big hitters – I’d love to have a figure on Bruce Lee’s power-to-weight ratio. As for Mike Tyson, there’s been very few more deadly hitters in the ring.

I think I’ll get a copy of the Bruce Lee book, thanks for the heads up.

Really appreciate you taking the time to comment Bruce, you take it easy bud.

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Mohammad May 24, 2014 at 5:28 am

Awesome bro ! Awesome

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Fran May 26, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Thank you Mohammad.

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X July 4, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Fran, overall it’s a good article but I think it could be much better with some corrections.

In regards to #3, I see where you are going with ‘adding mass’, however what you describe is using the opponent’s momentum against them. Adding mass to a punch would mean putting on heavier gloves.

Here are the actual physics equations:

Force = Mass x Acceleration
^Pretty much all you need to know..

Acceleration = Change in Velocity / Time

and the less relevant equations:

Momentum = Mass x Velocity (not a factor in punching power)
Work = Force x Distance
Power = Work / Time

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Fran July 7, 2014 at 6:33 pm

Thanks for the physics insights ‘X’. Hopefully I got my point across even though I got my mass mixed up with my momentum :-)

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salmanhawa July 19, 2014 at 10:58 pm

fran,,
i ur absolutely right but most important is concentration,connection of eyes witout it all ur 5 pionts mainly ur 3rd point will not work on it nd i want to say something that was said by my teacher to me try using heavy gloves during punching bag,punching pad,shadow boxing. that was about power now speed of punches . ma coach had teached to to throw punches as many as u can on ur bag and shadow boxing because while the boxer goes in the ring his speed slow down its natural for example see manny pacquio his speed in traning is awwesome but in rring the punches speed becomes slow nd the third nd the last that i want to share wit u is try to punche at ur eye level not ur shoulder level because as u go in the ring ur punches move down ur sholder level wen u do traning on shoulder level so if u try to train on ur eye level it will be connected to ur shoulder level in the ring

thanks bro ,
awesome post

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Fran July 30, 2014 at 7:01 pm

Thank you. Thanks also for the tips, I hope that others reading will try them out.

Cheers

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Alex August 13, 2014 at 5:01 pm

Great article Fran :) Excellent insights from commenters too. My hopefully quick question relates to technique. I am guilty of “arm punching” a lot and although your article and comments do easily explain about the roles the rest of the body plays in generating power (balls of the feet upwards ect) I have found that in trying to involve my entire body in the punch I am telegraphing the shot more so than when I rely purely on “arm punching”. Do you have any tips to combat this problem Im having? Thanks in advance Alex

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Patrick August 22, 2014 at 3:51 am

Great article. Just on the formula Power = mass x velocity though, that is the formula for momentum. My understanding is that the formula of relevance is Force or Kinetic Energy = 1/2mv2. This is important because, while mass and velocity are still the two key variables, the fact that velocity is squared shows that speed is by far the more important factor – doubling mass increases the force by a factor of 2, whereas doubling speed increases the force by a factor of 4, for example. See the following article for a discussion: http://tdatraining.blogspot.com.au/2006/01/speed-punching.html.

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Fran August 25, 2014 at 7:04 pm

Thanks Patrick, very helpful contribution to the debate, something I’ll consider in future developments in this area. Cheers mate.

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