The art of boxing is based on form and movement to generate power, which is essential to winning a match. The boxer’s agility and power make watching the sport fun, and possessing those qualities leads to strength. Because power is the combination of speed and mass, and you can’t change the mass of your fists in regulation gloves, the means to improve the power of your punches is to develop additional speed through practice and training.
Remember: Boxing is not as simple as punching your opponent. Your opponent is continually bouncing and bobbing around, trying to stay out of the way, and punching back at you. You must focus on many other elements of boxing and training offensively to maintain exemplary defensive form.
- Head — Defend your head against your opponent’s attacks by “slipping,” moving out of the way by bending at the hips along with bobbing and weaving to ensure your foe must aim at a difficult target.
- Arms — Use your arms to block incoming punches, especially the hard and fast power punches your opponent throws that can potentially end the fight.
- Hands — Of course, you use your hands to throw punches, but you also employ them in defensive moves such as swiping away the jabs, feints, and other light punches your opponent uses to set up a heavier blow or to act as distractions during the fight.
Rookies typically make a number of mistakes when they are new to the sport. Often, these mistakes are the bad form they developed while play-fighting as a child; other times, the errors are based on misconceptions of what they see professional fighters doing during a televised match.
A formally trained gym coach can correct such mistakes, and with time and training, the proper form rather than the mistake will become second nature. Watch out for these mistakes; instead, incorporate better techniques.
- Leaving Your Feet — Do not compromise your balance by leaving your feet. Although the “Superman” punch may look cool in the movies and may work with some styles of MMA fighting, it never works well in a traditional boxing match.
- Wildly Throwing Punches — Your punch should not only be planned intelligently but each one must be timed and placed in an optimal manner and land with precise aim. Wild punches never find their target; they are either blocked, or the opponent simply moves out of the way.
- Telegraphing —Every rookie makes the mistake of telegraphing or cocking your punch by pulling your hand back before throwing their punches. Doing this gives your opponent time to prepare a defense against the blow.
- Reaching — Overreaching may help you add power to your punches, but it is ultimately self-defeating since it can lead to joint pain or injury. Boxing is a sport, and as such, it’s supposed to be fun while simultaneously promoting daily and lifelong health. No good coach is going to let you reap the short-term benefits possibly gained by a bad form that will lead to injury.
Exercises to Punch Harder
Although boxing is ultimately about getting in the ring and fighting an opponent, a lot of training is required before you get to that point. Obviously, you must learn how to move and punch in the ring, but you also need specific training exercises to help you develop strength and power so you can throw harder punches that hurt. These exercises are something our friend Homer certainly could have used in his short-lived boxing career.
- Weight Training — Weight training is always a good workout, even if you aren’t a bodybuilder trying to gain muscle mass; the workout keeps your muscles strong, and your body trim.
- Swimming — Swimming is a full-body cardio workout, which helps develop your endurance while your core strengthens, and you gain a deeper understanding of the balance and agility you will also need in the ring.
- Isometrics — Isometric workouts help develop core strength as you hold a position, which puts a strain on specific muscles. Planks, for example, are a common isometric workout, which doesn’t seem hard until you try to hold the position for two or three minutes, or longer, as you get into better shape.
- Bag Work — Training with the heavy bag is a hard physical workout, which requires proper form and technique, so you build muscle and develop your punches and footwork. This is best done with punching bags hanging from the ceiling or on a good corner bag stand.
- Shadow Boxing — Shadow boxing is a great training exercise in that it helps you visualize an actual bout while practicing your form and technique. You can shadowbox alone at home or the office or practice under a gym coach’s instruction.
- Mitt Work — Working with focus mitts requires a partner but is similar to shadow boxing in that you’re practicing your punches without facing a real threat, although the interaction of movement with your partner helps you develop a sense of anticipation for various situations as you proactively learn how to aim your power blows.
The video below discusses how to toughen up your hands, use your whole body, and the difference between hitting and pushing a punching bag.
How to Punch Harder Without a Heavy Bag
Without using a heavy punching bag or even a specific boxing workout, there are workouts you can do to improve the strength of your punches. Simple, basic pushups are a great way to build the same muscles you use when punching by leaning on the knuckles of your fists instead of the typical flat-handed form.
Bench presses work the same way. In fact, any weightlifting workout is going to burn fat and develop muscle, translating into improved punching strength.
Exercises to Punch Faster
Punching hard is an integral part of boxing, but there is more to becoming a great fighter than executing heavy blows. Each blow must be both fast and accurate, timed expertly, with a particular rhythm to land on your opponent’s head and body.
- Shadow Boxing — Once again, shadow boxing is a great routine you can do anywhere to practice your form and speed against a visualization of your opponent. By practicing speed and technique, they become second nature and naturally incorporate themselves into your regular boxing and sparring matches.
- Speed Bag — Speed bag drills are excellent for practicing speed, rhythm, and timing. Because of the way it swings back and forth, you must learn the proper method of repeated hits to have a successful workout that will become a natural part of your in-ring form.
- Double End Bag — The double-end bag is similar to the speed bag, except that the light tension of its attachment on the ceiling makes the bag moves more randomly. Working out with an end bag simulates the motion of a real opponent who will be moving and trying to prevent you from landing a punch.
- HIIT Heavy Bag — High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) on a heavy bag will absolutely wear you out in a short amount of time, building muscles and working on your form. Focus on form and speed rather than power punches to get the most out of the workout. The essential workout is to hit the bag as fast as possible using different combinations of jab, cross, hook, and uppercut for as long as you feel comfortable, and then continue for a few extra minutes.
- Pushup Variations — Pushup variations can’t be emphasized enough as to how they help the boxer develop strength and endurance. One-handed pushups provide focused workouts on each arm. Clapping between pushups makes them more dynamic while helping you develop your speed and coordination. Reverse pushups focus on your triceps instead of your biceps, and propping your feet up on a stable bench or chair helps develop different portions of your chest muscles.
- Resistance Bands — Rubber bands are an alternative to weightlifting, arguably a safer exercise. They’re also a simple piece of equipment you can keep at home or the office if you don’t have room for an actual weight set.
How to Punch Faster Without a Speed Bag
The speed bag is designed to develop faster punching and is, therefore, one of the best ways to train for faster hands and more rhythmic punches. However, you can use other ways to develop physical techniques to punch faster without using a speed bag. One other method is to train with punch mitts. You’ll need a pad holder, but having targets like focus mitts can help sharpen your punching speed.
Cross training in other sports carries over to boxing and can change an ordinary routine. Throwing a baseball for speed will also improve the speed and accuracy of your punches. Playing basketball helps develop an instinctive sense of space and distance while improving your aim. Ultimately, most any exercise or sports training is going to come back with you when you return to your boxing routine.
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