HOW TO PUNCH HARDER SUMMARY
- Lower Body Exercise strength is strongly related to peak punching power.
- Additionally, leg strength with exercises like squats, leg presses, and deadlifts can increase peak punching power.
RESEARCH UPDATE: HOW TO PUNCH HARDER AND FASTER
Contrary to popular belief, people assume doing more upper body exercises that result in stronger shoulder, arm, and chest strength results in better hitting power, however, according to a new study, boxers should work on leg strength for greater punching power.
Researchers collected the existing research on the key characteristics that influenced striking power. Interestingly, the researchers found that lower body peak force explained 46% of the variance in peak punching power. Peak force in the mid-thigh pulls, and isometric squat was better at determining a boxer’s peak striking power.
How to punch harder with stronger legs
For instance, boxers that had a greater jump squat and better lower body strength were correlated with greater punch force. Shockingly, the isometric bench press was not related to jab or cross punch force; however, the bench press was related to relative striking impact force. Furthermore, boxers that showed greater explosive bench press throws were correlated with a better jab and cross hook punch.
The researchers also found that boxers with the greatest punching power had greater leg strength than those classified as medium and low-force boxers. The study suggests that although boxing is considered an upper-body sport, leg strength was correlated with greater striking power. Lower body strength separated big punchers from those classified as medium and low-strength punchers. Boxing punching power is generated by leg exercises and less with upper body exercises.
HOW TO INCREASE PUNCHING POWER
Experienced boxers had greater leg strength than amateur boxers. This study raises awareness that boxers should emphasize lower body exercises such as squats, plyometric jumps, and leg presses to maximize peak striking power. Doing tests like the squat jump tests can be crucial for trainers involved with coaches involved in boxing and MMA sports to evaluate striking power. The researchers concluded, “Therefore, based on the present evidence, this review recommends that for boxers who aim to develop their punch impact force, it may be advantageous to emphasize both maximal and explosive strength development of the legs, with only an explosive strength focus in the upper body.”(5)
HOW TO PUNCH HARDER
Years ago, it was advocated that weightlifting would make a boxer bulky and result in slow strikes being thrown. Today, strength and conditioning exercises are essential for peak punching power for all boxers. To clarify, to punch harder, logic would dictate that you improve your punching technique by performing more arm and shoulders strengthening exercises.
Specifically, striking is a high-speed action requiring muscular force to accelerate the arm. Force production by the feet is required for rapid arm extension and high-impact punching power.(1) Similarly, a previous study found that the most experienced boxers with the greatest peak punching power used greater coordination of the body segments and leg drive. (2) There is still much to be learned about what contributes to peak punching power.
One would expect that movements like a medicine ball throw or a bench press throw, which mimic the explosive actions of the arms throwing a punch, would be predictive of peak striking power. In this month’s Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research issue, researchers compared four different exercises and their correlation to peak striking power. Twenty-eight highly trained amateur male boxers completed two separate testing sessions.
Initially, the first session consisted of the boxers doing strength assessments with bench throw, isometric bench push, countermovement jump (CMJ), and isometric mid-thigh pull (IMTP). Subsequently, they did a 3-minute punch test on the second day to mimic 1 round of boxing. Afterward, the boxers were then split based on their striking forces into low-force punches, medium-force punches, and high-force punches.
The researchers found that the countermovement jump and the isometric mid-thigh pull were the only two tests that predicted peak strike force impact. This study observed no significant or practically meaningful relationships between strke force characteristics and upper-body strength and power properties.
Leg Exercises for Stronger Punches
Consequently, those boxers categorized as high force strikes had greater countermovement jump and isometric mid-thigh pull peak forces than those classified as moderate and low force strikers.
In contrast, lower body strength and power characteristics were better strike performance determinants than upper body strength tests. This is not under-emphasizing the importance of upper body strength because a previous study found a significant relationship between strike force and upper body strength. (3)
In conclusion, the authors of the study concluded by saying, “the results suggest that lower-limb strength is strongly related to peak force production in well-trained boxers and maybe a key contributor to the delivery of a high force hit.”(4)
How to punch harder with stronger legs: You’re As Strong as Your Weakest Link
The saying, “You’re as strong as your weakest link,” suggests that trained boxers can benefit by having greater leg strength to increase peak striking power by having greater forward momentum.
3. Loturco I, Nakamura FY, Artioli GG, Kobal R, Kitamura K, Cal Abad CC, et al. Strength and Power Qualities Are Highly Associated With Punching Impact in Elite Amateur Boxers. J Strength Cond Res. 2016;30(1):109-16.
4. Dunn EC, Humberstone CE, Franchini E, Iredale KF, Blazevich AJ. Relationships Between Punch Impact Force and Upper- and Lower-Body Muscular Strength and Power in Highly Trained Amateur Boxers. Journal of strength and conditioning research. 2022;36(4):1019-25.