How to Punch Faster and Improve Hand Speed

Vitor Belfort, pictured here, has some of the best hand speed in the UFC and MMA all-together.
Vitor Belfort, pictured here, has some of the best hand speed in the UFC and MMA all-together.

Why do I Need Hand Speed?

Hand speed is an import factor in any fight, be it in MMA or boxing.  Being able to beat your opponent to the punch will ensure that you are able to deliver maximum damage while receiving as little as possible.  Since hand and punch speed is such a coveted trait for a fighter to have, many methods have been developed on how to improve it.  The purpose here is to explore these elements and help you increase the speed at which you throw leather.

In boxing, the requirement for hand speed is pretty straight forward.  In MMA, though, some might feel that it's less of a requirement.  A grappler doesn't have to have good hand speed, does he?  I'd say he does.  Any advantage is important, and being able to utilize every weapon you have effectively will ensure that you win the fight.   Aside from the traditional stand up, one of the areas where hand speed shines most is in the clinch exit; being able to land hard shots on the break will put a significant toll on your opponent, especially because fighters are more open for shits during a clinch break. Additionally, increasing your hand speed will also generally increase your explosive power, which will be useful in all aspects of MMA.

Technique Tips to Improve Hand Speed and Punch Faster

Having good technique is the first step toward developing lethal hand speed. One thing that I notice a lot of people doing is really exaggerating their hip rotation so that they literally throw their entire body into every punch.  This is great for creating powerful punches, but it's not going to make them come out exceptionally fast.  Rotation should start at the feet, but the focus is on the hips.  Throwing your entire torso forward will generate more power, but it isn't really the best way to go about punching due to the sacrifice of speed.

While improving your punching technique will build speed, there are bother ways to do it. First, you should practice combinations often so that they flow naturally. If you are able to throw punches in bunches almost instinctively, then you'll be able to put together dangerous combinations in a fight. Another tip is to not clinch your first entirely when throwing a punch, as this actually slows down your punches slightly.

In summary, you should keep your punches straight and down the pipe, use less hip rotation if you're a long guy, and avoid clinching your fists when throwing.

Exercises That Will Make You Punch Faster

There are a ton of good exercises that will also improve your punching speed. Below, I have listed a few that will do just this, with videos included.


Power Twist

Power Twist / Full Contact Twist

This is one of the best exercises for developing explosive power in your punches and therefore increasing the speed at which you are able to throw them.  The exercise works by developing power in hip rotation through the use of the legs, hips, and abdominals.  I suggest starting off with just the bar or maybe 10 pounds and working up from there, in the rep range of 4-6 (back and forth is one rep.)

Side Throw (Wall)

Medicine Ball Side Throw

This exercise is similar to the power twist in muscle recruitment, although it's plyometric in application due to the concentric phase introduced when changing the direction of the ball. You do not need a partner to do this exercise; instead, you can throw the medicine ball against a wall. Make sure to throw the ball with your hips.

Medicine Ball Twist

Medicine Ball Twist

This is a useful exercise for developing power in your abs and obliques, while also increasing your rotational speed.  I recommend doing this as fast as possible, especially if you want to improve overall hand speed.  This exercise has many variations, including the one shown in the video to the right.  Additionally, you can throw the ball back to your partner through hip rotation.

Hang Cleans

Hang Cleans

While hang cleans don't wholly mimic the motions required to develop punching speed, they will develop a tremendous amount of raw explosive power.  You can use this explosive power to better leap forward, throw punches, and just be a better athlete overall.  In addition to this, they are extremely taxing on your CNS and will improve muscular coordination, while also increasing your lactic threshold (if done right.)

Heavy Glove Sparring

Most fighters spar with 16 ounce gloves.  In order to further increase your hand speed, you can increase your glove weight to 18 or even 20 ounces.  This will make the 12 or 14 ounce gloves that you fight with seem like nothing.  The only disadvantage is that you might not get as much out of training as your arms tire out.  Find what works best for you and use that.

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Comments 4 comments

ghomefitness profile image

ghomefitness 5 years ago from Chicago,IL

Great tips! up and useful.


Daz125 5 years ago

very useful information on how to punch fast


TheMMAZone profile image

TheMMAZone 5 years ago from Kansas

great hub, very easy to understand. hang cleans are such a tough lift but they give the best workouts! how do you feel that mma strength training will change in the future? also thumbs up and marked as a very useful hub!


KBEvolve profile image

KBEvolve 4 years ago from United States

Interesting. I picked up some new ideas for training.

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