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How to train to develop power in punches?
Below are some main points which I will discuss in this article for developing power in punches.
1. Skill training.
3. Strength training and power training.
4. Core training and hips.
When talking of punching power, most beginners think of muscles thinking that the sort of stronger the muscle, stronger the punch will be. While it is true that strong muscle can improve power, there is a limit to how good a punch can get by simply strengthening them. Sooner or later, you will reach a point of stagnation or saturation.
It is possible to increase punching power by simply practicing your punches more and more. While talking of this, two things come to my mind, one is punching technique and the other is neural efficiency
Lets talk about punching technique first. Punching is a very technical skill requiring attention to the smallest details (unfortunately that often goes out of focus). Small mistakes can mean huge losses of potential power and small ignorance in technique can bare you of all the power you could have generated in the punch.
Here are some points to help you better your punches
Your stance is the foundation of a punch. You must maintain a distance of at least hip width or shoulder width between the feet. This provides essential balance to the upper body. Maintain a slight dip in you knees and this provides more integrity to your stance as well as protect your knees against a kick.
Rooting the ground:
A punch is not a movement utilizing the hips and the hands alone, but rather it uses the entire body to fire powerful punches. This means that a punch starts right from the foot. PUSH THE FOOT INTO THE GROUND as you make a punch. Work on your timing with this technique and you will note the difference in power. Pushing the ground with your feet activates the musculature of the feet and transfers more body weight into the punch.
This I don't think I need to explain. The hips have powerful muscles that assist in punching. Learn to use them effectively. Learn to thrust your hips in the direction of the punch by contracting your gluteus hard and explosively. Try it if you didn't know about that.
Simply contract it hard. Power comes from the rotational force of the hips and abdominals. A perfect example is an uppercut.
You are already on your way to power just a little more on the hands. When punching, keeps your hands as relaxed as possible. Keep your hands open. This relaxation speeds up your technique thereby adding power. Remember power = mass (your body weight) * acceleration (how fast your muscles accelerate it).
Just before your punch is about to make contact, TIGHTEN YOUR FIST HARD so much so that your lats and shoulders are locked into position. What happens is when you do this, the hand is locked and cannot move back so it drives itself into the opponent. This also improves structural integrity of the arms and fist thereby reducing injuries.
Remember the punch is an extension of our body weight. As I mentioned in the equation above, the muscles accelerate the body weight. This means that teaching the muscles to work explosively is the key to gaining explosive power.
Above mentioned punching techniques will improve your ability to call on every muscle and joint to work towards one objective, i.e., punching and that too punching with power.
For greater power, the muscles must contract harder. Contraction of a particular muscle is controlled by motor neurons or simply the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS controls all your muscles and thereby your speed and power and reflexes as well. This is why people who practice martial arts and other sports have better reflexes than the common man. It is called neural facilitation. No not to confuse you- that simply means that as you practice a movement more often your CNS utilizes more motor neurons to undertake the same movement. That means the movement is done with more efficiency and more skill. For a fighter that translates to much more speed, power and ease of execution, so to achieve such facilitation, you must practice your punches more often emphasizing quality in technique. For beginners, they can make rapid progress in power and speed with dedicated efforts. Obviously you must train for other aspects like accuracy, timing, movement and endurance.
Balance is the foundation of any movement. Any punch or strike administered without adequate balance is going to be ineffective or less powered up. For example try punching from an odd position like ducking or sidestepping, of course these are skills that must be mastered. However the point I am trying to put over here is that you have got to work your balance to master striking to a new level.
Here are some basic exercises for balance:
Flamingo- Stand on one leg, alternating each leg every 30 secs. This is easy try some of these variations individually or in combination, like Flamingo with eyes closed, head movement, arm movements, leg movement (the non balancing leg), on your toes, from a flamingo position, bend down and pick up an object you placed in front of you. Don't place your other leg on the floor.
Here is a more advanced and challenging balance exercise: Body results
This might look difficult but the key to mastering this exercise is to work from the bottom position, i.e., learn to balance in the bottom position.
Strength training and power training
As far as strength training is concerned, follow with full body Multijoint exercises for example
incline bench press.
Go ahead and google the names for exercise instructions or read some good books from Amazon. Follow a low rep-heavy weightscheme to improve strength without added bulk or hypertrophy.
With all of these exercises, maintain good form and maintain proper arch in the back.
Core training and hips
Power comes from the hips and torso. Understand why you twist your hips or perform a hip snap during punches. It is because power comes from the rotational power of the hips and the torso. Also the torso stabilizes the spine giving you a strong posture and helping you relay force from your lower body and the hips.
Not only this, your abdomen contains many internal muscles that predict movement through receptors in the hand and legs thus stabilizing the body. Martial arts require strong reflexes and sudden unpredictable movements that must be first stabilized by these muscles. If these muscles are weak or cannot stabilize a movement effectively, it results in the punches becoming slower or you being less reflexive.
For core power training, here is the full contact twist: Bodybuilding.com
How to practice punches while core training at home?
It is obvious that most of you may not have necessary equipment to do the job so here are some home alternatives you can use. Use a soft luggage bag, fill it with anything from heavy blankets, newspapers, heavy clothes, etc. as per your needs. You can even use huge heavy pillows to do the job. Just stand against a wall with the weight in your hand and start smashing it against the wall with full force. This tends to create rotational force through your abs that directly transfers to your punching ability.
For core strength
Perform all exercises in a standing position. This is because during striking you don't have a floor to back you and create force. Practicing your exercises in a standing position will have direct transfer to your punching skills. Most of the exercises mentioned in the strength-training section above are effective core exercises.
Other than the above, many exercises involving the cables, gym balls, etc can be used to strengthen the core.
Some home alternatives for core strengthening are one-arm pushups, plank exercises - Exercise your abs
You can make further challenging by planking from the pushup position. Some variations are one arm, one leg, alternating one-one leg, feet elevated and its many combinations.
Here is my other hub for pushups - Benefits of doing pushups