Explosive Exercises for Boxing
When we are talking about punching power in sports like boxing, Muay Thai, MMA, or any sport that involves striking. We even believe stiff arms in football or offensive lineman can benefit from these exercises to improve striking capabilities.
As we think about punching power, we have to think about improving our general power output from our hands. That comes from our trunk, our feet, and our hips. Driving our feet into the ground, applying that energy into the hips, into the trunk, and then ultimately as we then throw a punch.
Full disclosure: I don’t know the nitty-gritty technique of throwing a punch. I do know that we have to improve our rate of coordination if we want big-time punching power. We don’t need to be big, hypertrophic individuals. We want to focus on speed and speed with some strength behind it to create the power. We need a high rate of coordination to have great punching power.
Finally, improving our relative strength helps. Our pound-for-pound strength, basically having really dense musculature, will help with overall striking power.
Let’s get into the exercises.
1. One-Arm Dumbbell Press
Remember, we want to improve our relative strength when talking about punching power. Some of the key concepts involve working with traditional resistance-based movements. Think about a dumbbell bench, a traditional bench press, on an incline dumbbell bench press–these movements are okay to be done, but we have to be able to see how they transfer over to greater punching power.
I prefer that we do alternate dumbbell presses or one-arm dumbbell bench presses. In this instance, I lean towards the one-arm dumbbell press with the main goal being to improve overall relative strength and coordination. We will utilize the trunk while this movement is being done. Control the eccentric and feel the pull in the gut. Make sure to explode and drive up fast.
Perform two to three sets of five to ten reps on each arm.
2. Shot Put Medball Throw
I like to use contrast methods, especially when focusing on relative strength. So after doing the traditional lift, the one-arm dumbbell press, rest a minute, and do the explosive medball shot put.
The whole point here is to rotate and throw the medball into the wall, catch and do it again. We want to do both sides. So bench on the right side then medball throw on the same side, bench on the left side then medball throw on the same side. Same sets and reps with this movement, two to three sets of five to ten reps.
The rotation from the feet into the gut and then into the hands will help make the hands nice and heavy. Realize that when pressing the dumbbell with one arm the gut is felt on the opposite side. The throwing of the medball is similar. We will feel the trigger in the stomach to help decelerate the opposing side to lead to greater punching power from the hands.
3. Close Grip Incline Bench
It is okay for fighters to do traditional lifts. However, we want the movement to focus on relative strength. To focus on relative strength, we have to think about coordinating quicker. So what I like to do, is take a traditional lift and make it more speed-focused. The other goal is to keep the reps around three to five. Though there will be some gains in hypertrophy, the main focus is power output.
Using an open grip, control the descent on the first rep and then rapidly perform the concentric movement and the following number of reps. Speed is the name of the game. Hit those reps BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! We are only focusing on that power output, especially at the bottom of the movement.
Rest about forty seconds and head into the next movement for some more contrast training.
4. Banded Punches
Using a PowerLastic band, wrap it around a pole, grip the handles and perform a punch. Focus on rotating with the punch. Feel the stomach engage and the hips rotate in line with the specific technique of punching. Try to hold the end range of the movement for an isometric muscular action, feeling the good technique.
We can use isometrics to teach the technical position. The body will feel the tension from the trunk into the hands this way.
Go back and forth between the close grip incline bench and the banded punches for five or six sets–just make sure to do both arms when punching.
5. Glute Ham Medball Throws
We need to focus a little bit on full-body usage. The hip extension helps with power output. I like to utilize a bench press while in the glute-ham. We will focus more on what our trunk is doing in this position. It will also create an isometric in the hips, trunk, and back while holding the position. In this position, we launch the medball into the ground, catch the ball on the ricochet and immediately and repeatedly launch the medball into the ground.
Do this for five to six sets of five for ten seconds. What is cool about this movement is that we have to hold stable. We can even time it and give ten seconds to get as many reps as possible. We can even go lighter, hooking in one leg and go contralateral, rotating and throwing the medball down. The big key with this movement is to be rapid and extremely fast, driving the ball down to the ground as quickly as possible.
Rest sixty seconds before performing the last exercise.
6. Depth Drop Into Explosive Push-Up
If we are talking about the rate of coordination we have to learn force absorption. That is a key with punching power; we have to learn landing mechanics with the upper body.
Having two benches running parallel, get in a push-up position. Perform a depth drop and catch before the chest touches the ground. Explode up, like a box jump, and push-up explosively back onto the benches.
On the catch, absorb as quickly as possible. The movement can be done by holding the depth drop position or by being as rapid as possible off the ground and between reps. This movement is great for any sport in which athletes have to be explosive with the upper body. It will transfer extremely well to explosive punching power.
Do this movement for five to six sets of five to ten reps.
Make sure to improve the rate of coordination and relative strength. Doing this will lead to the tremendous knock-out power to dominate inside the ring. Throwing heavy hands comes from the body, starting from the feet, into the hips, through the trunk, and making contact throw the fist. It is important to develop the rate of coordination to make the impact of the fist that much more Tyson-esque.
Dane Miller is the owner and founder of Garage Strength Sports Performance. He works with a select handful of clients on building comprehensive programs for fitness and nutrition. Several times a year he leads a workshop for coaches, trainers, and fitness enthusiasts.