T Nation

Best Exercise for Knockout Power

Which do you think is the best exercise for knockout power?

Timing.

[quote]punchedbear wrote:
Timing.[/quote]

This (+ great technique)

Look to what works for shot putter and discus throwers. Olympic lifts, Med Ball work, Plyos. Hitting your target is most important though. You don’t hear a lot of commentators say - “Flash knockout…he got him right on the shoulder.”

I’ll bite.

The question is trickier then it thinks it is.

Londonboxer and punchedbear are both right.
Then so is mjmasone.

You CAN disassemble a movement and empower it piece by piece, analyze every quarter inch of function.
On the other hand, the theoretical “gold medalist puncher” (let’s suppose throwing a single, particular punching technique would be a discipline like olympic lifting) would get his ass WHIPPED by some unremarkable dude who’s been sparring every time our golden boy works on his one perfect strike along with plyometrics, speed work, heavy lifts, special olympic variations, steroids, a nutritionist etc.

But what about two guys with about equal technical prowess and fighting experience?
Could there be an ideal way for one to improve raw striking power by efficient means?
Without investing too much time, thereby ceding the technical edge to the other guy?

If both guys were twins, and decided to work out with iron weights for a year, could one end up accomplishing nothing, while the other would transform into some sort of Overeem, just through making specific training choices?

What if a fighter lacks power but is fairly technical already, are there exercises which could fill that skillgap or should he invest even more time in technical solutions to overcome his disadvantage?

etcetc

I believe there are ways to increase knockout power.
Ideally , you should know your style and techniques, your strengths and weaknesses.

  1. If there are physiological, structural weaknesses - tada!
    a specific exercise could very much increase your overall knockout power.
  2. General strength gains could transfer a bit into overall knockout power
  3. Targeting specific chains that are crucial for your key techniques will certainly increase knockout power, although the degree is highly debateable and one can easily overstress this, resulting in wasted time or even injury or a fucked up technical pattern.
  4. learning to amp up the nervous system can also have a positive effect.

Generally, practising martial arts and sparring is not very compatible with continous strength gains, however specific and refined, however explosively strong, as you literally try to upgrade and rewire a movement pattern. This is a slow process.

Schwarz makes an interesting post, and makes a lot of sense, particularly about correcting weak links in the chain.

That said, I know countless little guys who are big, big hitters, despite a lack of any appreciable muscle mass. For example, I am regarded as heavy handed in my gym, on a pound for pound basis, and I’ve been fighting competitively for 14 years or so. However, there is a kid of 15 in my gym, who fights nearly 20lbs lighter than me, and this kid straight up hits harder than me. No kidding, we spar a lot of the same guys, and everyone thinks he hits harder. He does no weights, no plyo stuff really, and yet he is a devastating puncher, and a top amatuer. So whilst weights may improve him a little, there is no doubt in my mind that timing, and technique (technique in the sense of the body working as one, rather than picture perfect shots) are the most important aspects of being a big puncher.

Technique.

And you’re born with it.

I’m surprised no one has yet mentioned hitting the heavy bag for power development. Hitting stuff makes you better at hitting stuff, period.

Granted that improving a weak link in the chain of movement will increase power in that movement, I have found that this really only works when the strengthening is used to facilitate technique. For example if you can’t get your ass to fire during a punch doing some strength work on your glutes might help this. h

When I am doing a lot of back work to increase the threshold of the golgi tendon reflex in combination with heavy bag work is when I hit the hardest.

One of the best punchers of all time Jack Dempsey had this to say about striking:

Here is a great link on one of the greatest heavyweight fighters of all time, Jack Dempsey. make sure you check out the video at the end. It’s grainy but pay attention as I think it’s worth a look.

http://coxscorner.tripod.com/jdempsey.html

I actually agree with ZEB/Dempsey that grip strength (how solid you can make your fist at impact) is very beneficial for power punching. That said, you can deliver knockout power with a palm smash without ever closing the fist, so I don’t think it’s a necessity (depending on your chosen application).

I don’t know that there is ONE best exercise for developing knockout power (other than practicing your power striking mechanics on a target) as it would depend on the individual in question. It would also somewhat depend on the type of strike that one was trying to maximize.

I will say that all upper body striking power starts from the ground up, so you’ve got to have strong ankles, knees and hips; transfers up through the trunk, so you’ve got to have a strong core capable of stabilization; and eventually transfers through the shoulder girdle and down the arm into the target, so you’ve got to have strong shoulder girdle muscles, elbows and wrists. If any of those links is significantly weaker than the rest it will leak power and the result will be a less than optimal power strike, so that person needs to improve that link. I think that’s about as blanket of a statement as I can make on the subject.

[quote]Sentoguy wrote:
I actually agree with ZEB/Dempsey that grip strength (how solid you can make your fist at impact) is very beneficial for power punching. That said, you can deliver knockout power with a palm smash without ever closing the fist, so I don’t think it’s a necessity (depending on your chosen application).

I don’t know that there is ONE best exercise for developing knockout power (other than practicing your power striking mechanics on a target) as it would depend on the individual in question. It would also somewhat depend on the type of strike that one was trying to maximize.

I will say that all upper body striking power starts from the ground up, so you’ve got to have strong ankles, knees and hips; transfers up through the trunk, so you’ve got to have a strong core capable of stabilization; and eventually transfers through the shoulder girdle and down the arm into the target, so you’ve got to have strong shoulder girdle muscles, elbows and wrists. If any of those links is significantly weaker than the rest it will leak power and the result will be a less than optimal power strike, so that person needs to improve that link. I think that’s about as blanket of a statement as I can make on the subject.[/quote]

I think there is a lot of truth to what you say, Sento. However, take a guy like Tommy Hearns and he pretty much fails every single criteria you listed, yet he had arguably the most devastating right hand in boxing history. He even threw it on one foot half the time. There’s some serious voodoo that goes into being a heavy hitter.

That said, ‘the punch that knocks you out is the one you didn’t see coming’ is probably the most accurate mantra in boxing. Learning to set up your shots right, disguise them, and get your opponent open how you want him, is one of the fundamental arts of the sweet science, and that can definitely be learned, by the right kind of fighter.

Great post London.

I always remain utterly unconvinced that any weightlifting exercise is going to provide anything more than an absolutely minimal increase in power - so small that it’s not worth it to bother.

You do more to help your power by learning when to throw what punch from what distance and literally ingraining that in yourself through practice.

I’ve seen so many little guys that hit like trains that the idea of lifting for punching power just seems obscene to me… especially considering that the art of punching is all about relaxing - NOT straining to lift something.

If you can do 20 or 25 pushups, you’re physically strong enough to throw a knockout punch. The rest is unncessary

[quote]LondonBoxer123 wrote:

[quote]Sentoguy wrote:
I actually agree with ZEB/Dempsey that grip strength (how solid you can make your fist at impact) is very beneficial for power punching. That said, you can deliver knockout power with a palm smash without ever closing the fist, so I don’t think it’s a necessity (depending on your chosen application).

I don’t know that there is ONE best exercise for developing knockout power (other than practicing your power striking mechanics on a target) as it would depend on the individual in question. It would also somewhat depend on the type of strike that one was trying to maximize.

I will say that all upper body striking power starts from the ground up, so you’ve got to have strong ankles, knees and hips; transfers up through the trunk, so you’ve got to have a strong core capable of stabilization; and eventually transfers through the shoulder girdle and down the arm into the target, so you’ve got to have strong shoulder girdle muscles, elbows and wrists. If any of those links is significantly weaker than the rest it will leak power and the result will be a less than optimal power strike, so that person needs to improve that link. I think that’s about as blanket of a statement as I can make on the subject.[/quote]

I think there is a lot of truth to what you say, Sento. However, take a guy like Tommy Hearns and he pretty much fails every single criteria you listed, yet he had arguably the most devastating right hand in boxing history. He even threw it on one foot half the time. There’s some serious voodoo that goes into being a heavy hitter.

That said, ‘the punch that knocks you out is the one you didn’t see coming’ is probably the most accurate mantra in boxing. Learning to set up your shots right, disguise them, and get your opponent open how you want him, is one of the fundamental arts of the sweet science, and that can definitely be learned, by the right kind of fighter.[/quote]

You are right, some people do break the rules, but for the majority of us we are going to be able to throw our most powerful punches by following basic laws of physics.

I think we are somewhat talking past each other though as I am talking about how to get someone to throw the hardest punch that they can throw while you and Irish are talking about how to actually knock someone out. Those things are not necessarily the same thing. Like you guys have said, timing, accuracy and deception can all trump all out power in actual application.

[quote]ZEB wrote:
One of the best punchers of all time Jack Dempsey had this to say about striking:

Here is a great link on one of the greatest heavyweight fighters of all time, Jack Dempsey. make sure you check out the video at the end. It’s grainy but pay attention as I think it’s worth a look.
http://coxscorner.tripod.com/jdempsey.html[/quote]

Always worth a read.

I think anyone who is interested in learning to punch, in my world view this should be EVERYONE, should spend some time with Dempsey’s book.

That said, you may have been on one of your combat board posting sabbaticals during the IronClaws period. There was a poster who was REALLY, REALLY going nuts with the Dempsey stuff, and it may have caused a bit of counter reaction in recommending the material.

If you have some time you can dig up his posts. They were either unfortunate or were actual, enriched, weapons grade trolling.

Regards,

Robert A

To the OP,

Knockout Power implies more “effectiveness” than merely power

Technique is going to be the most important factor. This means practicing hitting with power, but also with speed, and accuracy so you can actually hit the parts that cause the result. Your “best shot” to my shoulder likely wont yield you as good a result as a “good enough” shot to my chin. Technique work will improve these qualities as well as keeping you from getting put to sleep, since it is difficult to wreck anybody’s shit when you are KO’d yourself.

So, technique first as many folks have written.

Actual weak link training can yield some dividends. However, making sure it translates into hitting harder can be problomatic. A lot of “strength” is joint position and motor pattern specific. So, even if I can out bench you, it may not mean that my shoulder girdle will get more done when we are punching. Schwarzfahrer’s post on weak links is worth re-reading.

If I had to take a SWAG, scientific wild assed guess, about what would yield results witht the majority of people I would look at building up the muscles of the hands and wrists (both grip and hand opening strength, and both wrist flexion and extension). Boxers and kickboxers wrap their hands for a reason. Any buckling in this area when you hit is serious, bad ju ju. The other point would be to strengthen your “core” or “abs”, again because it is the link between the mass of your lower body and the mass of your upper body. The best way to do that is open to some debate.

Here is an old thread that has some decent discussion on the subject. Pay attention to Sento, FightinIrish, and humble in particular.

Regards,

Robert A

From a standpoint of technique…
A cursory knowledge of physiology will tell you that the human body (while resilient) is actually in a fragile state of balance that can be upset by slight external forces. You don’t need THAT much force to knock someone out. You don’t need that much force to even break a bone. It just requires that you do it properly.

From the standpoint of physical capability…
General Physical Preparation: Squats, deadlifts, overhead press, weighted chins, Hang Clean/Snatch
Special Physical Preparation: Heavy Bag, Focus Mitts, Sparring

The problem with asking this type of question…

  • Asking how to punch harder (in any form) preludes that you intend to fight. And punching hard is a small fragment of being a fighter. And (as beautifully illustrated earlier) there is no olympic one hard ass punch event.

  • The kinematics and biomechanics of punching are more akin to a pirouette or throwing a baseball than they are to the bench press or even a thrower. And that’s just assuming you mean a straight right not a lead hook or an uppercut.

  • Because this preludes that you intend to fight there are too many other variables to consider. If the shotputter had to also hit a midair moving target whilst not being hit himself then we can discuss the similarities in preparation. Again baseball is more similar in kinematics.

  • You quickly hit a point of diminishing returns when attempting to glean more power for your punch from other exercises. If your bodyweight is 200, and you can press your bodyweight overhead (a considerably strong guy) will overhead pressing 250 really increase your punching power? At what point is enough enough? A LOT lower than most presume.

  • Striking requires a ridiculous amount of coordination. Everyone assumes they can punch because they’ve hit something before. Just like everyone assumes that they’re an excellent driver because they commute everyday. Just because you drive everyday does not make you qualified to drive in NASCAR or Formula 1. Just because you’re strong and can hit a heavy bag does not mean you punch hard or even know how to punch properly. There is too much nuance involved. So more than likely you will need to refine your technique And I’m still talking about throwing ONE lone punch here not all the other variables involved in fighting.

The difference here is COORDINATION…or Skill… Or Technique… however you want to define it… It requires punching a lot

[quote]FightinIrish26 wrote:
Great post London.

I always remain utterly unconvinced that any weightlifting exercise is going to provide anything more than an absolutely minimal increase in power - so small that it’s not worth it to bother.

You do more to help your power by learning when to throw what punch from what distance and literally ingraining that in yourself through practice.

I’ve seen so many little guys that hit like trains that the idea of lifting for punching power just seems obscene to me… especially considering that the art of punching is all about relaxing - NOT straining to lift something.

If you can do 20 or 25 pushups, you’re physically strong enough to throw a knockout punch. The rest is unncessary[/quote]

I can see where you are coming from. I have seen individuals who are legitimately weak physically benefit greatly from strength training. None went from throwing pillows to pole axes, but many went from not being able to punch their way out of a paper bag to “punching their weight”. Now, I cannot speak to this being a case of strength equaling improvement in striking power or simply that they were so deconditioned that basic exercise helped them realize what they were “born with”.

Most boxers tend to come from manual labor/blue collar or below backgrounds, so it could well be a “FIRST WORLD PROBLEM” that the right answer to “hits like a bitch” is “get stronger”.

Regards,

Robert A

[quote]Sentoguy wrote:

I will say that all upper body striking power starts from the ground up, so you’ve got to have strong ankles, knees and hips; transfers up through the trunk, so you’ve got to have a strong core capable of stabilization; and eventually transfers through the shoulder girdle and down the arm into the target, so you’ve got to have strong shoulder girdle muscles, elbows and wrists. If any of those links is significantly weaker than the rest it will leak power and the result will be a less than optimal power strike, so that person needs to improve that link. I think that’s about as blanket of a statement as I can make on the subject.[/quote]

Nothing to add I just like this post.

[quote]Robert A wrote:

I can see where you are coming from. I have seen individuals who are legitimately weak physically benefit greatly from strength training. None went from throwing pillows to pole axes, but many went from not being able to punch their way out of a paper bag to “punching their weight”. Now, I cannot speak to this being a case of strength equaling improvement in striking power or simply that they were so deconditioned that basic exercise helped them realize what they were “born with”.

Most boxers tend to come from manual labor/blue collar or below backgrounds, so it could well be a “FIRST WORLD PROBLEM” that the right answer to “hits like a bitch” is “get stronger”.

Regards,

Robert A[/quote]

Another damn good point!