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Coach D, Punching Power

I almost feel guilty asking the Coach a question. He helps out everyone that asks and it’s free of charge. I just wanted to let you know that I and everyone always appreaciates it. On with the question.

I am looking to increase my punching power. What muscles would you say are primarly involved in punching power? I box and I know to turn at the hips to generate more torque. Pavel T. has some exercises in his ab book where you take a barbell and wedge it in the corner and lift it about chin level. (you are holding one end while the other end is in the corner. The weight is at the top by your chin.) From there you rotate your body from the hips side to side. I’m assuming that it’s strenghtening your lats. For punching power I know a strong back is important. I also hear biceps are important as well. Therefore I try and really work on these body parts in the gym. Now I read something that is having me question my in gym efforts. Please read the following.

"Attempting to duplicate a sports skill with a weight or weighted implement is a gigantic step in the wrong direction. Each time an athlete performs a given sports skill, there is a specific neuromuscular pattern involved that is unique to that movement alone. Introducing anything foreign to the 'pattern' -- such as weighted footballs, weighted vests, ankle weights, barbells or medicine balls -- will only serve to confuse the original neuromuscular pathways, actually creating a negative transfer and a resultant decrease in performance." -Matt Brzycki Coordinator of Health Fitness, Strength & Conditioning - Princeton University From the Book: "A Practical Approach to Strength Training"

So who's right?

The bench press is an important exercise for punching power. Charles Staley has brought this up in his book. So do some benches! He doesn’t believe in using dumbbells or weights in the hands as you throw a punch because it doesn’t convert to strength or speed the way you would think it would.

Your core (abs/hip) is where most of your punching power comes from. This is where power in most sports comes from. The Pavel movements works your core well. Also try jacknife pushups that Pavel talked about. I’ve read many of the pros use pullover movements for lats.

The quote from Matt Brzycki is right. Charles Staley talks about this, too. A resistance movement that’s too much like the skills based movement you’re trying to improve can screw it up. You’re better off picking a resistance movement that works the muscles used in the skills based movement that isn’t exactly like the skills based movement itself. The example Nate Dogg gave is good… benching can help, punching with dumbbells will not. Something that works the posterior chain and obliques would be better still.

legs, legs legs, maybe i am too biased, try some OLing.

Transfer is more important than specificity. Therefore practicing punching w/weights is specific but may not transfer very well, for the reasons you stated. A push press is not a movement used in boxing but it does train your “core”, is very explosive so it should help power and the shoulder strength developed should help you keep your hands up during your fight. Consequentially a push press may be less specific but may transfer better. Train using compensatory acceleration. the turn of your hips generates your power so you need strong hips and obliques (that barbell exercise that you described should be excellent). Read the dave tates info on the dynamic method, coach davies stuff and I think the thinking mans guide to sets and reps by charles staley will help also. Finally I think that everyone else had very good advice too.

Your hips, obliques, posterior chain and shoulders are all important parts contributing to the punch. The full contact twists stimulate the hip movement of a punch which makes them a very good exercise for this.

matt as always is correct. to strengthen the muscles used you need 2 exercises as the core of your workout, dead lifts and military presses. think of a boxer throwing a punch, as the body turns into it the shoulder leads as the body begins to lean forward ( now I am not saying the shoulder gets ahead of the hand, thats not possible, but if you box now I’m sure you know what I mean) then the hand exploads forward as the upper body leans into the punch. you are useing the muscles used in the military press.the bench press is a poor exercise for increasing punching power. another great exercise is done lying on the floor with your arms out to the side like a “T” now you keep your legs streight then bring them up like a leg raise and keep them perpendicular to the floor, with your legs streight you slowly lower them down to the SIDE then back up, then the other side, they work every muscle that rotates your trunk. I hope you can see what I mean;) peace

Great topic - first of all, I believe it was Alex who noted transfer of weight, of which I agree. For that Med ball work will help immeasurably. Of course, if you really want to increase your punching power, I trust you are doing a great deal of bag work, both heavy and speed. I personally think you are going to get more from functional work (ie. chopping wood)than basic weight room work. Before we discuss specific exercises, how many rounds are your presently working in your training and the appoximate punch count? In faith, Coach Davies