T Nation

Punching Power and Then Some...


I'm sick at the moment, I have gangrene of the lungs. So I can't train, but I've been thinking about my training a heck of a lot. To the point where I'm sick of thinking about it and can't make up my mind about anything. What to prioritise, what to keep, what to drop etc.

My training goals have always been simple:
1. Become the toughest old bastard possible (think Heihachi Mishima here).

  1. Improve my ability to fight (hence the thread title).

I've had a bit of a search round here but can't find anything excercise specific that would improve punching power so I thought I'd put the question to you happy people. What excercises do you think carry over to punching power best.

Training note- At the moment I'm using sand bags and odd shaped junk and kettlebells.


your punching power improves by punching, seriously, there is no secret technique out there.

Go hit that heavy bag and speed.


Gangrene of the lungs? Doesn't that mean you won't live long enough to train again?


hahaha. Kinda what I was thinking.

But if you happen to live long enough to have punching really matter.... my advice is that you learn how to punch.

Technique, understanding of range, and proper footwork are what makes you punch hard, not exercising with kettlebells or doing squats or deadlifts or military presses or pressing sandbags or whatever.

It's thousands of hours of practice that does it... and even then some dudes just can't crack and never will be able to.

I've always been of the opinion that punchers were born and not made....power can be improved a little if you're stronger but not much.

If you have no experience in boxing or some sort of striking art, its a safe bet you punch like a pussy, so getting real instruction should be your first course of action.


Sorry this is what happens when you post while you're out of it. I should have really given a bit more info about myself.

I have a background in boxing, its what I started with. Have experience in both judo and sambo.

I agree 100% about the punching improves by punching. The best advice I ever got about training a jab was to hang a sock at head height and jab it, when I could make the sock jump and not swing I'd know I was hitting harder.

I guess I was just wondering if anyone had anything I could use to supplement the training. For instance I know I'll never leave pullups out ever. But I just keep going round in circles about what should stay and what should go.


Also something funny to keep it interesting and a thank you for those that did reply :slight_smile:


Can't recall which one of the T-Nation authors wrote of this subject (I think it was Chad Waterbury but I'm not certain), but one of the said that the guys who score highest in the punching power tests are the ones that do the best with exercises such as the abwheel roll-out.

You body has the strength to knock anyone flat on his ass, but the supporting muscles might not have what it takes, thus core being a huge factor in creating strength for a movement such as right straight/cross/overhand/hook/haymayker/flying casting cartwheel punch, what the fuck ever you prefer. So if you want strength to your punch, work your core every single way that works, single handed OHP, ab wheel roll-outs, deads and squats, chins, situps, all that shit and more.

With all that being said, ask any boxing coach or fighter and what he is most likely going to say is it don't matter if you hit hard as a motherfucker, it is always the punch that comes unseen that is going to do the most damage, not the one you throw with all you got at when your opponent has his guard up and as stiff as possible. Whats better, you might even end up breaking your fist.

So if you want to hit hard as a freight train, just hit the heavy bag and lift that iron, but if you want to knock people out left and right get that footwork going and get your rhythm right, learn to punch, tuck your chin, keep your guard up and keep your nose to the grindstone till you can no longer do it.

I haven't been to this sport all that long, but I'm always eager to learn, so if you guys (Irish, Sento, kaiser, Robert, kmnyc, all of you guys who know their shit) got anything to say about what I just wrote fire away, best way to learn is by trial and error.

Ps. the best thing about globalization is a Russian with a videocamera.




In all fairness I have to admit I didn't come up with that one myself, but its true never the less :smiley:


Really good post Fistiecuffs, I'm going to go have a look through the archived articles just now for that.

I'm actually really glad you made the point about core work. Ties in with a bunch of other things I've been working on (throwing really relaxed and effortless punches) and it has only just dawned on me to "punch from the stomach" if that makes any sense.

Also I've always maintained that pullups have always had great carry over. You hit with your back as much as anything (also look at anyone who uses a sword) etc... Long round about point made short pullups as per some of the T-Nation research articles is perhaps one of the best core exercises available.


I wouldn't really agree that you "punch from your stomach"... I believe that you really punch from your feet.

The power you generate is coming from turning your feet, your hips, and your shoulders, and landing at the correct range. Range is one aspect that is rarely mentioned in how to punch with power, but if you don't have an understanding of it, you'll never hit with as much as you can.

Strong abs are necessary though, I'll give you that, just more for stabilization than anything else. The degree of definition, I've found, also tends to be indicative of how in shape a particular fighter is. Not that that matters if you're looking to just be a tough old guy, but just making the observance.


A lot of solid info above, so I'll throw in something left field from my experience.

It actually relates a little to what Irish was saying about definition. My recommendation, if you want to compete, is find your natural weight, and fight as close to that as possible. Too many fighters try to fight as light as possible to maximise their advntages. I used to box a welterweight, and I'm 6'1. My whole diet ws meticulous to keep me at a ridiculously light weight for my height. I have moved from there and boxed all the way through up to light heavy, and am now boxing at middleweight.

It may seem like what I'm actually saying is get heavier and you'll hit harder, but I'm really not. Middleweight is my natural weight, and I hit harder at this weight than I did at light heavy, or any of the other weights I have boxed at, and this is backed up by the guys i've been sparring with for years. I was lean at all these weights, and always in good physical condition. But I honestly believe that fighting more than a few pounds outside what is natural for you will have a significant effect on your punching power. I don't know your personal circumstances, but for a competitive fighter, who already as their skills down, this is the biggest change I'd make. Too many coaches keep you light so you are taller for the weight. Fuck being a tall out fighter if you are better being an average height at a heavier weight.


Yeah, the power is generated by your legs, and strong abs are necessary to properly transfer that force (weak abdominals would lead to a loss of punching power, sure, but they're not what generate that power). "Punching from your stomach" isn't a good way of looking at it.


i completely agree, it's better fighting at a higher weight class well fed and strong than having the height, weight advantage and performing to the point of a breakdown.

besides too much weight cutting and you end up like Duk Koo Kim


maybe by punching from your stomach he is refeering to putting your hip snap into it.


This is absolutely true. We are bipedal animals, and we are also governed by physics.

Newton's third law of motion states that "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." This means that if I want to be able to generate force in one direction, I must have something bracing me in the opposite direction. Since we are terrestrial bipedal animals, this means that our legs are what brace us against the ground in order to allow us to generate force forwards. It doesn't matter if it's pushing your broken down car, or throwing a punch, the legs must brace/push off of the ground. The same is true when talking about absorbing force.

That's part of it; rotation is definitely one of the sources which you can draw upon to generate greater power. But it's not the only one. Different types of strikes will depend more or less on rotation for their power.

Again it comes back to physics. The formula for Kinetic energy 1/2 the object's mass times it's velocity squared. So, if you want to be able to develop greater levels of kinetic energy in your punches all you have to do is figure out ways to either increase their velocity (relaxation is huge here) or mass (this is where things like footwork/locomotion come into play).

Finally, you have to take into consideration leverage. Just like with weight lifting exercises success in generating power will often be determined by whether or not your have enough leverage to complete the task.


Good posts.


To whom it may concern:

I think momentum is the much more germane calculation/nerd factor for striking than kinetic energy. First of all it is a vector so the direction of the force matters. Second, and this is my opinion based on some text book/lab understanding of physics/and mechanisms of wounding combined with redneck/dumb guy normal thought, it better describes what we know happens when we punch or get punched.

Momentum, p, is simply mass, expressed in kg, multiplied by velocity, expressed in meters per second. p = mv expressed in kg-m/s (kilogram meters per second). Kinetic energy undervalues mass and way oversells velocity when we are talking about punches/kicks/strikes. I grant that KE might have more sway when discussing high velocity (lets say 2000 ft/sec plus) rifle bullets because cavitation in tissue is a mechanism of wounding, but with punches momentum tells a better story.

If KE was the appropriate measure, than holding a small weight in my hand, e.g. a roll of quarters, would make me hit lighter than without it. My fist would be traveling slower (lets assume similar punch mechanics so straight vs straight). The velocity difference would be an exponential factor.

This doesn't seem to work out. The hand load makes you hit harder. Not that it is at all necessary to do physics calculations in order to knock someone onto queer street.

A salient point with both p and KE is that they use velocity not speed. Velocity is directional, so only the amount of ass, mass, you get going in the direction of the strike, velocity, matters.


Again good posts guys.

I recommend getting a copy of Jack Dempsey's book if anyone reading this is interested in the mechanics of punching.


Robert A


Very good thought there Irish, range was not something I was thinking of when writing my responses. The inclusion of range into the variables under discussion here is something I feel makes the points you and Kaiser made earlier about practice practice practice being so important.

One of the reasons why I have been thinking so much about punching from the stomach is for instances where you don't have the range. Punching from the ground say? Or some sort of restricted quarters. I'm splitting hairs a little here I know, but I still think it bares worth mentioning a little.


Bingo! Another very valid point. I've always believed this is part, note I'm saying PART, of what makes Fedor Emelianenko such a devastating monster in a fight.

Very wise to be thinking about not fighting mother nature in terms of ones own personal development.


Kaiser, yes I am in part. But I'm also talking about not telegraphing the fact visually, so subtlety of movement and refining of the movement.