Do you want to plant haymakers like Mike Tyson? Or do you prefer to whip out extremely fast punches like Bruce Lee does? In any case, punching efficiently is a science as well as an art that needs to be learned. Let’s learn some techniques on how to punch harder.
How to Increase Punching Power at Home
How exactly do you learn how to increase your punching power? Well, you first need to have an understanding of physics and a lot of practice.
Aside from that, you also need to train your muscles to become stronger. Combine all that brawn and brain, and you’ll become a strong, stinging puncher in no time.
The best part about learning how to punch harder is that you can learn right at home.
In fact, you don’t even need much equipment. You can learn to punch with massive strength by just following these steps:
All these can be done at home and without much equipment. You just need some boxing or MMA gloves, hand wraps, a punching bag, if you have, punching mitts, and a mirror. After preparing the necessary gears, you’re good to go.
Read this: wrap your hand for boxing
How to Strengthen Your Fists
When you think about punching, you can equate it to a hammer. The first part that makes contact with the object is the head of the hammer.
Now, if the head of the hammer is soft, it won’t destroy anything.
The same goes for your fist. If your fist is too soft, you won’t be able to punch harder. Worse, you’ll even injure your fist. So, you need to strengthen your fists.
In order to strengthen your fists, you need to do a few exercises that will help. Here are a few that you can try out:
Knuckle pushups can condition your knuckles to become harder because you’re forcing pressure on them.
To do a proper knuckle pushup, first assume a regular pushup position.
Instead of putting your palms on the ground, make a fist and put your knuckles on the ground.
Once you do this, start going lower slowly and then rise up again. Do 10 reps of this with 3 sets.
After a week or two, you’ll gradually notice that your knuckles are becoming much harder.
This is an exercise that has been used by martial artists ever since the time of the ancient Shaolin Monks.
This was often used for toughening up both the hands and the fingers in order for the fighters to be well balanced.
To do this exercise, fill a bucket with raw rice. Punch the rice as hard as you can until your whole hand is submerged in it.
Grab and squeeze a handful of rice and then pull your hand out quickly. Do this with two hands alternate.
You can try out doing this for 5 minutes first and gradually increase as you go along.
Makiwara Board Punching
The Makiwara board is a special kind of thin board with a padding that most Karate practitioners use.
Students who use this board can strengthen their knuckles by repeatedly hitting the board every day. Try it for 5 to 10 minutes every day and gradually increase.
Iron Palm Oil Application
You can find this type of oil in a lot of martial arts stores online. It is a special palm oil that helps strengthen your knuckles by improving your blood circulation.
It can also help when you massage your knuckles after training to prevent internal injuries.
How to Build Up Your Muscles
Even if the head of a hammer is hard, the stick must be able to carry the heavy hammerhead.
Otherwise, the head won’t hit properly. Your body can be considered as the stick.
Now, even if you have really hard knuckles, you need the muscles to get your fists traveling to the target first.
If your body can’t projectile your fist properly, it won’t have any power behind it.
With that said, you have to build your muscles in a way that can strengthen your punch.
The muscles that you need for a strong punch are the arm muscles, chest muscles, shoulder muscles, and the core. Here are a few exercises to strengthen them.
When it comes to completing the upper body power, nothing really beats the regular pushup. Try to do a proper pushup 50 times straight every day. Gradually increase that to 60, 70, and then aim for 100.
Slow Pushup Variation
This pushup variation is for strengthening your shoulders and your arms. To do this, assume a regular pushup position.
Then, slowly lower your chest to the ground but don’t touch the ground.
As you descend, count to 12 until you get there and then hold your position for 5 seconds.
After that, do 10-12 half pushups really fast. From there, ascend slowly until your arms are straight again.
Hold that position for 5 seconds and then repeat. Do this for about 5 times without resting. You can do 3 sets of this exercise to begin. Gradually increase the number of sets as you go along.
As the name implies, this pushup is for the chest. To do it, assume a pushup position but with your hands positioned right below your chest. Now, slowly lift yourself up and hold for 10 seconds.
After that, slowly lower yourself but don’t touch the ground.
Hold that for 10 seconds again and then lift yourself up. Do that 5 times of 3 reps. Gradually increase the number of reps as you go along.
One Arm Pushup
This may be one of the hardest pushup variations to do, but it is one of the most effective. It can target all parts of your upper body and the core.
To do a one-arm pushup, assume a pushup position. Spread your legs a bit more than shoulder width and put one arm behind your back.
After that, use one arm to support your body as you lower yourself.
After lowering yourself, push yourself back up and then switch hands. To start off, try doing this 5 times per hand. If you can’t yet, try 3. Gradually increase the number of reps that you do.
Leg raises are pretty easy to do, and they’re really good for the core. To do this, lie on your back and lift both legs up. Make sure they’re straight.
Swing them up and slowly bring them back down.
However, don’t let them touch the floor. When they’re close to the floor, swing them back up. Do this for around 12 times of 3 sets.
These are exercises designed for building muscle power. The key here is consistency and constant improvement. If you do these exercises regularly, you’ll see the difference after a few weeks.
How to Improve Your Cardio
Cardio is extremely important because it will give you the stamina to punch faster, harder, and more. These exercises can help strengthen your cardio and your legs, too.
The gecko walk was popularized by famous fighter Connor McGregor. To do this, assume a pushup position.
From there, step with your left foot up and simultaneously put your right hand forward.
After that, step with your right foot and put your left hand forward. Do this until you get tired. It’s also great if you can do this fast.
Jumping Gecko Walk
This is similar to the gecko walk, but this one is a bit harder. Instead of walking, you’ll be jumping. Start with your right hand forward and left foot forward.
From there, use your hands to force yourself up in a jumping motion. While midair, switch the position of your hands and legs. Doing this fast will give you a real workout.
Bunny hops are somewhat like squats but with a jump. Start by squatting as low as you can and then jump forward.
After you’ve landed, squat as low as you can again and then repeat.
Of course, nothing really beats jogging when it comes to cardio. If you’re free on the weekends, jog around the park for a bit just to get your heart pounding.
How to Acquire the Proper Form
Now that your body is ready, you can learn the form. When it comes to punching, the power doesn’t lie in just the strength of your body.
More importantly, it lies in your form. A true punch has the weight of the whole body behind it and not just the arm.
Bruce Lee was known for his famous one-inch punch that could send a man flying with just “little power”.
However, his punch is the perfect example of having the whole body weight behind the punch.
Lee believed in kinetic linking where a group of muscles link together in one movement to give power to the fist.
When the punch is shot, everybody part contributed to it. With that, proper form is where a punch has the strength of the whole body behind it.
To learn the proper form, let’s start with the fighting stance.
In a normal boxing or orthodox stance, you stand with your right leg back and front leg forward.
Both legs are slightly bent and the body is leaning a bit forward. Both arms are up with the left hand in front and right hand in front of the chin.
Let’s start with a cross punch since this is the punch that plants a lot of haymakers.
To properly throw this punch, you need to extend your arm while at the same time twisting your body and twisting your right foot inward.
As you can see, the whole body rotates to the left as you throw your punch. This puts a lot of power behind it.
The same thing is done whenever you do an uppercut or a hook. While you’re throwing your punch, twist your hip and foot sharply to the left.
It may feel a bit awkward at first when you try it, but you’ll get the hang of it eventually.
For now, don’t focus too much on speed or power, but focus on perfecting your form instead. The speed and power will come naturally.
How to Use Footwork to Add Power
Bruce Lee often emphasized the importance of using footwork to add power to your punch. It can just be something as simple as slightly pushing your feet forward to make a small step.
In any case, footwork plays an essential role in punch strength since the feet gives your attack more leverage.
Again, let’s look at the straight cross as an example.
As mentioned above, the straight cross is done by throwing the fist forward while twisting the hips and the feet inward.
While this is the basic form, it will only punch your opponent’s face and then retract.
You don’t want to just punch your opponent -- you want to punch through the face.
To do this, throw a straight cross, but this time, don’t just stand there. Put 10% of your weight forward.
What this means is that you move your left leg slightly forward so that your body moves forward.
At the same time, push your right foot slightly forward while you twist it. That way, your punch will drive forward and smash your opponent’s face.
Of course, you can also do this with other punches as well, such as the hook and the uppercut. The jab won’t be tackled that much since jabs are usually used to just set up a cross or a hook.
How to Throw a Straight Lead
Bruce Lee’s famous straight lead punch was a testament to how powerful even a straight punch could be as long as it had the weight of the whole body behind it.
The straight lead was a revolutionary punch because it was fast and unpredictable. It even had more power behind it than a cross because of its speed and kinetic linking.
Here’s how to do it:
If you are right-handed, your right hand is your lead hand. If not, then keep your left as your lead.
Now, your stance will be a little bit different as compared to a normal fighting stance.
Everything will pretty much be the same except for your hind foot. Your hind foot will be slightly lifted up.
From this stance, you’ll throw a straight punch forward.
Take note that your punch is not horizontal but vertical to give you more speed.
While you throw, your whole body twists to the left and your hindfoot propels you slightly forward. The hind foot pushes your whole body forward as you punch, giving you more power.
Make sure, though, that you only take a small step forward. You don’t want to fall too far forward or else you’ll lose power and balance.
This punch is a very powerful punch that can stun an opponent.
Another thing to take note of is that the hand moves before anything else. This small detail can actually give a lot of power behind the punch.
The hand slightly moves a few microseconds before your body twists and your foot propels you forward.
Doing Drills at Home
So now you have the perfect form of boxing punches and the detailed straight lead created by Bruce Lee in your arsenal.
So now all you have to do is practice these punches so that you can perfect the form. Here are a few drills that you can do at home:
Punching Bag Drills
The most popular boxing drill is the punching bag drill. This is done, obviously, with a punching bag and some boxing gloves.
The great thing about punching bags is that they allow you to see the strength behind your punches. They also allow you to practice your moves while actually hitting something.
Start off by practicing all your individual punches on the bag.
After that, you can start mixing your punches up as you go along. Try it out for 5 to 10 minutes first and then increase your time as you go along.
Partner drills are really good for practicing because you practice with a moving target.
When you’re moving, you usually lose your form because you’re trying to catch your opponent.
So if you want to retain power even if you’re in motion, you have to practice maintaining good form while in motion, too.
If you want to do partner drills, you’ll need two things: a partner and a pair of boxing mitts.
The partner will be moving around while holding up the mitts for you to punch. With this exercise, you can get used to keeping your speed and power even if you have to move from here to there.
Also read: how to clinch in boxing
Shadow boxing is a great way of increasing power. Whenever you practice with a bag or with mitts, your goal is to automatically punch them as hard as you can because you can get that satisfying feeling of beating something.
However, you may tend to lose form or speed in the process. If you lose any of those two, you lose strength as well.
When you shadow box, you’re not hitting anything. If you don’t have any target, your mind will focus more on your form and your speed.
With that said, you’ll probably need a full body mirror in front of you or a white wall so you can see your shadow.
During shadowboxing, you’ll be practicing all your punches and putting them all together to make some combos.
You can also correct your form by seeing either your reflection or your silhouette in front of you. That way, you’ll know if you’re doing it right or if you’re doing something a little off.
This training method was popularized by Bruce Lee. It’s pretty much like the punching bag drill except that you’re using a piece paper instead of a heavy bag.
To do this, just attach a string with a hook attached to the ceiling and place the paper on the hook. Make sure that the paper is right in front of your face.
Unlike in punching bag drills, though, the focus of this training is speed and accuracy.
Since you’re just punching a paper, you won’t see the need to punch so strong. That way, you’ll be free to concentrate on speed instead.
It also focuses on accuracy because a piece of paper is smaller than a bag.
This will give you a chance to perfect your aim for a small target, making your punches more precise. With precision and speed, your punches will have more sting which equates to more power.
How to Incorporate Breathing for Power
Did you know that proper breathing gives you power when you strike? This is why martial artists often shout when they strike.
Correct breathing will push your body to give it more strength and also keep you from getting winded.
The general rule here is to breathe in through the nose and breathe out through the mouth.
Now, when you strike, you’ll be breathing out through the mouth. However, you won’t exhale like you normally do.
When you throw a punch, you have to exhale sharply -- like you’re blowing fast. This gives you more control over your breathing and more power.
If you happen to do a combo, breathe out sharply in short breaths for every punch while not stopping to inhale.
Inhale only when you finish your combo. Also, take note that your exhalation comes from the diaphragm.
You have to push your stomach inward when you breathe out to make it come from the diaphragm.
If you want to become a really strong boxer or MMA striker, these are the things to take note of.
It’s always very important to keep in mind that a strong punch doesn’t only involve the hand and the arm: it involves the whole body.
All of those concepts above, together with a lot of practice, can let you deliver some of the strongest punches in the ring. So if you want to learn how to punch hard, follow this step-by-step guide.
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