Your knowledge of punches can not only add power and efficiency but can also help you earn your opponent’s respect. A power punch though simple is often the most misunderstood aspect in boxing. Sure, the brute force and strength are good enough to win you a bout any day. But, if you don’t know how to generate the right power in your punches, you wouldn’t last long against a technically skilled boxer.
Power punches can act as a great equalizer in situations where you’re in a tough spot and having a hard time overcoming your opponent. With these punches, you can cover the technical science somewhat in carrying on with an old-fashion KO approach.
Some fighters have a heavy hand, they are gifted. However, it’s not that you cannot train your hands and body to land powerful chances. First things first, as I mentioned before, there’s a major misconception when it comes to generating power for punches. Once, were clear the misunderstanding and get the basics right with the help of theories, we can then dive deep into the power-punching mechanics.
Basic theories behind power punches
- Don’t confuse speed for power: The first misconception to put in the bin is Speed = Power myth. Power is more than speed and not just speed. A fast punch won’t hit hard unless you apply some mass behind it i.e. add your body weight to the punch. Thus, speed and power are different.
- Move your body in cohesion: We’ve learned in our numerous boxing tutorials and Bruce Lee’s philosophy how the entire body plays a vital role to generate power. Instead of moving your single punching arm, you should activate your entire body and apply force in that punch. The key here is not to move your body to cover distance but to move in cohesion whilst doing so.
- Punching power is more than just fist: Most people think that punch is just related to the hand. No Sir. Legs have the biggest muscles and thus by far their capable of generating the most power. If you just punch with your arm, you’ll never be able to deliver a real punch.
- Maintain the Range: Many boxers want to cover the distance and then land thinking they’re bringing more force. However, that’s not true. When you’re in the range you’re able to hit your opponent without outstretching your arms. The lesser your arm outstretches, the more power you’ll be able to generate.
- Work the angles: By working different angles on your opponent, you’re able to inflict pain in new areas. Thus, the damage done is even more. You want to mix your punches to weaken your opponent from every angle. The more power punches you land, the more damage you’ll cause to your opponent.
The art of power punching heavily relies on moving the body in unison. Now, this aspect is much more complex than many people think. However, with a considerable amount of practice, you’ll be able to nail the movement.
Crucial Body Movements for Power Punching
Your entire body works together to generate tremendous energy in your punch. Thus, you move in a way where the power of transfers all the way from your feet to your fist. Now to understand the entire body movement, let’s divide this section into three categories: Upper Body, Lower Body, and other aspects.
Upper body movement for power punching
When it comes to your upper body movement, there are four aspects you need to take care of – Head, Shoulders, Hands, and Arms.
Track your opponent
It goes without saying that you should watch your opponent at all times. You can’t miss out or sleep on your opponent even for a split second. Your eyes should be fixated on your opponent and you must track his movements and try to read his game plan. At the same time, you shouldn’t get distracted because without inaccurate tracking, your punches won’t reach your opponent and you’re more likely to bite the dust through a counterpunch.
Protect your chin
Alan Ruddock, co-founder of Boxing Science has worked with numerous boxers to study the science behind different aspects of boxing. He suggests, that the best place to hit when looking for a knockout is the side of your opponent’s chin. Now imagine that if you don’t tuck your chin or protect it, you’ll get hit. And when you do, you’ll lose muscular control and start with the Bambi dance because of wobbling legs.
As per Ruddock, “The brain stem is the connection between the motor cortex and the central nervous system that controls voluntary movement, so if you’ve got a lot of torque going through that point it’s breaking the connection between what you intend to do voluntarily and the signals that are intended for you to move.”
Thus, regardless of which punch you throw, always tuck your chin as a precautionary measure. Especially when you’re throwing an overhand or a jab, tucking your chin under your shoulder provides it much-needed protection.
Move Your Shoulders
Ruddock also mentioned that torque is an important aspect of knocking the wind out of your opponent’s sails. But how do you generate the torque? Simple. By turning your shoulders. When you turn your shoulder of your punching arm, it not only adds the momentum but also torque in your punches.
Use them for Defense
Whenever you’re on the offensive end, there’s a fair chance that you’ll expose yourself in the process. However, by clever use of shoulders, you can defend well and shut down any opportunities for your opponent to knock you out. Thus, use the shoulders cleverly even when you’re attacking. Why? The slightest miscue can leave room for your opponent to spring in with a counter.
Extend your arm
When punching straight, make sure to extend your arm. However, always remember that there’s a thin line between extending and overextending. If you overextending, you’ll lose your balance and will be susceptible to incoming counterpunches which can be deadly. Thus, make sure your opponent is in the range and you are able to extend and not overextend.
Keep your arms relaxed. They shouldn’t be rigid. Tensing up your arms uses the energy which ultimately takes the sting away from the final shots. Thus, relax your arms for powerful punches. Tense your punches only before you’re about to connect with your opponent.
Loading punches look good only in movies, not a boxing ring. Do not telegraph your punches i.e. don’t get back and cock up your punch as it’s a straight sign of your intention to punch. You’ll get countered easily.
Keep your hands loose
Similar to your arms, don’t keep your hands uptight. Don’t clench your fist beforehand as it’ll consume energy and you’ll land a punch which isn’t powerful. Thus, keep your hands loose and only tighten it up before the impact to deliver maximum impact.
Rotation of fist
When starting your punch, your hands will initially be at a vertical angle, however, when you clench before impact, your palm should be facing the ground. Though this rule doesn’t apply to hook, it does apply to most of the punches in boxing. The rotation of fist generates more momentum which in turn adds power to the ultimate impact.
Lower body movement for power punching
When it comes to your upper body movement, there are four aspects you need to take care of – waist and hip movement, leg movement and usage of feet.
Waist and Hip Movement
Rotate your hip
In any martial arts, rotating your hip helps generate a tremendous amount of power. Yes, the motion of punch might look simple, but in fact it’s the same as hitting a shot with the baseball bat or playing golf. All of these shots require you to use your waist and hip in cohesion to add velocity to the final shot. Rotation of hips adds to the overall momentum of your punch.
Bending at waist
Whenever you’re aiming towards your opponent’s body, make sure you bend at the waist. In our previous article, we’ve studied how Mike Tyson using Cus D’Amato’s philosophy engaged in Peek-a-boo style of boxing, tormenting his opponents whilst bending at waist, changing levels and charging at them.
Bending at Knees
Modern-day boxers prefer bending at knees than their waist. The reason behind this is because it offers more freedom of movement and affects the overall maneuverability positively. Your knees should always be slightly bent. However, do not bend them too much. Bending at knees adds bodyweight to your legs which improves the overall balance and stability which in turn allows better execution of punches.
Maintain a low center of gravity
Most of the trainers often refer to bending down at knees as sitting down. So, when your trainer tells you to sit down, he is asking you to bend at your knees. Whilst doing so, you must ensure that your weight is centered. Don’t put all your weight on either leg on in a particular direction as it may cause an off-balance and inaccurate punches with less power.
Usage of Feet
Punching as said earlier isn’t just about your fist but also your feet. Before landing the punch or even starting it, it’s important that you position your feet properly. They shouldn’t be too close to each other and nor should they be too wide. Either one would have a negative effect on your punch. Thus, position your feet properly.
Pivoting is essential
When throwing a power punch, you should pivot your feet in the same direction simultaneously. For instance, if you’re throwing a cross then your rear foot should pivot so it turns towards the target. Pivoting as we learned in our taekwondo articles helps to gather momentum and add to the overall power of not just the kicks but also the punches.
Other factors involved in Power Punching
Apart from the general body movements, there are numerous other factors that play a vital role in power punching. In order to hit a power punch, you should make full use of your body to generate speed and land with precision. A well-placed punch with a decent speed will land considerable damage if it connects. Positioning helps you to throw the right punches at the right time. When you’re in range, you have a higher chance of connecting better.
Don’t forget to exhale whenever you throw a punch and inhale as soon as you’re finished. Most of the boxers who don’t practice this initially gas out pretty quickly. Also, do not hold your breath at any movement as it will drain your energy very fast. Lastly, regardless of how good your opponent is with the counter, you can always defeat him if you have excellent counterpunching skills. However, in order to counterpunch, you need to know about the punches which you can use at the right time.
5 Important power punches you should know
An overhand right is a great offense to break your opponent’s high guard. Especially when you’re up against a defensive opponent who keeps their glove high, you can power punch your way through their guard by using an overhand right. This technique works great if you use orthodox stance. Even if they are very stubborn with their high guard, you loop a right and then land a power overhand right over the top which stuns them.
If you execute this punch correctly, it’s a knockout worthy power punch. Since the overhand is fired straight from the hip, you can also modify it into a right cross. You can practice this punch either on a speed bag or even better in sparring. When you land an overhand right and even if it lacks power, you can easily set a combination which is the best part.
Usually, boxers are trained to throw a left jab and follow it up with a power punch based upon the situation. However, very few often try to start the proceedings with a power punch. Thus, when you power punch before leading with a jab, you have the chance of catching your opponent with an element of surprise. In this case, a lead straight works effectively. Since your opponent doesn’t see it coming you can land shots at a blistering speed.
Remember not to telegraph the punch in any way as it will render it ineffective. In this punch, speed, unpredictability, and relentlessness are key. We’ve seen legendary boxer Manny Pacquiao execute the lead straight so many times. Most of his opponent’s taught that he would only throw this in a combination. However, every time Manny tried the lead straight, his opponents were unprepared.
Hookercut or Shovel Hook
It might be that you’re hearing this name for the first time. However, this innovative move has been in the boxing scene for a long time. A hookercut is a blend of a hook and an uppercut. The primary reason why it’s called the hookercut is because of the odd angle. This punch is thrown at a 45-degree angle. Similar to the punch above, this punch too has an element of surprise since usually fighters don’t expect it.
Traditionally boxers mostly try to defend the basic straight, right hand, uppercut, cross, and hook. However, very few can expect a shovel hook coming their way. An advantage of shovel hook is that not only does it create power but it also opens up new angles from which you can attack. And your opponent most likely won’t be prepared for it. You can learn the execution by watching the legendary Juan Manuel Marquez.
Lead left hook
It would be unjust if we would leave this move-out. As opposed to check hook which is thrown on the back foot, the lead left hook as the name suggest is often used in a combination. Herein, you force the opponent’s glove guard high by engaging him with straights and jabs and then land a crisp lead hook to leave him stun. All this makes up for a beautiful combination topped by a devastating power punch in lead left hook right at the beginning.
In terms of execution, if you get it right, you can easily catch your opponent off-guard. The punch is sneaky in nature and thus brings a surprise element with it. If you have read our Gennady Golovkin masterclass, you must have already read about the abilities of this power punch.
Perhaps one of the most challenging moves to execute in boxing, the pull counter comes with high risk, high reward proposition. It requires great attention to detail and plays a great role in keeping your opponent at bay. When you use a pull counter as a counterpunch whilst your opponent is charging, you have a great chance of knocking him out with the pull counter.
All you have to do is to track your opponent’s lead foot and anticipate his/her movement rightly. As soon as they throw, be ready to slip your shot with perfect head movement. One of the master executioners of this shot is legendary “Floyd Mayweather”.
Techniques to Improve your Power Punching abilities
- Work on synchronization: It might sound like a vague point, to begin with. However, it’s extremely important. Run as it improves the leg endurance along with performing activities such as squats, cycling, jumping and other plyometric exercises that help train your legs.
- Work on your fist: Slightest of miscues can lead your hand to be injured. Your hands are everything and the last thing you want is to injure them. Condition your hands and make them durable if you’re just starting out. Work them with rice and do the basic conditioning exercise of digging your hands and pulling them out. You can also do other drills such as punching through sandbags or water. Hitting a stack of newspapers is a great way too. Make sure, you go easy at first though.
- Learn to punch through your target: You don’t want to hit your target; you want to hit as if you want to pierce them. Most fighters who don’t learn to punch through often find their punch lacking power. Yes, you might get off balance at first. However, once you master this aspect, you’ll be fully committed to your punches which is extremely important.
- Improve your upper body flexibility: By improving your upper body flexibility you’ll be able to produce extra velocity essential to increase punching power. By rotating your shoulders along with your torso, you can even keep going when you’re tired. Your upper body is crucial in generating the torque to produce knockout power. Thus, the more flexible it is, the better you’ll be able to maneuver. Manny Pacquaio often swings a baseball bat against a bag as a drill to condition his upper body.
- Keep your feet planted: It goes without saying that stability is the most crucial aspect when you are power punching. Both your feet should be on the ground and neither should when you’re swinging. By planting your feet firmly, you will be able to maximize the power and maintain the overall balance even if you miss your target.
- Avoid Overextension: We’ve talked about it a couple of times. Do not overextend. It’ll do more harm than good. Overextension often leads the fighters to go off balance which leaves them vulnerable to counters. What’s worse? You can injure yourself a pull up a muscle which automatically be detrimental to your progress. So, avoid it. Last but not least, it takes power away from your punch.
- Work on precision: What makes Floyd Mayweather so special is his precision. He doesn’t charge his opponents; he swings momentum and turns the tide against his opponents. Precision is what makes him so magnificent. Throwing power punches isn’t hard but throwing accurate punches is a great task. The more inaccurate the punch, the more power you waste. Thus, when you deploying all the energy, make sure it counts to something.
Crucial Drills to Improve your Punching Power
Medicine Ball Throw
One of the most popular drills in the boxing sphere is the medicine ball throw. It’s long been used to increase punching power. This tool is used in either of the two ways:
- Laying flat on the back and pick up the heavy ball. With both your hands, you try to throw the ball as high as possible pushing it from your chest.
- Take a medium-weight medicine ball and get into the fighting stance. Using just singe hand, you take ball and push it forward as hard as possible. You can throw it against the wall or do the drill with a partner front of you. When you do it, assume as if you have your opponent right in front of you and you’re throwing a punch.
Using the medicine ball helps train your arms and increase power. This drill adds to the explosiveness and allows you to make your punches really venomous.
Push-ups and Plyometric training
Plyometric training a.k.a jump training is an extremely effective exercise aimed at exerting force in short range. With plyometric training, not only will you improve your power but also the speed. The Plyometric push up by far is one of the most underrated drills in improving punching power.
To do a plyometric push-up, start in a standard position. Dip down as a normal push-up, however, as you come up, make sure to jump up with your hands lifted in the upward direction. This is a high-intensity workout that trains shoulders, arms, and legs. There are many variations of this exercise that you can perform. For eg: Clapping mid-push-up. All you must remember is that you need to keep your glutes and core tight throughout the session. If you don’t have enough strength yet, just use your knee to support your body weight.
Shadowboxing is a great way to not only train for punching power but also improvise the overall execution. Power is not an aspect that you should blindly focus on, and by shadowboxing, you learn to punch efficiently whilst working on the power. Make a habit of shadowboxing for 5 rounds to improve the overall efficiency.
Use the mirror as a prop to shadow box. When throwing punches, pay attention to your technique, the way you’re executing the punches. Bring the same skills to sparring sessions and work with your partner. The more you shadowbox, the better you’ll be able to adjust during sparring. Shadowboxing is to a boxer what freestyling is to a rapper. Keep flowing.
Working heavy bags
One of the most stereotypical images associated with power punching is working the heavy bag. Be it a movie or actual boxing, working heavy bags does come with its benefits. An ideal heavy bag workout should involve power punching along with combinations. Mix it up in a 10-second interval. 10 seconds of power punches and combinations followed by 10 seconds of smart execution of uppercuts, hooks and straight. If you want to see excellence and precision, you should totally check out our Roberto Duran masterclass.
Sparring is a great way to test your abilities against an opponent. With a partner, you can throw a punch as hard as you want. You can learn to maintain the proper distance and time it right since your target will be moving. When sparring with your partner, you should know when to hit your opponent and often there are three main openings:
- At the time when he is punching
- At the time when he’s least expecting your punch (Breaking the rhythm or breaking your opponent’s defense)
- At the time when you’re trying to catch him from an angle. The more angled your punches are, the more stunning effect they will have on your opponent
Explosive Punching vs Implosive Punching
Power punching needs to feel like a cakewalk. Just because it has the word power, doesn’t mean it needs to be tough. It’s a natural ability which you already have and if not, you can work on it by improving your balance, footwork and overall conditioning. As a boxer, a tip from me would be to never trade your balance or footwork with power. If either of the two is missing, your power won’t make any difference. And here’s where the concept of implosive and explosive punching is extremely important to understand.
One of the major reasons why fighters lose their balance is explosive punching. They go from being in an advantageous position to being dropped on the mat with a counterpunch. Here’s why? They sacrifice their balance and footwork for power. Explosive punching does make sense but should not come at the extent of other important aspects responsible for your stability. Not just that, explosive punches consume a lot of energy.
When you want to generate tremendous power, you should implode instead of exploding. By imploding you generate inward force which then translates into your punch. Unlike exploding where you focus on applying your energy outwards, you try imploding which allows you to generate power whilst maintaining your speed, balance, power, efficiency, and energy. The implosive force helps maintain the balance and generate the power internally, which makes it much more effective than explosive punching.
Common Mistakes you should avoid while Power Punching
Most of the boxers out there do not know the difference between explosive and implosive punching. Sadly 99% of what is taught about power punching is extremely inefficient. The major problem is that there are many fighters who are putting in their blood, sweat, and tears whilst practicing a technique in the wrong way. THAT HURTS.
Stiff legwork: By standing stationary and not using your leg, you’re losing out on all the power which you can generate. By standing upright, you’re losing out on foundation essential to produce power to deliver a devastating blow. Thus, avoid is a mistake and as discussed earlier do not stand upright and bend at little at knees.
Lifting Feet: If you’re doing this like most of the amateur boxers, you’re in a world of trouble. An extremely bad habit which you should totally get rid of. Do not lift your feet at any time regardless of which punch you’re throwing. It minimizes balance and can make your off-balance.
Leaning Forward: Yes, you need to be in catching distance from your opponent. However, do not lean forward. When you do so, you put pressure on your front foot which isn’t right. I’ve already specified the importance of staying as central as possible. Leaning towards any particular direction will lead to a shift of weight which makes your end punch ineffective due to poor weight distribution.
Overextending: I’m mentioning this point for the third time in this guide. I’m doing so you can remember that this is a massive mistake. You’ll either outstretch your arm which will make the power punch ineffective or you’ll end up hurting your muscle, to make it worse. Always try to be in your opponent’s range and if you’re not, just try to wait till you get into the range before landing the punch.
Telegraphing punches: Cocking back your arm as if you’re begging for your opponent’s attention. DO NOT DO IT. The more unpredictable your punches are, the better will be its effect on your opponent. If your opponent is quick, he’ll make you pay for this mistake and it can even result in a knockout. Telegraphing punches in boxing is pretty similar to telegraphing kicks in taekwondo and other martial arts. Whether you do it intentionally or unintentionally, you end up digging your own grave.
Squaring up: Squaring up in a Peek-a-boo boxing style is cool but not while your power punching. This posture is bad when you want to power punch. You can easily get caught by your opponent’s counter and that might be it for you. If you want to avoid getting knocked out, your best bet would be to stay away from this stance. Avoid squaring up at all costs.
Overworking yourself: Punches don’t just have power but technique as well. When you overwork yourself by exerting all the power you have in each of your punches, you’ll have nothing left. You’ll gas out and within a minute or two, your opponent will knock you out. Thus, learn to preserve your energy and execute your power shots with precision.
The truth is that power punches are fascinating to watch when you’re the one executing them. However, you don’t want to be on the receiving end of it. Moreover, learning to power punch is not a single aspect but rather a holistic approach where you learn to move your entire body in rhythm. If you miss out on any aspect, you’ll essentially hit the nail in your own coffin. Thus, work hard, practice and work to gain precision. Once, you have that, power will ultimately arrive with hard work.