To punch harder, you need to train your entire body, improve your strength and stamina using boxing resistance bands, and learn when to strike your opponent at the right time.
USE YOUR ENTIRE BODY
To increase your punching power, you need to use more than just your arms. You need to pivot with your feet, balance on your knees, twist your hips, relax your shoulders, and tuck your chin to deliver a power strike to your opponent. There are many interconnected pieces working together, and you need to use them all to their fullest if you wish to punch harder.
Here’s how to punch harder by using every part of your body, from bottom to top...
When you throw a punch, your feet determine where it goes and how much power it packs. For a quick demonstration, try punching while standing in place. Then, try taking a step forward and punching again. You’ll notice an immediate difference in the amount of force you’re able to exert when using your feet.
You can also use your feet to maintain balance while throwing consecutive punches. The most common technique for maintaining balance with your feet is called “pivoting”. To pivot, plant your front foot on the ground (that’s the left foot for orthodox fighters, and the right for southpaw) and use your back foot to rotate around it. Pivoting is one of the most important techniques in boxing for learning how to punch harder, and it cannot be achieved without using your feet.
Generally, your feet should not leave the ground while you pivot, so to punch hard, you have to derive power from lifting your heels. For example, if you’re fighting orthodox, and you want to punch with your right hand, you should lift your right heel off of the ground, while keeping your left foot planted.
By bending your knees slightly, you stabilize the rest of your body and increase the explosivity of your punches.
The reason bending your knees provides greater stability is because it lowers your center of gravity. More specifically, it lowers the weight of your upper body closer to your knees, making it easier for your knees to support that weight.
Another benefit to keeping your knees bent is increased explosivity. As we mentioned in the previous subsection on how to use your feet to punch harder, your feet should not usually leave the ground when boxing. This means you need to find ways to explode, or exert lots of energy very quickly, with limited movement.
When your knees are bent, you have a little bit of room to explode upward by digging your heels in the ground and pushing through your knees to a standing position. In doing so, your punches will hit far harder than if you were standing upright.
Your hips are responsible for body rotation, arguably the most influential factor on your punching power.
Similar to pivoting, rotating your hips allows you to explode without lifting your feet off the ground. What you are doing is turning your center of gravity in the direction your punch is heading to increase its momentum. Your hips are like a spring propelling your arm forward with immense force. The greater your body rotations, the harder your hits.
It’s a mistake to think that your punching power comes from your arm. Extending your arm, rather than rotating your hips, actually decreases your punching power. So don’t lean forward into a punch, but rotate into it.
When learning how to punch harder, body rotation through your hips is an absolutely essential technique to master.
ARMS & SHOULDERS
The key to punching hard with your arms and shoulders is to loosen up. This conserves energy, since you aren’t using your arm muscles as extensively as you would be otherwise, but it also allows you to punch harder. How?
With your arms and shoulders relaxed, you can strike quickly. So, for starters, you have momentum on your side. The trick to punching hard, as well as fast, to remain relaxed until the last second, and then contract your muscles. Keep loose until your fist is a few inches from your opponent’s body, and clench your fist to tighten up. You’ll deliver a devastating blow.
This method requires excellent precision, and thus lots of practice, but it’s proven highly effective for many fighters. One thing to keep in mind while training your arms and shoulders is that you may need to contract your muscles unexpectedly to block an opponent’s attack. So, don’t neglect the defensive capabilities of your arms and shoulders in light of their impressive offensive capabilities. Train for both.
Your eyes, chin, and breath can each be used to increase your punching power. Here are a few ways to do so...
Your eyes allow you to spot opportunities for striking, as well as aim your punches at weak points. They’re also important for reading your opponent’s strikes, so that you can dodge, block, or counter them.
Your chin should be tucked downward, away from any punches when you’re defending to avoid giving your opponent an easy knockout. For extra protection, shield your chin with the shoulder of your punching arm.
Your breath can be used to help you punch harder. Try to sharply exhale as you throw a punch and see if it increases its power and/or speed. This is a common technique used to increase explosivity for many kinds of sports.
IMPROVE YOUR STRENGTH & STAMINA
Boxing is a full body workout, as we established in the first section of this article. For this reason, it’s essential that you, as a boxer, maintain a healthy musculature. Not only will your muscles give you strength to punch harder, they will also protect you from hard punches. Some of the muscle groups that are most important for boxers to strengthen are the abdominals, back, chest, and shoulders.
Your abs and back make up your core, so strengthening them will ensure that their surrounding muscles, which you use more directly for punching, are well supported. Your chest and shoulders are those surrounding muscles.
When you workout for strength, the goal isn’t necessarily to push your muscles to the limit (that’s bodybuilding). The goal is to push your muscles near their limit and then stop, so that they have ample time to recover. An example of a strength training regimen might include 4 distinct exercises that you would perform 3 days a week for 8-12 repetitions each across 6 sets with a 2-minute rest in between.
- Day 1 – Deadlift, bench press, cable crossovers, wide grip lat pull-downs
- Day 2 – Rest
- Day 3 – Sumo squat, air squat, prone leg curls, leg extensions
- Day 4 – Rest
- Day 5 – Push press, rear barbell raises, chin-ups, hand scissors, laying punches
Your stamina determines how long your strength lasts, so without good stamina, the abovementioned strength training won’t do you much good. All the passion in the world couldn’t prevent your stamina from running dry, and that’s why you should be training to boost your stamina.
With low stamina, and therefore limited strength, how can you expect to punch harder than your opponent? The odds of you winning against an opponent with superior stamina are very low, because all your opponent would need to do is outlast you and wait for your strength to give out.
To develop a high level of stamina, you can perform general cardio exercises, like jumping rope, jogging, or something more intense like sprinting. However, the best way to improve your stamina as a boxer is to perform exercises that at least partially resemble the motions of sparring. Boxing resistance bands are great for this, but here are some other options...
Try doing the following 3 cardio exercises for 10 seconds each to complete a 30-second round. Repeat that round 6 times for a total of 3 minutes.
- Burpees (10 sec)
- Shadow boxing (10 sec)
- Strong strikes on the punching bag (10 sec)
Another idea for the three exercises could be this (perform 10 rounds this time, instead of 6):
- Strong strikes on the punching bag (10 sec)
- Pushups (10 sec)
- Uppercuts (10 sec)
STRIKE YOUR OPPONENT AT THE RIGHT TIME
Timing determines your success in the ring. From how hard you punch, to how accurately you punch, to how quickly you dodge, block, or counter… Boxing is all about timing.
The ideal time to strike your opponent is when they are attempting to strike you. When a boxer throws a punch, they leave themselves exposed for a counter. If you can land an accurate counter within this brief period of time, your punch will hit HARD.
Of course, it’s possible to catch your opponent off guard before or after they strike too. You can break through their defense with an unexpectedly powerful punch, fire consecutive punches at an unusual pace. Changing the speed or frequency of your striking can seriously throw a defensive boxer off their game. Changing the angle or direction of your attacks can also dismantle your opponent’s defense. Once you see they’re disoriented, strike! That’s how to punch harder in the ring.
Spontaneity, or unpredictability, is one of your greatest assets as a boxer. However, it doesn’t matter if you aren’t precise. Inaccurate punches are weak punches, so if you want to punch harder, you need to improve your accuracy.
Pay close attention in your training to the distance of your punches. Learn how far your arm extends as you rotate your hips. Note how much the distance between your hands and torso changes as you throw your second, third, and fourth punch. Incorporate pivoting too. Just find out where your punches are winding up, so that you can accurately land them on your opponents.
HOW NOT TO PUNCH HARDER
We won’t delve too deeply into the DON'Ts of boxing, but in case you’re new to the sport, here are some common mistakes that you should avoid making in the ring.
- Taking your feet off the ground: When you lift your feet off the ground in a boxing match, you remove a significant amount of body weight from your punch, making it less powerful. You also sacrifice accuracy, which typically leads to weaker punches that miss the mark upon arrival.
- Over-extending your arms – Most of the power in your punches comes from rotating your hips. This concept can be challenging for newbies with (naturally) lackluster form to wrap their heads around. As a result, they tend to over-extend, or reach with their arms more than they need to, leaving themselves open to easy counters.
- Underutilizing the jab – Jabs may not be as exciting to look at as hooks and uppercuts, but they’re tried and true. They’re quick and powerful punches that gradually deteriorate your opponent’s defenses. Eventually, you can follow up a series of jabs with something harder-hitting.
- Prioritizing speed over accuracy – Boxing is exciting, so it can be tempting for newcomers with pent up energy and unrealistic expectations to throw everything they have at their opponents, as quickly as possible. This is obviously not a good idea, because it neglects the importance of patience, timing, accuracy, and form, all of which influence how hard you punch.
- Weight lifting with the wrong intention – As your body gains muscle mass, it requires more effort to move around. In a fast-paced sport, such as boxing, this is disadvantageous. Weight training is great for strengthening the muscles you use for punching, so don’t neglect it entirely. Just keep in mind that your goal is to punch harder, not to pack on as much muscle as possible.
Consider using boxing resistance bands to strengthen the muscles you use specifically for punching, and avoid over-training them.
BOXING RESISTANCE BANDS
To be an effective boxer or MMA fighter, one must train for power, speed, strength, and endurance. These four attributes are core to every punch you make and every step you take while in the ring or at the gym. Whether you’re an athlete seeking a competitive edge, or a fitness enthusiast pursuing an athletic body, there’s one piece of equipment that will immediately enhance your training.
Boxing resistance bands are widely adopted by professional fighters and fitness trainers for their scientifically proven ability to increase punching power and speed, while also improving the user’s strength and endurance. They’re a highly versatile tool for targeting key upper and lower body muscles that boxers use whenever they throw a punch.