Have you been boxing for some time and wondering how to punch harder? Or perhaps your strikes aren’t generating the force you hoped?
Unfortunately, a strong punch doesn’t only require to master one boxing element. Rather, it’s a combination of several factors such as body positioning, proper technique, strength, endurance and more. Altogether, they provide the required energy to throw rock-hard hits.
Although it may first seem overwhelming, the factors we discuss to deliver a high-powered punch should make it easier. Don’t forget that the key to boxing training is patience and repetition, to surpass yourself, and your opponent.
How Can Body Weight Increase Power?
Taking advantage of your entire body weight while striking will make your hit more impactful.
This is the concept of Bruce Lee’s “One-Inch Punch.” The incredible strength of the hit didn’t come from solely his arm or shoulder. Instead, he used his entire body — starting from his toes — to carry the punch.
Here are some tips to make the best use of your body weight for punching:
- Proper boxing stance.
- Use body rotations.
- Drop your hips.
Proper Boxing Stance
Your feet placement will play a significant role in utilizing your body weight when the time is right. A powerful strike starts from your stance position. If your offensive form isn’t correct, it’ll be very challenging to produce the correct strike.
- Stand with one leg forward.
- Make sure to always keep your strongest arm at the back.
- When throwing a straight punch, the additional space the position provides will give your hit more momentum.
- Ensure that your back heel is off the ground. You’ll then only need to push on your feet when you need to add body weight to the strike.
- Finally, keep your legs parallel and shoulder-width to keep a good balance.
Pivoting your hips is key to produce a hard strike. The correct rotation starts from your boxing stance, as above.
- While twisting, keep your core engaged and knees slightly bent.
- Rotate your back leg and heel to follow the movement. Keep both feet on the ground at all times.
The force comes from the energy created during rotation, rather than its amplitude.
Drop Your Hips
To exert more force on your opponent, bend your legs and lower your center of gravity. This will make you more stable, and you’ll be able to transfer more power, delivering a harder punch. It’ll also make you move forward faster if you need to add a leap forward as you’re hitting.
You should only be lowering your hips just before or during the punch. The rest of the time, your legs should only be slightly bent, ready for your next move.
Here is a video explaining how and when to drop your hips:
The Element of Surprise
How to hit harder also depends on how predictable your punch is.
The Power of Sudden Strikes
Staying focused, consistent, coping with the demand and pain, they learn to go beyond their physical limitations. Since they’ve been hit many times before, they know what to expect when they see a punch coming their way.
Research has shown that pain can be significantly altered based on perception. If you expect a high level of pain, then you’ll feel the pain more. If, however, you have time to prepare yourself mentally for an upcoming punch, you won’t feel the full force.
When your punch is unexpected, it becomes more powerful. Your opponent doesn’t have time to adapt their body reflexes, and the same punch might feel much harder than it really is.
How to Throw an Unforeseen Punch
Here are some techniques to produce an unexpected strike:
- Use a variety of angles and punches.
- Avoid telegraphing.
- Adopt counter punches.
Vary Punches and Angles
Varying combinations and punching at different angles are key to win combat. If all you do is throw the same punches, the same combinations or use the same pattern, your opponent will get used to your style.
Equally critical, do your best to avoid telegraphing. Telegraphing consists of involuntarily sending body clues. These inform your opponent as to which punch you’re throwing next.
- Punch from the guard position: before a strike, avoid bringing your hips and punching arm backward to give it more power.
- Speed or double-end bag: these bags bounced at a fast pace and won’t give you enough time to telegraph.
- Make small circles with your fists: this gives you a tiny additional range of motion, yet your opponent won’t know which arm you’ll be using.
A counterpunch is a strike sent while your opponent is attacking, or right after. During an offensive, a boxer may expose parts of their body that we’d normally protect with elbows and fists.
Not only can a counterpunch weaken your rival’s attack, but taken by surprise, you might be able to land a knock-out punch. Here are some essential counterattacks techniques to practice:
- Blocking: stop the upcoming punch and follow with an immediate counter strike.
- Head movement: while avoiding the punch with a slip or ‘bob and weave,’ blow a punch.
- Body positioning: take advantage of your footwork and body angles to avoid a strike, then follow with a counterpunch. An example would be to respond to a leap punch by stepping backward more than your opponent would expect, before counterattacking.
- Punch faster: than your opponent and landing your blow before your rival’s.
Which Punching Techniques Should I Use?
The following are general guidelines to increase your punching power:
- Right arm extension.
- Relax your muscles.
- Keep your shoulders up.
- Use strength and speed.
To deliver maximum energy, extend your arm as if you’re trying to hit someone at full force, behind your opponent. On impact, your arm should be slightly bent, reaching 80 percent of its maximum extension. Overextending your arm can, in fact, play against you for various reasons:
- You’ll need to stand higher on your back heel, potentially losing balance.
- Fully stretching your arm will also give your rival more time to retaliate, before you get the chance to return to your stance.
- Over time, fully extending your elbow can cause injuries.
Finding the ideal distance between yourself and your opponent may take some time and practice, yet it is critical in delivering powerful hits.
Relax Your Muscles
Any tensed body part takes a lot of energy and force to move. This includes your shoulders, arms, but also your hands.
- Keep your upper body flexible until you reach the attacker with a punch.
- At this time, turn your entire body, muscles, and fist into solid concrete.
Keep Your Shoulders Up
Raising your shoulders to your chin doesn’t only protect your face. When striking, it’ll save you lifting your shoulder at the same time, making your punch stronger.
Should I Use Strength, Speed or Both?
Strength and speed are interrelated. Let’s discuss further how they work in tandem.
Strength vs. Speed
We see many boxers working on their boxing speed, day and night. Although the pace is critical, alone, it won’t make for a strong strike. A fast punch can be weak at the landing point.
The same goes for strength. Boxers should spend most of their training time in the ring, not in the free-weights room. If your punch is too slow, it won’t turn into a knockout, and your muscle mass will be of no help.
Although this is still a debated topic, working on your strength should, ultimately, contribute to a forceful hit.
Depending on your competition category and goals, weights might not even be necessary. Using your body mass can sometimes be enough to create more power. You also need to differentiate lightweight training, to build resistance, from heavy lifting involving fewer repetitions and more substantial muscle growth.
If you hike with a 40 pounds backpack for a month, you’ll likely walk faster and further once when you drop it. The same concept applies when including weights to your boxing routine. Once your body gets used to the added weight, your punch will have more energy when boxing without them.
To read about the strength training and the best drills to increase muscle power, read our article here.
To create an explosive strike, power can’t come without speed. Fast pace comes with experience, but also with the right training.
Speed or Reflex Punching Bag
We advise investing in a speed bag or a reflex bag. They’re small punch bags, generally attached to the ceiling or installed on a floor stand. These are perfect for fast repetitions due to their size.
Hand Wraps Instead of Gloves
As you’re training on speed rather than strength, don’t use your regular training gloves. Hand wraps should be enough to protect your knuckles. Before starting, ensure that the bottom of the bag reaches your eye level.
Start Slow and Build
For beginners, following the bag swings and rhythm can be challenging. Start by hitting the bag with your palms open, striking with the tip of your fingers. Once your coordination improves, turn your palm into a fist.
The stronger you punch, the faster the bag will swing back, therefore improving your boxing pace. Start with 15-second drills with 30 seconds of rest. Ideally, aim for 2 to 3-minute-long routines.
To know more about how to use a speed bag, our comprehensive guide here should be of assistance.
Does My Breathing Matter?
The power of your punch tends to follow your breathing flow. By controlling your inhales and exhales, you’ll either slow down or increase and keep up the pace.
Slow breathing is often achieved through diaphragmatic breathing. It relaxes the body, slows down the breathing and heartbeat rate, and helps your muscles recover. This calm breathing technique should be used between each offensive to catch your breath.
On the other hand, burst — or fast breathing — allows better oxygenation of your organs and decreases muscle tension during intense exercises. This type of breathing should be utilized every time you’re attacking:
- Before every punch, breathe in through your nose.
- While releasing a powerful strike, breathe out from your mouth.
- The key is to inhale slowly and expel air in a fast burst.
Refer to this breathing technique for your next practice.
How Can Endurance Increase My Punching Force?
Last but not least, body conditioning can play a significant role in the strength of a punch. This is even more important towards the end of a fight when you’re tired and tend to lose stamina. Improving your endurance will ultimately increase the energy put into each punch.
To improve your endurance, consider:
- Cardio exercise.
- Shadow boxing and speed boxing.
Cardiovascular workouts contribute to enhance your overall physical fitness and conditioning level. Boxers tend to train with jumping ropes, go for a run or even swim to increase their cardiovascular fitness.
Interval training — or HIIT — is another popular type of training. It combines muscle strength and cardio workout.
Shadow and Speed Boxing
Speed boxing is another technique to work both on your stamina and boxing pace. We’ve explained this further in our section above on using a speed punching bag. The fast nature of this type of training will improve your cardiovascular conditioning over time.
Shadow boxing consists of striking in the air, without any equipment. It keeps your heartbeat up while working on your form.
If this is the first time you’ve heard of shadow boxing, refer to our article on shadow boxing!
What Are the Best Drills to Punch Harder?
There are so many different drills to work on your muscle strength and speed. Don’t overwhelm yourself with the large range — try some of these out:
- Wall exercise.
- One-punch knockout.
- Candle punch.
The Wall Exercise
The wall routine is a great workout to get your form right. Without a proper base, punching hard will be near to impossible, or will cause injuries. It’s also efficient to control and master the energy you generate.
- Place your knuckles on a flat wall and lean into your arm slightly.
- Without punching, push your fist against the wall for 10 seconds and release.
- Repeat on the other side.
- Think of this as if you’re punching, but use it as a method of feeling your strength in your arm and body.
If a column is nearby, you might even be able to practice side or body hooks. Here is how it looks:
Use the One Punch Knock-Out
The location you’re hitting should be strategic. Some punches hurt more than others and could get your opponent to the ground much faster.
Ribs, temple, chin, or solar plexus areas tend to be more sensitive. To know more about these kicks, read our article here.
The Candle Punch
How can you tell if your power punch is improving? This karate move may help you increase and monitor your success.
- Light a candle and place it in front of you.
- If your body is higher than the flame, bend your knees as you’re punching.
- The idea here is to avoid using gravity to amplify the force of the strike.
- Stop the movement just before the flame.
- Your objective is to blow out the fame by the force of the strike.
Here is how to gradually increase the challenge:
- First, use your boxing gloves.
- Once you’ve mastered the single flame punch, take them off and repeat.
- Align four or five candles and proceed again. Try to blow all flames together.
- Finally, alternate hands: right-left.
How to hit hard isn’t an overnight fix, and you shouldn’t be focusing on one particular boxing aspect. The success behind punching hard is a combination of many factors, which, when combined, will produce excellent results.
Using your body weight might be one of the most important components on how to punch hard. Working on the surprise factor, strength, speed, technique and proper breathing should help you reach your goal.