Speed vs. Power

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If you’ve started boxing, you’ve likely heard your partners or coaches talk about power and speed. Still a hot debate today, there are different schools of thought. 

Some boxers strongly believe that a punch won’t cause damage unless strength comes into the mix. Others, however, are convinced that speed is the only thing you need to win a bout.

We love heated discussions and decided to put our grain of salt into it. Without taking sides, we’ve decided to analyze speed versus power, and determine which one is most beneficial when it comes to boxing.



Assessing Speed

Let’s begin by looking closer into why speed is so essential in combat.


What is Boxing Speed?

The speed of a punch is the time it takes for your fist to travel from its stance position to its target. 

A boxer doesn’t solely use the arm to produce velocity,. They draw energy from the entire body, from the toes all the way to the fist, to throw an accelerated strike. This skill doesn’t come overnight and requires continuous training. 

A research showed that a punch can reach a speed of 30 feet per second, with the jab being the fastest strike in 56 percent of the cases. A liver punch at only 16 feet per second can still damage the organ. 

Watch how this boxer can throw 26 blows within 5 seconds:


Finally, boxing speed isn’t only the pace of your hits. It’s also how fast you can move and respond to an upcoming offensive. Working on your aerobic abilities will make you lighter on your feet and more flexible when it comes to footwork.


Why Speed?

Why do fighters spend so much of their training time on improving their accelerations? We’ll expand on the following motives:

  • Produce unexpected punches.
  • Throw more strikes.
  • Limit counterattacks.
  • Faster body responses.


Effect of Surprise

Throwing unexpected punches is a formidable tactic. If your opponent sees one coming, they’ll time to either block or counter. A slow blow loses most of its effectiveness. 

Fast strikes are typically unpredictable. Before your opponent realizes you’re about to throw one, it has already landed. Your rival won’t have a chance to adjust their body or hand positioning.

This means that you’re more likely to reach your targeted spot, producing more damage. Sometimes, the positive thinking of a boxer’s strong mind can help alleviate pain. An unanticipated hit can generate more pain simply by the recipient not being mentally ready to take the hit. 


More Punches

If you’ve watched boxing or MMA fights, blows are rarely thrown alone. Instead, they generally come in a combination of strikes. The faster you are, the more hits you’ll be able to land.

If you need a goal to work towards, the fastest man can produce 13 punches per second.


Limit Counterattacks

Slow punches leave time for your opponent to think and plan a counterattack. By throwing a multitude of fast punches, you control the rhythm of the combat. 

Your rival may start stepping back, giving you more momentum to continue. They’ll probably try to protect themselves to limit the damage until your flow of punches comes to an end.


Faster Body Responses

As we briefly explained, speed in boxing is also about body conditioning and footwork. Moving fast enables you to swiftly change directions and angles, allowing more precise hits. 

Equally important, a faster and more efficient ‘slip’ or ‘bob and weave’ will make your opponents blows fly right past you.


How to Train for Speed

Most of us aren’t born with the ‘speed gene.’ Therefore, speed needs to be developed as much as possible through proper and continuous training. Start with 15 seconds for a routine and gradually increase the duration to reach 2 or 3-minute workouts.


boxer using black speed bag


Reflex or Speed Bags

These popular bags can be used to improve the punching pace. They’re light and air-filled punching bags. Attached to the ceiling or a floor stand, they bounce back at high speed. The stronger you strike, the faster it comes back, and it’ll hit you in the face if you aren’t fast enough to avoid or block it.

If this is your first time using one, start slow. Open your palms and punch the bag with your fingertips. As your skills improve, make a fist and hit it using the heel of your hand.


Double-Ended Bags

A similar concept as reflex or speed bags, these models are attached to both the ceiling and floor using cords. This makes them portable and easily installed in a home.

The tighter the cords are, the slower the bag will be, which is great for beginners. As time goes by, loosen up the ties to increase the challenge.



Assessing Power

Speed sounds great. Yet, before starting an intense training on pace, let’s discuss why many boxers are so animated about strength training. And it isn’t all about looking good.


What is Boxing Power? 

Power in boxing is the force exerted on your punch and is all about kinetic energy. 

Kinetic energy is a force created by motion, which can be stored in the body or transferred to your opponent during a blow. The more energy stored, the stronger the punch will be.


boxer power punching heavybag


Why Power?

What precisely are the benefits of working on your punch power? Here is the rationale behind it:

  • Develop muscular endurance and speed.
  • Builds tolerance.
  • Perform knockouts.
  • Grappling and ground combat.
  • Provides confidence.


Muscular Endurance

The first benefit of power and strength exercises is muscle resistance. Training with weight allows you to increase the force of gravity, therefore, increasing the exertion applied to your muscles. When it’s time to drop the weights and compete, your arms’ muscles will feel lighter and be able to exert more force.

Muscles can store a large amount of carbohydrates, which is necessary to generate ATP, the source of your energy. 

Muscles can accumulate the required energy needed for short bursts up to 10 seconds. This means that your body won’t need to create as much energy to throw the punch; it’s already there. This translates to better overall endurance with a faster punch and less fatigue.


Better Take Hits

Muscles act as a shield between the punch and your organs and bones. That’s not to say that it won’t hurt when you receive a strong blow, The strike, however, should feel less impactful than if you hadn’t developed your power and muscles. 



One explosive strike can knock out your competitor, or weaken them enough to win a fight. These highly efficient strikes allow for significant energy savings during a fight. 

If your opponent isn’t on the ground after landing a powerful strike, they’ll be more wary of your power for the rest of the fight. If you aren’t convinced, watch these impressive one-punch KOs:

Clinching & Groundwork

If you’re practicing MMA or Muay Thai, power is critical when it comes to body-to-body combat. You need to control your opponent’s physique, no matter how tall or heavy they are.

Although techniques can play a significant role in clinching, muscle strength will certainly give you an advantage. 


Look to Impress

Although experienced boxers would know that a big body doesn’t make a skilled boxer, it should impress beginners. Building strength can also give you more confidence, which can play in your favor during a fight. 


How to Train for Power

To increase power, and therefore, muscle mass, strength training is necessary. For beginners, using your body weight might be enough to shape these muscles. As they gradually adapt to the resistance they’re facing, added weight might be needed as your training continues.

In all cases, don’t overtrain when using weights. It’ll tire your muscles and joints. You undoubtedly want to stay away from a bodybuilding shape, as the exaggerated muscle mass will impact your speed and mobility.

bodyweight training using kettlebells



The Champion

In an ideal world, both speed and power should work side by side. A powerful punch landing too late is useless. A speedy one without power will require many strikes before it’ll weaken your opponent. 

In reality, most boxers excel in one area, more than another, but very rarely in both. The fastest punches can create enough velocity to generate an incredible amount of power, making for efficient strikes. On the other hand, power won’t generate speed, which is crucial not only to throw hits but to respond to ones.

Whether you excel in either speed or power, ensure to incorporate your strengths to your boxing style. It’s important to understand neither speed nor power alone can win every bout. Focus on developing as a well-rounded boxer:

  • Watch, discuss, and learn different styles that people use, so that you’re able to recognize and prepare for it. Dare I say, defense is arguably the best offense.
  • Develop your own style and tactics to match against different types of fighters. Remember there is no one blueprint for winning.
  • Improve on your natural strengths and develop your weaknesses – not everyone is perfect in every aspect (power, speed, agility, endurance, etc.).



Technique is the Linking Factor

Bear in mind that most of your training should be done inside the ring, practicing your punching technique and footwork. Without these two components, both speed and power are of no use.

Yet, they immensely complement your boxing teachings, and both should be included as weekly workouts. Therefore, speed vs. power should become a speed-power combination. Hopefully, this article helped you alleviate the doubts you may have had regarding this hot topic.

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