The Thai’s – with the exception of a few – aren’t exactly known for their punching ability. However, that’s not because they can’t punch hard. Rather, it’s because their traditional boxing ability is overshadowed by their devastating kicks, knees and elbows.
However, having spent as much time at the Muay Thai camps in Thailand as I have, I’ve seen plenty Thai boxers rocking the heavy bag with nothing but punches. They’re small but they can certainly pack a punch. The reason why they’re able to punch so hard – while being as small as they are – is due to their technique.
Punching isn’t an isolated movement. You don’t punch with just your arms – you punch with your entire body. Knowing that, and by analyzing the movements of a technically sound punch – you can then design a workout program that will help you punch harder.
Punch Harder – 5 Great Exercises
Punch Harder – Movement #1 = Chest Press:
If you want to punch harder, the barbell bench press exercise is an awesome choice. Power – which is what we’re going for here – is a combination of both strength and speed. The barbell bench press exercise is great for developing raw strength. The goal here is to keep your repetitions low and the resistance high.
Of course, you can perform chest press movements with dumbbells and machines as well. There’s one variation – where you press with one dumbbell at a time – that works the core as well. Basically what you do is your position your upper back (only your upper back) on a flat bench, elevate 1 leg and perform a pressing movements with your opposite arm (left leg elevated, right arm pressing). This variation works the chest, shoulders and triceps – all of which are involved when throwing a punch – as well as the bracing strength of the core.
Punch Harder – Movement #2 = Core Rotation Exercises:
Developing the rotary strength of the core is key if your goal is to punch harder. The core – which is considered to be your “strength center – plays a major role when it comes to the power of your punches. If you think about it, when you throw your punches, you turn your body – which is where a lot of the power comes from.
As for actual core rotation exercises, there’s all sorts of things you can do. Have a look at these ..
- Olympic Bar Rotation
- Seated Medicine Ball Twist
- Lying Leg Twists
Those are just a few of many. There’s actually an eBook available that profiles all sorts of fight-related core exercises using kettle bells, medicine balls, sandbags and even sledge hammers. The book isn’t free but it’s something to consider if your workout routines are lacking creativity. You can view it here.
Punch Harder – Movement #3 = Resistance Band Punches:
Your exercise selection should always be specific to whatever your goal is so if you’re trying to punch hard, then punching against resistance certainly seems like a logical solution. I’ve seen a lot of people shadowboxing with dumbbells in attempts to increase their punching power but that’s ineffective and quite foolish when you think about it.
When you’re shadowboxing with dumbbells, you’re doing so against a downward resistance. While weighted shadowboxing will help you increase your shoulder endurance, it doesn’t actually do much for the power of your punches.
If you want to punch harder – which is clearly the goal here – you need to punch against the resistance. Resistance bands are a great way to accomplish this. To perform the exercise, wrap a resistance band around a pole (a cable station is great for this), grab the handles and ensure that the bands are positioned under your arms. Basically from here, you just start shadowboxing. I have you have training partner, get him/her to hold pads for you and do your pad work using the resistance bands.
Punch Harder – Movement #4 = Plyometric Push Ups:
As mentioned above, power is a combination of strength and speed. You use exercises like the barbell bench press (heavy loads) to build your strength and you use exercises like this one (plyometric push ups) to develop speed.
There’s all sorts of different ways to do this and you’re really only limited by your own creativity. The most popular method is by performing what’s called “clapping push ups”. As the name indicates, you just push yourself upwards, clap quickly and get your hands back in position for the next repetition.
Another way to do it is to push yourself upwards and quickly slap your chest. I actually find this one to be a little more difficult as you have to push yourself up higher in order to allow yourself the time to slap your chest and get your hands back into position.
The third – but certainly not final – plyometric push up variation requires a couple steps from the aerobics room. You position each step about 4 feet apart from each other and you get yourself in a push up position in between them.
To perform the exercise, you just push yourself upwards and place each hand atop a step. The higher up the steps are positioned, the more challenging the exercise is to complete. This might be one of those exercises you need a visual of in order to understand what I’m talking about so click here to see a video of it being performed.
Punch Harder – Movement #5 = Smith Machine Throws:
This is another “plyometric” exercise to develop speed. You don’t want to go too heavy with this. You only want to use about 25-30% of what you would normally lift when performing traditional repetitions.
To perform the exercise, you basically throw the bar up as high as you can, catch it, lower it until your arms are at a 90 degree angle and toss it up again. You want to perform the repetitions as quickly as you can.