As I’ve spent hours in the gym hitting the heavy bag I’ve often thought about what exactly goes into making a punch extremely powerful.
I’ve always been considered a pretty heavy handed striker.
Although I have to train hard in other areas, power has always come naturally to me. And many in the fight game think that power is in one’s genes–you’re either born with it or you’re not. But on this point I’d have to disagree.
I mean, we are all born with varying degrees of advantages and disadvantages in the areas that influence being able to hit with power, but there are so many variables–most of which are highly trainable by a dedicated student–involved in synergistically generating power that I’d have to go with the argument that those who say you’re either born with it or you’re not just don’t know how to develop it.
As I’ve hit the bag and paid careful attention to what’s going on that allows me to really lay into it I’ve come up with 4 major factors that make up most of my ability to hit with serious force–and again, you can easily develop all 4 of these areas once you know them.
Major Factor #1: Strength
It’s true that strength does play a major role in heavy hitting. But there’s a reason why many guys with big arms can’t hit worth a shit.
It’s because they’re concentrating on the WRONG muscles! The shoulders and arm muscles generate about 25% of the power in a trained boxer’s punch.
The vast majority of punching power actually comes from the legs and hips.
THAT’s where the key to muscle power lies when it comes to fighting. Strengthen your legs and core and you’ll be packing some serious heat in your hands.
Without going into detail, there are some different ways to train these muscles that are better than others for developing power. Do some research and it should be easy enough to figure out a good approach.
Major Factor #2: Balance
As I was landing full force 1-2 combinations into the heavy bag the other day (jab-cross), I watched out of the corner of my eye as another guy, similar in size to me, was hitting a bag nearby.
Only, his punches seemed to rattle him more than they did the bag.
I kept trying to secretly analyze what was different about the way in which we were both hitting our bags.
It dawned on me that I was really exploding and throwing my weight into my punches, whereas he kept his body relatively centered.
So then I started trying to figure out why he wasn’t putting more of his weight behind his punches since obviously the bag was not being phased very much by him at the moment.
I started to notice that his balance was very shaky. His footwork lacked confidence and he seemed slightly uprooted whenever he’d land a shot on the bag.
His body seemed to give with his hits. And if he would have missed I’m sure he would have stumbled forward a bit if he DID lean into it.
On the other hand, I felt comfortable putting everything I had behind my punches because I still felt balanced and able to recover at any point, even if I were to miss.
This balance I’d imagine is a large result of things like Shadow-boxing.
Shadowboxing allows you to feel your balance and stability through your punches and kicks without having anything to stop your forward momentum or to push you back if you lean too far forward or to the side.
Another factor in balance goes back to muscle strength. I can feel my leg muscles bare down as I lean into my strikes, gripping the floor and keeping me in place and feeling stable.
Without that leg strength I’d probably have to hold back a lot of my forward momentum and my punches would be about as impressive as my friend’s beside me that day on the bags.
Major Factor #3: Coordination
When I’m teaching Private Lessons I’m constantly trying to come up with new ways to illustrate how all of the mechanics of a particular strike flow together to culminate into one massive point of explosion on the target.
Often, I’ll describe this as a wave–the genesis of power starting from a slight push off the floor with your foot and then growing as the next link in the chain of power is added to it, perhaps by the knee. Then the next and the next.
Until finally the strike lands like the snap of a whip–vicious and fast! It’s not enough to just know the mechanics of a punch or kick. You must spend hours with it until your body instinctively knows when to turn each gear over and put each thing into place.
Until all things fire right and at the right time. THAT is when, at the final instant when contact is made, your entire body and power will be behind your blow and you will hit like a sledgehammer.
Major Factor #4: Relaxation
Relaxing is easy to say but hard to do when you’ve got somebody trying as hard to take your head off as you are his. But the more you can become familiar and comfortable with fighting and the more you can control your breathing, the easier it will be to stay relaxed.
Remember, a tight muscle is a slow muscle. You must first relax a muscle in order to get it to move. And the more relaxed your muscles are, the faster they can go, and the more force they can produce.
This means more power. That’s why smaller guys who are extremely fast can still pack a one punch knockout hit.
Use these 4 Factors to evaluate where you need work if adding power to your strikes is your goal. Concentrate on your biggest weakness until you feel you’ve gotten yourself up to a strong level in that area. Then work on the next one.
Let me know if you need help. I will also probably write more specifically on each of these 4 Factors in future articles for you.