One of the worries or questions that often arise from fighters is do I have natural punching power, how can I find out how hard I can punch. Can you improve on your own punching power and how exactly do you know if you are a hard puncher?
The best way to tell if you are a hard puncher is trial and error. Being in the gym and having fellow fighters deal with your power. Comparing the results from you on the pads vs another person. How you hit in sparring and your form as you punch.
And while you can do all these things in the gym, how would you go about calculating the actual power you possess. Well, unless you have one of those impact machines we see in the scientific tests. It’s going to be quite difficult to calculate the real pounds per square inch and KO power you possess. But we will do our best to see how you can test this for yourself.
Test Your Punching Power
When you are in a gym it won’t take you too long to work out who is able to hit hard and who is what you might call a regular puncher. And it’s not always the biggest person either!
Quite often you will have what we in Ireland call wirey guys. Guys that appear for all the world to be pretty lean and without much muscle, but for some unknown reason hit like hell. Now I don’t mean they hit like a heavyweight, but for their size and frame, they punch hard.
Science tells us that much of this has to do with genetics, physiology and of course great technique. A great technique is so important in this realm as you may have all the power in the world. But if your punches are sloppy or your technique sucks lemons, then this will be reflected in your punches.
It is so important that you have a coach who won’t just get you to hit pads. But will help you work on your overall technique to improve your punching power. You may look good shadow boxing, hitting the bag and on the focus mitts, but if you have two pillows for hands, then you my friend may be in trouble.
So How Hard Is My Punch?
How long is a piece of string? It’s such a hard question to answer because it’s really subjective unless you are an active fighter who is knocking out opponents with brute strength. And by that, I mean not well-placed shots on the button that knockout an opponent. I mean clubbing punches that your opponent’s ancestors felt.
Ask Your Pad man
When it comes to discovering your own punching power the best way to do this is in the gym. When working with your pad man ask him what he thinks of your punching power. Pad men are used to dealing with all manner and all styles of punchers. So asking them directly for their seasoned opinion is a great start.
What My Sparring Partners Say
What are you Sparring partners saying? Although this can be a touch and go method, as in sparring you do not hit at 100% power, you just don’t. But sometimes you can catch someone by accident, throw a little too much heat and see the results.
1: Are You Fast?
Are you a naturally fast person, can you run fast? Have you got natural explosiveness that can be translated into your punches? Naturally, athletic people who are able to produce movement in explosive bursts are more likely to punch hard.
Muscle types referred to as fast twitch and slow twitch muscles dictate how quickly the muscle will react. As a general rule of thumb, people with fast-twitch are more explosive than people with slow-twitch muscles. so it’s the sprinter vs long-distance runner comparison.
If you can produce explosiveness in one area, it makes sense that this will then be replicated in another. Although it may take some training to tap into the natural ability.
2: Have You Got fast Hands?
Have you ever played the game knuckles, where you put your fist against another person’s fist? Then they twitch their hand as though they’re going to hit the top of your hand with their knuckles, but don’t. You move your hand by mistake, so they get a free shot.
It’s a pretty painful experience when the other person has fast hands. And you can tell how fast your hands are when you play this enough times. Transfer this idea over to boxing where certain fighters will also have fast hands.
Much of this really is down to genetics and while you can do some exercise to increase alertness and hand coordination. Hand speed is generally not something you can learn.
3: How Big Are Your Hands?
Have you got big shovels for hands? When I was growing up my farmer friends all had these huge naturally strong hands. Ther skin was weathered and tough, and their grip was unbelievable. It wouldn’t be until I myself was older and had done many years of tough physical labour that I realised I now had very strong hands too.
Big hands vs small hands is a really obvious one. As a big strong hand, with more mass and weight than a smaller lighter hand is going to have more force behind it. Think of a rock inside a sock, would a rock larger or smaller rock inflict more damage if you swung it and hit something?
Calculating the force of impact, divide kinetic energy by distance. F = (0.5 * m * v^2) ÷ dSciencing.com – How to Calculate Force of Impact
You put big clubbing hands on a boxer who can punch with force and accuracy and you have a dangerous fighter. While very big hands may have some drawbacks, I’d rather have them than small soft pen pusher hands when I am trying to knock someone out.
4: How Much Do You Weigh?
Heavyweight boxing has always been referred to as the king of the divisions. Throughout the sports illustrious history heavyweights have always ruled to roost. And one of the very simple reasons for this is that fans love to see knockouts and heavyweight boxing provides just that.
The heavier the fighter, the more chance of there being a knockout punch. As more mass plus acceleration equals force. And what does force do? Well, it creates trauma when inflicted on the human body, but especially on the human brain. And so the heavier divisions have always had more knockouts than any other.
Think of it this way, you have fantastic punching technique but you weigh 130 lbs or 60 kilogrammes. You are not going to have the same impact as a fighter who weight 210 lbs or 95 kilogrammes, the math simply doesn’t add up. So if you are lacking in some weight and there’s room to add muscle. Get to working out and eating properly to see the added benefits.
5: Do You Have Short Arms?
Many of the great fighters had short arms. Fighters who were forced to fight the inside due to their height and reach advantage are amongst some of the very best in the world. There is no one rule fits all when it comes to reach and it really depends on the fighter themselves and who well they use what they have got.
Think of Mike Tyson and his swarming technique where he would get inside and unload on the taller fighters who were forced to punch down. More recently think of Andy Ruiz Junior who shocked the world when he knocked out Anthony Joshua.
Smaller fighters with shorter arms who work on their technique can be just as devastating as their taller rangier counterparts. Much of it depends on their style and how their opponent deals with their style. History tells us many shorter armed fighters have gone on to be the very best in the world.
6: How High Can You Jump?
Being able to jump high from a standing position really tells us that you have good explosive power in your limbs. Jumping high is all about speed and explosiveness as we try to fight gravity itself. So if you are a good jumper, then there’s a realistic chance you are a good puncher.
A study by the National Strength and Conditioning Association showed that being able to jump higher was a significant contributing factor as to how hard someone could punch. Confirming that the explosiveness required to jump higher, in turn, contributes to a person’s ability to punch harder.
7: How Long Are Your Arms?
We discussed fighters with shorter arms and how they adapt their style to punch harder and win fights. But what about boxers with longer, rangier arms? Well again, these boxers will have their own specific style adapted to how their physiology is made up.
Fighters with longer arms are able to stay on the outside and throw straighter punches, as opposed to the inclose style of shorter fighters. Take someone like Tommy Hearns. Throughout his career, the Hitman was able to score almost 72% knockout ratio even though he was considered very tall and skinny for the welterweight division.
But devastating sniper-like straight hands were the signature punches of his career. And today we see a number of fighters build with the very same body type routinely knocking out their opponents. Making their punching technique suit the body type they have been given.
8: Using Proper Punching Technique
One of the absolutely critical aspects of throwing a punch is your technique. As I previously mentioned if you do not have good technique your punches will absolutely suffer the consequences.
If you are not placing your feet correctly on the ground before you even throw. Are you throwing from your legs up through your body and into your arms? Perhaps you are not using your hips correctly or extending fully not inflicting maximum impact. If you are pushing your punches rather than snapping them into the target.
There are so many things that go into the mechanics of a punch. It’s not just about coiling back your hand and letting it fly. It is an art form and some boxers have mastered that art after the proverbial 10,000 hours of purely focusing on that one aspect. It’s not easy, but the more you do it the better you should get.
9: The George Foreman Test
Known colloquially as the George Foreman test. This revolves around the famous video showing Foreman working the heavy bag before his fights. In the gym, Foreman was able to hit the heavy bag so hard that it would move off its centre point and be at an angle to the ground.
What would need to do if find a heavy bag this proportionate to your own weight. The Foreman test consisted of you hitting the bag at maximum power for 20 seconds. If you can manage to tilt the bag at a reasonable 50 – 60-degree angle to the floor, then its safe to assume you have good punching power.
10: Is Your Upper Body V-Shaped?
People with V-shaped bodies are more inclined to have good punching power than those with smaller frames. Having larger upper shoulders with a smaller tighter pelvis means that you can generate more power through the hips up into the shoulders.
Wider shoulders give you the advantage of a longer reach as the physically extend the reach when compared to someone with equally long arms, but smaller shoulders.
The latissimus dorsi muscles or lats as they are known are responsible for shoulder adduction and extension. So when you see someone with wider shoulders and good lats. You know they have good strength and extension in their punches.
11: Do You Have Strong Legs?
Have you got sprinters legs or spindly matchsticks that barely hold up your frame. While not all big punchers have tree trunks for legs. The general rule of thumb is the stronger the legs the more punching power you can achieve.
Now that does not mean you go to the gym and come out looking like Arnold just after a workout. We are talking strong athletic legs that fit your frame, not out of proportion muscle laden energy-sapping tree trunks.
You need to make sure you have a good base from which to punch and whether your legs are long and tall or short and stocky. For your frame, they need to be strong and explosive. So work on strengthening and conditioning those legs to help maximise your punching power.
12: Have You Got A Strong Back?
We talked about having a V-shaped back, but what about that back being strong? As all your upper body muscles are tied into your back, a strong back is critical to being a hard puncher.
All of that back muscle is linked into your shoulders and by extension your arms. So having a solid back that connects all the pieces together into a tightly knit and solid unit is really key.
The great thing about strengthening something like your back is that much of it can be done at home or in the park on a free chin-up bar. Don’t feel as though you have to run out and pay for a gym membership just yet. If you want to work on your back, start at home with some simple pushups. Then take it to the park and work those palm out and palm in chin-ups.
13: How Accurate Are Your Punches?
Are you a sniper or a slugger? Do you love a good haymaker, Hail Mary punch or are you more a fan of crisp well-placed shots? Swinging for the fences can and does work, but it expends unnecessary amounts of energy. And before long will leave the fighter gassed out.
More accurate, clean and considered punches are the way to go. As a well-placed punch on the right spot, even with less power on it can have the same result as a sloppy haymaker. So getting your technique correct is essential to you punching with accuracy and reaping the rewards.
14: Do You Have Good Balance?
Not all punches in boxing are straight down the pipe jabs and straight right hands. Many of the punches in boxing are thrown from odd angles that require you to dip and move, bob and weave. Then explode from an unorthodox position that does not look natural.
Think of Mike Tyson and how he would go so low to the ground, making his opponents miss as he bobbed and weaved his head side to side. And then almost out of the blue, he would explode with a huge punch, catching his opponent off guard and often ending the fight.
His ability to explode into punches from odd angles showed us his excellent balance. It’s an ability to work from odd positions that would not be otherwise possible. Balance is key in boxing and without it, you won’t have that ability to throw consistently great punches.
15: Have You Got Big Bones?
Have you got big strong bones? You may be small, but you can also be built like a proverbial brick sh1t house. People with more dense bones that carry the right amount of weight and muscle will be able to carry more weight in their punches.
Where someone may be lacking in one area, such a hand speed. They may very well have big strong bones and joints. So if the punch lands it does so with greater force. These punchers are often referred to as heavy hitters. We see many examples of them in the boxing world, where they look relatively normal but punch above their weight class.
16: Do You Punch Angry?
There are some fighters who punch to stop their opponent without inflicting too much damage on them. To show sportsmanship and fair play so that both men leave the ring in good health and able to go back home to their families.
While there are other boxers who have openly talked about killing their opponent in the ring. Fighters who throw everything behind those knockout shots as they literally try to separate their opponents head from their body.
The best current example of this would have to be the heavyweight champion, Deontay Wilder. Wilder has knocked out 41 of his 42 opponents and said he wants a death on his record. While the comment may not be palatable to most, it shows you his mindset when entering the ring. And how he seeks to inflict maximum damage on his opponent.
Tips On How To Punch harder
So I thought it would be helpful to have some tips on how you can learn to punch harder. While there is no guarantee that you will ever hit like Iron Mike Tyson. What you can do improve technique as well as strengthen, condition your hands to improve your overall performance.
Conditioning Your Hands
How strong are your hands? Do you have a history of doing physical work or working our a lot where your hands were forced to do much of the work? Strong bigger hands and with dense muscle and bones are obviously better than weak small hands, but what if that is what God gave you?
There are ways to condition hands that do not have God-given strength. Traditionalists in the martial arts use what is called a wall-mounted makiwara board. It’s essentially a padded board which sits upright on the wall. That you then use to punch and condition your hands.
A very low key low-cost way traditionalists will also use is a smooth river stone. Here they will slap the rear of their hands on to the stone, toughening the ligaments, muscles and knuckles.
Of course, the most likely place you will condition your hands is in the gym on the heavy bag or other similar bags. Over time repeatedly punching the bag will toughen and condition your hands.
Don’t Push Your Punches
Don’t push your punches but rather contract your muscles when striking, then relax them once the punch is complete. So that builds the power by contracting as you tighten your back, your arms before connection. As soon as you connect relax a release the tension, then repeat.
If you have ever watched any Bruce Lee moves, he would flex his muscles, striking hard and fast with Cobra like speed and accuracy. This tensing then releasing of built up power into his strikes. Meant that all that energy was released on contact at a specific point.
Using An Energy Shout
Now I am personally not a huge fan of this technique, as while it may be useful to the fighter performing the movement. It can also be very off-putting to other show are training in your vicinity.
If you have ever noticed that in some sports the athlete will let out a shout or loud noise as they perform an action that required exertion. This is referred to as an energy shout or in martial arts as a Kaia. This release of a shout corresponds with the force the athlete is exerting at that very instance. And if performed correctly can help focus the energy of punch you are throwing.
My final thoughts on whether or not you are a hard puncher really come down to there being many elements to that answer. You may not be right now, but if you work on the above aspects of your physiology and fitness as well as technique. There’s little doubting you can increase your overall punching power.
It is really up to you and whether you have the time and focus to improve yourself in the realm of combat sports. These things do take time and dedication, so if you have all that, then the very best of luck.