Devastating Punching Power!

True punching power can stun, drop, and even knockout your opponent with a single blow! My power punches have had this effect on opponents in competition and even in sparring with 16 oz. gloves throughout my career. I’ve trained beginners to do the same thing. I’m going to show you a few things you can start doing now to begin realizing that you too can develop devastating power. But, before we get to these boxing tips, you must understand a few things about punching power. I'll explain below, but first take a moment to check out these power punching results:

Punching Power = Knockouts!

Now that you’ve seen what can happen when you have devastating punching power, you need to know where that power starts, how it increases as it moves through your body, and what to do when it lands on your opponent's head or body at the end of your punch.  You must also understand the most common mistakes that boxers with little punching power are making when they are throwing their punches.  After I explain these basic power punching fundamentals, I will share with you 3 tips you can  start using today to increase your punching power.

“The Flow” of a Power Punch!

  1. Your Mind: Punching power begins in your mind. For beginning boxers just learning how to box, they see an opening and decide to throw a punch with power. For advanced boxers throwing power punches, this happens instinctively (at the unconscious competence level of learning). They anticipate or see the opening and before they even consciously think about it, they have already landed the punch with tremendous power.
  2. Your Feet and Legs: Throwing punches with power requires that you engage the muscles in your feet and legs.  I often see so many beginning boxers try so hard to add power to their punches using only their arms and upper body. To throw punches with power you must dig into the canvas of the ring with your feet. If you are throwing a left hook, you would shift the majority of your body weight to your left foot and begin digging into the canvas with your left foot. If you were throwing a lead 2 or right cross, you would dig into the canvas of the ring with your right foot with the majority of your weight on your right leg and foot. (straight left or left cross for southpaws). Either way...you'll have more punching power when you begin by engaging the micro-muscles in that foot that you have shifted your weight to.  Power is continually generated as you engage your calf muscles, quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. Notice what is happening throughout this power punch. You are recruiting muscles throughout your lower body as you generate more and more power to add to the end of this punch!
  3. Your Hips and Back: As this power is generated throughout your legs, you begin engaging the hip flexors and back muscles. You do this adding rotation or torque in the opposite direction of the direction of the punch. For example, when throwing a left hook, my favorite punch, you rotate your upper body counterclockwise before rotating clockwise as you release the punch. While you do this with your left hook keep your left elbow next to your rib cage and your glove on your left cheek (on your face...not your ass cheek). Once you’ve generated more torque power you rotate your body back toward your target, for the left hook it would be clockwise.
  4. Your Shoulders, Arms and Hands: At this point in the power punch you begin to engage the muscles in your shoulders and arms. A split second later you begin to “open up” maintaining as much leverage on the punch as possible...your torso is rotating just a bit ahead of your shoulder and arm...creating a “slingshot effect,” which adds even more power! Then as your punch lands your forearm, wrist, and hand muscles are fully engaged with a tightly clenched fist as you’re landing a devastating  power punch on your opponent’s chin, head, or body! Lights Out Baby!

3 Common Mistakes = Less Power!

  1. Not engaging the muscles in your feet and legs by digging into the canvas with your feet and bending your knees before punching
  2. Losing leverage and power by standing up tall and straightening your legs while you’re throwing a punch
  3. Moving your glove and elbows out away from your body too soon, and losing leverage and power as you punch

Get Some RESPECT!

Now that you have a better understanding of how a power punch travels through your body and the common mistakes that take away your punching power, I will share with you a few tips you can begin using today to increase your punching power and get respect from your opponents!

3 Tips for Devastating Punching Power

Tip # 1 Strengthen Your Hands and Feet: The micro muscles in your hands and feet are so often overlooked in most training routines. By knowing this and making a commitment to improve the strength, power and stability in your hands and feet you will have a tremendous advantage over your competition when it comes to punching with power! Here are a couple exercises you can add to your boxing training routine.

Develop "Hands of Stone!"

One really simple way to improve the strength in your hands and feet is to carry around a grip ball and squeeze it randomly throughout the day. I’ve worked with beginners who happen to work in the construction field using their hands every day all day long. Over time their grip strength increases and most of these guys walk into the gym the first day with very “heavy hands” and plenty of natural power to work with. As these guys master the technical skills, many of them can drop their opponents with a single punch! Check Eddie the “Anointed Fighter” Hamilton is a beginner with "heavy hands!" Eddie is a painter by trade and has worked with his hands for years. He’s still pretty green, but has true knockout power in both hands!

Tip # 2 Improve Your Explosive Power (Using Lower and Upper Body Plyometric Movements) With the understanding that “Power” is the combination of strength and speed (Force x Velocity), Yuri Verkhoshansky began proving that using progressive jumping exercises and “explosive” movements athletes could significantly improve their power.  These “explosive” movements are commonly called “Plyometrics.” This next video shows a few of the plyometric exercises I use with my competitive boxers and those simply training for the benefits of boxing fitness.

START NOW: A beginner upper body plyometric exercise I encourage you to add to your daily routine are “explosive push-ups.” As you do push-ups do these three things:

  1. Go all the way down and touch your chest to the floor.
  2. As you start to come up push as hard and fast as you can “exploding” upward. You can progressively move toward “clap push-ups.”
  3. Repeat these movements with each repetition. I recommend building up to doing 100 of these a day, which will have a tremendous compound effect on your punching power over time.

DO THESE TOO CHAMP! Adding jump squats to your daily routine can also have a compound effect and add to your punching power over time.  Work this into your morning daily discipline routine, right along with the “explosive push-ups” if your serious about increasing your power and getting some respect from your opponents.

More Ways to Strengthen Your Feet

Tip #3: Focus on Your Punching Technique, Accuracy and Timing.
Over my 38 plus years in the boxing gym, I’ve seen many beginners with tremendous physical strength and power who could not punch hard because they did not know how to punch using proper punch technique.  Master fundamental punching techniques by using your phone or a video camera to consistently record yourself punching and then notice any common mistakes  you are making. The other commonly overlooked “secret” to punching power is to be accurate with your punches and precise with your timing, landing them right on your opponent’s chin, temple, solar plex, liver, spleen, and sternum as they move in toward you. The body shots are all places that can really hurt and even drop your opponent. The chin and temple can put your opponent to sleep, especially if you time them just right! Lights Out!

"Touch of Sleep"

When I was 17 and fighting at 139 lbs. I was sparring a teammate, Kenny, that fought at 165 lbs. We were both wearing 16 oz gloves and head gears. He was bigger and stronger and also an open fighter, but I still had way more experience than him. He could hit hard though and really loaded up when he would throw his straight right / “right cross.” I noticed that he “opened up” exposing his chin just before he would throw his powerful right hand. I zeroed in on his chin and as he began to throw that powerful right, I timed him just right and slipped a short hook right on his chin. That short hook knocked him out! Lights out baby! That is the “touch of sleep,” you can add to your power punches when you get very accurate with your placing your shots right on somebody’s chin at the perfect time!  Later in the locker room, he told our teammate Darrell Dixon, that it didn’t look like I could hit hard enough to knock him out. Dixon, said “He’s been around, he knows what he doing. You just felt that “touch of sleep!”

Power Punching Bag Drill

One drill you can do, is to stand next to your heavy bag in your boxing stance, and put a piece of tape on the bag right at your chin height. The practice loading up and landing power shots right on that piece of tape. This will train your eyes to be able to zero in on your opponent’s chin and hit them right in that “sweet spot,” to add knockout power without using any additional “power.” This will give you a real "touch of sleep."

Dropped Him!

One of my boxers, “Smokin Joe” Perez, was training in Colorado Springs at U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program. He was sparring with the 119 lb. US. National Champion who was a stronger and more powerful puncher than Joe. I had told Joe, over a phone conversation, to focus on placing his shots accurately the next time he spars this guy. I told him to try and land a shot right on this guy’s chin. The next day, he called me back and said, “It worked! I dropped him with a single punch right on the chin.” 

Beginner's Drop Each Other

Another time, I was training a group of beginning boxers. Many of them were students at Palmer Chiropractic. I was teaching them about becoming accurate with their punches and I had them do the tape drill on the heavy bag I mentioned above.  Then it was time to spar. One of the Palmer Chiropractic students was sparring a local high school kid. The high school kid threw a straight right that landed right on the college kid’s chin and down he went! He dropped him with the first punch. The Palmer student got up and I asked him if he was ok to continue. He said, “Yes, please let me continue.” He then came back and started sparring again. About ten seconds later he lands on straight right on the high school kid’s chin and dropped him! The kid got up and they both looked at each other and said,” Wow, this really does work!”

Tell Me When You Do It Too!

You can begin to have the same type of knockout power when you consistently use the tips I’ve shared with you throughout this article! Let me know when you drop someone with a single power shot!