Punch Harder: Strategies for a More Powerful Punch
Author: Ayad Mirjan, trainer at BNB gym. Follow@Ayad_bnb on Instagram
You do not need to be a boxing expert to know that engaging the hips is as basic to boxing as jumping is to basketball. The hips are integral to throwing a powerful, yet efficient, punch. They are the engines that power the body and make hitting a target with a balled up fist possible.
Mechanically speaking, the hips generate the force that activates the core (abdominals, lumbar muscles and spine); the core then transfers this energy to the shoulders. The symptom of all those actions combined is a fist flying with absolute control towards the intended target.
More Powerful Punch
With this in mind, it becomes abundantly clear that improving punching power starts by addressing hip muscle strength and joint mobility.
Building strength in the hips starts with the glutes (Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius, and Gluteus Minimus), quadriceps (Vastus lateralis, Vastus medialis, and rectus femoris) and hip flexors (Iliopsoas and Sartorius).
With the advent of the Internet, a quick online search can result in dozens of exercises that target the hip region; however, not all of the exercises focus primarily on the hip region while also engaging the entire body in a closed kinetic chain movement.
Why focus on closed chain movement training?
Boxing is a full body sport and any type of physical training would need to emulate that level of full body engagement to address deficiencies across the kinetic chain (i.e. weakness, stiffness, etc.).
Closed Chain Strength Exercises:
Bulgarian Split Squat
Those two exercises, when combined and performed on a consistent basis, generate the biggest bang for the buck with respect to punching power and hip health.
Start by performing those two exercises with ONLY your own body weight and build slowly by adding external weight for added resistance.
Weekly Target: 5 sets x 5 reps x 3 days/week
1-second concentric reps
4-second eccentric reps
Hip Joint Mobility
While muscle strength around the hip area creates the force that results in a punch, it is hip joint mobility, or the ability to move the hips in isolation, that creates the muscle activation and the upward ripple effect the results in core, shoulder, and arm engagement.
As a starting point, open the hips by getting comfortable sitting in a squat position,
with good form, for 5 to 7 minutes.
Good form includes:
a) aligning the toes and knees to point in the same direction,
b) flat back—eliminating roundness in the spine.
For many people, getting into a seated squat position alone may be difficult.
In the early stages you may feel like you might fall backwards. This is perfectly normal.
Use a prop like a chair or a post to hold on to while getting into this position.
Over time, remove the props and maintain your own balance.
Daily Target: 5 sets x 1 minute (30 second break between sets)
There is nothing particularly “sexy” about this type of down-tempo movement training for the hips. In fact I challenge you to bore your social media followers to death by posting this type of movement training on the various social media outlets. But this isn’t about sexy. It is about increasing punching power and investing in the general health of your hips.
This form of strength and mobility training will sustain—and improve—your current range of motion as you progress through age. Don’t look like an old man/woman at age 50. Invest in your hips!