Imagine being able to strike like Mike Tyson….
Do you want to learn how to punch harder and faster?
Would you like learn the techniques that let 60kg Nak Muay hit like Boxing Heavy Weights?
You’ve come to the right place, because this is where you find the definitive guide to punching like a Pro Boxer!
A lot of folks are under the misguided impression that you need to be bulky in order to be capable of hitting hard, and that’s one of the misconceptions we’re going to bust today. Here’s a quick example: Bruce Lee’s one-inch punch. Was Lee a mountain of a man, to be able to strike with such force? No way! Let’s take a look at his amazing, yet not impossible feat:
Bruce Lee’s one-inch punch may not be able to help you in a real fight, but it demonstrates the value of mastering technique.
If you listen to any professional thai boxer or boxing coach, they’ll tell you the same thing: technique matters more than anything. If you don’t ace the punching techniques, all the muscles in the world aren’t going to help!
We’re going to take a look at EVERYTHING from your stance through to different punches
How to execute from the floor up and combine it all in order to use your entire body to increase striking force to the max!
I’ll share some of the best training and exercise routines that you can do from today in order to be in the best possible shape to support those punches. Cultivating body strength and awareness are just a part of learning how to punch harder. All these things, and more, are going to be our focus in this guide, and they will help you learn how to throw a powerful punch the right way.
By the time you’re finished reading, you’ll own all the knowledge you need to start exercising and practising throwing harder punches, and being in the best form you’ve ever been!
Let’s jump into it!
Force = Mass (Your Body!) x Acceleration
Learn how to position yourself and use your entire body weight to punch harder and faster
First, you must position yourself in the correct stance to develop the power from the floor up through the body to the point of impact; so that you’re able to land punches with full force. The reach the full potential the individual parts of the body must move in synergy. This takes practice, but the more you keep at it, the better your swings will be, just like with golf, baseball or any other sport for that matter. You eventually train muscle memory, and your body will know just what to do in the right situation.
In order to throw a real power punch, you must use your whole body weight when you lean that punch into an opponent. I’m going to show you how to do this with each body part. We will assume, as stances differ slightly between striking martial arts, that you will begin in guard specific to the discipline you have trained and your own personal style.
From the Ground Up
• Feet – As you extend your arm for that punch, pivot your feet in the same direction as your fist, so your whole body follows. Think of putting a cigarette out, slightly raising on the balls of your feet and twisting your entire body.
• Legs – The legs are formed from the biggest muscles in your body, so they’re obviously one of your major assets when punching hard. Keep them slightly wider than shoulder width, with the leading leg being the same as your leading hand. In a simple combination, when you throw a straight punch with your right arm, your right leg should be in front of the left leg. As you move to the right, the right leg steps first with the left one following, and vice-versa. It’s just as important to keep your knees slightly bent, so the muscles are relaxed, yet ready for that twist and impact. This helps keep your body weight lowered, giving you better balance.
• Waist and Hips – One of the secrets of learning how to punch hard is rotating your waist and hips while you hit. The philosophy behind power punching is that you use your entire body weight, and twisting the hips helps with just that. Rotate in the direction of the punch, always pointing your chest toward the opponent; harden your core muscles as you prepare to hit, and twist as if you were trying to hit with your hips. A golfing analogy works here as well – professional golfers know how to lean into their hips to make their hits harder. In time,this mid-section twist will also add speed to your punches.
• Head – Keep your chin tucked down whether throwing in your stance or throwing a punch, to protect it from any initial or counter strike from your opponent with your guard up. As you’ll see next, it will be defended by your fists and shoulders in the guard position. At the same time, your vision should not be blocked, so your eyes can always stay focused on your adversary – always analyse their every movement so you can plan your next strike. The head should be tilted downward and you should look through the eyebrows.
• Shoulders – One of the most important things in Muay Thai, boxing or any other Martial Art is to keep the muscles relaxed. This is very important for the shoulders as well: don’t shrug, keep the shoulders loose, and twist them as you throw your arms out, to increase punching power. However, you should slightly raise the shoulders as you throw the punch, rotating them – this is especially important in cross or uppercut punches.
• Arms – As you extend them to land a punch, make sure your arms are in a straight position, meaning they form a straight line from shoulder to fist. This is a valid point for straight punches only, which is what you should start with. Keep your arms relaxed, otherwise you’ll be wasting energy that won’t go into the punch; only tense up on impact, so you deliver maximum force. Think of the mechanics of flicking an elastic band or wet towel.
• Wrists – No matter who you are, the wrists are a sensitive area to begin with, which is why you must be careful when positioning them for a fist. The correct way to hold your wrists is very slightly bent down, so they are perfectly aligned with your forearm and your knuckles point the right way. This positioning increases the force of your punches and helps you avoid injury.
• Hands/ Fists – Before you even think about throwing a punch, you should learn how to make a fist the right way. Bend the fingers into your palm, and keep the thumb over the first and second finger – placing it under the fingers will only get you a broken thumb when you hit really hard. As I just mentioned above, you should keep your wrists slightly bent, and point the first two knuckles towards your target. These knuckles are the toughest, whereas if you hit with the length of the fingers you risk breaking them. If you point with the ring and pinkie knuckles, you’ll have a good chance of breaking those too. This is where practicing in front of a punching bag or wall helps a lot.
Extra tip: Keep your hands loose until you are ready to hit, then clench the fist. You should not clench too hard, nor keep the fist too limp either – find a proper balance in this. If you keep your fists tightly clenched all the time, you will tire your muscles and tendons unnecessarily and lose energy.
Now you’ve learned how to use your whole body in order to increase the whole power of your punch. Being able to control all your muscles and keeping your body correctly aligned, are the first steps towards learning how to punch correctly.
Its all in the delivery
As we discussed earlier, being a brick of muscle won’t help much in a real fighting situation unless you master your punching techniques. You’ve learned how to utilise your whole body in a punch, and now you need to focus on perfecting the punching techniques and how to combine them in order to strike your opponent with concussive force.
It is often the case in a Muay Thai or Boxing match that it will require more than a single punch to be victorious and a
s you’ll see, the more you diversify your punches, the more you’ll take your opponent by surprise and win the fight!
The jab & straight punch
This is the first technique you must master before getting into more complex boxing or martial arts punches. It’s the fundamental punch that prepares you for combinations that require skill, coordination and balance.
Jabs are quick punches by nature. To perform one correctly, extend your arm out to form a straight line from the shoulder and all the way to your fist. Use a mirror to observe your movements and correct any errors. Do this with both arms. The left arm is weaker with most people, so practice this a bit more to equalize movements.
There’s a bit of body rotation going on here as well. As your hand starts pushing from next to your body, your palms are facing inwards; at the half point between you and your target, twist the arm so the palms are facing down. Immediately bring your arm to guard position, and make jabs snappy.
Jabs can really take an opponent by surprise if thrown correctly. The faster and snappier they are, the fuller their impact will be. There are also several ways of throwing a jab; the basic movement is a step jab, in which you step your leading leg forward and throw the punch. But if you’re feeling quick on your feet, you can also try a side step jab, which will increase the surprise element as long as you still manage to point it towards the adversary.
The cross is one of the best power punches used in boxing and other combat sports. You should note that it is thrown with your rear hand, so it usually follows a jab. Depending on your leading arm and leg, the cross comes second, and it involves more of a body rotation.
Keeping your legs apart, knees slightly bent and guard up, throw a jab with your leading arm, then twist counterclockwise and aim for your target. When you manage the correct body position for it, the cross can be a great weapon for punching someone in the face or ribs. Bending your knees and twisting the whole body will confer maximum power to the cross.
Just like with a jab, keep your body fairly relaxed, and only tighten the muscles at the moment of impact. There’s more of a shoulder twist in the cross as well; do the same movement of rotating your arm, so you start with palms facing inward, and hit with palms facing down. An exception for the cross is that you can also throw it with palms facing inward – just make sure you’re leading with the knuckles.
If you feel more confident in your right arm, stun the opponent with a left jab, then follow with a right cross to deliver maximum impact. You can also try to bend your head slightly towards your leading foot, so you increase striking force. This is the basis of really learning how to punch harder.
A correctly executed straight punch delivered to the temples or point of the chin should result in a concussive knock-out.
Uppercuts can be slightly more difficult to master. In this situation, while you’re twisting the body, you have to start with the elbow from a lower position, then raise the arm in an upward diagonal direction.
An uppercut is best delivered when you’re standing really close to the adversary, so you don’t have to overreach and lose momentum and power. Generally, the uppercut aims your opponent’s chin or solar plexus. It is also a great surprise power punch because it comes from below out of your opponents line of sight and if correctly delivered should go undefended.
This type of hit is also usually a counter-punch, thrown immediately after a jab. As with the cross the rear uppercut is usually delivered with the most force however the lead uppercut is delivered quicker with less room for detection. Twisting your whole body, rotating on the balls of your feet and bending your knees at about 45 degrees is also essential here. But there are also several uppercut variations, such as those where it is your leading punch and you need to bend your head towards the leading leg, or where you see you can throw a double uppercut.
TIP: Be quick with an uppercut. When you’re boxing on the inside, meaning as close to your opponent as you can, contract your thighs as you twist your body to throw the punch.
The hook is another naturally powerful punch that can knock your opponent with extreme force. With a hook, your arm is bent at a 90 degree angle, so you hit at the sides of your opponent whether you’re aiming for the jaw, ribs, liver or kidneys.
Don’t forget to rotate your body as you go for that hook. The position is generally the same, the difference being in how you stance your arm during the hit. The highlight here is to throw the hook at the same time as you pivot your body, and to try to keep it as close as possible to a straight angle.
Hooks are usually leading punches, so if you hit with your right arm, the right leg should be the lead one. Pivot on the balls of your feet, lowering your body weight to increase force and balance, and make sure you won’t have to overreach that arm, otherwise the punch will fall short and you’ll barely graze the adversary.
TIP: All through these punches, no matter what combinations you use, remember to keep your guard up and to bring the arm back to its initial position after you strike. As your training advances, you will learn how to switch arms between guard and punch, and alternate them quickly while also changing leading legs.
Counter punching refers to the strikes you blow after that initial punch. In professional training, as you reach an advanced level and master all the techniques we’ve just looked at, you start learning combinations, like simple jab-jab-cross, jab-cross-jab, or more complex cross-uppercut-cross combos that stun your opponent.
To be able to counter punch effectively, you need to be quick in movements, while also being able to guess what your opponent’s next movement is and guard against it or move out of the way.
For instance, one of the best times to hit your opponent is while they’re hitting you!
They’re not expecting it, so your punch will have more effect simply because they’re being taken by surprise and were unprepared to defend it relying sorely on reaction. Of course this takes a lot of self composure, as well as the ability to not turn your eyes away as you see them approach; but if you manage to do it, you increase your odds of landing your strike cleanly and winning the fight.
Sparring – Practising with a real opponent is invaluable. If you’re not going to the gym to learn how to punch harder and faster, find a friend who is willing to exchange punches with you. With sparring practice, you shouldn’t aim to hurt the opponent, but rather to improve your technique and polishing the various punch forms we discussed. In ideal conditions, you would use gloves, helmet and pads.
The Punch Perfect
It’s worth saying over and over again: to learn how to punch harder, you need to use your entire body when landing a hit. Practice this as much as you can. For instance, start off by punching slowly – this is especially ideal when you’re a beginner and want to get technique right. Using a punching bag or a sparring partner, land those punches as slow as you can while twisting your entire body in that direction. You’ll notice that the hits land much heavier; soon enough your muscles and body will learn the right way of leaning into a punch.
Speed is also essential, but you should not confuse it with power. Only start to practice speed once you get the techniques right. Start off simple, with combinations like right hand jab-jab, left hand jab-jab, throwing as fast as you can. Become aware of how your entire body moves and correct along the way. The same goes for your feet moving lead from one to another. Let’s look at another master:
Wow! That’s impressive even today!
In any sport you practice, breathing is essential. Think about tennis players or martial arts fighters, and the funny sounds they often make when hitting the ball or an adversary. Same goes for you when throwing a punch or kick. Inhale before you strike, and exhale hard as you throw. Controlling your breathing while you fight will help preserve your energy, oxygenate your body and muscles, and help your body contract to through more explosive punches. If it helps, make some noise as you exhale. It is important to exhale for another important reason; taking a body shot with lungs full of air is painful, extremely painful!
Having all the punching power in the world is all well and good but of little if any use if you can’t aim. That’s why it’s so important to train using clearly defined targets to develop precise striking. It goes without saying you must always be alert and pay attention not only to what your opponent is doing, but to where you’re planning on hitting as well. Don’t look at your punches, and of course don’t look away as a fist is coming your way. Instead use your focus to parry or slip just enough to evade the incoming shot, and keep your eyes on the target. There are many items of equipment on the market to help you develop your aim from floor to ceiling ball punch bags, target printed sleeves to pull over heavy bags to focus mitts.
Training tip: Try taping small crosses with duct tape or similar onto a heavy bag at strategically place points to represent vulnerable areas on an opponent, for example liver, kidneys, jaw etc
Nature vs Nurture – Developing KO power
Although technique is your most important asset, conditioning and strengthening the muscles employed in striking matter a lot. The good thing is that although some historical heavy-hitters may be ‘naturals’ anyone can develop knock out power.
With that in mind, some of the greatest fighters are lean and fit, not necessarily bulky. Just think of some of the lightweight boxing legends like Prince Naseem Hamed , Sugar Ray Robinson or Manny Pacquiao to name just a few or almost any of the Thai Muay Thai greats. They’re usually small athletes, ripped and flexible.
There are different schools of thought when it comes to power punch training. Some say that weight lifting won’t help, but the truth is you still need to build some muscle in order to be able to deliver with power and energy. Body weight exercises are highly recommended for fighters and have been included in any club I have ever been to. How far you go with muscle building is entirely up to you. Check out our training section HERE.
Dumbbell training can also be used to practice your boxing technique; with small weights in each hand, practice your jab, cross, uppercut or hook. This will increase the difficulty once you’re strong enough, but it will also improve your precision and punching power.
Check out MMA’s Dan Hardy’s dumbbell shadow boxing
There’s no two ways about it: you just can’t learn how to throw a punch properly unless you target something specifically, and punching bags are the ideal target. There’s sand punching bags, standing bags, uppercut bags, hanging bags, double-end bags (great for combos and counterpunching!) and many more. Bags can be experience and inconvenient to set up at home so if youre serious about developing your technique and power you should go out find a well equipped good gym near you today! Make sure you wear gloves that will protect your hands! See our guide HERE
This is one of the most important practices when you learn how to punch. No matter which training course you choose from this list, shadow punching is a must. You can now find plenty of tutorials online that teach you the basics of shadow boxing. Shadow boxing in front of a mirror can be an invaluable learning tool to detect and correct any weakness in your technique.
Shadow boxing helps your muscles memorize and correct your movements and can also become a great cardio workout if you keep your pace up.
Isometrics are a type of exercising where you use body weight, or even actual weights without changing the length of the muscles you use, or the angles of your joints. Isometric exercises use antagonistic movements, where you have to stop midway through the movement and tense your body.
Push-ups are a great example: place yourself in the push-up position, raise your body halfway, and tense your entire body for a few seconds in this position. Planks and side planks are also isometric exercises. Keep in mind that isometric training should not last very long because it is exhausting. Do some proper research before diving into this kind of training, as it can take a heavy toll on the body. Check out our guide HERE.
Swimming is a great exercise for any combat sport, because it targets muscles in your entire body and builds endurance. It’s also a type of cardio exercising, which in boxing will translate as an improved ability to last longer in a fight. Swimmers have lean bodies and lengthen their muscles.Swimming may not have a direct effect on helping you learn how to punch faster and harder, but it will prepare your body for sustained effort and better breathing techniques during a boxing session.
Training Tip: Although swimming as an exercise will not directly help you punch harder throwing punches and kicks whilst almost completely submerged in a swimming can help as the water resists the strikes. See Chad Mendes here preparing for his fight against Connor MacGregor
Plyometric training is aimed at increasing speed and power, which makes it ideal for becoming a punching power machine. It consists of explosive exercises, where you have to use a lot of strength at a fast pace.
Here are some types of plyometric exercises:
• Jump squats – bend your knees into a squat as you normally would, then come back up in an explosive jump, throwing your hands in the air. Make sure you land softly by bending the knees and tensing the leg muscles so you don’t hurt your knees and joints.
• Box jumps – this is done using a box, or some other stable obstacle of moderate height. Jump on it by bending the knees and using your hands for balance, then jump back down again. Do as many repetitions as you can, as fast as you can without losing balance.
• Plyometric push-ups – perform a normal push-up, but as you come back up, force your body enough to get your hands off the ground, perhaps adding a clap to it if you can. You’ve probably seen this done before, but didn’t know it was a type of plyometric exercising.
There are lots of other types of plyometric exercises, so if you’re interested in trying this out check out our guide HERE
Body flow training (HIIT, cardio, Pilates, yoga, etc.)
As you’ve seen, punching power is not just about throwing your hands the right way, but about using your entire body to do so. For that, you need good body fitness overall, and especially a tight core – which also has the benefit of improving posture and balance.
Many types of training improve core strength: Pilates and yoga are particularly good with this, especially if you’re looking for low impact training. The poses practiced here require a lot of strength and concentration to avoid loosening the body or slouching in awkward positions. Breathing is quite important in yoga and Pilates, so you’ll be able to focus on that as well.
High intensive interval training and cardio exercising also improve your overall body fitness and endurance. Some types of HIIT exercises work on coordination, speed, balance and breathing, which makes them ideal adjacent activities when you learn how to increase punching power.
This goes without saying: no boxer trains without jumping rope like their life depended on it. A good cardio exercise, just some of the many benefits of rope jumping are increased leg speed and coordination.
There’s more than one way of jumping rope, and you can try various combinations during a session. Choose a good jumping rope, research and create a powerful routine, and I’ll bet you that by the end of it, you’ll be covered in sweat, barely able to catch your breath, with legs trembling from the effort. That’s the way to go!
Of course there is no substitute for genuine hand to hand combat training to learn how to hit harder. By training under an experienced a fully skilled ex fighter you will learn the correct techniques and drill how to punch with not only more power but much greater accuracy which can be the difference between a straight knock out blow and a glancing blow which could throw you off balance and land you in real trouble. These days the options available to you are wide and most countries have easy access to a good facility and experienced teachers. For those that are seeking a little more adventure Thailand has become a Mecca for foreigners looking to learn the martial art of Muay Thai from the sports home land and there can be no disputing this is the place to learn to throw devastating blows from not only the fists but elbows, knees and shins. There are some really great options throughout Thailand. We have listed some options available on the Tropical island of Koh Samui but there are of course dozens scattered across the Kingdom. You can stay AND train at any one of the Thai Boxing camps listed below or if you still want to indulge choose one of range of luxury Koh Samui villas . Check out some of the great opportunities available below:
Muay Thai Training & Accomodation in Thailand
1 Month Yodyut Muay Thai – Koh Samui THB 18,000
6 Months Pattaya Kombat Group THB 437,100
What NOT to do
While this guide covers pretty much everything you need to know about how to punch faster and harder, the way of humans is to err. For that, I’ve included some common mistakes people usually do when punch training or in an actual fight, so you know what to avoid or correct.
This is one of the most common mistakes you’ll see, especially in a street brawl. Thinking they’ll gain more momentum and strength to land a punch, people have the tendency to bend their elbows back, or to cock their arm, as they say. This actually makes you wastes energy and so loses power and furthermore causes slight imbalance as body weight is shift back and then foreward. More importantly, it’s a HUGE tell for your opponent, who will be able to see what you’re about to do and avoid your hit completely. Telegraphing prolongs the time it takes you to land a punch, and in any real fighting situation, every millisecond counts. Just don’t do it.
Each type of punch takes a specific distance to throw correctly. You’ve seen how uppercuts are ideal as an inside hit, meaning they’re to be used when you’re really close to your opponent.
If you have to reach too far to hit your opponent, the power of your fist will be reduced. You could also lose balance and basically miss hitting as hard as you can. regular training will enable you to find your range.
Lifting your feet
If you’re to use your entire body for a power punch, then lifting your feet as you throw will only help in decreasing your strength and make you lose balance. The appropriate stance as we have discussed is to pivot on the balls of your feet, only lifting the heels as you rotate transferring your body weight from the floor through your body to the point of impact.Both feet should be kept on the ground for maximum body torque and maximum punching power.
Squaring up your feet
This is when your feet are next to one another horizontally, instead of one in front of the other. Remember you have to keep your feet slightly wider than shoulder width, with one leading – depending on which arm you’re going to use first. If your feet are squared up, you’ll be off balance and unable to capitalise on the torque of turn your body through the full range of motion
This cannot be stressed enough – keep you body relaxed throughout the fight. If you stay tense, you’re just wasting energy and delivery potential. When your muscles are relaxed, you’re able to rotate your body properly, snap out punch and kicks and utilise entire body weight as you strike.
You’re ready to start learning how to punch harder and faster!
You’ve learned all there is to know about how to develop and employ true power punching
Now its up to you to start practising and training. Pay attention to the advice given to you on punching techniques, body posture and techniques and you’ll be throwing “with bad intention and the speed of the devil”
Today is the right day to start training, so don’t waste one any more time to begin your ascension to boxing excellence.