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How to Punch Harder (Science Backed Drills and Tips for Boxing)

If you’ve ever wondered how to punch harder, this post provides some science-backed drills and tips to help you train for a more powerful punch.

To punch harder, you should focus on perfecting your technique and focus on heavy bag training as well as Olympic weightlifting, plyometrics, and resistance band training.

How to Punch Harder (What Actually Works) – Highlights:

  • Punching power is determined by the weight, speed, and accuracy of the punch, with significant contributions from arm muscles, torso rotation, hips, and leg push-off.
  • To punch harder, you should include heavy bag training, Olympic weight lifting, plyometric training and resistance band training.
  • What doesn’t increase your punching power is weighted shadow boxing, speed bag training, and bigger arms
  • Understanding and incorporating the entire body, especially leg muscles, into the punch can significantly enhance punch power.
  • Lastly, the heavier and bigger you are, the harder your punches should be (if your technique is correct)

Link: We strongly recommend heavy bag training to increase your punching power, if you need gloves for heavy bag work – check out our reviewed and ranked boxing gloves for heavy bag training here.

Workout Routine to Increase Your Punching Power

DayWorkout FocusExercises & Activities
MondayStance and Bag Work1. Shadow boxing with emphasis on foot position, knee bend, head position, body lean, and balance.
2. Heavy bag training using Method #1 (as described below)
TuesdayWeightlifting for Leg Power1. Jump Squats (3 sets of 10 reps)
2. Snatch (3 sets 8-12 reps)
3. Lunge Split Jumps (3 sets of 12 reps per leg)
ThursdayUpper Body Strength & Explosiveness1. Push Press (3 sets of 8 reps)
2. Landmine Press (3 sets of 10 reps)
3. Bench Press (3 sets of 8 reps)
4. Medicine Ball Punch Throw (3 sets of 10 throws)
FridayResistance Band and Heavy Bag Training1. Hip Lateral Lunges with bands (3 sets of 12 reps per side)
2. Hip Twists (3 sets of 15 reps)
3. Banded Torso Twists (3 sets of 10 reps per side)
4. Banded Punches (3 sets of 10 reps)
2. 3 rounds of light heavy bag work
SaturdayLight Boxing Trainng1. Jump rope for 3 rounds
2. Shadow Boxing for 3 rounds
This is considered a beginner friendly boxing training program that incorporates weights and focuses on developing punching power*

How to Increase Punching Power: Science-backed Training for How to Punch Harder

Firstly, It is proven that punching power is mainly governed by three elements: the speed of your arm movement, the force of the punch, and your overall body mass. That being said…

Evidence tells us that both trained and untrained individuals can improve their punching power by improving their technique, arm speed, and leg drive.

The three scientifically backed exercises and methods of training that increase your punching power are:

1. Heavy bag training
2. Olympic lifting and weight training
3. Resistance bands

Heavy Bag training

Technique above all else. The number one thing you should focus on if you want to increase punching power should be technique.

Consistent heavy bag training helps you better your technique in fact you’ll be surprised how much harder your punches are after only a couple months. I guarantee after ~6 months of boxing training with frequent heavy bag work your punches will be faster and harder.

If you don’t believe me, keep an eye out for beginners during their first class, and you will see how much your punches have developed since you were in their shoes.

Weight Lifting (with a focus on olympic lifting)

It’s been proven time and time again that if you want to get your punches stronger train your legs, glutes, and hips. With proper technique you should be using all of these muscles with each punch you throw.

Weight lifting has two benefits:

  • gets your largest muscle structures strong (hips/legs)
  • can help you put on size (which in turn makes your punches harder since your overall body mass is a main factor in how hard your punches are)

Resistance Band Training

Lastly, we have resistance band training.

Resistance bands can be used specifically to help boxing and punching movements.

  • For example you can use a resistance band around your waist while anchored to a wall to train your hip strength and speed

What Doesn’t Work to Punch Harder

What I’ve seen from those at my boxing gym and from independent research is that many things that boxers do hasn’t been proven to increase punching power or make punches harder.

So I would avoid the below exercises:

  • dumb bell weighted shadowing boxing: while holding small weights in your hands and shadow boxing and then taking them off may feel like your punches are faster, this actually doesn’t work.
    • think about a weightlifter – they lift weights to get strong and don’t lift weights to increase speed
  • speed bag training: while you may think hitting a speed bag increases your punching speed and in turn making your punches harder, that’s not the case. Speed bag training increases precision and timing mostly and not punching speed.
  • weight training for big arms: trying to get your arms bigger and stronger really doesn’t translate into harder punches – instead focus on training your lower body and larger muscle structures as well as focusing on using all muscles together.

Link: See more on speed bag benefits here

What’s the Technique for a Punching Harder

Specific Steps to Throwing a Hard Punch

  1. Starting with an ideal boxing stance (see below)
    • feet should width apart with left foot a half step forward and most of your weight on the balls of your feet
  2. Begin by first rotating your hips: as your hips twist slightly toward your opponent and continue that motion through your back > shoulders > fist > then into your opponent
  3. Your shoulders should also rotate in line with your hip: while the force is mostly generated through your legs and hips it will then transfer to your shoulders and then to your arm
  4. Transfer majority of your weight: with your weight being transferred to your front foot as drive the ball of your rear foot down and angled slightly
  5. Take a sharp exhale as your extend your arm: aim to punch in a whipping/snapping motion (instead of a pushing motion)

Mental Tips and Cues for Punching

  • its not about “loading up” your punch but more of mastering timing it and moving into it
  • think about punching through the object (like a heavy bag) or opponent
  • think about whipping your punches instead of pushing your punches
  • finally your punches will get harder and faster with time and practice

What to Avoid When Trying to Throw a Hard Punch

  • improper distance management: you don’t want to be to far or too close to your target (both will make your punch weaker)
  • not using hip rotation: again, your legs and hips will be the main power generators when throwing your punch so be aware of them and train them properly to increase punching power
  • staying too tense/stiff: yes, your legs and body should be somewhat tensed specifically upon impact of your punches but otherwise focus on relaxing your body and making it rigid and tense just before impact
  • poor distance management: throwing from too far away will make you overextend and you will lose power, while throwing from too close will not use leverage properly and cut your power short
  • inaccurate punching: if you are throwing wild or inaccurate punches they likely won’t be the hardest punches – remember technique above all else

Understanding Proper Boxing Stance

1. Foot Position:

  • Lead foot forward (left foot for orthodox fighters, right foot for southpaws – left handed) with the feet roughly shoulder-width apart.
  • The back foot should be slightly out to the side (creating an angle) rather than directly behind the lead foot.
  • Weight should be on the balls of the feet for quick movement.

2. Knee Bend:

  • Slight bend in the knees – keep you knees loose but tenses. This provides balance, allows for quick movement, and makes it easier to generate power.

3. Hand Position:

  • Hands should be up, with the lead hand (jabbing hand) slightly extended and the rear hand close to the chin or cheek.
  • Elbows should be tucked in close to the body to protect the ribs.

4. Head Position:

  • The chin should be tucked down to protect it.
  • Eyes should be looking forward, slightly over the top of the hands/gloves.

5. Body Lean:

  • Slight forward lean can be useful for offense, but leaning too far forward can leave you vulnerable.
  • Some boxers prefer an upright stance, while others might lean back slightly for a more defensive posture.

6. Balance:

  • Weight should be distributed evenly between both feet, ensuring you’re always ready to move or punch.
  • Avoid being flat-footed; staying on the balls of your feet allows for quick pivots and movements.

Why Heavy Bag Training Helps You Punch Harder

Punching the heavy bag does at least three vital things.

Firstly, training with a heavy bag increases muscular endurance crossed with power—a critical equation for boxing. Remember, more muscular strength translates to a harder punch.

Secondly, a controlled, high-intensity heavy bag workout can engage and sharpen your fast-twitch muscle fibers. These fibers play a crucial role in generating fast, explosive motions, necessary for a stronger punch.

Lastly, the heavy bag’s weight provides resistance which forces your muscles to adjust, becoming more potent with time.

A study done on combat sports athletes, published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, revealed that training with heavy bags led to improved punching power. So, when you’re hitting the bag, aim to strike as hard as you can for the best outcomes. However, never compromise good technique for power. Striking a balance between speed, accuracy, and power will yield the best result in your quest for a harder punch.

Training Efficiently with Heavy Bag Drills:

Method #1:

  • Start with intervals of punching for 15 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of rest.
    • Repeat this process across several three-minute rounds, separating them with a minute of respite in between.

Method #2

  • (Round 1): practice jabs and left hooks only
  • (Round 2): practice all punches(jabs, crosses, hooks,uppers, etc) to warm all the joints and get the technique down
  • (Round 3): Drill on ducking and then throwing a 1,2
  • (Round 4): Throw (jab, cross, hook) combo at all positions around the heavy bag. This is a good drill for practicing you footwork and punching connectivity.

Link: Boxing Punch Number System Explained

Method #3

  • Another basic option is: go all out for 1 minute straight throwing a variety of punches while also ducking and weaving
  • Rest for 30 seconds.
  • And repeat x15.

Method #4

  • Work on the jab and straight for one round
  • Next, round add in Establish the body and lead hooks
  • Last round, mix it in with the jabs and straights.

Olympic Lifting and Weight Lifting for Punching Power

Weight lifting has been proven repeatedly to increase punching power.

Firstly, our legs are the most potent part of our body. They are the base upon which punches are built, providing the required stability, balance and power.

In fact, a study published in the Journal of Applied Biomechanics illustrates the importance of leg drive in generating punching power. The research found that professional boxers produced, on average, over 7000N of force in punches. A significant portion of this force (34%) came from their drive off the back leg.

So a large majority of your weight lifting routine for harder punches will be focused on leg training.

1. Jump Squats

If you want a hard punch the secret likely lies more in your lower body than your fist.

Specifically, Jump squats are an excellent movement to increase strength and muscle recruitment all in one dynamic movement.

In boxing, strength doesn’t just come from the swinging arm; it flows up from the ground. The stronger your legs are, the more force you can transmit through your body and into your knuckles.

A jump squat involves a regular squat, followed by a jump in the air at the top of the movement.

Note: A jump squat should be correctly executed to get full benefits (and avoid any unnecessary injury).

  1. Start with a regular stance, with the weight distributed evenly across your feet.
  2. As you descend into the squat, keep your upper body upright, and lead with your hips.
  3. Explode into the jump, pushing off the ground with your entire foot.
  4. Land softly then transition into your next rep

2. Snatch

A snatch dynamic and complex weightlifting movement that when mastered, can give your punching power a significant boost. Essentially, the snatch movement aids in building total body power, that all can lead to a more powerful punch.

The movement begins by pulling the barbell from the floor with a wide grip, then transitioning into a deep squat as you lift it overhead in one continuous motion.

This movement demands a pretty high degree of coordination and precise execution and can be quite challenging for beginners so we recommend spending a good amount of time working on your form and with using light weight.

Alternative Option: Power Snatch

A power snatch brings a more athletic element into the equation and enhances your explosiveness when compared to the classic snatch movement. However, we recommend only moving onto the power snatch once you have enough experience with the basic snatch.

In a power snatch, the motion is started from the floor and the bar is pulled to an overhead position in one fluid motion, much like the regular snatch. The difference is that the bar is not pulled as high, and it does not require you to move into a full squat. Instead, you only have to squat down to a quarter or half squat position.

3. Push Press

If the jump squat is the primary leg exercise for boxers, then the “Push Press” holds a similar honor for the upper body. It primarily targets your shoulders, one of the main power sources for your punch while using the rest of your body to generate force.

In a nutshell, a push press is a weight-lifting exercise that involves pressing a dumbbell or barbell overhead from the shoulders, by using the force generated from a slight bend and extension of the knees.

Unlike the strict military press, the use of lower body movement in the push press allows one to lift heavier weights – thus placing a high demand on the shoulder muscles, and preparing them for the strain of a full-power punch.

It’s crucial to keep the bar close to your body in a push press to create a stable lifting channel, which further emphasizes the importance of delivering punches in straight, efficient lines.

  • Starting from the “rack position,” dip your knees slightly and then push upwards, using your leg power to assist the upward press of the bar to reach full overhead extension
  • Then catch the bar in the rack position as you drop back into the partial squat, ready for your next rep.

4. Landmine Press

Another upper body movement that lends itself to shoulder strength and punching power is the land mine press.

  • To do a landmine press you can place a barbell in the corner of the room
  • Add a plate to one side
  • Then lift that up above your head with one hand then back down

Since you are required to brace your core, the Landmine Press helps you with keeping your core tight and engaged while moving your arms. This strengthens these muscles that inherently help you maintain your footing during an exchange of punches.

5. Bench Press

Our last upper body focused exercise is the bench press. Yes, we know that this is an upper body pressing movement that doesn’t engage your lower body, but studies show that there is a strong correlation between having a strong bench press and punching power.

While being a chest-dominant exercise, it also effectively engages the triceps and deltoids, all critical muscle groups involved in delivering a powerful punch. Regular bench press training can notably escalate the force behind your strike.

However, to avoid injury we recommend always focusing on form over weight, lowering the weight slowly to your chest, pausing for one moment then pressing

6. Medicine Ball Punch Throw

Lastly, we wanted to include a dynamic, power movement that uses a medicine ball to focus on fluid movement and hip strength/speed.

The Medicine Ball Punch Throw spotlights an added ability to work on your rotation while performing the movement. A powerful punch is far beyond merely your arms doing the work, it involves a intricate symphony of your entire body.

By engaging your torso in the twist during the throw, a medicine ball punch throw prepares your muscles for the same rotation performed when throwing a punch.

Keep in mind when executing the Medicine Ball Punch Throw, the key is to maintain fluidity in your action, just like your punch would require. Staying agile while performing this exercise means that your speed doesn’t get compromised by the extra weight you’re throwing, thereby enhancing your overall punch power even more.

Resistance Band Training to Punch Harder

A lesser-known but still effective training method for strengthening your punch is the use of resistance bands.

Resistance bands are inexpensive, portable and offer an alternative means to enhance your punch power. They function by offering progressive resistance; the more they stretch, the harder your muscles must work. This challenges the muscles and forces them to adapt and grow stronger over time.

Some exercises you can do with resistance bands are:

  • hip lateral lunges
  • hip twists
  • banded torso twists
  • banded punches

Engaging in resistance band exercises mimics the full range motion of throwing a punch. These exercises can strengthen the same muscles you use when punching, which includes your hips, core, back, and shoulders.

How to Structure a Training Program to Increase Punching Power

A recommended training program to increase your punching power is to split the training week into separate focus areas.

  • Firstly, designate two days for strength training, targeting muscle groups involved in punches.
    • On these days, concentrate on compound exercises like jumping squats, squats, snatch, and presses. dead lifts, and presses for the full-body development.
  • Reserve another couple of days for speed, agility and specific boxing training
    • This is when you would do your resistance band work, medicine ball training and heavy bag work.

What Are the Physics Behind Punching?

The science behind throwing a solid punch is governed by Newton’s Second Law of motion; Force equals Mass multiplied by Acceleration.

F(force) = Mass x Acceleration

Interestingly, your body weight, or more specifically, how effectively you transfer your weight into your fists, dictates the mass of your punch.

On the other hand, the speed of your punch is determined by how swiftly your fist goes through the air to impact the target.

Understanding the Kinetic Chain

Again, your punching technique is the number one thing you can do in order to increase how hard you punch. Trunk rotation is critical in throwing hard punch as spoken about heavily in this study.

So to learn better technique, you must first understand the kinetic chain and how to punch with your entire body.

The pathway for a powerful punch begins at your feet. This clarifies the notion of ‘Kinetic Chain’, which implies the sequential transference of force through the body segments – lower body, core, and upper body, all working in synchronized harmony.

The key to a stronger and quicker punch lies embedded within mastering the order and timing of these segments, allowing for the accumulation of force as it travels upwards from your legs to your arms.

As always start the punch by:

  • shifting your weight to your front foot by pushing off the ball of your rear foot
  • initiate the rotate by turning your hips first and then have your upper body follow
  • that energy should then transfer all the way to your fist with should hit the object or opponent in a snapping motion (if there is correct accuracy and distance management)

What Makes Someone Punch Harder?

An individual’s ability to punch harder typically boils down to several factors – physical strength, correct technique, speed, and precision.

It’s vital to mention that physical strength doesn’t just refer to upper body strength or muscular arms. Many might be surprised to learn that lower body strength, especially the power derived from your legs and hips, contributes significantly to the power behind a punch.

The application of the correct punching technique is another factor. Utilizing your whole body while punching – right from your feet to the rotation of your hips and shoulders, can drastically augment the power behind your punch.

Moreover, speed plays a critical role in determining how hard someone can punch. A quicker punch not only arrives unexpectedly but also hits significantly harder. Precision complements speed.

Why You Can’t Punch Hard

Some common reasons why you may not be punching hard are:

  • insufficient strength across the whole body specifically the glutes, hips, and legs
  • not fully utilizing rotational force and power gained from the entire kinetic chain
  • incorrect technique – this can be not using the entire body, poor boxing stance, or poor punching technique
  • lastly, it could just be an endurance issue, if you’re tired the odds that you are throwing punches as powerful as you do when well-rested are very slim

What’s the Hardest Punch You Can Throw?

While there are a variety of different punches in boxing, what’s the hardest punch you can throw?

In short, punches thrown from the rear hand have significantly more force than punches from the lead hand. As shown in the study by Dyson et al.

Considered one of the most devastating strikes, the right cross, known in boxing’s parlance as the ‘power punch,’ packs significant force and speed. For an orthodox boxer, this is the rear hand throwing a straight punch

The main reason why the rear cross is so power is because its leveraging of the kinetic chain; the power originates from the feet, spreads through the rotational force of your body, and is ultimately unleashed through your fist.

Related Frequently Asked Questions

Is There a Way to Punch Harder?

Yes, you can increase your punching power by focusing on the following dimensions: strength and speed conditioning, and honing your boxing technique.

To punch harder, you should focus on perfecting your technique and focus on heavy bag training as well as Olympic weightlifting, plyometrics, and resistance band training.

Specifically, heavy bag training, Olympic weightlifting, and resistance band training has been scientifically proven to increase punching power.

Essentially, power is determined by the product of force and speed – optimizing these factors can result in a harder punch.

Does Punching Wood or Other Hard Surface Make Knuckles Stronger?

No, while punching wood or other hard may make your knuckles strong it’s not worth the risk of that you damage or break your hand in this type of training

A safer way that can enhance your hand strength doesn’t involve hitting hard surfaces. Strength isn’t only about bigger bones—it’s about muscle and tendon resilience as well. Instead of battering your fists against a wall, consider including lifting weights and using hand grip exercises.

Lastly, there’s a difference between making your knuckles stronger versus your punches more powerful. For instance, boxers will hit the heavy bag to improve their punch strength, not their knuckles.

How Can you Punch Faster?

The two best ways to increase your punching speed is by working on your stance and technique and consider training with both the heavy bag and with resistance bands.

To punch faster, you should start by addressing your boxing stance. An improper stance can lead to inefficient punches, slower speed, and potential balance issues.

Also training to increase muscle reaction times is another vital aspect. Training drills with a speed bag or agility ladder can prove beneficial in enhancing your muscle memory for faster reaction times, thus precipitating faster punches. Activities that stretch your aerobic and anaerobic thresholds, like interval training or sprinting, can also help you sustain high-intensity movements, such as rapid punching, over longer periods.

A less obvious attribute impacting punch speed is the punching accuracy. Tending to overshoot or undershoot throws gets you off balance, retard your punch recovery for the next punch, thereby affecting the overall speed. Sparring with a partner or using a boxing apparatus to work on improving punch accuracy can help mitigate such issues.

What Martial Arts Have The Hardest Punch?

The martial arts with the hardest punch is boxing. Boxing places a lot of emphasis on punching techniques that focus on utilizing the entire body in fluid movement to throw powerful punches.

Other traditional martial harts have punches of their own like karate and to a lesser extent Tae Kwon Do. However, punching is not the main aspect of them, and punching is not trained as heavily or with the same refined techniques.


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