As any skilled martial artist or boxer will tell you, a powerful punch or strike involves the entire body. Whether you want to hone your punching speed to be able to deliver more blows per minute, or fine-tune your upper torso and arms for quick overall attack delivery, the best way to develop strength and speed is to practice. By focusing on specific muscle groups (such as the serratus anterior, or “boxer’s muscle” just beneath the shoulder) you can both increase the speed and strength of your attacks with repetition exercises.
Easily the simplest, and most effective method for increasing your punch and strike speed is practicing your attacks on a heavy punching bag. Though often overlooked in favor of the modern, more technologically advanced exercise machines, bag punching is the traditional speed-training method that has been utilized by boxers throughout the history of the sport. Begin your heavy bag workout by delivering your punches and strikes to targeted areas of the bag as if it were an actual person. Do three to four sets of one hundred strikes as you practice pivoting your hips and legs as you punch, increasing both accuracy and speed (boxers who are more used to timed rounds may prefer to set a stopwatch). Gradually reduce the amount of rest between sets until you are only resting thirty seconds between “rounds,” conditioning both your anterior muscles along with your biceps and triceps. After a few days of practice you can effectively increase the amount of punches that you deliver in a minute, forcing you to also increase the speed of your attacks.
Fast-Twitch Response Push-Ups
A simple exercise for at-home training, fast-twitch response push-ups hone both the serratus anterior while conditioning the arm muscles used in speed punching. Begin in the traditional push-up position with your hands formed as fists instead of open-palmed. Lift yourself from the floor until your elbows are parallel with your body and quickly thrust your body up as if you were punching down with both hands. Whereas bag punching strengthens a variety of core muscles used in striking attacks, this exercise focuses solely on the fast-twitch response muscles of the triceps and biceps. Complete up to five sets of ten push-ups while gradually decreasing the rest time between each set.
Punching Ball Exercises
Built for developing punch efficiency and speed, the punching ball is a small reflexive punching surface that quickly rebounds once hit with a punch or blow. Though most traditional punching balls are suspended from the ceiling by a hook and are punched with the bottoms of the fist, many new models come with suspension cords and can be suspended at any height. Set a timer to two minutes and commence attacking the punching ball with a variety of punches and strikes, increasing in speed as you go. Different from the heavy punching bag, the punching ball excels in short jabs and sudden thrust attacks that isolate the arms and upper torso without requiring the full-body muscles used in a traditional punch. Complete four punching ball sets of two minutes each, reducing your rest between sets until you only rest thirty seconds between the third and fourth set.
About this Author
Based in the Appalachian Mountains, Brian Connolly is a certified nutritionist and has been writing professionally since 2000. He is a licensed yoga and martial arts instructor whose work regularly appears in “Metabolism,” “Verve” and publications throughout the East Coast. Connolly holds a Master of Arts in liberal arts from the University of North Carolina at Asheville.