Improving Punch Speed For Boxers
Anthony Joshua reigns again, adding another belt and world title to his name, taking his career to 19-0 without looking like he’s going to slow down any time soon. Pundits have labeled him the best ever heavyweight to put on a pair of gloves, the likes of legends Ali and Tyson may disagree but Joshua is still young and has many more fights ahead of him. Whether he is the best or not, that’s not really my call, but I will tell you one thing. He is an incredible athlete; there aren’t many athletes in the world that are in his class, regardless of the sport. His strength, power, conditioning, movement and skill are un-paralleled but after a fight there is one quality that every one of AJ’s victims is baffled by. The speed of his punch. He is so fast with each hand and the power he carries with it is just phenomenal. With years of specific training, he has developed one of the fastest most destructive punches ever seen. Read on to learn how to develop a punch as powerful as AJ’s and the speed that your opponent won’t expect.
If we put speed and strength on the same spectrum, maximal strength on the left and maximum velocity on the right, maximum power lies in the middle (force x velocity). As we move along the spectrum from left to right the movement will experience less force but higher velocity.
On this end of the spectrum, maximal force is attained but the movements are generally quite slow, think about the speed of a 1RM. Speed and power start with a foundation of strength. To move quickly you need to be able to apply force. The stronger you are, the more force you can create and the faster you can apply it. To create more force we need to be stronger in a range of planes and we also need to balance our movements, Weighted movements like heavy bench press, over head press and barbell rows will build a foundation of strength and protect your shoulders from injury.
Being strong doesn’t necessarily mean that you are powerful, you need to be able to apply force quickly. Just like strength, to improve your power and your ability to apply high amounts of force quickly, this needs to be trained with intent. To do this we need to move moderate weights as quickly as possible. Within big compound movements like the bench press, squat and deadlift it is typical to use weights of around 60% 1RM so that the bar can move as quick as possible but still generating a respectable amount of force. Movements specifically to improve the power of your punch include Ballistic Bench press and Landmine throws. Using these movements with a small amount of load whilst moving as fast as possible will create that punching power your opponent wont be able to bounce back from.
As we move down the spectrum, the force becomes less but the velocities get higher. You have built a foundation of strength and have trained with the intent to create some power. Now its time to move like AJ and create some speed. To move as fast as possible we need to take the weights down again. To move as fast as possible with a very small amount of weight or none at all. To improve punch speed we need to replicate the movements required. Some movements similar to punching are med ball side throws, wood chops, Single arm med ball throws and cable punches.
Speed is a skill that can be trained, neural patterns are developed and the more efficient they become the faster you can move. Overspeed training allows you to move at a speed that is faster than you are normally capable of and these neural patters become even faster. An example might be sprinting down hill; the sprinter is able to run at faster speeds than if they were running on a level track. A great tool for this to improve your punch speed that you can use in the gym is a resistance band. Anchor a resistance band to a squat rack and pull it taught, coil up your arm and torso then punch as fast as you can with the assistance of the band. You should be punching quicker than possible without the band, so make sure that your shoulders and back are strong enough to decelerate the punch.
These skills can be trained concurrently; there is no reason to train each skill in separate blocks like the traditional Russian method. Make sure that you are doing the fastest movement first to approach the speed skills fresh then the movements should get heavier throughout the session.