3 Exercises to Increase Punching Speed for Boxing and MMA
There are many things we think we ‘know’ about MMA and boxing performance that simply isn’t true.
For a while, many people believed that strength and conditioning would be harmful for fighters. It would slow them down. It would make them too bulky. And it would restrict the fluidity they needed to throw powerful strikes.
We know that’s not the case, as world champion have developed in the gym.
There are also things we think we ‘know’ about increasing punching speed that simply aren’t true.
The main example is punching with weights. Many people think punching with dumbbells is a great practice for increasing punching speed, improving stamina, and increasing knockout power. Not the case for reasons I’ll explain later.
All of this said, what’s the right way to increase punching speed?
That’s what the purpose of this blog post is.
In this post, I’m going to share 3 exercises to increase punching speed. These exercises to increase punching speed require minimal equipment that you can find at any gym, or may have available to you in your own home.
Before we jump in, if you’re lacking equipment but want to train to increase your combat sports performance, or just develop a physique like a world class fighter, check out Body Armor. Body Armor is the only bodyweight combat sports strength and conditioning program available. And it contains methods I use with my world class fighters to develop their speed, explosiveness, power, strength, endurance and more.
Let’s get into it.
The Best Equipment to Increase Punching Speed
My favorite piece of equipment to increase punching speed is the resistance band.
I dig the resistance band for multiple reasons.
For one, it doesn’t harm your punching technique.
It’s become common practice to throw punches with dumbbells. This is harmful to your technique, and it’s one of the worst things you can do for your boxing or MMA performance. One reason is because as you continue to throw punches with your weights, your elbows begin to drop. Before you know it, you’re throwing punches from the hip. That carries over to your performance in the ring, and you keep getting punched in the face and don’t know why.
Another reason is simple force distribution.
When you’re throwing punches with dumbbells, gravity is weighing down on your hands. This causes many guys to lower their hands as they bring their hands back towards their bodies.
None of this occurs with resistance bands.
Resistances bands are light weight, and have force distribution that’s much closer to a normal punch than throwing punches with weights.
Another reason I like resistance bands is that they force you to accelerate through a full range of motion. When compared to weights, resistance band training doesn’t require any deceleration because you’re evenly resisted throughout the full range of motion.
The third reason I like resistance bands is they’re versatile.
You can punch with resistance bands. You can do push-ups with resistance bands. You can curl with resistance bands. You can throw them on a barbell for some accommodating resistance. Curls can be done with resistance bands. Pushdowns too. The possibilities are really endless.
And of course, resistance bands are a great tool for developing the stretch reflex.
If you don’t know, the stretch reflex is the contraction of a muscle in response to its passive stretch. This is a key mechanism for all athletes to develop.
Now, what are the best exercises to increase punching speed?
Let’s jump in:
1. Resistance Band Punches
The first on the list of exercises to increase punching speed is resistance band punches.
You probably guessed these would show up, as I discussed them earlier.
Really, resistance band punches are one of the best exercises you can perform for not only punching speed, but also explosive power.
This is because they’re very sport-specific, they reinforce good habits, and they’re easily accessible to most fighters.
Here’s How to Perform Resistance Band Punches:
- Bring the resistance band behind your back
- Place your thumbs through the loop on the opposite ends of the band
- Get in your fight stance
- Throw your punches as fast as possible and squeeze as many into 4 to 6 seconds as possible
- Make sure you’re getting full range of motion on your punches as well as turning your hands over. Don’t sacrifice technique for speed.
- Repeat for three rounds
2. Resistance Band Ground and Pound
The next on the list of exercises to increase punching speed is the resistance band ground and pound. This exercise is going to develop the antagonistic muscles involved in a punch.
If you don’t know, antagonistic muscles are muscles that produce an opposite movement to the movement being performed, and they are usually put on stretch when said movement is being performed.
In the example of a punch, the agonist muscles are mainly the deltoids and pectorals. The antagonist muscles are the muscles of the mid and upper back, among others.
Working the antagonist muscles of a punch will help us develop the stretch reflex involved in a punch by allowing us to get more of a stretch to load up our punches before we punch our opponent in the face.
If you didn’t guess by the name, this exercise is going to simulate a ground and pound (who would’ve thought).
The setup is kind of elaborate, but nothing you can’t perform at your local gym. You’re going to have one hand on an elevated surface like a medicine ball. The other hand will be handling a resistance band that’s around the J hooks of the rack. And you’ll also have a resistance band around your chest to help you maintain extension (good posture).
Here’s How to Perform the Resistance Band Ground and Pound:
- Start by attaching a band to the top of a squat rack and bringing it around your chest. This band will keep you in extension while you perform the exercise
- Then place one hand on an elevated surface. This could be a medicine ball or a stool
- The other hand should be placed on a resistance band or bands wrapped around the J hooks of the rack
- Maintaining that good posture and position, pull the band as fast as you can for 4 to 6 seconds
- Repeat for three rounds
3. Rebound Medicine Ball Chest Pass
The third on the list of exercises to increase punching speed is the rebound medicine ball chest pass.
This exercise is going to condition the muscles of the shoulders, chest, core, and even the hips to rapidly contract and relax. And this will ultimately carry over to your punching speed.
Make sure you have a safe surface to throw the medicine ball at, and make sure you have the right kind of medicine ball.
Here’s How to Perform The Rebound Medicine Ball Chest Pass:
- Start with the medicine ball right below the chest, hands on both sides of the medicine ball
- Feet should be in a staggered stance that slightly resembled your fight stance
- Push the medicine ball into the wall as quickly as you can, as soon as the medicine ball makes contacts with your hands again, repeat
- Perform this movement rapidly for 4 to 6 seconds
- Repeat for three rounds
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