Relax to Hit Harder
A concept that’s been about since Bruce Lee – relax to increase punching power.
Conor (or Conor’s social media executive) shared the post above on his Facebook page, which seems like a rare, intelligent breakdown of how to execute a punch.
Breakdown of a Powerful Punch
- A pivot of the foot – this starts the punch – twisting on the ball of the foot
- Twist of the hips
- Contraction of the chest and shoulder
- Finally – an extension of the arm (in a cross or jab)
The mistake that many people seem to make, is they’ll lead with the hand and imagine the force coming directly from the fist and arm.
If you’ve ever done Olympic Lifts, or even powerlifting, you’ll know that you generate force in 2 or even 3 points during the movement.
You don’t drive with everything you have from the floor and keep driving all the way through…
The same principle with a punch, drive with the foot and imagine driving again – in a relaxed fashion from either the elbow or the shoulder.
The arm extension is the last part of the punch and the last part of the body to move.
By relaxing the arm and the shoulder, the lower body and hips effectively ‘throw’ the arm as they, in a mechanical sense, are 2 separate entities.
Look at this (missed) last punch with the left hand, it’s literally like Conor is ‘throwing’ his arm at Nate:
Think of a relaxed and fast motion, rather than a strong and powerful one. If you were trying to punch as fast as possible, rather than as powerfully as possible – would this change your approach?
Flexibility in the shoulder and chest is essential for optimised punching power for every punch.
For example, in a hook, the chest needs to be fully ‘extended’ before the arm & fist is whipped through, taking advantage of ‘elastic recoil’ and ‘the stretch-shortening‘ cycle, which helps generate more torque.
Shoulder mobility can be improved in a number of ways, including simply hanging from a bar
Just be careful when shadow boxing, throwing a punch with this relaxed style will really f*ck up your shoulder and elbow as you will hyperextend them if you don’t have a target to make contact with.
Strength and mobility specifically in the serratus anterior muscle is important. This muscle is responsible for protracting and retracting the scapula.
So keep your shoulders mobile
Incidentally, I can’t punch particularly hard because my shoulders are excessively stiff from years of heavy bench pressing and shoulder pressing, without any mobility work.
If this sounds like you, you might want to check out the Tim Tam percussion massager to help with shoulder mobility.
For more information on training to develop functional strength & power, see my controversial article – Why Bodybuilders can’t punch and Boxing Strength & Conditioning part 1