How to Develop KO Power
*Disclaimer – You should never punch someone, unless they insult your mum
– Keep your shoulders and arms relaxed.
You want punches to be fast and ‘whip-like’. Keep you upper body as relaxed as possible.
– “Throw your fist last”. I believe the ‘whip’ effect of a punch comes when the fist moves and comes through last.
Imagine an actual whip, the end half of the whip remains bent, until at the last moment it extends and lands on its target.
With a punch, turn your foot, rotate your hips and finally turn the shoulder and arm into the punch.
– Focus on moving from the waist (and feet). I found this helped me to relax my shoulders.
When you throw a right cross for example, imagine rotating your right hip as far forwards (anti-clockwise) as possible, and your left hip as far back as possible.
If you watch yourself in a mirror as you throw a right cross – when in the ‘finished-position’, you should only be able to see your right shoulder.
Imagine the power coming from your core, not your arms.
– Punch ‘through’ your target.
The power is all in the follow through. Don’t stop at the target, stay relaxed until impact and then drive through the target.
– Imagine 2 points of force generation.
Point 1 – initiation, twist your core and rotate your hips whilst keeping your upper body relaxed.
Point 2 – on contact. Drive through as far and as much as possible. Especially on any kind of rotational strike like an uppercut or a hook.
– High Elbow
Rotating your fist as you punch so that your pinky faces upwards upon contact and your elbow points upwards , so it almost skims your ear at the end of the punch, can make the punch significantly harder – I think this is due to chest and pec muscle recruitment.
– Use biomechanics
If you’re not particularly tall then you may struggle to build massive amounts of power with straight punches – your ‘follow through’ and range of motion may be limited.
If you are not massively explosive, you might also struggle to generate big power with hooks and uppercuts.
The overhand right and Russian Hook style punches however, seem to generate power, even if the punch-thrower doesn’t appear to be especially tall, explosive or athletic.
– When throwing a hook, look to maximise elastic recoil by throwing your waist into the punch first, opening up your chest as much as possible, punching with a straight arm, and then finally whipping your fist into the punch:
– Develop a strong core and fast twitch/explosive muscles.
Doing bench press, with a heavy weight, slowly, will not develop explosive power. ‘Shot putting’ or ‘rugby passing’ a medicine ball may help however.
– Punching with your hands down actually seems to increase KO power, possibly by increasing rotational force. See animated gif of Mark Hunt for an example:
Exercises to Punch Harder
- Olympic Lifts
- Medicine ball slams, shot puts, rugby passes
- Heavy bag
- Resistance band exercises
Using resistance bands, with a small amount of elastic resistance (too much can hinder the proper punching mechanics) can help with power and speed.
Try holding the band in your non-punching hand, and pull on the band to drill the upper body and hip rotation that should initiate a harder punch
- Yoga – will also help with ability to keep upper body relaxed
- Core ball
- Front squats
- Kettlebell goblet squats
Spend 4 weeks building a base of mobility and strength in the core, and then add in powerful, and quick rotational band exercises and medicine ball throws
Isometric Wall/Pad Punch Holds
Adopt a position with your fist against the wall, with your arm full extended as if you’ve just throw a punch.
Drive your fist into the wall (wear a boxing glove to protect your hand) for 5 seconds.
Do the same with your other hand.
This can also be done by replicating the point of contact with a hook and a jab.
Isometric wall holds can also be done with a partner holding and resisting your fist.
They are a great warm up before pad or bag work
Punch From Your Waist
A very risky tactic, but also an instant way to increase power, is to punch from your waist. You can generate much more torque and power when a punch is initiated from your waist.
It’s hard to see, but this KO punch from Robbie Lawler, with his right hand, actually starts with his hand by his waist, then he loops it over and downwards towards his target
Here’s another example of a power punch thrown from the waist:
If you look carefully at the gif above of Roy Nelson KOing Check Kongo – he throws the punch from his waist too.
Sambo Casting Punch
As well as carefully choosing punches to throw from the waist, the Sambo casting punch may also be a good weapon to add to your MMA arsenal:
See the best MMA exercises page for more info
For more tips on punching power, Conor McGregor style, see this post.