The 3 Phases of Punching Technique

December 9, 2013 December 9, 2013 by Johnny N Boxing Techniques, Punch Techniques 114 Comments

3 Phases of Punching Technique

The real title of this article is actually “Why Lifting Weights Won’t Increase Punching Power – PART 3″.

Why do I keep revisiting this sensitive topic? It’s not because I want all the sports experts to come on here and hate me. (No, I don’t need that.) It’s simply because I want to change the way people look at punching.

It is of no importance to me whether you lift weights or not. What’s far more important and beneficial for YOUR punching power is how YOU look at punching technique.

What I’m going to share is not NEW. I didn’t invent it. It’s been around forever and now I share it for those with a curiosity to look at things differently. This is the way many of the best boxers I know look at punching technique.

 

DISCLAIMER: Weights and Punching Power

To save time and prevent unnecessary arguments in the comments section below caused by any misunderstandings, I’m going to establish my basic viewpoints before starting the article.

 

1. Are you saying lifting weights won’t increase punching power?

Not at all. Lifting weights, along with other resistance training methods, may or may not increase your punching power. I can’t clearly say yes or no because it really depends on how you’re training and for what aspect of your punching power.

 

2. What is the point of this article?

My main goal is to improve YOUR punching power. The easiest way to do this is to change the way you look at punching technique. And one of the easiest ways to know somebody is looking at punching technique in a flawed way is when you see that they believe so strongly in lifting weights.

 

3. Why should I listen to you?

You don’t have to. I’m sharing ideas freely. And you don’t have to like them, you can read something else. Being angry or offensive in the comments section is unnecessary. Nobody is forcing these ideas on you.

 

4. What credibility do you have? Have you ever lifted weights? Who did you train with?

I did powerlifting a long time ago. I’ve trained both with and without weights. (More importantly, I’ve trained using a variety of different methods that cannot simply be categorized as “weights” and “no weights”.) I’ve trained with many amateur and professional boxing champions and spoken with many knowledgeable boxing trainers (young and old). I’ve tested my own results and supervised several other fighters in the gym. My opinions are a result from years of my own boxing training as well as seeing many other different fighters and training regimens.

 

5. What if weight-lifting actually IMPROVES my punching power?

Good for you! If it works and you like it, keep doing it! In the meanwhile, you might want to consider looking at other things to see if it can help you or improve you. It doesn’t cost you anything to try something new and then switch back to what you were doing if you don’t like it.

 

6. Are you saying I should stop lifting weights?

Of course not. You should do what works for you. Lifting weights (as with any resistance training) can help with strength, endurance, power, speed, etc, etc in boxing movements overall. If you find it beneficial to your boxing conditioning, keep doing it. This article is purely to explain how much or how little I feel lifting HEAVY weights affects your punching power. What’s important is that you change your training if you feel that it does not benefit you. Always look to change and improve what you have. That’s always a good idea.

The biggest thing is to learn how to use your body (which means understanding punch technique). Even if you gave up lifting weights but still tried to punch using the old technique (as if you had your weightlifting muscles), it won’t help you much either.

 

7. What if I’m angry about what you’re saying and think you’re an idiot?

I can understand you being emotional/offended because it’s different from how you think. However, I will delete your comments below if you can’t be respectful of my opinions (as well as those of others). If anything, I prefer you to complain about me on your blog so all your readers can find my website. :)

 

 

Let’s analyze punching technique

There are many different ways to analyze punching technique but here is the breakdown I use for this breakdown for these specific topics that I’ll address today.

 

The 3 phases of a punch

  • FIRST PHASE – the power generation (creating power)
  • SECOND PHASE – the power delivery (release of the hand)
  • THIRD PHASE – the power transfer (impact integrity)

Here’s quick breakdown that I’ll use to explain the different ways of looking at punching technique. First, there’s the generation of power in your body created to cause damage. Then comes the release of your hand which you’ll use to connect the power to your opponent. Finally, there’s the transfer of power from your body, down your arm, to your opponent.

 

The first phase of punching is only the FORM, not the technique

Beginners are usually focused on the FIRST PHASE of the punch. This is the initial body movement where the entire body activates, turns, pivots, rotates, and extends into the punch. This is the actual punching motion that you learn.

Remember that time your trainer taught you how to throw a punch? The hips turn and the feet pivot, and arm extends, and the hand turns over. Remember all those little tiny technical details? Those are only the first phase of the punch.

All those details are only the MOVEMENT of the punch. They aren’t completely responsible for the entire feeling and the power of the punch. The common mistake would be to learn the proper form to punching and thinking that’s all there was to punching technique. And for this reason…you have many guys thinking they have great punching technique when all they really have is only great punching form, and they can’t figure out why their punching power sucks.

There’s so much more you have to do INTERNALLY and then there’s timing and several other things. Extending your fist into your opponent is not the only technical detail there is to punching power.

Punching TECHNIQUE is much more
than punching FORM.

 

The most important parts of punching power are the 2nd & 3rd phases

The second phase of punching technique is the RELEASE of the hand. Not only the release of the hand but the entire arm. And perhaps if you can, it’s even better to release the entire body. Now of course, it’s hard to explain the “release” of the entire body. It’s not like you’re letting go when you lay down on the couch. It’s more like letting your body harden into a rock. Basically, it’s a relaxed but very CONTROLLED release. This is hard to explain because it’s hard to grasp the concept of controlling something as you release it. (It’s even harder to do…but hey, that’s why we train these difficult techniques.)

The second phase is so hard for beginners because they don’t know how to create power through a release. The common problem is requiring tension to move the hand rather than relaxation.

The third phase of punching technique is the IMPACT INTEGRITY. This is your ability to give a firm support during the moment of impact. Your whole body should be hardened and structured perfectly to pass all that power down your arm into your opponent. There’s stiffness and tension (for only a split-second) and you don’t want to over-do it because ultimately, you’ll have to move again for offensive/defensive purposes.

The third phase is so hard for beginners because they don’t know when to time the impact. The common problem is creating the tension too early or holding it for too long afterwards. The more skilled you become, the more exact your timing will be and the less tension you will need.

Now the reason why I say the most important parts of punching power are the 2nd and 3rd phases is because punching is very much a SKILL movement. If you were a karate guy breaking bricks and boards well then yes, power generation is of utmost importance as your only focus is to generate enough power to break the object.

But here in boxing, you have a moving opponent and one that resists getting punched. Your delivery is extremely important because you have to come at the right angles and with enough speed that you can hit the target before it’s gone. Likewise, you need to impact the opponent in a way that transfers power BUT also allows you to remain fluid and move again for throwing more punches are evading counters.

 

The conflictions in punching technique

So here we are with 3 phases of punching technique that need to work in harmony with each other to give you the best possible punch.

  • power generation
  • power delivery
  • power transfer

The problem is that techniques that improve one area can work against another area. Even worse are techniques that may impact your defense or ability to throw other punches.

 

Examples of technical conflicts in punching technique:

  • techniques that take too long to generate power can slow down your power delivery
  • techniques that speed up power delivery can decrease power generation
  • techniques that increase power transfer can impact power deliver on follow-up punches
  • some methods of power generation can leave you in a weak position to transfer the power
  • some punching techniques are not fast enough in a live fight
  • some punching techniques may leave you unnecessarily vulnerable to counters
  • some punching techniques are not realistic of fighting conditions

So it’s like first you have to generate tremendous amounts of power BUT you have to quickly release it so that the body and hand sends out the power faster BUT then you have to quickly tense up again so that your body hits with the solidity of a rock at the moment of impact BUT you have to release again so you can throw more punches.

How is it possible to be powerful and fast and relaxed and tensed and controlled all at the same time? It’s hard!

We can argue all day about which punching techniques are the best but at least you can see that it’s hard to find a well-balanced punching technique. There are so many more things to consider when you’re punching a live opponent versus punching an object.

It’s not so much about GENERATING punching power
as it is about DELIVERING punching power.

 

Beginner Fighters vs Advanced Fighters

Beginner fighters focus on power GENERATION,
Advanced fighters focus on power DELIVERY & TRANSFER.

Beginners are also so focused on the power generation. They see Mike Tyson knockouts on Youtube and all they can dream of is power. They see a punching bag in the gym and the first thing they want to do is smash it with all their might. Then they get in the ring and get beat up because they can’t land any of their punches. But guess what…they walk out thinking they need even MORE POWER!

And so they go back to phase 1 again, focusing on the “perfect punching technique” and form for more power. They’ll even argue about which punching technique is the most powerful. And then what…it still doesn’t take them anywhere. So they start trying to come up with new conditioning methods and training methods to supplement their punching “technique”. And while they FEEL STRONGER and hit the bag stronger, they’re still nowhere close to hitting as hard as the advanced guys.

Now what about the advanced guys? They’re hitting hard as hell. The advanced guys sometimes look like they don’t care for technique, they just kinda relax and move around the ring and BAM! They hit so much harder. The advanced guys come back from vacation out of shape and STILL, they hit so much harder. The advanced guys are breaking all sorts of rules, throwing punches from odd angles and positions and STILL, they hit so much harder.

…And why?

It’s because the advanced guys aren’t so worried about power generation. The don’t care so much about initial movement of the body and the perfect form and technique, and where the shoulder’s gotta be, where the foot’s gotta be, etc. They’re just moving around, flowing, and they hit when they feel like it. Nothing forced, nothing rushed, everything relaxed but MAN, what a punch! They understand how power REALLY works and they’re able to be powerful from seemingly any position or technique.

 

Watch a young Marco Antonio Barrera on the heavy bag.

  • Where do you see him making effort?
  • Is it in the power generation?
  • Or the power delivery and transfer?

It’s obvious to me he has little focus on the power generation because he’s moving around and relaxing. You don’t see him tensing and loading for every punch. His arms look more like they’re releasing rather than loading up. When he pauses to think, it looks more like he’s pausing to think about strategy rather than power generation technique.

The most important parts of punching technique,
are the power DELIVERY & TRANSFER, not generation.

 

Our bodies are already powerful

Why is the power generation phase the least critical in terms of punching power? It’s not because it isn’t important but rather because it is the most natural. It doesn’t take much to be powerful and IT SHOULDN’T take much to be powerful. You only have a split second to generate that power and land it. The less effort it takes you to be powerful, the better.

Think of it like this. Our bodies are ALREADY powerful. We don’t need more power. We only need to learn how to apply the power in our body into functional boxing moves. The fastest way to improve a beginner’s power (someone with 5 years training or less) is to adjust his technique. I could make him 50% more powerful simply by adjusting how he uses his body. I wouldn’t need him to bench-press 50% more weight (as there’s no guarantee this would translate into functional power).

Learning how to be powerful is basically learning how to move your body (muscles & joints) in a way that creates the most force from your body weight (using the help of gravity). We already have natural leverage for power in our body, using our body weight and gravity. Once you know how to use your body, all movements become more powerful.

What takes time and training is the ability to make all parts of your body simultaneously powerful within a split second and then relax again in order to remain fluid, save energy, make other movements, etc.

 

Learn how to use your body!

So yes, you can lift all the weights you want in the world but that doesn’t mean you know how to use your body. I like to think that everyone, if they knew how to use their body, would see how unnecessary it was to lift weights. If you know how to use your body, you will ALWAYS be powerful. You don’t have to be in shape and STILL you can knock somebody out. You could be sick with a fever, 50 lbs overweight, and STILL throw a mean punch. Stand your ground, turn your whole body, and BOOM—you’ve got power. It’s not that hard.

Let’s pretend we weren’t even talking about punching technique; let’s pretend we were talking about how to do a back-flip. You could pick the strongest guy in the gym, the one with the strongest back and there’s no guarantee he would be able to do it. Not even a back handspring. I suppose you could lift weights for all the muscles but you’d still be missing out on the coordination and skill aspect of the movement which makes the biggest difference. Now YES, of course, you could lift weights AFTER you learn how to do a good back flip, but by then…how much of that back-flip ability was contributed by your weight lifting versus your technique?

Generating power is the EASIEST part of punching technique.

Anybody can generate power. Watch all the beginners on the heavy bag. They’re all throwing hard enough punches. Then put them in the ring and oh look at what happens. Nothing lands, nothing’s fast enough. They get tired, they get countered, they get beat. And did they really get beat because they weren’t POWERFUL enough? Or did they get beat because they couldn’t land any punches?

 

Lifting weights doesn’t help your punch DELIVERY & TRANSFER

I would actually argue that lifting weights doesn’t help any of the punching phases but just for fun, I’m going to let people argue that lifting weights helps the first phase. Although I totally don’t believe it, I’m going to pretend that lifting weights actually helps your power generation. But now what?

You still have a few problems:

  • Lifting weights doesn’t help you deliver the punch. Lifting weights trains you to contract your muscle, not release it. And real hand speed comes from the RELEASING the hand, not pushing it.
  • Lifting weights doesn’t help you transfer the power. At the moment of impact, all you need to do is momentarily harden your body. You’re simply becoming more still, you’re not actually moving anymore. It’s more of an isometric exercise (apply force without moving) rather than a dynamic exercise where you’re applying force as you move a part of your body. Besides the moment of impact is only a split-second of force, nothing more.

Of course we could argue that maybe I’m looking at punching technique incorrectly…and that you ARE supposed to PUSH your hand at the release point and PUSH your hand at the point of impact. But then that would make it a PUSHING PUNCH technique which is something I (along with many other fighters/trainers) have said was completely inferior punching technique.

I’ve had a few people argue with me on the internet that lifting weights CAN make you faster. And to that I have to ask, “Are you loading with your punches?” Lifting weights can improve your “pushing handspeed”, which I mean by your ability to be fast WHILE CARRYING A WEIGHT. But I don’t see how lifting weights can improve your “releasing handspeed”, which I mean by your ability to be fast WHILE CARRYING NO WEIGHT. So it really all goes back to…how do you punch? What is your punching technique? This ultimately determines how much lifting weights can help you.

 

Lifting weights can negatively affect your entire punching power

Dare I say it, not only would I feel that lifting weights doesn’t help your power DELIVERY & TRANSFER, it can actually hurt your DELIVER & TRANSFER.

As I’ve already said before, the DELIVERY & TRANSFER are the most important aspects of punching power. And the biggest problems with beginners is that the way they generate power makes it harder for them to deliver and transfer this power.

Generating power the wrong way can hurt your power delivery by making you tense, telegraphing your shots, slowing your punches, slowing your combinations, and wasting energy. If your power generation technique relies so much on muscle contraction, it will be much harder for you to RELEASE the arm out for faster hand speed. It’s hard to move quickly when you’re busy squeezing your muscles.

Generating power the wrong way can take you out of position, raising your center of gravity or tilting you off balance, and make it harder for you to transfer power at the moment of impact. You need to be grounded at the moment of impact…which means you cannot use punching technique that makes you pop your hips off the ground or tilt off axis. (These jumping or tilting motions can add power but they take away from your power TRANSFER.)

It’s important that your power GENERATION technique,
does not take away from your power DELIVERY & TRANSFER.

It’s not so much that lifting weights makes you weaker. It’s more that lifting weights does not give you the proper way to look at punching technique and the muscle coordination to make full use of your NATURAL body weight. The worst mistake of all is to think of lifting weights and throwing punches as similar movements and using similar techniques. Throwing a fast and powerful punch is far more SKILLED than simply pushing a weight with all your effort.

The worst way to think of punching technique is to imagine it as a lift or as a push. The better way is to think of punching technique as a RELEASE. Try to release more and you will hit much harder with more speed and using much less effort.

Think about how much “weight” you’re pushing when you’re lifting weights…now think about how much “weight” you’re pushing when you throw a punch. Throwing a punch should be pushing nothing! Look at the pros…their hands come out so fast because they are not pushing any weights. The less effort you create for yourself during the punching motion, the faster and more powerful your punch can be. At best, the only “pushing” moment you might have is at the very end during the impact and even then, that’s only the last 1% of the punching movement.

Think of punching technique as a RELEASE,
not a push.

And again…”punching technique” is MUCH MUCH MORE than “punching form”. Just because you move your limbs to the right positions doesn’t mean you have good punching technique. Punching technique also has to do with timing and precision and understanding of internal movements in your body. Great punching technique is so much more than “pivot the feet, rotate the hips, and turn your hands over.”

 

Can you still lift weights for boxing training?

Of course. If you do it for general conditioning and your body responds well to it, why not? But to lift weights with the intention of increasing punching power and hand speed, I would be concerned about that. Another one to watch out for is to lift weights with the mindset that weight-lifting is a similar movement to a punch.

 

Wouldn’t it be the most perfect idea to have good technique AND LIFT WEIGHTS?

Well…good punching technique doesn’t need weights to be powerful. And even then if you lifted weights, what aspect of the punching technique would you be helping? At best you’d be increasing the power generation but lifting weights wouldn’t help you for the most important aspects of punching power such as the release/relax movement for power DELIVERY or help you hold your form for that tiny fraction of a second during the power TRANSFER.

I have to be honest and tell you that I’m genuinely paranoid about lifting HEAVY weights (light weights are OK). I actually feel slower and perhaps even more tired when I lift heavy weights. I do feel a bit stronger but the strength doesn’t make me more powerful in punching. If anything, I would spend the extra time on the focus mitts or more sparring rather than lifting weights.

 

But you know what?

If you don’t have any great trainers around you, that you trust, then you basically have no choice but try it and see. Try it and see! Train with weights and train without. One condition I have is that you have to train in a real boxing gym and alongside other boxers. Your technique and training has to be compared against others, not only yourself.

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114 Comments

Gary December 9, 2013 at 8:05 pm

Another awesome article. Only if anyone knew how to increase my left hook speed to be as fast as my jabs? open for opinions? would you say you freeze like a statue for a fraction of a second at impact regarding this article?

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Johnny N December 12, 2013 at 1:26 pm

Yes, I always have that split second where my entire body is coordinated into a simultaneous HIT.

In regards to increasing your left hook speed. I love how you compared it to your jab, it shows where you focus on the punch.

Think of it like this:
- If you focus too much on the arm, you will feel like the left hook is more work and more difficult than the jab.
- If you focus on the core movement (relaxing and not worrying so much about the arm), you will feel like the left hook is just as easy and effortless as the jab.

Focus on hitting with the core and not the arm. Try that and let me know how you do. :)

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Jacques December 13, 2013 at 12:51 am

Fantastic article as always, and I like your attitude when it comes to disrespectful commentators.

The only problem I have is that I don’t get speed and power simultaneously, I can do a hard jab, but too slow for my liking, so I would like to increase the punching power with a quick/step jab. Basically when I do a quick jab its a touch or ‘pat’. It sucks.

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Johnny N December 13, 2013 at 6:51 pm

Some technical adjustments could definitely help you with this.

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ben January 10, 2014 at 10:45 pm

hey johnny. ive started sparring about 2 times a week and my partner and i are very knowledgable and can control our selves very well we only go 40 to 50 percent. we understand force= massXacceleration so we dont exaggerate movements and all that jazz like beginners do the punches are more just like flicks using the lats and chest rather than bombs coming from body rotation and mass recruitment.the sessions are very controlled. yet my neck frequently hurts from your inevitable clean shots that land in the perfect circumstances. My question is, is it par for the course that my neck will hurt a bit before it builds up some strength. im almost positive im not hurting my self but i just want to make sure. we are both 147 so im not taking bombs or anything. it just seems like average wear and tear. Is that an accurate assumption???

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ben January 11, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Hey johnny im doing my senior project on boxing and i need to know, what are the regulations and requirements of pro fight gloves? do they have to use like specific leather and padding with required thickness and density?

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Johnny N January 24, 2014 at 3:43 pm

Pros have different glove weights depending on the size of the boxers. But then they also negotiate the size of the gloves and brand used, etc. I don’t know the specifics, I think you may have to look it up with the sanctioning bodies that organize professional boxing.

Johnny N January 24, 2014 at 3:44 pm

Maybe your neck is getting tired because you’re too tense up top and/or you tilt your chin down too much?

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hajime no ippo January 15, 2014 at 7:05 am

Not about the left hook but on right cross, i tried your advices and happy to see they are working :)

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Rob F December 10, 2013 at 6:26 am

Great stuff Johnny, as usual. I’ve been training for about 4 years now and for most of that time I’ve been doing heavy weights at the same time, and whilst I was ok at boxing and my hand speed has always been quite good, my stamina wasn’t what it should have been considering the volume and intensity of training that I was doing and my punches definitely lacked ‘snap’. In the last few months I’ve laid off the weights on my upper body (I still do heavy squats and deadlifts) and I’ve focused on body weight excercises and my boxing has come on leaps and bounds in terms of my stamina and mainly my punching power. While it’s been difficult to watch myself shrink a little in the upper body I realise that puffed up muscles are really only indicative of a puffed up ego (certainly in my case anyway) and actually I’m much more proud of the fact that I have applied my strength to a skill that makes me feel more confident and less egotistical and is ultimately more useful than doing a heavy bench press. So what you are saying here and in other articles definitely works for me. Thanks.

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Johnny N December 12, 2013 at 1:28 pm

I’m happy for you! I went through the same thing myself. To give up the muscle that made me FEEL so powerful…even had to see my body shrink a bit. It was very humbling. And then to finally feel the difference. The biggest thing for me was taking the time to learn how to use my new body. If you give up the muscle but still try to punch like you have muscle, it won’t help you either.

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NPW December 10, 2013 at 6:48 am

Coach,
I’d still like to hear more on how to have better delivery and transfer, and not just why lifting != punching power. Other than more sparring to have better timeing and angles, I don’t have any real idea. More sparring gives better balance while moving, which gives better timing, which turns into body in correct postion, which has a final result of a punch on target. But all I have is just spar more.
I’m still going to lift weights for conditioning reasons. For some reason cardio without weights doesn’t drop weight as fast as cardio with some lifting for me. I’ve also found that lifting heavy once a week seems to keep soreness out of my shoulders. Kind of like a preventative measure. I point these two things out because many of the older boxers (I’m 37) at my gym also lift for the same reasons. It’s not for punching power, exactly, but being in shape increases punching power.
I also do work out with weights almost daily. The exercises are not body builder type (except one day a week). A lot of various rotations with weights, kettlebells, ab and lower back, and power moves. These are done with push ups, sit ups, and high intensity cardio in between. A heavily modified cross fit type of work out. I get more out of this half hour of pain than running for an hour. I only have so many hours in the day. If my full time job was being in the gym all day, I would work out differently. Probably swim a lot.

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Johnny N December 12, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Your workout seems fine to me! And yes, it’s true. Older people do well with heavier weights as it helps them retain muscle and bone density.

I will address better methods for power delivery and power transfer in future guides for sure. It’s a very important concept in knowing what to do at the moment of impact.

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Pedworgan December 10, 2013 at 7:37 am

Thanks Johnny, this article really opened my eyes to issues with my technique. I’ve been training for about a year and a half now and was getting quite pleased with myself about my form but I’ve not been feeling satisfied with my punches, getting tired too quickly and not feeling as powerful or slick as i’d like.
I think this has now helped me realise something which has probably been holding me back. I’ve been focusing on and using tension before I throw the punch just to position myself in the first phase. It sort of feels like tense for positioning, relax for delivery, tense for transfer, relax for withdrawing arm but then back to tense at the start of the next punch. Maybe this is normal for a beginner like me but I’m now making an effort to focus on not making as much effort if that makes sense! Thanks again, goodness knows how long I might’ve carried on (I’ve admittedly probably been one of those guys you referred to who is constantly on a quest for power when technique is more of the answer.)

Another great article by the way, you’re a real inspiration and your tips have helped me and no doubt countless others to improve as fighters. This is one of the things I love most about Boxing so far for me is that you can regularly feel yourself improving. I find it a fantastic buzz and motivator even though there are always gonna be guys with the skills to make you look/feel like a comparatively poor fighter. Keep up the excellent work and I look forward to hearing and learning more from you in the future.

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Johnny N December 12, 2013 at 1:20 pm

Great comment. It is indeed a long journey with many stages to grow through. One of the biggest things for me in finally developing true power was being able to trust that my punch would be strong even though it did not feel like it. When you’re so used to FEELING a certain way, it’s hard to let go of that feeling. But once you’re able to do that, you’ll reach another level for sure.

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Thivanka Perera December 10, 2013 at 9:12 am

Great article once again. I remember there was an article way back where Tyson was interviewed about his training methods, during the interview it was mentioned that Frank Bruno trained like a bodybuilder for his bout against Tyson. In reply Tyson said that floor exercises were the best (calisthenics) and that “lifting weights have as much resemblance to punching power as a cheesecake”. Supposedly Tyson never trained with weights during his prime, but once he did incorporate weights into his regime he was a mere puncher — no head movement etc.

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Johnny N December 12, 2013 at 12:53 pm

I don’t know why it is that when people see a fighter lifting weights, they assume he’s doing it for power. They make this connection and can’t imagine he’s doing it for any other reason.

Sometimes, it’s for strength, or endurance, or to help the body get back into shape quickly. OR sometimes, it’s just for the cameras.

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alexander December 10, 2013 at 12:57 pm

Hi Johnny, not sure I understand all this agro about training with weights. But now 71 years of age, boxed recreationally since I was age eight, still do, I reckon the ‘killer punch’ is all to do with timing. In this modern age of ‘on line’, the evidence is there in the countless videos of KO punches, of the past and current. There you can see, very strong men, even women, batter someone with a flurry of punches crudely to ‘roll over’on the canvas, or see two super fit boxers bash each other non stop and no one go down,no winner, how can they survive all those blows you do wonder.

But then there are the KO’s that strike out of the blue, maybe, or maybe not, expected, or even against the flow. Like one touch and straight down goes the other, no rolling around. Game over.These thing happen so quick, that they are usually highly controversial. And to save time, for instance, did Cassius Clay (come Alli) really knock out Sonny Liston with his ‘rope de rope’ punch. Of course he did, but few people saw it.
And currently I hear a lot of criticism about the Irish/English Boxer, Heavyweight, Tyson Furey, that he is a ‘no hoper’, as he has an awkward laid back and slow style. But throughout his Boxing Career, schoolboy on, he has this habit of getting close, and his opponent goes down. Not much to see, but I find it riveting, While others of course, suggest there is something amiss – as was often claimed about Alli’s cracking knock outs – ‘stung like a bee’.

Personally, I would not criticise anyone for the ‘boot camp stuff and strong arm, leg, and stomach crunches’, you need to be fit, but from my observations that does not always win fights. In fact very few I would say. In the old days fighters could use their skills to take a rest in a fight, and then look for the sucker punch – or rather strategic one. And I find it sad, that the Amateur Boxing Associations in the UK, are now dictating that ‘official coaches’ must apply ‘Olympic Style Standards and Regimes’ that are more appropriate to ‘track and field athletics’. Head down and rush for the finishing line, which may be OK for 3 rounds, but even then I doubt it. Little need for brains to run, and little chance to change lanes – I don’t like watching fights like that myself.

I would say that I am all for Pulleys, few Boxing Gyms have them these days, 3 x 20 shoot outs per arm, 7 or 12kg, no more. at shoulder, chest, and waist height, at high speed – and in the appropriate ‘free standing’ boxing stance. That counterst any question of tight muscle restriction from overdone contraction exercises, such as weigh lifting, crunches and pulls. And also offers the ‘Kinaesthetic’ edge, to think on and maximise your style. As with speed balls, in the old days the rhythm kinda went, 1,2 brmm 1, 2, brrm, otherwise, between changing hands there is the equivalent ‘double speed counter thrown in at high speed’ without any halt. Brilliant for the inside ‘flash counter’ hit. And of course kids will ask me where do you look, as you can’t really see the ball at speed, can you. Well I say not at the ‘swivel hook’ which is stationary, as a lot say, but at the ball, which you think you can’t see, but your ‘reflex auto eye’ can see.

Finally, That is how the successful Boxers, in the middle of these ‘fast and furious’ exchanges, or at least their ‘super fast reflex eye’, can see that one opportunity, to land that punch, sting, cobra strike, that takes you opponent out – and which most people don’t even see. I will call it the X Factor, or SUBO Factor. Scots like myself will know who I mean, Susan Boyle, who as far as looks go, is nothing special. But of her singing voice delivery, many experts say her notes are spot on, as good as the very best, but, oh, when she hits certain notes, maybe only a couple in any one song, ‘ she can make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end’. And that is why she came from absolutely no where, well Whitburn, Scotland, to sell millions of CD’s overnight. That’s how competent and great Boxers should be, able to deliver that couple of punches, or punch, somewhere during the fight, that is, right on key, and blows everyone away – especially teir opponent. Lets call it the KOX Factor.

Sorry for this long winded ‘blaw’ Johnny, blame my age, and I hope some folk will take this on board, not least of all Amir Khan and Manny. Getting a bit fed up with these long drawn out ‘punch outs’. Cheers Johnny,. Alexander.

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J.D. December 10, 2013 at 1:21 pm

So in other words, putting thousands of hours into the three phases through sparring, mitt work, bag work, D.E. bag and shadowboxing, that you can deliver your punches effectively and comfortably from any position . Thinking about generating power should be second nature…meaning you practiced it so vehemently at the gym previously that when you step in the ring you shouldn’t be thinking about it much at all. You need to think about how your set of skills and strengths will beat this or that person…what openings do they have, where’s their weaknesses that YOUR various boxing skills can exploit.

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code name Hudinio December 10, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Hi JB – you were right at first but not at last: when in the ring, you shouldn’t think of anything. Just act with pure instict and intuition, the rest should have been trained before. Of course, let your eyes lead the way for your soul and sub-conciense. The only active thinking you are allowed in the ring is when you are in hurt and in trouble: “this is nothing, i’m gonna kill him” so you can fight your inner fear. good luck.

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J.D. December 10, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Yes I should have made that more clear…I was implying acting on instinct.

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Johnny N December 12, 2013 at 1:39 pm

Actually, I’m saying generating power is already natural. You almost don’t even have to learn it. The way you stand and ground is already the majority of your power. It’s all the extra unnecessary movement that you add to this moment that makes it harder for yourself to generate and transfer power.

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Chris December 10, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Hey Johnny, first…i love your blog.
I have a question. What about the muscle power of the core. You can train the core with heavy weights (free and non-isolated excercises. The core is the strenght center. The point were all power of the body comes together. In the last phase (3). The power transfer its very important, that you have the possibility to get the ground about the legs, the core and the arms into the opponent. And in this little time moment, the power shocked and is centered from this core. My opinion….i aggree with you about big arms and a big muscle chest. This has nothing to do with good punching power.
Greetz

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Johnny N December 13, 2013 at 2:45 pm

When talking about the core, you have to realize there are 2 separate things: CORE STRENGTH and CORE FUNCTIONALITY.

And really, you could apply this kind of thinking to all your other muscle groups. Many people confuse one for the other. Take a look at breakdancers doing “airflares” and then look at a bodybuilder doing weighted-crunches…and you tell me who has the more powerful AND more functional core.

The type of muscle development you want is definitely more like the breakdancer’s. The reason why is because he has functional muscle. It’s only strong but it MOVES him. Whereas a bodybuilder’s core muscle might be very strong but doesn’t necessarily make him better at moving his body.

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danny December 10, 2013 at 1:36 pm

There’s a great article on nononsenseselfdefense.com by marc mcyoung about the importance of structure in punching technique and that too many people focus on generating more power rather than trying to maintain the power they already create. Reminded me of that. Great article by the way.

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Johnny N December 13, 2013 at 3:44 pm

It’s nice to find others with similar ideas. If you ever find the link, feel free to post it here, Danny. Thanks for the feedback.

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Mike December 10, 2013 at 7:10 pm

Hey Johnny,
Really insightful article. It definitely helped me realize that I was focusing too much on power generation. I have 2 questions though:

1. Are there any specific drills to train proper delivery and transfer into muscle memory? Or would this just come with keeping this concept in mind while punching a heavy bag?

2. You mention that some techniques may leave you unnecessarily vulnerable to counters. Does this include being more vulnerable to body shots when relaxing core muscles? Since power delivery involves relaxing, does this include core muscles also? Or should I always keep my core tight? I’m wondering if I should keep my core relaxed until the moment of transfer or if I should keep it tight, relax during delivery, and tighten again on impact.

Thanks for all the articles and videos. I started boxing recently and you’re Youtube channel and website have been an important resource for me.

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Johnny N December 13, 2013 at 2:57 pm

1. Working on your punching technique would be a good place to start. Practicing on the heavy bag, mitts, and sparring would be a great option. The hard part about practicing is you have to know what you’re practicing and you need somebody to adjust you. But even without feedback, you can still improve yourself, although at a much slower pace.

The best thing I can say about the drills…would be to throw lots of punches and combinations non-stop every round. The reason is because many people are still screwing up the first phase (putting too much focus on power), which then tires them out. So by forcing you to get used to throwing lots of punches, you can’t help but learn how to relax eventually.

2. “You mention that some techniques may leave you unnecessarily vulnerable to counters. Does this include being more vulnerable to body shots when relaxing core muscles?”
- No, I would not consider the body vulnerable simply because the core muscles are relaxed.

“Since power delivery involves relaxing, does this include core muscles also? Or should I always keep my core tight? I’m wondering if I should keep my core relaxed until the moment of transfer or if I should keep it tight, relax during delivery, and tighten again on impact.”
- The problem is how you define the word relax. Instead of thinking of the word “relax” to mean that everything is released and uncontrolled. Think of the word “relax” as using minimal control and without unnecessary tension.

Protect your body by engaging the core muscles, becoming aware of them and using them, it doesn’t mean create tension that you can feel your muscles pulling/flexing against each other. Try standing up straight…and see how your back muscles are RELAXED but yet still engaged and holding you upright? That is a better visualization of the word “RELAX” than to imagine yourself laying lifelessly on the couch.

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Tran Bronstein December 10, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Great article as always Johnny. As a longtime 4 day a week weightlifter myself, I completely agree with you but will never stop weightlifting myself. I feel that a lot of people misunderstand what the purpose of weightlifting and bodybuilding actually are. They are certainly beneficial to fighters in all martial arts, not just boxing, but in different ways than most people think. I find the true advantages are:

1. Appearance. Weightlifting sculpts your body muscles and gives you a sleek attractive appearance that sends a message out to people. I am intimidating. I am in shape. I am confident. I am strong. I work hard. This message alone is sometimes enough to win fights mentally, never mind physically.

2. Armor. Muscles along with the skeleton provide protective covering to your body, especially the vital internal organs. Essentially, they’re a form of soft, pliable body armor when you think about it. The more muscled you are, the better protection your overall body has in general.

3. Work generation/efficiency. The most misunderstood advantage of weightlifting. Ever notice that weightlifting movements are all generally short and quick? The idea isn’t to generate more power — it’s to generate the most amount of power over a particular distance (work) in the least amount of time (efficiency). What Johnny is preaching here is efficiency and it cannot be sacrificed for the sake of more power. Both should be trained well by all fighters and martial artists.

No matter how big and powerful it is, a body that cannot move well cannot do work efficiently. The fatal mistake most weightlifters make — and one I have made myself in the past that cost me some of my gymnastic ability — is that they get so big it actually affects their body movement and agility because they haven’t done any other activity. You have to keep the body moving. This said, I also believe that you do need some strength and power conditioning from lifting weights to complement whatever martial art you’re doing.

My personal story is that I started out in kung fu and gymnastics as an adult but only weighted 118 lbs. I did a physical fitness assessment at the behest of a friend who was joining the gym and thought I would breeze through it. After all, I could do 3 back handsprings in a row, no problem! Easy, right?

Instead, the fitness trainer asked me if I had an eating disorder because I was underweight and couldn’t arm curl 50 lbs with two arms together (Now I curl that with one arm). I weightlifted like a mofo and went up to 140 lbs of sculpted muscle but when I went back to gymnastics, I found that my body no longer had the agility it once had. I could no longer do back handsprings and nearly broke my own neck doing a back tuck flip but for a soft trampoline. My body was used to moving a lithe 115 lbs but not a relatively heavy 140 lbs in the same way. (Hey, you try backflipping while holding a 25 weight plate attached to you and see how easy it is.) I still had and still do have enough agility to do flying martial arts moves like flying scissors takedowns and afraid that I would also lose the agility to do those, I backed off trying to get bigger through weightlifting and decided instead to use it to maintain the level I have.

I’m majorly bummed out at the loss of some of my agility but the flipside is that I am more confident about my looks and gain several comments from women and even other men about my appearance. It’s a tradeoff but you really have to balance carefully if you’re going to do both weightlifting and combative martial arts.

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Johnny N December 13, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Thanks for the input, Tran….I’ll share some of my own thoughts on your points.

1. Sculpting your muscles to send an intimidating appearance is only going to work on cowardly opponents, not trained fighters. Trained fighters know to respect all opponents regardless of their appearance. If this even works for you, then your opponents aren’t real opponents in the first place.

2. I would choose functional muscle of aesthetic muscle any day of the week. With that said, the more functional muscles tend to be denser and tougher than aesthetic “bulky” muscles you get from lifting weights.

3. I found weightlifting to be the one lesser ways of developing efficiency. I won’t go into the science but I truly feel this. Some people agree and some people don’t.

For sure, strength needs to be an important part of your “strength & conditioning”. I’m not anti-strength…I’m simply against strength gains when it comes at the cost of functionality, which should be your number conditioning goal!

To some degree, you are genetically built a certain way and you have to simply go with it. Sure, you can do things to try and change what your body is naturally but at least be aware that you are taking your body away from what is natural.

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Sue December 10, 2013 at 9:00 pm

Love this!!!!!

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Shaun December 11, 2013 at 5:24 am

I’ve only recently gotten into boxing after watching a pro at my gym weights training people. I bit the bullet and signed up and to say that now i can’t get enough is an understatement., luckily this site and it’s creator Johnny give me all the infomation i crave and more.

You are an A Class teacher your site and videos are all top notch. Many thanks

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Johnny N December 13, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Thanks, Shuan! Good luck in boxing.

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Joe December 11, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Hey Johnny just wondering I don’t really call it heavy lifting anymore since I only use two 30 pound dumb bells but anyways my training routine is simple I warm up shadow box get lose then I do 3 rounds of bicep curls that alt with shoulder pressing for 30 reps (not easy to do but it was not impossible) afterwords I do 3 rounds of push ups each round is 2 minutes then I do the same with dips and pull ups after that I shadow box for 15 min I work on my balence that I learned from your site then I pick up my 10 pound dumb bells and shadow box with them for another 10 minutes. I was just wondering if this sounds like a smart routine cause I feel like it works but I’m not to sure. Feel free to answer if you want.

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Johnny N December 13, 2013 at 3:08 pm

I think there are far better routines than that for sure that will help your overall boxing movements.

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Joe December 13, 2013 at 6:57 pm

Thanks right now I only have the money and time to train myself but I have been looking for a good boxing gym in austin and I’ll take your advice and try to switch it up how no idea yet but I will thanks once again

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Zach December 11, 2013 at 3:00 pm

good article man. I don’t totally agree with everything, but I perfectly see where you are coming from. I think the most important things people should get out of this is the mindset on how to punch.
Like you put it ” Another one to watch out for is to lift weights with the mindset that weight-lifting is a similar movement to a punch.”

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Kevin December 11, 2013 at 7:32 pm

Awesome article like always. I am 49 and have been kickboxing for almost 40 years. It seems to me that I am so much faster than the younger guys because they load up on their punches and kicks. Everyone says that I make it look easy. That is precisely why I quit weight training…it made me want to try harder instead of relaxing. I think the time spent on the weights is better spent shadow boxing. Thanks again for all your hard work.

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Johnny N December 13, 2013 at 6:57 pm

You’re a great example, Kevin. Back at the Wildcard gym, I remember dozens of the older guys who threw tons of punches in shadowboxing, looked fierce as hell, and didn’t train with weights at all.

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Mark Tomkins December 11, 2013 at 10:16 pm

Johnny I’ve been a reader of your excellent boxing articles for some time now and I have to say, you completely changed the way I look at punch power now. I think that if weight lifting has any effect on power anymore at all, it’s mainly through the extra weight in the muscles which may be developed but at the same time that may be offset by the extra tension that gets loaded into the muscles which really does lessen the explosiveness.

Anyway I have completely replaced weight training which used to be a staple for me, the heavy deadlifts and squats and bench presses, with calisthenic exercises (push ups, dips, chin ups), squat jumps and exercises with handweights along with ample core work and some stuff with theratubes. The more endurance nature of the work builds a higher quality of muscle that takes longer to develop and may not look as bulky but lasts longer, actually contributes to stamina in the ring and the gym and life, doesn’t put any extra tension or stiffness in my body or slow me down and seems to contribute to my power greater than any weightlifting I did previously. It took me 17 years to finally part with the weights but I’ll never look back now. Thanks mate!

If I could ask a question, on part 2, you mentioned you were going to provide some particular exercises for the “inside” muscles for power generation. Is that practical or would they just be developed naturally through regular bag work etc.? And if there are any specific general conditioning exercises that may help could you tell us what they are?

Thanks Johnny, great article! :)

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Johnny N December 13, 2013 at 3:39 pm

I’m happy for you, Mark. I used to believe so highly in lifting weights so I understand how hard it is to let go of something that feels so helpful.

As for the exercises for the inside muscles, I went over many of them in my Dancer’s Footwork for Fighters instructional. Many of them are based around the lower body and core and not very common at all in boxing which means they require a lot of explanation and video. I’ll probably put some out on the website and Youtube channel someday.

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Victor December 12, 2013 at 10:56 pm

Good article! But man as soon as I started lifting weights my punching power seriously increased! I could hardly spar anybody no more because I was just hitting too hard, but I agree with what your saying I might just be the small percentage that actually hits harder from weights

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Johnny N December 13, 2013 at 3:40 pm

You’re hitting harder against newbs? Or trained amateurs? I’d love to see a video of your movements.

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Sean December 13, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Johnny,
Great article as usual! I do have a question though. Do you think fighters who focus on delivery and transfer have an easier time going up in weight divisions? I recently read a comment about a fighter ( I can’t remember the fighter off the top of my head) whom won titles in two divisions and the commenter said that it was “back when a title in two divisions meant something”. Is this why guys like Mayweather, Pacquiao and even Broner are moving through weight divisions so easily? Their ability to punch can affect guys who are naturally heavier than them because their delivery and transfer are so great. Am I on to something here, totally off base, or is something bigger at play (PEDS!)? Thanks!

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Johnny N December 13, 2013 at 3:42 pm

So many more things involved. I’ve noticed the guys who go up in weight well are either:

A) Really fast and so their speed prevents them from taking much damage, and allows them to outscore their opponents.

B) Make weight. They made a lot of weight earlier in their years so when you see them moving up in weight, they’re actually just setting into their true weight class.

C) Really tall or have grown into their body. This is especially true for fighters who turn professional at a very young age (like 18-19) and then get bigger as they grow into their manhood bodies over the years.

D) Good technique. They are exceptionally effective, powerful, and intelligently strategic as this greatly aids in nullifying the size advantage of bigger fighters.

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Money December 14, 2013 at 9:33 am

Johnny, while I agree that lifting weights does not help punching power, I have to disagree about lifting weights not helping boxers in general. The thing is, in this sport of ours, it’s not always about how hard you can hit the other guy… it’s also about how well you can defend yourself and also your ability to take punches. That’s where lifting weights is beneficial. It’s kind of like instruments of warfare, tanks, fighter planes, soldiers. Engineers realized that there has to be a balance between speed, power, agility, and ARMOR. I stress armor because like a tank, our bodies need some armor in the heat of battle to shield our musculoskeletal systems from taking the abuse and becoming seriously injured. But the amount of armor needs to be balanced so that it doesn’t severely diminish our speed and powerful snappy punches. Having a thick strong neck, and a buff body act as shock absorbers. And if you look at the fighter planes from Japan, they made their Zeros very fast, and agile but with almost no armor. America’s planes on the hand were heavier, and slower but had much better armor. They could take the shots from the zeros guns and keep fighting whereas the Zeros would go down with one shot.

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Mark Tomkins December 14, 2013 at 6:28 pm

This! You are exactly correct in that weights are more than beneficial in this way. But you will find that serious boxers train their neck and guts hard anyway and other muscles/bones are toughened through normal boxing and calisthenics anyway.

At heavyweight (or superHW in amatuers) I agree weightlifting would probably be best method for this purpose but then again the time and effort spent developing “armour” could maybe be better used developing boxing abilities. Thing is at top level professional boxing where most use weight lifting these days, those guys are on steroids now days and are able to do their maniacal boxing and conditioning training AS WELL as their weightlifting and recover properly. An “unassisted” athlete would not be able to perform both without breaking down.

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Johnny N December 14, 2013 at 6:46 pm

I disagree with your opinion about needing weights to develop “armor” on so many levels:

1) The game of boxing is to hit and not get hit.

At the amateur level, you would be losing points regardless if you have “armor” or not. At the pro level…having this armor won’t matter so much and here’s why: there are only 3 main places where your body can be hit. The HEAD, the ARMS, and the UPPER TORSO. The head cannot be armored up. And the arms cannot be armored up (and probably SHOULD NOT be armored up). The body even if you successfully armor it up, assuming you are properly trained/skilled, will not be taking that many punches (compared to your head and arms). Even if you DO get hit to the body, it is your fighting skill and timing that allows you to engage your muscles properly to repel the punch impact. Having armor and not knowing how to repel the shot won’t do much for you.

2) Lifting weights is one of the inferior ways to develop this muscle “armor” if you ask me.

Lifting weights tend to develop a bulkier more type of muscle. Even if you do learn how to powerlift and build “dense” muscle, it’s not as good as the SOLID type of muscle that you get from doing more functional movements. I’m talking about the calves of a ballet dancer (have you ever felt one?), the abs of a guy who does thousands of raw crunches (instead of hundreds of weighted crunches), the forearms of a jockey or a BJJ (not a weightlifter’s). I’ve come to see that that the athletes or people using more functional movement tend to have much MUUUUCH denser muscle than the people who lift weights. I remember lifting weights for 5 years and I still didn’t have the same forearm density that my dad had from working construction.

3) Using muscle to protect the bones makes little sense.

I hope you know the bones are to hold form. The muscles are used to move. If anything, the bones are the true armor we have in our bodies. The ribcage is there to protect vital organs. I definitely prefer to have an opponent to hit my elbow which can disperse the shock through my bone, than for him to hit my arm muscle and make it sore and harder to throw punches. I need my muscles to help me move!

4) Your statement about the fighter jets has little relevance to the subject.

Different armies employed different fighting tactics. American planes had to go longer distances into enemy territory and needed more fuel, ammo, AND ARMOR to ensure they could get the job done. Japanese planes were closer to their homebase and could quickly zip back and forth to refuel or pick up more ammo as needed. This allowed them to be lighter and also more agile. There is also the topic of goals. Heavier planes can destroy ground targets better. Lighter planes can surprise quicker. There are so many variables that you can’t just tie in unrelated subjects like fighter jets and boxers.

If anything, being slower is a HORRIBLE disadvantage to having armor. Super fast guys like Mayweather, Rigondeaux, Ali, didn’t need that armor. And then you have Mike Tyson who seemed pretty armored up and was still pretty darn fast.

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saber khan December 15, 2013 at 1:56 am

nice technical breakdown johnny man.. i read some ooold article abt how push-punchers and proper punchers argued about form from back in the 20s or 30s, dempsey’s time.. some advocates thought dempsey’s punches were too `fast’ to have power and so dempsey aka rickard was cheating.. bruce lee said the same thing in some interview on YT abt japanese vs chinese styles of power.. ppl have been hard-headed abt this for near a century man we ain’t gonna convince the non believers

i like that saying of power being more than getting the weight planted, pivoting andi turning over. i told u abt fighting southpaw for sometime, and i realised my lead right hook has very little starch on it compared to my left straight which really is beyond my wildest dreams. it’s that feeling of weight that we normally get before releasing a good shot that i never get. like the upper body and lower body are disconnected. normally the lower body turns a fraction of a second before. with the lead right hook (i mustve drilled thousands and that’s no exaggeration) i just dont have it. i have to cheat with things like punching downwards and mentally pulling the elbow, etc. so im using it for body shots where that works better.

its been well over 2 months, there’s that magic something the right hook doesnt have. i consider myself having 2 handed power in orthodox, i can KO folks with the right by wearing them out over time and i can score KDs if i get a chance. but its clear to me i cant disturb anyone with my right hand as a southpaw even if i could sucker punch them. there’s that magic something, thait timing of the rotation between the upper and lower halves, the ability to pull the body inwards with one leg as we push with the other that just isn’t there. weights and technique and practice can’t make better something that instinctually isn’t there

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Money December 15, 2013 at 10:52 pm

Johnny, if I remember correctly, you never even fought more than 1 amateur event am I correct? Now if you spar like every day and fight almost every other month, your body needs armor. By just doing cardio and the measly pushups and crunches that most old school boxers do, your muscles break down and get smaller and weaker, not denser. I can tell the difference when I lift weights and when I don’t. I’m able to recover faster and not feel so beat up after a fight. Your whole body works as one to disperse shock and impact even though you would think that most boxers just get hit in the head and arms. At times, it feels like the shock of the punches to my head goes down my back and spine and my coach tells me that is common. And if you combine the typical workout most boxers do along with heavy weights, the body does not create the “soft” muscle you talk about. And I think it depends on the person also. Some bigger boned people can probably get away with not lifting weights, but someone like me who is longer and leaner, can definitely reap the benefits of muscle mass when I fight.

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saber khan December 16, 2013 at 3:55 am

i know you haven’t referenced anyone but johny, but let me weigh in.. neck exercises, ab exercises are extremely important `armor’ for boxers and helps with taking the shock of punches greatly. im totally with u there. johny’s against all weights, ive used weights and found it doesn’t help at all.

now someone who hasnt gained his peak muscle mass and tendon strengths using bodyweight (one arm pushups w/ legs lifted can be a helluva lot of weight) will get a benefit obviously, but there is a point after which you are gaining muscle that won’t help move YOU in the ring. if ure heavier with the muscle u take shots better.. u can do that somewhat being a lard as well

while i still learning to box, i used to weight lift to gain muscle and all. so i thot it was super useful to bring me to par with more experienced guys who had more muscle than me. my coaches told me to switch to plyos and i saw that near no one did the weightlifting. when i abandoned the weights i lost none of that mass and i was still gaining power.
i was less sore since i wasnt doing the heavy weightwork along with my training and other stuff and able to train more boxing. now i trained using HIIT principles when weightlifting (fast lift and release in spurts) and i went from weights to plyos so i didnt feel my endurance went up or down due to the weights.

i began powerlifting trying to go from welter to genuine middleweight.. the initial 6 weeks helped. after that, it didnt translate to the ring, and with the extra weight i felt heavy, a little less co-ordinated, i tired a little easier. not much of a difference, and when i went off the weights i felt better. my power felt BETTER. in terms of taking shots, as long as i was in shape i didnt see a diff between normal boxing exercises and powerlifting muscle. they histologically have no diff whatsoever, u get more muscle not better or worse-that’s genetically determined. running aerobically can change fast twitch to slow twitch, but running anaerobically at 15 km/h isn’t making diff muscle from running at 12 km/h. that’s scientific certainty.

experience teaches best, and i wish weights would make ppl better but they only increase mass. that’s great armor but practically pointless. and from my exp extra muscle mass even from powerlifts can be detrimental to stamina

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Johnny N December 18, 2013 at 1:53 am

As explained in the bio you’ve just referenced, I sparred everyday with many competing fighters. And I will tell you firsthand, the “armor” you speak of is completely unnecessary. I’ve already explained why (in your previous comment) and I don’t need to repeat myself. If you like it, do it. I’m only here to give you my opinion; you’re not my fighter and it’s not my business to tell you what to do.

My knowledge comes from my experience and what I’ve learned. If my advice helps, great. If it distracts you from what you want to do, well then do what you want. Aside from my opinion, you should ask other coaches as well. As a fighter, it is your responsibility to get the opinion from many different sources to see why and why not you should do something. You might benefit from learning even more ways to look at things.

I’m a lean fighter myself and my body functions best when I use it the way it was intended. The “armor” was completely worthless for me.

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Erwin Angeles December 17, 2013 at 12:18 am

Hi Johnny, how does the fighting sports tri tech gloves feel? thank you. happy holidays

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Johnny N January 7, 2014 at 5:55 pm

I like them.

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Erwin Angeles January 7, 2014 at 8:43 pm

GREAT!

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andrewp December 18, 2013 at 7:11 am

hi johnny just because someone doesn’t agree with you it doesn’t mean they are haters.if strength training doesn’t help punching then you should stop doing press-ups.surely your reasoning suggests someone doing press-ups is at a disadvantage over someone that doesn’t.pressups are purley strength with no relation to proper technique.if you disagree you should at least try both with or without press-ups.

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Mark Tomkins January 31, 2014 at 12:33 pm

This is an erroneous comment imo Andrew, I think the author stated numerous times in his articles that he has no problem with “light” weights and calisthenic exercises which do not develop the same bulky muscles and stiff jointedness etc that heftty weights do and they build a lean muscle that is well vascular and contributes to stamina rather than costing an oxygen deficit.

As a side point, the “push strength” gained from light weights or bodyweight exercises is more than enough to develop the “pushing” component of punching power, which is why most boxers use both these methods as opposed to power lifting. The heavy weights are really unnecessary for this purpose. In fact a case could really be made for their complete replacement with lighter stuff even in terms of ring strength which is also of a different nature than a powerlifters strength.

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gogi December 18, 2013 at 2:35 pm

I am a little bit confused.Is it not the same thing, generation of power and explosion?Dont we explode as much as we can, through power(generation), just to give the max acceleration possible for the next phase, where then we can release the muscles, so the body will be loose and fast enough?Sorry for my english, is not my native

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Johnny N January 8, 2014 at 3:52 pm

Generating power and explosive movement CAN be the same thing but it isn’t always. Some types of power generation make it harder to explode or decrease power and making it less explosive.

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Erik December 19, 2013 at 3:55 am

Have you tried kettlebells? its great for punching power because of the dynamic maximum relaxation and contraction nature of the movements in kettlebell swings compared to lifting regular barbells and dumbells

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Johnny N January 8, 2014 at 3:54 pm

I like kettlebells. Great exercise for all the things you mentioned.

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Derek V. December 21, 2013 at 6:09 pm

I generally agree that lifting weights would not help as much as people think. Although I think it’s important to differentiate what type of weight training you are doing. The general gym goer body building routine? ya not so much. Proficiency in the true Olympic Weightlifting movements (Snatch, and Clean and Jerk) I would definitely have to make the argument. No athletic movement can generate the same power, motor unit synchronization and increased rate of force development, and pure violent hip extension. Couple these improvements with the sport specific training of boxing and I believe there absolutely has to be carry over. That being said, the time and energy to learn these lifts properly takes patience and practice under a coaches supervision. May be worth it for some boxers looking for an edge and willing to mix it up a bit.

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Johnny N January 8, 2014 at 4:45 pm

In my opinion, learning the Olympic lifts would be a waste of time for boxers. The main reason being that throwing punches are very much a rotational movement. If anything, learning how to swing a baseball bat properly or throwing a shotput, or swinging a hammer (Olympic event) would be better. Rotational movements using kettlebells or medicine balls would be better. Chopping wood would be better than lifting, if you ask me.

Ultimately, being able to throw a powerful punch requires massive amounts of coordination, moreso than strength. Go into any gym and look at the amateur-level boxers with the greatest punching power and you’ll see many of them did not require weights for that. I would recommend first reaching their level of power before trying to come up with unique ways to improve beyond that.

Before doing new things, you have to master the “old things” (you know…the stuff that’s already been refined over the years). And part of the problem is that many of the people arguing for new methods haven’t even come close to mastering the old methods. If anything, they’re doing the old methods wrong…and so they’re convinced that there has to be something else that gives others so much power.

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Carlo December 23, 2013 at 10:15 am

Hi, Jonny. I’ve read many of your articles and have applied many of the tips you have offered. I am a very objective person with the type of mindset, well i think Emerson said it best” Every man is my superior in some way and in that i learn of him”. Sadly most trainers i have come in contact with are already stuck in their own ways and therefore limit possibilities. I may share the sentiments of others regarding passion and desire. life is short so our time is precious. Considering this i do all that i can to pursue a passion efficiently, so my time and energy is not wasted. Your articles have been a great help , and therefore i admire and respect you. Unfortunately, i have been in and out of numerous gyms for many years and feel i never really had a fitting trainer for me, or rather a new age or objective trainer. They always want to stick me in the ring and test my toughness, which results in subconscious impediments. Examples, closing my eyes when i may get hit, fear, fatigue, etc. . I feel this is the result of not being fostered at my level to evolve to the point they are automatically testing me. Don’t get me wrong i can take a punch and i can certainly throw one, I feel i can be a great fighter and I always want to improve. I have many skills and strengths i feel would make me a great fighter, but without any real couch to facilitate that i become discouraged. I love the sport and i will always do it, but with every moment that passes without the ideal support my abilities fade, with time it is inevitable at least the physical aspect of it. I can read your articles over and over and even watch videos, but what i really need is hands on support. I recently moved to Los Feliz Just North of downtown LA and i would greatly appreciate if you might be able to point me in the right direction of a trainer who might assist me in the ways you write about, or even better if you train in the area and could help it would be a real treat to meet you in person and train with you a bit. In Addition, i’m not the wealthiest guy so the high trainer or gym fees have been an obstacle for me also, so please consider this as well if you have any suggestion. Thank you and keep on affecting peoples lives positively :)

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Johnny N January 8, 2014 at 4:10 pm

There are many great gyms within 30 miles of you, Carlo. The best thing I can say is look around. Step into 4-5 different gyms and check them out. You might prefer a different type of trainer or training environment than I would. And since you’re not looking to compete, well it doesn’t really matter much as long as you’re enjoying learning the art of boxing.

I’m in LA from time to time, if you’re interested in privates with me, please contact me directly.

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mohan December 26, 2013 at 4:38 am

wow, that was one awesome thing which i have ever read! :)
johnny thank you for sharing such an awesome message. :)

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mohan December 26, 2013 at 4:39 am

and sure i’ll be following you. :)

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tom abusaud December 28, 2013 at 6:34 am

thank you for all the usefull info. I want to switch my workout routine from lifting weights to a boxers routine a couple month prior to joining a boxing gym any advice.

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Johnny N January 8, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Check out my “EASY Boxing Workout”.

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Jeff Smith December 29, 2013 at 10:28 pm

Hey Johnny ….. been lurking here for a while and thought it was time to jump in and say what a great job you are doing man. Haters are gunna hate no matter what , in the meantime just keep on dishing out the great advice.

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Johnny N January 8, 2014 at 4:11 pm

Thanks, Jeff! I’ll keep it coming for sure. I love what I do! :)

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Erick Benjamin Perez December 30, 2013 at 1:02 am

Hello, I have question or more like a clarification you said that hips to stay planted towards the end? For example, if your orthodox and just throw a jab your hips are ‘NOT’ suppose to have a final jolt or bounce at the point of impact? BTW thanks again for the article

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Johnny N January 8, 2014 at 4:13 pm

ANY movement…has to have some kind of purpose. So in reference to the final jolt or “bounce” in the hips that you’re asking about…it depends what you want that for. I’m assuming you want that for power? If for power, then perhaps a downwards jolt at the moment of the jab’s impact would be ok.

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Dave December 30, 2013 at 5:24 pm

I think it’s plain to see that the heavier person (ie more muscle weight) would have an easier time delivering this powerful punch than someone lighter if they both had the same skill level. For instance a 100lb man and a 300lb man agree to punch each other, do you still feel the 100lb man would deliver the same power level from the punch? It’s basic physics and I don’t agree. Most heavyweights use free weights, Holyfield being a prime example.

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Johnny N January 8, 2014 at 4:15 pm

Obvious physics would dictate that a heavier person punches harder than a lighter one. What I’m discussing here is the punching technique and training implications that would result in the maximum punching power possible.

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Dave December 30, 2013 at 5:26 pm

That example was two people with the same skill level. Furthermore I feel there is a strong physiological impact of facing a more muscular opponent.

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Johnny N January 8, 2014 at 4:18 pm

Anybody facing “psychological” issues (I’m pretty sure the word “physiological” is not the right one here) in facing a more muscular opponent is definitely not an experienced fighter. If you’ve been in the gym enough, you’ll know that appearances are deceiving and at the end of the day, all opponents can be dangerous regardless of how they look.

It’s only the untrained and insecure that would be instantly afraid of anybody with a great physique. I for one have looked at many impressively muscular guys and felt nothing, and also seen many guys with flab, and felt some fear…simply because of the way they moved.

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Adam January 10, 2014 at 12:23 am

Hi Johnny, you said you have looked at many great physiques and felt nothing, and have also seen many guys with flab, and felt fear, simply because of the way they moved.
Are you referring to how they move after they get in the ring or how they moved in general?
What I mean is can you spot out a capable opponent before you have seen them in the ring and what they are capable of, besides going by their physique.
What are some other things you notice?
Thanks,

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Johnny N January 24, 2014 at 3:02 pm

It’s hard to explain, Adam. There are things that I recognize when I look at other fighters. I can recognize if he’s nervous or doesn’t know what he’s doing, the way he fidgets around during the warm-up. Or if he’s confident and anxious to fight…like he can’t wait to get in the ring. Or if he’s well trained by the way he rolls his shoulders and bounces around on his toes. The way he warms up his joints and which parts of his body he focuses on. There are certain movements that you typically only find with the more experienced guys and then there are other movements you typically see from the less experienced guys.

The general things to look for are confidence and experience. And it’s their body language (not their body) that gives that away.

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Amit December 31, 2013 at 12:13 am

Happy New Year to all of you…

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Johnny N January 8, 2014 at 4:18 pm

Happy New Year to you, Amit!

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lou January 3, 2014 at 8:16 pm

Johnny,what do you think of shaun t and beachbody programs p90.x,insanity and asylym programs ? would these programs be beneficial for boxers ?

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Johnny N January 8, 2014 at 4:20 pm

They’re not magic beans, they’re great workouts. And boxing workouts can be equally great as well. The p90x and other fad programs are getting all this hype because the average person (even the average gymrat) still doesn’t know how to get a great workout.

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Joseph January 6, 2014 at 7:34 pm

Johny is the man!

A man who knows what hes saying for sure… Lifting weights gets you the bulky muscles, resistance training and ground exercises turn you into a punching machine

I think at an elite professional level, once a week high reps low weight weight training is required for that extra feel, for serious hitting power its all technique and resistance power, also a bit of genetics… Why certain boxers never hit as hard as others at elite levels although both spent thousands of hours on heavybag building strenght and technique

Only weight training I do is forearms curls and reverse forearms curls with 15 lbs dumbbells 5 sets 25-30 reps regular curls and reverse is give or take 15-20 reps once every 2 weeks ( take 2 days rest after that from training not to pull forearm muscle )… A few core exercises on the ground and alot of heavybag, and I punch pretty hard, elbow strike really hard

Great site, great info keep up the good work man, I hope you make good money with this site and can keep it running

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Mitchell January 7, 2014 at 2:56 am

Hey Johnny, great website, keep it up!

I have one quick question that I hope you could answer for me. Around the one I started boxing, I was in the middle of the winter sports seasons for our town so I could only commit three days of boxing training a week. During that time, I did the basic boxing training, such as three rounds on each bag, jump rope, shadowboxing and a little bit of calisthenics. Once the sporting season was over, I changed my training to five days a week, adding a strength and conditioning day and a roadwork day. My concern is that I have gained a bit more muscle mass since changing it (I have only been doing calisthenics and plyometrics as explosive as possible). I’m just wondering do you recommending commuting a whole session towards what I have been doing? I cannot really tell if I have lost speed since changing ( I haven’t lifted any weights by the way) Anyways, sorry if this is too long but thank you

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Mitchell January 7, 2014 at 3:04 am

Sorry bit of spelling mistakes, commuting = committing and recommending recommend

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Johnny N January 8, 2014 at 4:22 pm

I wouldn’t worry about natural muscle gains. That could happen because of genetics and also if you’re a young guy growing into his adult body. Focus on boxing-specific training exercises and doing exercises for functional purposes rather than aesthetic purposes. Lifting weights are not bad depending on how you do it.

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Mitchell January 8, 2014 at 7:07 pm

Thanks Johnny

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Johanna January 8, 2014 at 5:00 am

Hi Johnny,
I am a beginner boxer from Germany and have been following your blog for a few months and also watched many of your instructional videos. All your posts and videos are great and help me a lot…they are motivation, inspiration and a source for improving my boxing skills. Thanks for all the work and passion you put into this!!
Now, to you and all other boxers here: I am thinking of coming to LA in March for a couple of weeks to train – eg at the wild card boxing gym – and was wondering if any of you train in the LA area and can a) give me a recommendation for a gym/trainer and b) would like to train together while I am there.
As I said, I am only a beginner so I need to work on all aspects: conditioning, technique (punching, footwork, defense) everything :-) Anybody who wants to join me (trainers, training partners, sparring partners)?

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Johnny N January 8, 2014 at 4:27 pm

I would go to Wildcard and see who you meet there. Lots of interesting characters and great trainers for sure! :)

You’re also welcome to contact me directly and I’ll meet up with you if I can.

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Johanna January 8, 2014 at 10:41 pm

Thanks, Johnny. Can I get your Email address?

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Johnny N January 9, 2014 at 1:24 pm

Scroll to the bottom of my site and click on the “Contact” link. I don’t paste it here so spam robots can’t scrape it.

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lance January 20, 2014 at 4:13 pm

I am just getting into fighting as a sport and I will apply this to my training and see what happens. thanks

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Mark Tomkins January 30, 2014 at 5:28 am

Ok Johnny, as I digressed earlier here I support your 3 articles on weights and punching power to a large degree, well all of it really but it should be brought to your attention that you have received ridicule and criticism on all the major forums recently stating that the research done by the Russians etc on how the punch power comes from leg extension, waist rotation and arm extension in the 40/40/20 or thereabouts split is “scientifically proven” whereas your theory is considered contradictory to evidence and not scientific.

I have argued to no end with them how BOTH are true in their context but to no avail. You see first of all they take that the punch comes from leg extension most of all to mean that the boxer should train squat to increase their punch power, but misunderstand what I take you to mean that the amount of “pushing power” in your legs required for a punch of ANY measure of power is virtually already present in the form of a SNAPPING punch and whilst it is true that that amount of effort is responsible for the hit it is provided for by how efficient one coordinates and utilises that power. The pushing strength developed from weights would definitely lend assistance to the “pushing element” of a punch, which let’s face it, even a good quality snap punch does still have.

So perhaps a good statement to add for the diehard zealots might be that weight training can increase your punching power to a degree that is greater the poorer your technique is and to a lesser and lesser extent the better the technique is.

And similarly, the BETTER the punching technique is, the more the power is generated from the INSIDE muscles than from the OUTSIDE ones and the more those muscles are channelled for their true purpose (delivery).

I think the evidence in fact supports this marriage of theory anyway. Lighter fighters who use weight training to move up in weight classes are demonstratably more featherfisted in general (in terms of their KO% at the increased weight) than the natural “punchers” at that weight which the records support. Also I have noticed almost universally that amateur boxers steer clear of weights in general except at national level where they only employ a short and specific program and same among pro boxers, a targeted strength program in periodized fashion which is geared toward speed and explosiveness closer to competition for the correct neurological response from the body. In these cases the strength training serves as a “general conditioning” phase and for strength itself but not really for punch power at all as such.

Of course there are any HW’s which do include a full fledged weightlifting program in their training as well like Holyfield for example but I would bet the house they are all juiced to be able to support that workload as well as the necessary REAL training to be able to use their bodies for efficient boxing performance as well.

Personally I see weight training as a valuable addition to a top level amateur and pro program who train all day as a job as long as it’s properly implemented as a part of periodization (therefore avoiding the said inproper neurological responses a boxer needs for skills later on) and is not viewed as being for punching power at all. Any assistance to punch power derived from the weight of the muscles and the “push” they may give in an imperfect punch should be regarded as incidental (and not a major component of power (unless it’s a major jump in weight at HW, in which the former still applies though) and should be thought of as providing strength and preparation for other work later on.

Heavier muscles also use more oxygen leading to higher chance of gassing and DO slow you down. The proof here is in the pudding. Cruisers are faster than heavies, Skinny boxers have a higher punch count than muscular boxers, even slightly chubby boxers (who are nevertheless well conditioned though) don’t gas as fast as big muscular ones.

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Kevin January 31, 2014 at 9:17 pm

What is the name or link to that research? Also, I believe u don’t need weights to punch hard. Enough legends have proved that already.

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Mark Tomkins February 1, 2014 at 3:49 am

“Legendary punchers” imo do not prove anything Kevin. The further you go back in time the more the stories are exaggerated and in general the punching power of all boxers of all divisions has steadily increased over time especially at HW because of the massive weight gains. Any dispute of that is in the against common sense and observable and statistical evidence.

As for that Russian study if that is what you meant, it was a simple analysis of how much of the force of a punch was derived from the 3 sections of the body. I forget the name of the guy but it is well known and isn’t hard to find. It is being used however on the forums to discredit Johnny’s work and is being taken to mean that the power from the punch is derived from the “push” of all 3 of these independent parts of the punch which is erroneous from the get go. The is ALWAYS an element of push to the punch but the better and better the punch quality gets, the LESS it is a push. I’m sure you could find the link without much effort. (Although I just quickly checked and could not lol).

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Kevin February 1, 2014 at 11:07 pm

Thanks for trying to search but with no key words of the title I’m stuck with “russian,” “punch,” “power,” etc. I have come across another article citing that study’s information. In regard to people assuming things after reading the study, they should not do that unless the study says so, and if the study does say so it should be subject to more tests and criticism before being accepted. That’s just common practice in the research field.

Regarding legends, aside from Jack Dempsey, there are more recent fighters I consider as legendary such as Mike Tyson and Manny Pacquaio. However, all of them use different techniques than contemporary techniques and while I cannot prove it, my experience has convinced me that those techniques are “awesome.”

In regard to “enough legends have proved that already,” it was NOT a claim that not using weights makes one punch harder. I literally meant what I said, “u don’t NEED weights to punch hard.” To be honest, to prove that doesn’t actually require legends but I just used that word because I wanted to keep things short without the need to type paragraphs. One can find a lot of boxers today who can punch hard without using weights. The keyword is “hard” rather than “harder.” I use no weights to train and competing amateurs who are over 5 weight classes above me tell me my punches are hard. It is, therefore, easy to prove that you “don’t need” weights for power by simply asking a boxer in your gym who doesn’t use weights to show you they have power, however proving that one is more effective than the other is hard, and that I never attempted to do. Despite my experiences with no weight-lifting, I am still open-minded to the possibility that weights are better.

Anyhow, the main point I wanted you to respond to was my first sentence, the things behind it

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Kevin February 1, 2014 at 11:09 pm

*the things behind it were fillers*

Mark Tomkins February 1, 2014 at 11:27 pm

Yeah don’t worry on that issue we are quite in step mate! I was just worried you were one of these olden days guys that claim everybody prior to 1980 was better in every way than recent times. I believe in advancement personally.

Oh for sure I think guys like Tyson and Pac-Man were special and that’s why they were superb champions apart from the field!

Yes I used my own keywords in fact and didn’t find it but I will search again. It actually pisses me off because I’ve read the articles many times but can’t remember the name of the guy who published it. I will find it as I think it is relevant to this discussion.

(y)

Mark Tomkins January 31, 2014 at 3:48 am

Speaking in terms of pure punch power I think it’s conclusive that punching power is best developed via powerful movements that are unilateral and the same or extremely close to the actual punches, executed against a load that allows explosiveness at a similar speed to the real thing, (like medicine ball throws) and similar/same movements that result in maximum impact and transfer of energy (heavy bag, baseball bat at tyre etc.

Spending similar time on these exercises at maximum power in the correct intervals to what one would spend in weight lifting would conclusively produce a far better result in power development and none of the other drawbacks that weightlifting would offer.

But what about the weight gain? If you applied the methods above in place of weights and simply ate enough food to gain the same weight you would have had you done the weights instead, you would (a) still gain some lean muscle weight via the specific exercises, which would be better tuned and of the correct quality FOR punching performance (as opposed to weight trained muscle which really isn’t) and (b) make up the rest of the weight in bodyfat. And the one who gained the more functional lean muscle plus the bit of chub would DEFINITELY be more effective in terms of power (and in stamina and speed believe it or not!) than the weight trained guy (who would have however gained simply more strength in a pushing/pulling/lifting sense which might be useful for the boxer in other ways but not more so here).

Even the professional high profile coaches who put there HW’s on extensive weight training routines do it only in the first part of there peoridised program for general prep and phase it into the unilateral high impact and explosive throwing type work that I described as the skills training, sparring and the actual fight approach because these trainers KNOW that the physiological and neurological effects of weights do not really mesh well with boxing performance. It’s a fact. Well done Johnny. I think if the tests were done, Johnny’s theory of punching power would be found not only to be correct in boxing, but accounts for the now not so “mysterious” power concepts of the martial arts as well.

Well done!

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Johnny N February 12, 2014 at 3:06 pm

Thank you for your comments, Mark. I have tried in many ways to explain what I experienced myself personally and I honestly don’t mind that others will try to discredit me or refer to me as a “fraud”. Anybody who has ever met me in person can attest to my punching power and MORE IMPORTANTLY, my ability to teach about punching power.

In regards to lifting weights…whether or not you decide to lift, this decision can greatly affect your punching power not because of its affect on your muscles but because of the way you view punching technique.

One does not even need to lift weights to see the proof for himself. Find any old retired pro boxer in his 40′s or 50′s. Make sure you find one that is out-of-shape or hasn’t been in the gym for a while. And ask him to throw a good punch. Now go find a young 20-year-old with his “weightlifting strength” and compare the punching power between the two. And I’m sure many people think they already understand my point from reading this suggestion but I really want them to do it. See the difference, FEEL the difference.

And then spend a long time thinking to yourself…wondering why and how it is even possible that an old un-trained man can hit harder than a young in-his-prime fighter. Yes, there will also be cases where the young guy hits harder…but it might be missing the same kind of snap that comes from the old man. I want everyone to figure out why that is.

I’d love to talk more in-depth about power punching theories and techniques but I don’t feel like most people are ready yet. It seems as though we’re still heavily-invested on the age-old already-resolved question of whether or not lifting weights can increase your power punching power.

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Mark Tomkins February 12, 2014 at 5:20 pm

Yes I agree the way a lot of those young lifting boxers view punch power is wrong and detrimental. I myself am guilty of thinking of it as a push against the floor and with the extended arm when I was younger and many others still do. So many articles have been written on building punching power via weights it’s almost taken as gospel in some circles now. Common mistake is one you have mentioned already I think. That when they “force” punching power off the back foot say they are actually ungrounding themselves, reducing their “weight” which preferably should be “dropped into” the punch via more of a torquing action. Of course these concepts are much harder to describe and achieve. I among most boxers still find myself often pushing my punches sometimes a little bit although compared to early days I am now hitting WAY better. And really punching practice sustained often and over time with correct guidance is the real method of continually developing power, imperceptibly as your body learns to produce the power more and more efficiently, in effect steering further toward your beautifully described method from the other.

I see both science and evidence in all 3 of these ground breaking articles!

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Mark Tomkins February 12, 2014 at 9:23 pm

More the point given what I’ve just said I think there’re no real short cuts to power. Building strong muscles doesn’t really fast track your power, atleast not lb for lb, both of us seem to know that from personal experience as do many others. Also I would say even with good coaching for technique it’s unusual for a shortcut to great power unless the subject was already naturally gifted. It still required more often than not, even for the pros, a great amount of time and effort of training to aquire.

Going back to what you said before about being ok with how your model of punching power has been viewed on the forums, I find it rather bemusing that it is frowned upon by guys from both the modern and old school simultaneously. OF course the modern school believes what they read on sites like Ross Boxing and think they have all the answers from science after reading a few articles written by non-scientists. And it seems the old timers though against weights altogether for boxing seem ready to ACCEPT sometimes that weightlifting will make their punches more powerful and somehow dislike the idea of punching power being explained in any way scholarly.

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Johnny N March 4, 2014 at 5:36 pm

I enjoy the insights, Mark. The way I see it, old school or new school, most guys are still not hitting correctly. I don’t care how they go about it as long as they keep working to improve themselves rather than tear down what has been successful for somebody else.

People can tear down my technique and theories on the internet all they want, what they won’t be able to do is see me punch in person and tell me I don’t have any power and don’t understand punching technique. I’m doing my best to share and it’s too bad many peoples’ egos are preventing them from benefiting themselves. The techniques I give are FREE and not very different from many of the great boxers everyone knows and loves.

Hajime no ippo February 10, 2014 at 9:57 am

One of my experienced friends told he is training for punching power by throwing medicine balls. Takin orthodox stance, hold the ball with his right hand and throw it as far as he can. Then take southpaw stance and throw it with tle left hand.

I tried it too and think its working.

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Christopher LaRose February 15, 2014 at 11:48 am

Bottom line is you can throw that ball all you want and you wont learn how to punch. You want power learn how to punch using your whole body. If you want to learn you have to go to a trainer who will be honest with you and correct you accordingly. I thought i could punch hard and though i knew what i was doing until i began trining with a pro trainer. Ive never thrown a medicine ball and never picked up a weight more than 5lbs sice and my punch power has nearly doubled since!!!!
Proud student of Peter Manfredo Sr.

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Johnny N March 4, 2014 at 5:36 pm

I’m happy for you, Christopher. So glad to see real boxers with real trainers leaving comments on my site.

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Mark Tomkins February 15, 2014 at 8:37 pm

I don’t think there’s any question Chris that technique and “punching skills” has far more to do with power than anything purely athletic, either speed or strength. The 2 most important factors being the overall punching mechanics for power which as we know are far more complicated than many assume and the weight of the puncher.

I think medicine ball throws are far more conducive to building power than lifting weights but they don’t build anything to do with phase 3 of the punch, the transfer of power, they are mainly concerned with phase 1, the generation of it (and somewhat phase 2 potentially increasing speed of delivery).

Hitting a tyre with a bat or chopping wood would better encompass all 3 aspects of raw power because they involve the transfer of energy and forcing your body to solidify on impact.

Of course there is no substitute for actually punching to develop punch power as it is the exact skill that is being trained, not a modified movement like the bat or medicine ball and unloaded with weight just as in real conditions, therefore I think the heavy bag and other solid punching apparatus are the absolute best for building raw punch power, and more skill based boxing training in general like sparring, mitts and double-end bag for delivery skills under realistic conditions (without overloading).

Although top amateurs and professional boxers do lift some heavy weights as part of their overall training, I would not recommend any amateur boxer to lift anything heavy at all.

I remember my coach, who fought Jimmy Thunder once, had us pick up barbells about 1ce a week for a 12 minute kind of circuit he did with about 4 of us competitive fighters he had involving 4 seperate weights of barbell ranging from 10kg-40kg and we started at the lightest, moved up every 30secs until the end (a 2min round), then worked down the next round, repeated it all again for 2x4min rounds in total (12 mins with rest). The exercise was upright rows which he wanted us to do to build our shoulder girdle up. It was not that heavy but felt very heavy and burned us out by the end. I think it gave us good shoulder endurance as well as added some muscle mass. That was the only weights we ever did (and calisthenics of course).

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Anon February 17, 2014 at 9:29 pm

Upright rows should NEVER be done, they accelerate rotator cuff degeneration and if you do them you risk suffering from chronic tendinitis and bursitis. Full ROM Upright rows place the delts in internal rotation as the arm is raised hence not allowing enough room for the greater tubercle (top head of humerus) to clear the acromion (clavicle bone) = IMPINGEMENT.

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Mark Tomkins February 19, 2014 at 11:43 pm

Honestly I am not disagreeing with you there, I realise Upright rows are a sharp double edged sword, it’s an unnatural movement. I was pointing out the limited use of weights in our gym and the lightness of them.

Our coach was still not the most correct one out there, very few coaches are perfect. In fact today’s top boxers have separate coaches for boxing and conditioning for this reason.

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Kevin March 19, 2014 at 8:51 am

First of all, great article and really well explained. I can see why there might be so much flak generated in the comments section on such a sensitive subject, so it takes some guts to challenge controversial viewpoints. The trouble is that some guys have based a lot of their training/preparation believing that lifting weights will give them an advantage, so when this view is challenged, it calls into question whether those endless nights in the gym with weights was really a waste of time when it comes to boxing. Yeah, a touchy subject ;)

Has anyone ever tried ‘adjustable handgrips’ to increase grip strength & did it help in boxing? I’m using a grip strengthener that goes up to a 40kg resistance setting – with low fast reps to hopefully produce a more solid fist on contact with the target.

It seems to have helped me on the heavy bag lately, as it’s easier to tense up the momentary tense grip at the very end of punches. My hands feel less tired after a round of power punches on the heavy bag. I’ve only been using the hand grip for 1 and a half months now though.

I’d be especially interested in how anyone got on who actually experimented with using a hand grip with a high resistance setting, and whether or not it helped deliver a more solid fist on delivery inside the glove. In other words, did it make any difference to anybody who has tried this, or did it not have any benefits?

I love exploring the nuances of this sport, as just before I believe that I may finally fully understand just one area of the sport, another rabbit hole opens up and I’m happily lost again . . .

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Johnny N March 23, 2014 at 6:52 pm

You have a great attitude for learning, Kevin. Really…it’s refreshing. I haven’t used high resistance hand grips myself but hopefully somebody will chime in for you.

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Joh4 July 26, 2014 at 10:04 am

If I were to weight train.
To my bodyweight ratios.
125% Hang clean
175% Squat
125% Bench press
75% Military overhead press
150% Bent over row
50% Preacher curl

Would my push punches become stronger than my snap punches because of the transference from fast twitch to slow twitch?

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abdo August 4, 2014 at 3:50 pm

push punches will never ever in 1000 years become stronger than snap punches and push punches will never reach the target because they are too slow

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