Hand Speed Drills and Exercises

March 6, 2011 March 6, 2011 by Johnny N Boxing Training, Boxing Workouts 135 Comments

Want serious punching speed? If you’ve already read How to Punch Faster, then you’re ready to practice the drills and exercises that improve that hand speed!

Hand Speed Drills


Speed kills, everybody knows this. Many great fighters have it: Muhammad Ali, Thomas Hearns, Ray Leonard, Mike Tyson, Roy Jones, Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, I could go on forever.

Being able to land a punch before your opponent is probably among the biggest advantages in boxing. A split second difference can make all the difference between raising your hands in victory and picking yourself off the canvas. Even if you weren’t born with speed, you still need it. Even if it’s not part of your style, you still have to improve it. And so I beg you to incorporate these important drills to your regular routines because everyone knows: SPEED KILLS!


I know the goal is speed but don’t rush through these drills. The most important factor to attaining maximum speed is relaxation. Relaxing is first a state of mind which then becomes a physical reality. Keep your mind clear and don’t get too focused into one thing. Relax! Relax! Relax!

Instead of supplementing the speed with strength and accuracy, focus on balance and coordination. Too many beginners try to put speed and power together at first but that only slows them down and causes them to load their punches. Don’t load your punches or try to focus on hitting a target. Instead, let your arms go, just try to keep your balance under you and your body moving together in coordination with that handspeed.

Sharp & Relaxed Breathing = Sharp & Relaxed Movement


Shadowboxing (Raw Speed Training)

Shadowboxing is everything! The more time I spend in this beautiful sport of boxing, the more I realize shadowboxing is sometimes all you need. This basic practice allows you to practice every technique and doesn’t wear out your joints or stress your body. This underrated exercise can help you develop almost anything in boxing, footwork, balance, power, coordination, technique, form, and in our case–SPEED!

Shadowboxing is probably the most raw form of speed exercise. No bag to stop your punch, no gloves weighing down your hands. You are punching with only the weight of your hand into the air. With nothing to slow you down, this is the fastest you will ever be able to move your hands. You can punch as fast as you can imagine your combinations. Shadowboxing can develop your speed of mind, your punch speed, and your punch recovery speed.


Shadowboxing Drills:

Start moving around and relax your whole body. Don’t worry so much about putting your hands all the way up. Use proper form but not to the point where you become stiff and tired in the shoulders. You want your whole body to be loose and relaxed when you shadowbox for speed!

Here are the punch numbers I’m using:

1 = left jab
2 = straight right / right cross
3 = left hook
4 = right hook / overhand right
5 = left uppercut
6 = right uppercut
*reverse these if you are southpaw (left-handed)

Ok, HERE WE GO! Follow along and mix it up!

Basic Jab

  • 1, move around, 1
  • 1, back step, 1
  • 1, step in, 1


  • 1-1
  • 1-1 (step in twice)

Triple Jab

  • 1-1-1

Jab, Right Cross

  • 1-2
  • 1-1-2
  • 1-2-1
  • 1-2-1-2
  • 1-2-1-1

Left Hook Now

  • 1-2-3
  • 1-2-3-2

Left-Right Left-Rights!

  • 1-2-3-2-1
  • 1-2-1-2-3
  • 2-3-2
  • 2-3-2-1
  • 2-3-2-1-2

Tricky Combos

  • 1-3
  • 1-1-3
  • 1-3-2
  • 1-2-3-3-2
  • 1-3-1-2
  • 1-2-3-1-2
  • 5-6-2
  • 5-1-2-3-2
  • 1-6-2-1-2

Uppercuts Now

  • 1-6
  • 1-6-3-2
  • 3-6-3-2
  • 1-2-5
  • 1-2-5-2

Long Combos (focus on sharp rapid breathing!)

  • 6-5-6-5-2-3-2
  • 1-2-5-2-3-6-3-2
  • 1-1-2-3-6-3-2
  • 5-2-1-6-3-2-1-2
  • take any of the above and combine it with other punch combos

Go 3 rounds straight. Exhale on every single punch and every single movement. Don’t worry about doing all the combos listed above. Stick to your favorite ones and then try one or two new ones each time. You should NOT be getting tired. If you are, then you’re too stiff. Relax the shoulders some more and maybe even slow down just a little bit. If you get winded punching air, imagine what being in the ring might feel like.

When you step around during the combos, take REAL SMALL steps. You only need to take one-inch steps, that way your feet can move as fast as your hands. If you take big steps, your feet might still be in the air leaving your punches un-grounded and without power.

Don’t worry about power! Some sequences that have double-lefts or double-rights are going to feel weak. Again, you are just working on speed, not power. Just let your hands flow and get some rhythm into there. Have a few pauses here and there in between your combinations and then pick up the speed again.

Last note, please watch the Manny Pacquiao shadowboxing video below. What he’s doing is a perfect example of speed shadowboxing. Sharp breathing, very tiny steps, fast focus on punches. He doesn’t focus on single punches, he’s focusing on entire combinations. And for the 923084723th time, RELAX!



Fast Punching On the Heavy Bag (Speed Endurance)

Fast punching isn’t always about speed. Sometimes it’s about endurance. Moving a weight faster will always take more energy. So it’s pretty hard to throw fast punches, or even practice fast punches, if you don’t have the endurance for it.

Throwing flurries of fast punches can wear anybody out. You don’t realize it at first but once you get tired, your slower opponent suddenly becomes faster than you. The even bigger danger of getting tired is that your punches become too slow to hit your opponent. So let’s work on speed endurance so you can throw fast punches throughout the entire fight–and not just the first round.


Punch Interval Drills:

Get a partner and stand on opposite sides of the bag. One boxer holds the bag steady while the other one punches non-stop for 15-20 seconds. Then switch. Keep doing this until the 3-minute round is over and then take your 1-minute break. 2 to 3 rounds of this is a great way to finish off heavy bag workouts.

Some thoughts on this fast-punching drill:

  • Don’t waste your time getting somebody to time you 15-20 seconds. Instead just count it in your head or out loud as you punch. When you finish, just stop and the other boxer should know instinctively to begin punching.
  • You can do variations against the bag. On the first interval, do regular punches aimed high (palm facing the ground, aimed a spot of the bag that’s 6-8 inches above your head). On the second interval, do vertical punches aimed straight at shoulder level into the bag. By “vertical punches”, I mean with the palm facing sideways, like a “standing fist”. On the third interval, do SMALL quick uppercuts into the bag at body level. Keep repeating until the round ends.

Punch interval drills develop your arm and shoulder endurance. Which is VERY important in your performance during the later rounds. It doesn’t matter if your body is not tired overall…

Once your arms and shoulders get too tired,
your punches become too slow to hit your opponent.

Sure you might still have your power in the late rounds but if you don’t have the speed, that power won’t make any difference! So work to make sure you build that arm and shoulder endurance. In case you haven’t noticed, this fast-punching drill is a boxing’s rendition of Tabata drills (in case you want to know more about the science behind this method of training).

The crucial reminder is that you don’t get too ambitious and try to hit the bag like that for 3 minutes straight. The rest periods allow your arms to regain the energy to punch at max speed. You should always train at your true top speed (going 100% when you’re exhausted is not “true top speed”). Think about it, sprinters don’t train for speed by running 2 miles all at once. Instead, they sprint short distances, take a break and repeat (aka Sprint Intervals). The break allows their legs to regain the energy to sprint at full speed again. Likewise, you want to have breaks to regain the energy to punch at full speed again. This way, you’re spending more of your time training at full speed and not half-speed, which is what happens when over-ambitious beginners go 30 minutes non-stop without a break!

The other part about not skipping the break is that you might have a better workout when you constantly have to stop and start again. Throwing punches non-stop is easy to do when you’re already in motion. But having to stop and start again, like in a real fight, is much harder to do when you have to keep starting up your rhythm. So please, don’t skip the breaks. 15-20 seconds for each boxer, then switch!



Forced Speed Training (Speedbag & Double-End Bag)

The speedbag and double-end bag are great equipment for building speed. Aside from improving your accuracy, timing, reflex, and coordination, they are great for “forced hand speed” exercises. Punching fast is quite easy if you’re only punching when you feel like it. Unfortunately, this is never the case in real fights. In real fights, you’re always being FORCED to punch even when you don’t want to. Because you’re throwing these punches as a panic reaction rather than an action of your own intention, these “forced punches” tire you out faster. So back to the speedbag and double-end bag, they force you to punch even when you don’t feel like it. No matter how tired you are, you HAVE to throw punches at the bag.

The speedbag and double-end bag also come with their own unique qualities. The speedbag does build arm endurance and shoulder endurance. The double-end bag helps improve your accuracy and timing. This bag forces you always to react fast and think fast. Learning how to work the double-end bag is an art in itself. So I’ve save that long explanation for another day. For now, just keep in mind that those will improve your hand speed. Do 2-3 rounds each on the speedbag and double-end bag.


Resistance Training to Build Speed Muscles

Push-ups (Explosive Speed)

Push-ups, when perform with speed-specific technique, can help you add speed to your punches. Because everyone’s arms are different, you have to find the perfect variation on where to set your hands and how low to go. The focus is on speed, not power. You want to finish these sets FAST!


  • Because of my longer arms and thin frame, I prefer to do push-ups that only go 1/3rd of the way down. So this means I am only working out triceps in this “extended” phase of the push-up. I do about 10 quick sets of only 10-15 repetitions each. Again I’m only working out the top phase of the push-up to maximize quick speed and trying to explode on each one. Focus on going down fast and up fast (most people go down slow and up fast). When you pause, pause at the top of the push-up, and not at the bottom.


  • Get down into push-up position but with a medicine ball under one hand. As you do one push-up, quickly push your body over to the other side so that you land with the other arm on the medicine ball. Do these as fast as you can. 3 sets of 15 repetitions. Another variation you can do is to have 2 medicine balls spaced apart wider than your shoulder width. Have one hand on a medicine ball with the other hand planted on the ground right between. As you do a push-up, you will move your body sideways so that both hands constantly move between the side and the middle. (Please comment if you need a better explanation of this.) Again, 3 sets of 15 repetitions.


  • Another plyometric-style push-up routine I like is the clapping push-ups. You can do 3 sets of 10 to 15 clapping push-ups at a time. The important thing is to spend as little time as possible at the bottom of the push-up. You don’t necessarily have to come high off the ground but just make sure you don’t spend too much time with your arms bent at the bottom of the push-up.


Resistance Training for Speed

Resistance Bands

You can also develop faster punches with resistance bands and isometric training. Resistance bands apply a constant force as you’re throwing punches. This constant resistance allows you to build speed and explosive power throughout the whole movement. Regular weight training can’t do this because the weight is only heavy at the beginning. Once you push the weight, your momentum makes the work easier as you extend your arm. Swimming can also be good for constant resistance training since the water is constantly working against you.

Isometric Training

Isometric training is a type of workout where you exert force but your body doesn’t move at all. But how can you exert force without moving?! You can do isometric training with your arms by going up to a wall and posing yourself in a punching position as if you’re punching the wall. Now push against the wall for 10-15 seconds for 3 sets at a time. Feel free to pose at different angles that mimic different punches and target different muscles (chest, shoulders, triceps).

The whole theory behind isometric training for speed is that you’re training your arms as if they were rubberbands. You’re training your arm muscle to store energy so that once the hold is released…SNAP–your arm flies out like a charged up rubberband.



Recovery Muscles

The punch recovery speed is one thing MANY boxers neglect in speed training. Everyone loves to work out the punch muscles such as the chest and triceps but rarely do they work on the recovery muscles such as the back, lats, and rear shoulder muscles. What many boxers don’t realize is that the recovery phase is half the motion of a punch, so being able to pull your arms back faster allows you to punch again much sooner!

I’ve also noticed many beginners doing nothing more than hitting the heavy bag in training. The heavy bag is a solid object so if you punch the bag, it will always bounce your hand back at you which doesn’t train your punch recovery muscles. Sure you can go 10 rounds easy on the heavy bag but what happens when you try to spar? After missing only a few punches in the ring, your arms are completely tired and you’re not sure why. It’s because you’re not used to missing and you’re not used to punching air, so your recovery muscles (your back, rear shoulders, and rear lats) are developed to pull your hands back fast enough.


Best workouts for strengthening the punch-recovery muscles:


  • You’re constantly punching the air while you’re shadowboxing which forces you to use your muscles to pull your arms back. Try shadowboxing at 100% speed with gloves on and you’ll realize how weak your recovery muscles are. You don’t have to add weights or do anything fancy. Even regular shadowboxing will help balance your rear upper-body muscles out with your front upper-body muscles.


  • Pull-ups are an awesome exercise for the back and lats. Do 3 sets of 6, or 8, or 12. Whatever you can do, just do it. Now your upperbody won’t look so hunched over to the front any more.

Pulling Exercises

  • I got too lazy to go chasing down exercise names. Any exercise that mimics a pulling motion will be good. We have the TRX Suspension band at my gym and it works great for this, but cable pull-downs or pulling at resistance bands will also work.




Loose, relaxed muscles have the potential to move faster. Don’t fight with soreness in your shoulders and in your body. Make sure you have good stretching sessions and take your time in warming up your muscles. Even on days that you’re not training, try to stretch. Many of the fastest fighters I have ever met also happened to be the most flexible people I know. (I wrote an article on the importance of flexibility for boxing.) For the record, you should be stretching a MINIMUM of 30-45 minutes before each workout and then also another 10-20 minutes at the end of the day. Professional boxers, and perhaps all elite athletes, typically do at least double that.



Final Thoughts on Hand Speed Exercises

Speed begins first in the mind and THEN in the body…

If you can’t think fast, you will never be able to move fast.

… after all, your body can’t box on auto-pilot. Relax the mind, concentrate and stay focused, but be aware of everything around you. Don’t focus each punch one by one. Try to focus on the entire combination or the entire flurry. Each punch combo has it’s purpose, whether it’s to come inside, land some hooks to the body, or just put your opponent on the defensive to make room for you to escape.

Oh and one more thing. Don’t try to do every single drill up above all in one day and on everyday of training. Have some variation and focus on one thing each day and not everything everyday.

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Marc S. March 6, 2011 at 3:48 pm

GREAT article! Thanks 😉


Tomas C-B September 9, 2012 at 10:50 pm

With the shadow boxing numbers, why is the right cross and right straight the same number when they’re two different punches, it doesn’t help when i want to practice these combo’s and i don’t know whether i should do a straight right or a cross.


Johnny N September 10, 2012 at 11:00 pm

Technically speaking, the right cross and straight right are the same punch. The only difference is strategic purpose. The right cross “crosses” over your opponent’s front arm, whereas the straight right comes straight up the center. When it comes to practicing, you’re supposed to throw straight and aim at wherever your trainer places the mitt.


C. Black December 25, 2014 at 4:25 am

wonderful helpful tips thank a lot


jong June 26, 2015 at 6:23 am

this article help me a lot especially that i am an amateur trainer…thanks for this very informative article.


jong June 26, 2015 at 7:15 am

thank you…it really help me a lot as an amateur trainer…i just hope that you will sent me a video to my account for a film viewing to my amateur boxers. they are little children ages of 6-15. i hope you help us because they are very less fortunate children. Im from the philippine.im a public school teacher.


Francis Kang March 6, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Thanks so much.
I always learn too much things from your GREAT ARTICLES!;-)


Tall Guy March 6, 2011 at 10:30 pm

Great article!
Thanks so much Johnny for this informative, practical and easy to understand article. You’ve done very well and I’m sure this will help many boxers out there, myself included! Cheers!


Jacobi March 6, 2011 at 10:48 pm

Coach .. may i know your favorite quote?? 🙂


Den March 7, 2011 at 2:45 am

This is fantastic stuff. I’m currently writing a blog on my training and intend to use some of your workouts which I will, of course, credit!


Johnny N March 8, 2011 at 1:09 am

@ Everyone – thank you for the comments! I’m glad you guys enjoyed it. It was a weekend well spent.

@ Jacobi – I’m not sure. So many awesome ones! How about this…

@ Den – Thank you!!! Please let me know when you write it. I’d love to read it and see what other goodies I might find on there.


Manny August 31, 2012 at 8:39 am

Thanks Johnny! Awesome Site!

I am a beginner, It’s just been a month since I started joining a boxing gym, I’m actually considered a skinny person 5’9″ and 155 lbs. Could you also please share some dietary advice?


Johnny N September 4, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Read my diet guides.


mohid khan December 26, 2012 at 11:07 pm

ok my frnd


BillionDollaBoxer March 10, 2011 at 4:45 am

Dumbbell Punches
What’s your take on using light (2.5-5 lbs) dumbbells for gaining speed? I’ve read where Bruce Lee used it and also the Russian Olympic Boxing Team in the 70’s. I have also seen training clips of Floyd Mayweather using them.


Gonzo March 11, 2011 at 4:18 am

double end bag
Yes, please show a video and double end bag routines. Also, are dips better than push ups? If so, please reply with proper pull up and dips methods and routines.

Thank you.

Hector Gil


Johnny N March 12, 2011 at 6:35 am

@BillionDollaBoxer – Most boxers I see that use dumbbells will do it to build some shoulder strength & endurance and also work out the stability muscles in the full range of motion. It’s used more as a warm-up exercise or burn-out exercise…so either at the very beginning or at the end of the workout.

I have never see anybody do speedwork with dumbbells and I don’t recommend it either. Doing fast shadowboxing with dumbbells can damage your wrists, even the light 2lb’ers. It’s not so much about the weight, it’s the way that the weight is on your hand. If you were to punch with weighted gloves, that’s different because the weight is more distributed across your entire hand and wrist (putting less pressure on the wrist). I’ve seen clips of Floyd Mayweather using them too but he’s not throwing fast punches or doing anything crazy. The pros I’ve seen that use them will simply move their arms in small punching motions and they do so in a slow and relaxed manner.

@Gonzo – I’ll have to compile a nice list of double-end bag routines and perhaps make a tutorial video out of that. Dips aren’t better than push-ups and vice versa. Both exercises target a different angle of the body and different muscles in different ways. I would use both. The push-ups target more shoulders whereas the dips target more lats, triceps, and lower chest. Both are great exercises.


Santiago June 11, 2012 at 6:44 pm

So is it a bad or good idea to punch with regular gloves


Johnny N June 19, 2012 at 11:05 am

If you’re punching an object like a heavy bag, then yes. If you’re only shadowboxing, then no.


daniel April 4, 2013 at 8:23 am

What you mean is it bad to punch with gloves? i dont uunderstand. cd you Paraphrase it?


antonio tolliver November 17, 2016 at 2:34 pm

thanks for all the info this will really help my start in boxing

Kevin W March 17, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Thanks for the great posting– I’m really enjoying your site. I’ve been hitting the heavybag at the gym more regularly this year but haven’t made much progress with my hand speed (my power and sharpness has improved though). I would greatly appreciate a tutorial about using the double-end bag too. Peace.


Johnny N March 21, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Thanks Kevin,

I’ll have a double-end bag guide coming soon enough with some good workouts!


MARIO G. May 12, 2011 at 3:55 am

johnny i think your website including you are the best when i comes to having good tips from a professional in this sport, Ive found this website since yesterday and I´ve been reading it and its great, thanks for having a website like this !!!;-);-);-);-);-)


Johnny N May 12, 2011 at 10:31 am

@Mario G – Thank you.


Bruce May 18, 2011 at 2:18 pm

I’m 52 and starting self defense training. I’ve chosen boxing because From experience you are either throwing punches or having punches thrown at you.
I am reading all these tips and comments and fully intend to make the most of my training using them.
I don’t want to fight but, if required I sure as Hell want to be compete t in protecting myself and lived ones.
Thx Johnny for spending the time to help us all out. Cheers mate.


collins June 3, 2011 at 5:13 am

trying to be the best boxing coach
Hi bro,i have gone thru your articles and i think the combinations are easy to learn and fun when holding mitts for ur boxer, i had to jot them somewhere. thanks for your help on speed training,hitting the heavy bag etc,you are a coach whom i can love getting idea from. please,if i want to know more how do i get you? my email address is [email protected]


Johnny N June 4, 2011 at 7:48 pm

Hi Collins,

I got your email. Talk to you soon. 😉


Paul June 15, 2011 at 4:38 am

Right hook?
Is there a reason there is not a single number 4 [right hook] in your shadow boxing drill list? For some reason right hook is very rarely mentioned in my gym too…

Many Thanks


Johnny N June 15, 2011 at 8:22 pm

@Paul – the right hook is used in specific situations. In most cases, you can throw a right hand with a slight arc, simulating an overhand right during your shadowboxing. The right hook can be used as a right uppercut or as an overhand right. Feel free to practice it and substitute it with the 2 when you want. I think most boxers prefer working on the straight right because it’s harder to practice that and that punch has more uses.


Malick June 24, 2011 at 6:43 am

this website is offf the chain, ive been doing muay thai for a year and just moved on to boxing, this site has given me soooooooooo much tips and things i should be aware of.



Johnny N June 25, 2011 at 6:59 pm

Thanks, Malick.The love is appreciated.


JDa Boxing Champ July 6, 2011 at 3:20 am

😉 Aye thanks since doing this workout i am the golden gloves champ still!


Moushie July 17, 2011 at 5:13 am

Great Article
This has helped me so much! These tips are definitely going to benefit my boxing training. In fact, it has! Thanks again 😀


usarmy6440 August 9, 2011 at 10:31 pm

awesome information
still waiting on you double-end bag article 8)


Johnny N August 10, 2011 at 7:54 am

@usarmy6440 – still in the process of putting it together. The writing is ready, I just need pictures and video! PS: I use to be Army Reserve! hoo-ahh!


michael August 12, 2011 at 9:16 am

great article!!!


marky mark August 19, 2011 at 7:30 am

what is the proper way to throw a jab???


Johnny N August 22, 2011 at 5:27 pm

@marky mark – extend the left arm straight out. tuck your chin behind your jab shoulder, at the same time raising your jab shoulder to cover your chin. drop your hips slightly when you jab to increase the power. keep the other hand tight. when you jab, your arm should come straight out, don’t let the elbow fly out from the side.


sgsdgsdgsafgd June 23, 2012 at 7:13 pm

yo is it bad for 80 pound guy like me to shadow boxing with 3 pound weights


Johnny N June 25, 2012 at 3:41 pm



saijin August 25, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Manny Pacquiao Shadow Boxing Combo
Can you also please list Manny Pacquiao Shadow Boxing Combo? Thanks in advance..


Johnny N August 27, 2011 at 9:51 am

@saijin – Pacquiao throws everything…hahhahahha! That guy does not stop punching.


tim August 30, 2011 at 10:07 am

Hand speed workouts
hey im trying to get my hand speed up while sparring my coach is getting on me about my hand speed i hit the speed bag and shadowbox but ive heard about shadowboxing with 5 pound weights and throwing punches in a pool wat is your take on this? and do you have any other workouts like this?


Johnny N August 31, 2011 at 4:02 pm

@tim – I don’t know about the 5lb weights in the pool idea. I’ll have to try that first and get back to you. The big risk is injuring your wrist. The exercises I suggested above are proven to work.


tim September 1, 2011 at 12:45 pm

ok thanks i didnt mean the weights in the pool i meant outside the pool sorry but i read about the parts about injuring your wrists. I seen Roy jones doing a excersize were he was throwing quick combos in a pool if you can try it out/ get info on the it be apprecated thx alot


Johnny N September 2, 2011 at 4:32 pm

@tim – quick combos in the pool, yes that can work. Shadowboxing with weights. Bad idea because the weights can injure your wrists. Better to just shadowbox with heavygloves if that’s what you want to do. In my opinion, that exercise only trains fast punches at best, it doesn’t train a fast mind or fast combos.


uso September 7, 2011 at 7:21 am

hey johnny could you explain the purpose of the double end bag. thank you


Johnny N September 8, 2011 at 7:54 am

@uso – the double-end bag develops coordination, tming, accuracy, forces you to work on offense AND defense at the same time.


mark September 18, 2011 at 7:16 am

I’ve been reading a couple of articles about how jumping rope can improve hand speed as well.. is this true?


Johnny N September 20, 2011 at 5:07 pm

@mark – it’s definitely true! I need to write an article on it, too but it’s not priority right now. Jumping rope will increase your punching speed as well as your power.


MG December 18, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Hello from Croatia! This is the best boxing site on the planet! You are doing amazing job, in this times, this is a very big thing for box and sport and i want to thank you for that 🙂

second thing –

i use to do heavy bag 3 minute round with 15 second intervals of high and low intensity. on high intensity i do flurry just how you described, and on low intensity i throw hard but slow bombs so i can regenerate for next 15sec of flurry. I figured when i do first 15sec i am really fast, but in second or third high intensity interval my speed slows down.

Do i have to take a 15sec brake or this is normal and i have to build my endurance more?

If i take 15sec brake, is it ok if i turn around the bag, slip imaginary punches, do footwork and stuff? I like to exhaust my self so it would be weird for me to just stand and wait for next 15sec 🙂


Johnny N December 18, 2011 at 8:17 pm

The 15 second break is what allows you to train at a more intense pace. If you don’t take the break, you will only be training your body to fight at a tired pace…which isn’t effective in a fight. Challenge yourself but not to the point that you are effective. You are training to win…not training to get tired!


Fabian December 18, 2011 at 6:26 pm

Amazing site you have going here!

Just a question or 2 about Manny’s shadowboxing style. Is there a disadvantage to not fully extending your punches while shadowboxing (like those little uppercuts he does in rapid succession) while it might make him faster wouldn’t it take something away from his technique? Also in some of his other shadowboxing videos he seems to do lots of little bounces while shadowboxing to move around instead of orthodox footwork? Is this something you would recommend?

Thanks for everything :)!


Johnny N December 18, 2011 at 8:18 pm

Some guys don’t fully extend all punches because they’re working on their body coordination and getting the feet to turn over as fast as the punches. There are many ways to shadowbox. The footwork he’s using is a quick shuffle…it’s a great way to develop foot coordination. Basically, you move around without lifting your hips. I have a guide on how to throw a shoeshine combination that shows you the basics of this footwork.


JaketheSnake December 19, 2011 at 1:39 am

I’d also like to confirm the earlier statement by Johnny on shadowboxing with weights. I tried to do this in June and within a couple of weeks doing it, I suffered wither a torn or bruised ligament in my left shoulder. I could not even lift my arm to shampoo my head for at least 4 weeks. Now it’s really to hard to go all out in practice because the thing hurts each time I try to throw a big punch. I think it was the shadowboxing with weights with me fully extending my punches. Either that or I was doing an incomplete warmup. But better to train safe and avoid any ligament injury altogether because, sadly, I have a feeling that the shoulder will never be 100%.


Alex D December 26, 2011 at 6:26 am

Great article after really “watching” what pac man was doing I’m definitely gonna work on increasing my foot speed to move with my punches. I feel awkward at times especially shadow boxing @ my gym I feel like I’m in quick sand & I look uncoordinated. Thanks for the combos listed above, I’m gonna work on them today.


curtis c January 7, 2012 at 2:46 am

hand speed is overwhelming i’ve heard and a lot of fighters seam very fazed by it. What’s the best way I can overwhelm my opponent with hand speed in a body attack? Should I fake right hands upstairs or Shoeshine the body whilest throwing snapping jabs to the head. Hope to hear from you soon.


Johnny N January 9, 2012 at 9:50 am

There’s no easy answer, Curtis. For you, try anything and everything.


John cook February 5, 2012 at 8:26 am

Great articles that have helped me enormously. Thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge & experience, keep up the good work! Will you be doing an article on double-end bag routines?..


Johnny N February 5, 2012 at 9:17 am

Definitely, John. The double-end bag guide is very high on my priority list.


Mike February 14, 2012 at 10:43 am

Too good mate, lots of interesting info, thanks, Mike


Karam April 18, 2012 at 1:04 am

So do you recommend shadowboxing with my 16oz gloves or with nothing on ? Thanks great article!


Johnny N April 18, 2012 at 3:11 pm

I prefer without gloves and only handwraps if anything. Look at the pros, they do fast shadowboxing without weights or gloves or anything.


LG April 18, 2012 at 11:38 am


I wanted to ask what makes hand speed? When I started boxing I had great hand speed, but when I shadow boxed I would throw full speed, full power – this obviously puts strain on your joints/ligaments over time. I think I have lost a little bit of hand speed – do you think it can be regained and can loss of speed be due to damage to the elbow/ligaments etc overtime? I’m still pretty young and I’d hate to think I’m going to be permanently slower than I used to be because I unknowingly was screwing my arms up for life by bad training practices. Any thoughts?

Thank you.


Johnny N April 18, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Your handspeed comes from relaxation and muscle memory. Muscle performance helps too but relaxing makes it much easier to move quickly without using much energy. I doubt your lost your handspeed. It’s common to feel slower because your mind has become use to your speed. Now that you can see everything and so much more aware of what you’re doing, it may feel slower but it’s probably not. Damage to your elbow and ligaments may be possible but they are only impeding your speed if you notice pain or something awkward during the movement.


LG April 24, 2012 at 10:08 am

that’s for the reply, Johnny.

The reason I ask is because I’m worrying about the snapping damage done to your elbow when you shadow box at 100%. My trainer says go for 100% speed, not 100% power when shadow boxing – but that makes no sense, to go 100% speed you need to go 100% power to increase the velocity. Which leads me to believe you should never (or sparingly) throw 100% punches (whether you class it speed or power) when you are shadow boxing – because it is actually safer for the ligaments and joints to have something to hit instead of just snapping the punch in the air.

Many guys in my club have had issues with their elbows and shoulders, I noticed a correlation between the injured members and the way they shadow box. The one’s that had nickling injuries over the course of their time in boxing were the ones who were throwing it all in shadow boxing, going as fast as they possibly can. My theory is for long term safety you shouldn’t punch at 100% without something to hit – h.bag, double end, speedbag, pad etc and that when shadow boxing you should concentrate on the technique and movement behind throwing. Do you have an opinion on this, seeing as you are obviously a fan of the speed shadow boxing?


Johnny N April 25, 2012 at 2:55 pm

I agree with your trainer. Go with 100% speed but not 100% power. You do this by not fully loading your body weight behind the punch. It’s more like fast arm movements while you rotate the body. You keep the power low but not fully contracting your core on the punch. Maybe you can even leave it relaxed as you throw fast punches.

Most guys I see getting injured with shadowboxing are because they don’t warm their body up properly. You have to warm up the muscles AND the joints. (A lot of guys stretch their muscles but don’t know to loosen up the joints.) A general rule is you should be slightly sweating before you start making your body do 100% of anything (speed/power/etc).

I’m a big fan of throwing 100% at the air because it teaches you to hold your own balance instead of relying something to push back at you, or something to bounce your hand back at you. It helps develop the back side of your body because you have to recover your hand.

Final note: I’m not a “fan” of speed shadow boxing. It’s standard boxing training and I’ve seen it done just about every gym and before every competition.


Santiago June 11, 2012 at 6:46 pm

I thought it was bad to train with resistance bands because your using more orf a pushing motion and not a snapping motion and it helps you put your fist back in place so you don’t work recovery muscles


Johnny N June 19, 2012 at 11:06 am

Resistance bands can be seen as “pushing” if you’re moving slow. If you’re moving fast, you’ll see that it’s more like a parachute than a weight being pushed. The bands aren’t heavy enough to stop your movement, they only slow you down.


Tactical boxer June 13, 2012 at 2:13 pm

some great tips thanks, but i have to ask what do you think of the Mexican double end bag? and what are some good stuff i can do on it? as my gym has lots of them and have no single double end bags…..


Johnny N June 19, 2012 at 11:07 am

Use them like any regular double-end bag but feel free to mix in body punches on the lower one.


Tactical boxer June 20, 2012 at 10:50 am

Thanks for the reply


mike88 June 26, 2012 at 2:50 pm

great tips, thx!


Zulu June 26, 2012 at 2:51 pm
Ryan August 7, 2012 at 6:15 am

Just recently I was sparring my one coach while the other coach danced around the ring giving me advice, and when I worked my opponent into the corner I was told to unload with the Shoeshine combo until he tried to escape, then clobber him. Since then I’ve been training my hand speed, and by doing two little things different I have literally doubled my hand speed (over the course of one week).

1) I exhaled short, but Very forceful breaths, instead of ‘shallow’ breaths
2) I kept my arms loose, but kept my legs and lower back ‘tight’ when I threw, and twisted my entire hips and spine with every punch.

The next week when I worked the mitts, my coach was shocked at my sudden, and drastic improvement.
I feel faster, more powerful, and definetly more confident, but after a few rounds I can definetly feel some soreness in my back from all the torquing. Although I can hardly complain because at 215lbs, I’m almost matching the speed of our resident 145lb speedster.


Johnny N August 15, 2012 at 10:38 am

Ryan, you’re definitely going in the right direction. KEEP IT UP!


DANA ADAMS November 7, 2012 at 8:07 am

THANKS A MILLION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


James November 8, 2012 at 6:00 pm

the following drill works. think of a combination. practise only the left hand punches part of the combo, then add in the right hand later.
Example. left jab, right cross, left hook. combination:
step 1. throw left jab to left hook as fast as possible. throw hundreds of times so it becomes muscle memory. step 2. add the right cross in between those punches, but still focus completely on the left hand punches. if you focus on the right hand speed descreases. step 3. work on the combination maintaining this speed until this combo at this speed becomes muscle memory. soon you will only know how to throw the combo this fast, and you can then concentrate on the power. i think if you stay on your toes ie. neither heel is on the ground (i noticed pacman does this) it is easier to moves your hips quickly with the punches which maximises the power of the combination.


Mikael December 15, 2012 at 6:05 am

Hi! I was working out with the double-end bag awhile ago and my coach filmed this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZtER9DJOYY . Can you give me some feedback and tell me where i need more improvement? I’ve been boxing for a year now.

Cheers from Finland.


Johnny N December 21, 2012 at 11:08 pm

It looks like you’re working on a lot of things, Mikael. You have good balance and control which I like. Keep doing it.


Mutahir December 30, 2012 at 6:21 am

Woh Johny your articles are awesome……….Before two years I was a pathetic asthamatic weak kid but since I took up boxing and now power runs in my veins I have won three interschool boxing tournaments and all the credit goes to you Thanks so so so so much Johny especially for these speed drills I’m improving


Johnny N February 6, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Wow! What an inspirational story. I’m very happy for you.


lee January 30, 2013 at 6:28 pm

Thank Alot
Great article


shaggy February 6, 2013 at 12:12 pm

hey i read your article and i was shocked on how fast my jabs became. to be honest i didnt think it would work but it did thatnks for the helpful tip


oliver March 15, 2013 at 2:22 am

first time ive found this site, but its awsome getting alot of tips of it. thanks for puttin it on mate


Hass "The Mass" March 21, 2013 at 5:32 am

Wow I, came across this site via a youtube link from a Mayweather vid a couple of days back and have been reading all the posts. Johnny you are a legend! great posts and really useful tips. I’ve been working for the past 3 months in sharpening both hand speed and footwork so very useful. One thing me and my trainer are working on is switching the angles after throwing a combo to give the illusion of more speed. Anything you (Johnny) can add?

Big Thanks!


Johnny N April 2, 2013 at 11:56 am

Whatever you do, be relaxed about it. That’s my best tip.


Hass "The Mass" April 16, 2013 at 8:54 am

Easier said then done but yes I fully agree! Staying cool.

many thanks!


Diablo April 18, 2013 at 12:07 am

When you are punching as quickly as you can, as Manny is doing in the video you refence above, how is your footwork supposed to differ? Clearly, Manny is not shifting his weight between feet the same way he would be doing on full punches where he would extend his arm all the way. Maybe it’s the ridiculous speed, but it seems to me that he is throwing punches halfway only and off of one foot only (his feet are alternating as he speed-punches during the flurries in between the full punches).

Using 12 as a simple example, when you throw a 12, your weight shifts forward a but on the jab, then your back foot drives the 2 shifting weight forward again. How would this footwork syncing with the 12 vary for throwing 1212121212 like Manny’s doing as quickly as possible? I always thought the punch mechanics should be e same no matter what the speed but he video makes me question that.


Johnny N April 19, 2013 at 10:06 am

The obvious discovery is that Manny doesn’t throw punches like you do. He’s using a different punching technique from yours. So now that you’re aware of that, you should try both. And see which is more effective and what situations. Keep opening your mind.


Diablo April 22, 2013 at 7:00 am

Yes, that is the obvious discovery. Opening my mind is not helpful advice. It’s already open, otherwise why would I be asking for the specific technique behind what he’s doing? Obviously, to try to emulate it. So again, what exactly is he doing? It’s not like it’s easy to figure it out even in slo mo given his insane speed. Open your mind, LOL, gee thanks.


Johnny N April 26, 2013 at 9:35 am

What Manny Pacquiao is doing is not so different from what all the other trained fighters are doing. They are standing grounded on two-legs and NOT shifting weight with every punch. Their weight stays in the middle and they just ground themselves with both legs and rotate their bodies in the middle. From time to time, they might shift to one side in order to lean in for a punch but that’s about it. I’ve covered this technique in my Power Punching Secrets series.

The reason why he looks so different from say a beginner is because beginners are shifting their weight back and forth between their feet. Which tilts their balance back and forth and makes them slower.


Odgreen37 August 24, 2013 at 10:12 pm

The technique Manny is using is not exactly a technique. Its an open fluid movement without the concern for power or leverage. Once your form is mastered, you can began to evolve away from strict rigid punching techniques. Its more of a warm up drill. However, as you concentrate on the speed of each punch, you select a punch here or there which you will deliver with a full, powerful movement. This technique transcends traditional punching movements and allows you to confuse and probe your opponents defense until the opprotunity for a full punch can be effectively delivered. Doing this will develop not only your hand speed, but will increase the fluid transition between each punch. Do not concentrate on achieving a full extension on every punch but ensure you have a full retraction between each punch back to your neutral, natural fighting stance.


LightsOut January 14, 2014 at 5:54 am

Hey Johnny,

My trainer told me to just focus on my technique instead of speed, because when you improve your technique it will improve your speed.
Do you think different about this matter?


Johnny N January 24, 2014 at 11:07 pm

Your trainer is right. Get your technique straight and your power and speed improves naturally and properly.


David St-Pierre January 28, 2014 at 10:54 am

Just to let you know that your tricks are amazings! thanks again!!


John March 3, 2014 at 2:57 pm

When training speed sparring or back work is there tension in your arms or is it from rotation and lwering body balance and tight fist? My may concern is the shoulder forearm bicep tricep and lats tightened at all


Johnny N March 5, 2014 at 10:30 am

I keep everything generally relaxed and then I tighten at the moment of impact.


Adam W April 2, 2014 at 9:39 am

Hi Johnny,

I was wondering about the intensity and amount of punches that should be thrown for the shadowboxing drills. Should I be punching as fast as I can until I start to tire and then take or short break or throw a combination quickly and then move a bit and throw another combination? Ideally, should it look like Manny? He doesn’t really let up and seems to be throwing non-stop. Obviously it’s up to the speed of the fighter and endurance, but I’m wondering about the balance between throwing volume and just practicing quick explosiveness.

IThanks for all the time and effort you put into this site. It’s very well done and I learn something new almost everytime I’m on here. Much respect!


Johnny N April 8, 2014 at 6:41 pm

Thanks for the compliments, Adam.

In regards to shadowboxing, do what you can and then improve on it. The matter of intensity is a hard question to answer. It’s like if someone asks me, “How fast should I run?” Well…go for distance, go for speed, and increase both. Also try different varieties. At the very least, you should be doing enough that it feels natural.

You have to know that pros are so good that all their punches will appear fast AND explosive even when they’re not even trying. They might actually only be warming up and you’re thinking they’re going at 100% intensity.


Samuel April 2, 2014 at 2:28 pm

So practice technique first then speed/power


philippines April 13, 2014 at 7:23 am

manny pacquiao the best ever..i hope pacquiao mayweather will happen this september…


adam April 17, 2014 at 6:16 pm

I have been watching your videos for 3 weeks now, and I have learnt so much from them. so firstly thank you. secondly here comes my dilemma I have a 3 round 2mins per round fight coming up in 2 weeks and fear I am not ready, I am 35 years old ex drinker and smoker. Given it all up for this fight I am doing 20 mins skipping 20 mins shadow boxing with 2.5kg dumbells. then a 30 min swim. I don’t run too much due to shin splints. I do this all at around 8am. I then train in the boxing gym at 6-8pm in the evenings too. taking one day off a week. yes my body aches and muscles are aching but I simply will not pull out of the fight. any tips? for someone in my position? I have only been training a week now and there is 2 weeks left.


Johnny N July 13, 2014 at 7:13 pm

If you do want to fight, then do it. If you don’t want to fight, don’t do it.
Don’t let yourself (or anybody else) force you to do anything you don’t want to do…that’s just an unhealthy way to live life.


Sergio Ortiz May 20, 2014 at 8:41 pm

Hey johnny how can I work on not flinching so much?


Johnny N July 13, 2014 at 7:12 pm

Slow sparring. That’s my best advice.


Taylan September 24, 2014 at 9:05 am

Hey Johnny I have a question.

If I train with resistancebands, will my speed and explosivess approve for like permanently.
For example, If I do these exercises every friday and wednesday, will I be faster than I was 4 weeks ago? Or is it like that the exercise only improves my speed for a short period of time. Like, that I’m as slow as before that next day…


david September 26, 2014 at 1:12 pm

Hi I have not long started boxing..and I have my first fight in November …trying to achieve the bounce step. I have a line drawn which I’m stepping over and back and using agility ladders side on.have you anymore tips or advice?thanks


Johnny N September 26, 2014 at 1:15 pm

Start skipping rope!


Zach Bryce February 14, 2015 at 7:40 pm

i have a boxing match in 2 weeks i think this might help but i know 2 weeks isnt alot but i have been doing shadow boxing with 15lb dumbells.


K. McNeil March 13, 2015 at 6:11 pm

I don’t know if anybody mentioned it already but lengthy isometric punch holds for anything longer than 5-7 seconds can actually begin to go against the purposes of the exercise. Thus slowing you down long term and causing potential faulty movement patterns. Now isometric punch holds in the start and midway points as well as the end of the punch followed by medicine ball punches mimicking the technique perfectly via a 6-8 lbs bouncing medicine ball are great speed builders or isometric holds for straight punches or any punches for that followed by plyometrics of any kind stimulating the same muscles via medicine ball hooks or slider throws, woodchopper passes etc. Are all great for explosiveness. Or you could do away with the medicine ball and use good old fashioned plyo-pushups from beginner to advance triple clap pushups, flying superman pushups, aztec pushups, Muy Thai clap pushups, combination plyo-pushups etc. Are all excellent for building fast twitch muscle fibers and explosiveness. Make you lightening fast when structured into a program right. Isometrics can be trained for time in other areas; such as structured weighted support work or increasing strength via leverage using calisthenics or gymnastic holds or v-sits, planche, manna, handstands etc. They need to be evaluated based on the athlete and his/her goals. Great read and information though just dropping my thoughts. Cheers


Ruben April 4, 2015 at 2:12 am

I’m currently workin on improvin my speed and i had found this article very useful


safal April 12, 2015 at 11:24 pm

thank yu sir.. saw a gr8 improvementt withing weeks after using ur drills


George O May 11, 2015 at 12:34 pm

…3th :’)


shikhar August 15, 2015 at 9:50 am

I wanna go to Ufc…


TheInfamous August 31, 2015 at 11:36 am

I look forward to using these drills to help increase my punching speed as it correlates to my MMA training. I need to be faster to the punch and i can’t wait to see how this will help.


Whitburn warrior September 30, 2015 at 5:02 pm

Hi Johnny,

I am a boxing coach and find your information very useful, please feel free to like out gym on Facebook, warriors gym, any info you can give will be great,




Diya Kharb February 21, 2016 at 6:34 am

How can I do Beginning of my training . I am not able to do jump rope well . How much I should jog daily . How can I punch punching bag.


Jr January 12, 2017 at 11:31 pm

Keep practicing. I was like u but now i see myself improve within few months. Just don’t give up.


Dave February 24, 2016 at 5:08 pm

Shadow boxing is actually bad for your joints if you punch properly & if you don’t then there is no point in doing it


Johnny N February 24, 2016 at 5:55 pm

Dave, can I ask you why all the top pros are shadowboxing then? There are videos of Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao doing it. And then there’s also Bernard Hopkins who’s got incredible longevity.


Ash August 24, 2016 at 10:26 am

Awesome article. I’ve been boxing for a number of years now, and it’s a great sport to learn how to safely throw and receive punches properly. Not everyone can make it to the gym though (schedules and what not), so its great to have some workout equipment at home. I spend a lot of time woodworking in the garage, so I decided to build a retractable speed bag platform there ( blog post at http://www.justmeasuringup.com/blog/diy-boxing-speed-bag-station-that-stows ) to keep up my reflexes and wrist strength. It’s a great outlet for energy as well, and keeps your arms nice and loose.


Jr January 12, 2017 at 11:29 pm

Hi, i am using weight glove on my hands and ankles. Do u think it will add more speed for my punches & footwork? Tq.


Johnny N January 13, 2017 at 11:46 am

Personally, no. It might make you stronger but pure speed doesn’t come from strength. Handspeed is also different from foot speed. And the reason is because for hand speed you only need to move the hands. For the foot speed you have to move your entire body. With that said, you can try it regardless and see if it helps you.


Michael Ali January 22, 2017 at 3:44 pm

I have great speed and I shadowbox and get dumbbells and punch with those to get more and faster speed.


Rayden M January 25, 2017 at 1:11 am

Ive been reading through your articles and I couldn’t help but notice that although you published many years ago you’ve been consistent in replying to the comments and questions the entire time, that definitely has my respect love your information and dedication man.


Johnny N February 13, 2017 at 1:38 pm

Thank you, Rayden.


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