Why Lifting Weights Won’t Increase Punching Power

February 13, 2012 February 13, 2012 by Johnny N Boxing Training, Boxing Workouts 884 Comments

Why Lifting Weights Won't Increase Power

There’s a popular misconception that lifting HEAVY weights guarantees increased punching power. Every month I see endless emails, forums, and websites full of fighters trying to rationalize the benefits of weights for fighting. Not surprisingly, many are written by guys with limited fighting experience. Weight training CAN build powerful muscles but won’t guarantee you powerful punches.

I’ll give you 5 reasons why…


My experience with weights

As a teenager, I lifted weights for all sorts of reasons — functional & aesthetic. In middle school, I lifted weights to impress the girls (it didn’t work, by the way). In high school, I followed an explosive weight training routine in track & field to increase my sprinting power. After track & field, I spent 5 years in powerlifting developing my strength and power through intense weight training. It was during my powerlifting phase that I discovered boxing.

I TOO, thought my powerlifting background would give me an advantage in boxing. If lifting weights made me a more powerful lifter, shouldn’t it make me a more powerful puncher as well? I heard about old school boxers staying away from weights but I refused to give up my self-proclaimed “advantage”. When comparing myself to other beginners, I could see that I was stronger than all of them. My boxing trainer and all the pro boxers in the gym told me to stop lifting weights. They all challenged my theories stressing that weights would make me slow and stiff, and get tired faster. They told me the back-in-the-days boxing champions never lifted weights. Yet still, I resisted. I couldn’t understand how a power exercise could ever be dentrimental to a power-sport!

The turning point came when I started losing sparring matches against faster, skinnier guys. They carried a slender build but hit so much harder than me! I kept thinking their technique was better or that maybe I hadn’t been boxing long enough. I finally got sick of losing and decided to obey my trainer’s every word. I stopped lifting weights among other things and within weeks, I was punching faster and harder. What shocked me was that I wasn’t only punching harder, my boxing skill had also improved. Looking back, I can see clearly that lifting weights really held me back. It makes a lot of sense when you understand punching technique.


Why Lifting Weights Won’t Increase Punching Power

REASON #1 – Punching is a snapping motion, NOT a pushing motion

Lifting weights is a PUSHING MOTION.

You exert as much force as possible, as consistently as possible, to lift the heaviest weight you can. During a pushing motion, the object is moved by you first establishing contact and exerting force over a relatively extended period of time.

The natural progression of lifting weights is to lift heavier. Of course, everyone tries to lift fast but once they’re able to lift something, the next step is to lift HEAVIER. Speed is not the focus, strength is. Unfortunately many beginner fighters falsely believe punching to be the same pushing motion. These beginners think the goal of punching is to push their fist with as much force as possible to penetrate their opponent as hard as possible.

Examples of sports with PUSHING motions (all of these also have snapping motions):

  • sprinting
  • gymnastics
  • football
  • wrestling
  • weightlifting


Punching is a SNAPPING MOTION.

A snapping motion is to exert as much force as possible in the least amount of time. With a snapping motion, you accelerate your hand towards the object and then use the IMPACT of that acceleration to exert force.

Suppose you want to punch fast. The goal would be to explode on your opponent with the fastest punch possible and make contact with your opponent with the shortest amount of time. A punch is not a push, it’s a quick explosion, an accelerated force that reaches maximum power upon contact. When lifting weights, you can take a few seconds to exert your strength. When punching an opponent, you don’t have this luxury of time–he has to feel your power right when you touch him. Your fist must SNAP upon impact and return quickly so you can throw other punches or go back on defense. The speed requirement of punching increases the explosive damage your opponent feels. Lifting weights has far less emphasis on speed, which costs you EXPLOSIVE power.

Examples of sports with SNAPPING motions:

  • tennis
  • baseball (hitting, not throwing)
  • golf
  • volleyball


Pushing vs Snapping

The main difference between a pushing motion and a snapping motion is the amount of contact time made and the consistency of energy committed. Compare the bodies of these different types of athletes. If weightlifting improved snapping movements, wouldn’t professional volleyball players be lifting weights so they could spike the ball harder? If weightlifters had punching advantages, they would all be strong punchers, right?

Pushing definitely allows you to move heavier objects because you have more time to apply force. Snapping allows you to apply more explosive force (damage) because you have the freedom to accelerate. You could say that pushing is like throwing a baseball, whereas snapping is like spiking a volleyball. Both are powerful movements but punching is definitely more like snapping than pushing.


REASON #2 – Powerful Punches Require Relaxation, NOT Strong Muscles

Many fighters don’t know how to punch…

When you don’t know how to punch, all your punches become pushes. Without the proper technique, all you can do is use your strength and power. This is why lifting weights actually helped me punch harder as a beginner. But the difference was only marginal, I was maybe 20% more powerful at best. Learning proper technique maybe tripled my power.


So how DO you punch?

I won’t go into specifics right now but here are some simple concepts:

  1. Punching power (damage caused) = acceleration (hand speed) x force (muscle strength & body weight)
  2. You punch harder by using committing more speed and more force.


How do you increase power WITHOUT using more energy?

Now here’s the trick to punching RIDICULOUSLY HARD. There are 2 ways to accelerate more force into your opponent. One common way is to spend more energy. It’s logical, it works, but is it effective? NOPE! Using more energy increases your punching power but it doesn’t increase the explosion effect. It feels like a harder push and it doesn’t give your punches that *BANG!* effect.

The OTHER way (the only way) to generate explosive force, is to DECREASE the “weight” so that your punch travels faster. Then you add the weight at the very end of the punch when it lands—this makes your punches faster and use less energy! So what is “the weight” and how do you decrease it? The weight in this case is the TENSION in your body! The more tense and the heavier your body is, the heavier your punching weight becomes. You decrease this weight by RELAXING YOUR BODY as you punch, allowing your punching weight to accelerate freely towards your opponent. Right before your punch lands is when your foot finishes the pivot, your hip rotates, and the shoulders turn over to form the punch. In this final moment, you need only a short compact contraction to SNAP your entire body (like a rubberband) into one unified explosive punch. The better you are at relaxing your body, the more powerful you will be!


Relax to aid the snap

The relaxing motion is a critical aspect of punching power.

Relax the body by letting go of your muscles. This relaxing motion, this “release” of your body allows your punch to accelerate faster creating a far more devastating explosion when you finally add weight. If you think about it: the punching motion is relaxing your fist as much as possible towards your opponent, leaving only the final moment of impact for your muscle contraction. Learn how to exert force through relaxation and you will have mastered 99% of your punching technique.

Now of course, relaxing your body doesn’t mean letting your body flop all over the place. Use proper punching form to relax your body INTO the motion of the punch. Then contract all your muscles simultaneously at the very end to finally add weight to the punch. Mastering this split-second timing of punching with your entire body all at once, is what makes the punch incredibly powerful. (Increasing your muscle power is useless if you can’t get your body to hit all at once.)


An explosive punch is 99.99% snap, and 0.01% push.

Lifting weights will not train you to relax and only makes your body slow during the contraction phase of the punch. If you’re so use to exerting force over a period of several seconds, how will you be able to exert maximum force in only a split second? The simple answer is that you can’t (or you won’t be as good at it).

Proper punching requires snapping movement (exerting maximum force in the shortest time possible). Unfortunately, most fighters are only taught the proper punching form, which is easy to teach because you can see it. Technique on the other hand, has to be felt and has to be taught. It’s a special skill requiring a combination of timing and visualization. Now you understand why an old skillful boxer can still punch harder than a young athletic kid. It’s because he’s mastered the timing of relaxing his body and then contracting his muscles in the right moment to deliver the explosive power.

Beginner punchers increase power through effort.
Skilled punchers increase power through relaxation.


REASON #3 – Lifting Weights Can Decrease Your Muscle Relaxation Capacity

This is where the old school arguments against weights come in. I’m sure you’ve heard them all before.

Lifting weights:

  • makes you slow
  • makes you stiff
  • makes you tire out faster

Is it true? Well, let’s think about the extremes. Suppose I was to compare two guys– one being a weightlifter and the other being a dancer. How might their bodies look differently? How might their bodies move differently? Which body do you think would better mimic the movements of a boxer?

In my case the old school arguments were true. Powerlifting limited my speed and endurance, while making me “stiff”. I didn’t feel disadvantaged against other beginners but against experienced fighters, they were all MUCH faster and punched harder with more endurance. They didn’t use any weights and begged me to do the same.

Suppose you don’t care about being slower or having less endurance. You should still consider the chances that lifting weights might HAMPER your relaxation capacity and thus your power punching ability. Even a slight decrease in speed can make the difference between a landed punch and a missed punch. Being more powerful isn’t worth it if you can’t sustain that power for a whole 3 rounds.


The Real Problem with Weights and Fighting

I don’t truly believe that lifting weights makes you stiff. Maybe it just promotes the wrong attitude in beginner athletes. Most people only know how to move powerfully by straining their muscles instead of relaxing. Relaxing for power is a very foreign concept and takes time to practice. The real risk of lifting weights is that you never learn how to move powerfully by relaxing.

Weight lifting doesn’t teach you how to relax,
and doesn’t help you practice that type of movement.


REASON #4 – The Weight Behind Your Punches Is NOT Your Muscle

Lifting weights generates force PURELY from your muscles. Punching generates force by converting your body weight’s gravitational into forward impact. Of course, you could try and generate punching power using your muscle but everybody knows that’s inefficient use of energy. I’d rather drop my 145lb frame 100 times each round then to try and generate 145lbs of force with every punch through my muscles…you get what I’m saying?

The force behind your punches is generately mostly from your body weight. Your muscles’ role in punching power is to make your body weight heavier AND DIRECT THE FORCE into your opponent. Your muscles don’t have to generate any punching force, they simply tighten your body into a compact “weight” and direct this weight into your opponent.


Visualize This

Imagine if you wanted to punch the ground. Instead of punching the ground directly, you drop a weight a mid-air, and use your muscles to SLAP that weight making it drop faster to the ground. So instead of using your muscles to punch your opponent, you’re using your muscles to snap your body to punch your opponent.

Alternative visualization: imagine that you want you cannonball jump into the water and make a big splash. You can be as powerfully muscular as you want, but your body weight doesn’t change and that splash stays relatively the same. Your ability to relax determines how high you can jump. Your muscle power and technique determines how tight you can squeeze yourself into a compact cannonball. My point is: muscle power alone can’t punch harder than your body weight.


REASON #5 – Punching Power Doesn’t Guarantee Damage Delivered

Punching Power vs Damaged Delivered

The amount of damage delivered is determined by:

  • muscle power (conditioning)
  • technique (skill)
  • angle (skill)
  • accuracy (skill)
  • timing (skill)


Boxing is a punching contest, not a power contest.

Having powerful muscles doesn’t guarantee a great punch. You’ve got to have skill. You need technique, angle, accuracy, and timing. Beginners rely on raw power during slugfests, but experienced fighters generate far more power using SKILLS!

Your skills make up more of your FUNCTIONAL punching power than anything else. I can punch 3 times harder than when I first started boxing, and I’m sure it’s not because I’m 3 times stronger. If I only had a limited number of hours to workout, I’d be prioritizing my skill development. Boxing is a skill sport so you need skills to be able to use your power. Unless you’re only interested in showing off on the heavy bag, you need skills to use your power in fights.

Try hitting the double-end bag with your hardest punches and use that as an indicator of your functional punching power. If you can’t hit the moving bag with your power, you probably won’t be able to hit a live opponent either. Good opponents move more like double-end bags than heavy bags.


Is it IMPOSSIBLE to Lift Weights for Boxing?

I’m not saying you can’t ever lift weights for boxing.
I’m only saying: “lifting heavy weights will not increase punching power”.

There are dozens of great uses for weights. There are nice exercises for targeting different muscle groups. You can build your support muscles with small dumbbells. You can work on specific muscle groups that are otherwise difficult to target with calisthenics (bodyweight exercises).

The key to any effective exercise, weightlifting or not, is to develop functional boxing conditioning. Whatever exercise you do, make sure it translates into better boxing ability—this can mean an increase in physical capacity or an increase in motor control or even muscle support (reduce chance of injury). Look carefully at the bodies of most boxers. If your exercises make your body look different, you might be developing the wrong physique for boxing.

NOTE: those of you wondering if it’s a good idea to shadowbox at high speed while holding dumbbells–it’s a bad idea. It hurts your joints and doesn’t make you much faster or stronger. That exercise is usually done by the pros using slow movements to build support muscle (not punching speed/power).

Lifting Weights Can Affect Your Fighting Ability

I wrote this article because I’ve tried dozen ways to adapt weight lifting for boxing. A part of me always searches for every possible advantage and I really thought I had it in being a powerlifter. I was humbled by so many “weaker” and less-built punchers that I had no choice but to accept the truth. There will always be someone who thinks they’re beyond the rules (me included). There will always be someone who thinks they’re so special that their body and “special training” can overcome simple facts about boxing. The worst part about training incorrectly is waking up one day to realize you’re holding back your progress.

The truth is, boxing is a fast movement type of sport. Boxing requires quick snapping movements and many of them. A single fight can have hundreds of quick snappy movements in all sorts of directions. Lifting weights is a relatively slow movement using a relatively limited range of motion, making it less effective for boxing training. Even if lifting weights did increase your punching power, you’re still better off developing your punching skills. You have to workout like a boxer if you want to be a boxer.

Boxing is thousands of years old and weights are not a new invention. If weight-training had a place in boxing training, there would have been a mainstream use for them by now. There is nothing new about the concept of using resistance training to develop power. You can give it a new name or switch the loads and reps around but there is nothing new about it. Every single dedicated athlete is always looking for new ways to improve their body and you can bet that heavy weights would have become mainstream by now had it really been that effective.

I am aware of recent boxers weight-training but none that achieved the levels of physicality and skill as the old timers did. The overwhelming majority of trained boxers and coaches are still against weight lifting. The exceptions to this rule are few and far between. I’ve been to a bagillion gyms and seen hundreds of pros work out. To this day, I have never seen ANY of them using heavy weights. I beg you to go to the best boxing gym you can find, ask the head coach about weights and see what he says.

*** I’ve come to realize a lot of people are in heated disagreement with me over this article. And to you guys, I have only this to say: weights might be incrementally helpful but the greatest risk to the development of your punching power will be from letting your weightlifting strength mask your lack of effective punching technique. The reason why I choose not to lift heavy weights is because my punching technique alone affords me the power that I’ve always dreamed of. I am by far one of the hardest p4p punchers in my gym and I don’t touch a single weight. I have yet to meet a single deadly power puncher that claims his power came from lifting weights.

The reason why some people punch harder with weights is because they use their strength to compensate for the lack of effective technique. If you don’t know how to use your body weight, then sure…doing things like strengthening your muscles and trying to push your fist through your opponent might help. Telling me you need weights to punch harder is like saying you need a swim suit to swim fast (and conversely, that without IT you can’t). I don’t dispute that weights MIGHT make me punch harder…but the truth is, I already punch quite hard just as it is right now because my technique allows me to do so.

But please, do your homework and don’t just listen to me. Go ask top trainers like Freddie Roach or Roger Mayweather on how much effect weightlifting has on punching power. Talk to somebody that’s been in the game for over 20, 30, 40 years. If you want to dismiss their EXPERIENCE as being “old-school” or “old fashioned”, well then by all means do so at your loss. I listen to the trainers with the best fighters.


Please don’t bother leaving a comment if you’re going to be emotional and disrespectful about it. I will simply delete it and NOBODY (not even me) will ever get to read it. People get sensitive when they think you’re telling them that they’re wrong. When all I’m really doing is sharing my opinion….which should be the point of why people come to this site anyways—to hear my take on things.

People put so much of their of heart into something that the way they train becomes their identity and they feel offended if it doesn’t match what somebody else believes is “the better way”. Then they start trying to rationalize and justify their actions. And the more I explain how what I do IS in fact “evolved and scientific”, the more they try to argue that I’m stupid/inexperienced/backwards-minded.

And the real damage is that….whether or not they agree with me….it’s their loss if they don’t try what I say. It’s their loss when they don’t take different opinions and views into consideration.

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Gemma February 13, 2012 at 5:01 pm

I can see where I have been going wrong I have been trying to hard to hit people with a bang hard punch with a pushing motion rather than a snapping motion, No wonder I am knackered at the end of a session! Thank you so much for this! Can’t believe your help is free, it’s like having my own personal trainer! x

Johnny N February 14, 2012 at 3:37 am

I’m happy to help, Gemma. Thanks for the compliment on Facebook. Let me know when you win your first title.

pedro sepulveda February 25, 2012 at 3:51 pm

thank you, i had my Aikijutsu Sensei on how to improved on punching power, he said theres no use for lifting weights, its all on technique, he had showed the basics on Aikijutsu is on all core stengthing, everyday since then i applied it on my first boxing match, i was well impressed that it worked even though i lost…i gave up on weight lifting and continued on body weight! sorry, my grammer is bad!

conor March 18, 2012 at 5:48 am

hi johnny, i totally agree with you i dont believe in weight training for boxing but mike tyson used to do a lot of shoulder shrugs as it supported his neck and also helped him strenthen his shoulders for endurance and helped his power, thats what i read anyway. i’ve been wondering whether this would be beneficial to adding some power without making my hands slower. Thanks 🙂

Johnny N March 18, 2012 at 6:53 am

Shrugs do help in conditioning. But make sure you don’t put too much weight.

Joe April 6, 2012 at 9:29 pm

tyson practiced power lifting and those “shrugs” were for his hips not his traps.

Holyfield actuallly hired mr. underfverse at that time to train him with weights. that was stupid but since he was a supreme athlete it didn’t bother him obviously.



Smurf June 28, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Good post John. I agree and disagree at the same time, Firstly i would like to say there is no magical pill or routine that can make anyone a better boxer whether they lift HEAVY weights or not. But i know boxer who lift HEAVY weights who destroy boxers who do not lift weights and vice versa. Where i agree with you is first and foremost it takes great technique and skill to have good punching power, and this i think precedes any other kind of training that can increase punching power. and i’d also agree that plyometrics is also a good SKILL that can increase punching power if done correctly. Now where i must totally disagree with is that HEAVY weights cannot increase punching power but in all actuality it can especially combined with plyometrics and proper boxing training. To not really get into the science of everything i think i agree with what one of the members who recently made a post, his name is Haines and really explained a little science behind weight lifting and punching power, he was spot on with his explanation and i couldn’t agree with anyone more than how he explained it. You also have to factor in genetics some people are gifted athletes while others are not and HEAVY weight training can develop individuals into great athletes. But you have an awesome sight with alot of great and accurate information, keep up the good work.

Ryan July 5, 2012 at 12:54 pm

You dont know shit man. In his prime, tyson never touched weights except for shrugs [30 kgs] 500 reps and those were part of his neck strenghtening exercises. Read the Kevin Rooney interview and he clearly stated ”when Mike was with me, he never touched weights”. And once Tyson fired rooney, his boxing skills started deteriorating from 1989 onwards, he got hit by good fighters on a regular basis, lost his speed, head movement and his discipline.

Tyson’s style was elusive aggression and apart from Rooney, no one understood. He started lifting weights when he was on his way down from the peak he reached when he was the youngest world heavyweight champion.

jack August 8, 2012 at 2:01 pm

powerlifting is not weightlifting
watch the olympics and you will understand

nick March 1, 2013 at 9:35 am

Mike tyson once said on tv he trained to develop his upper back because that improved his punches, and i thoght shrugs developed upper back, and the squat developes the hips

me April 2, 2014 at 1:58 am

the hardest & fastest hitters were the old school boxers. what they did for a boxing workout was they boxed hard. put every muscle into it as you would in weightlifting.

jh April 25, 2014 at 5:49 pm


Jake May 15, 2012 at 9:58 am

Then why do Alistair Overeem lift weights? Junior dos Santos? Brock Lesnar? Mike Tyson? Evander Holifieild? George Foreman? all pretty big fighters in mma and boxing who lift wights

Johnny N May 17, 2012 at 8:29 am

*HEAVY* weightlifting is the exception in fighting, not the norm.

Sam October 10, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Yeah I agree with Austin. MMA is totally different. I used to lift heavy weights a lot to help with wrestling and BJJ. Weight training is absolutely necessary in grappling if you want to be competitive because it not only improves your performance but prevents injuries. If you have a skinny, cut physique like a boxer and a strong wrestler goes for a takedown or clinches aggressively, you’ll likely tweek a knee or spine. I speak from experience because back when I didn’t lift weights and only did technique, a stronger competitor totally destroyed me and put me out of action for a while.

Marco October 23, 2012 at 11:48 pm

A lot of what you say is true in some aspects depending on the context and circumstances but the force of a punch = acceleration by mass, If you used the exact same motion twice and altered either the acceleration or mass that would ultimately define the force of the punch. Everything else such as snapping and and using chain linking principles would be basic for technique training.

So theoretically Lifting heavy weights increasing your mass may in fact make you punch harder and it can also be argued that explosive training (fast twitch muscle fibres) recruiting more muscle fibres and plyometrics may increase your acceleration.

Modern day and age with technology many fighters include lifting heavy weights as part of their training regimes.

Austin October 9, 2012 at 12:37 pm

MMA is a whole different animal, controlling people in the clinch and on the ground is strength-based. Calling Brock Lesnar a good boxer is just ludicrous.

Weights can help with muscle conditioning in the 20+ rep ranges but in terms of getting more power while staying in your weight class they arent that helpful.

Joey zee February 16, 2013 at 1:30 pm

They grapple. If you don’t lift weights and grapple someone stronger than you, te have a big advantage.

aaron May 22, 2012 at 8:51 am

Johhny N

I’m presuming that you never ever did a stretching session after weight lifting? you claim that weigh training makes you stiff seems very narrow. May be if I were to reach my maximum potential of muscular growth in order to participate in mr universe or similar bodybuilding competition, I’d agree. I’m currently at 143 lbs and I lift weights and box.
Bench = 132lbs X 5 reps
Deadlift = 176lbs X 5 reps
Squat = 176 lbs X 8 – 10 reps

I’m not sure it falls under your definition of heavy but it does get heavy for me. I train alternate days (I’m assuming you committed the grave blasphemy of lifting 5-6 days a week?) and box on alternate days.

While sparring, I have noticed that I have infact become faster and my punches land harder. Though I can attribute it to the fact that I do plyometrics as well as balance & flexibility training. But then lifting weights has given me stronger legs, an amazingly strong core and surprisingly, a kind of endurance that my non-lifting peers simply lack.

I’d say that your post is a wee bit biased towards boxers rather than us lifter-boxer fellas 🙂

Johnny N May 22, 2012 at 1:40 pm

I never said weightlifting makes you stiff. Weightlifting CAN make you stiff, or it CAN limit your range of motion if you do it wrong. I also never said you shouldn’t lift weights as a boxer. I said you shouldn’t lift heavy weights.

I have weightlifting experience as a trained powerlifter and track athlete, basketball player, etc. C’mon man, I wouldn’t be writing on this subject if I didn’t know my stuff. No trained athlete is silly enough to lift heavy 5-6 days a week. Actually, it’s not even possible at the highest levels; your body will take a break whether you give it one or not.

My bench routine at 140lbs:
– 135lbs x 15 reps (warm-up)
– 185lbs-225lbs x ____ reps (workout)
… 135 isn’t heavy in terms of weight-lifting, but it’s a lot for a boxer.

I was a boxer, I was a lifter, I was an endurance athlete, power athlete, also a cross “lifter-boxer” as you put it. I’m not here to be biased against anybody because I tried it all. I’m not seeking to attack anybody’s training methods, I’m here to find the truth FOR ME.

Jason June 26, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Man, you lift that much at your weight? I rarely go over 185, and certainly couldn’t rep out 225 at this point. Then again, I do decline, flat, and incline.

I agree with the article. When I started going back to my boxing gym back in Jan, I weighed around 196 lbs. I had a weightlifter’s physique, big arms, shoulders, chest etc. After several weeks, I attempted to maintain bothy lifestyles but I always tired out and whimpered a lot. My big pretty muscles failed me. They gave out and during some drills I failed to hold my hands above my shoulders!

Well its June now and I weigh 182-ish lbs. Thats four pounds above competition. I have lost a lot of strength but my functional strength as increased 10 fold and man I can go.

I still lift weights but mostly on the weekends and maybe once during the week. I just like to maintain a certain degree of raw, masculine strength — whether real or imagined.

George Parigian Jr. January 19, 2013 at 6:17 pm

Johnny, you make some great points in this article. I have no experience with boxing, but what seems clear to me is that the optimal combination of strength and speed is what it requires. That is why flyweights even though they are faster than heavyweights, could not beat heavyweights. You DO need strength, but you must be as fast as possible and have the best technique as well.

Heavy weights do not teach you to move fast, for obvious reaons. In fact, many powerlifters (which is my background) have taken to doing what they call “speed work” where we take much lighter weights and practice moving them a lot faster. So even in powerlifting, increasing your speed makes you better.

Interestingly, you see many boxers like Tyson who although they do not lift weights, LOOK as if they do. This is because fast explosive mvements in boxing build what is called “fast twitch muscle fiber.” Tyson had this type of muscle, and it was the reason he was so devastating a puncher.

As to the debate on whether weights could help a boxer, I think the answer would be theoretically yes….BUT only if the weight training was done in a way that somehow improved the boxer’s speed and explosiveness.

You CAN lift weights somewhat “plyometrically” but then again, you would be by definition training in a way that would maximize what’s called “speed strength,” but as to exactly how you would do that, I can’t say.

One thing I do believe however that boxers do incorrectly is slow roadwork. I think any running training should be done explosively as sprinting. This is because roadwork lowers testosterone and raises cortisol, which actually makes you slower.

But in keeping with your comments I think you are 100% right on the speed aspect of training for boxing, and yes, heavy weight training does NOT train the muscle to have the speed necessary for effective punching.

Tom April 18, 2014 at 2:44 pm

The hell you didn’t say weights will make you stiff. Look at reason number 3 in your article: REASON #3 – Lifting Weights Can Decrease Your Muscle Relaxation Capacity

This is where the old school arguments against weights come in. I’m sure you’ve heard them all before.

Lifting weights:

makes you slow
makes you stiff
makes you tire out faster

Just like you said power is acceleration x mass. So according to your theory, if you lift heavy, you will gain mass, thus gain power. Seems to me like you’re contradicting yourself.
I won’t argue that there’s no substitute for good technique. Bottom line: two guys with equal technique fight, the stronger one wins. Every time.
This is what happens when people who don’t have PhD after their name give advice on weight training.

Chris September 14, 2014 at 11:02 am

damn leave the man alone he’s giving out free GOOD advice and yall are riding on his Johnson about it jesus. It’s different for different people depending on body types and everything me personally I’m five eleven and it took me everything in my power including not touching a single weight to go from 230 of muscle from lifting down to 185ish where I sit now. Some guys are six feet and fight at 143 that’s fucking nuts I’m just not built that way and it’s impossible no matter what I do to get that thin. You guys are honestly just attacking this man while he’s offering great advice…at least for me it’s awesome and I truly appreciated it even though I’ve already been doing BW training for a while. Even pull ups and push ups get me big I think people should be focusing more on footwork balance skill technique defense actually PUNCHING instead of trying to find a magical pill that’s going to make you a punch..just fucking do it like nike. If you take two average men of same strength height and everything and pit them against each other in a match with a month to prepare..and one just does pure weights and barely concentrates on his boxing…and the other guy does nothing but pad work bodyweight circuits neck bridges sparring leg conditioning (bodyweight) circuits again…I guarantee you the guy who did more sport specific boxing training will win. As for MMA we are talking boxing guys the site is expert boxing…let it go for fuck sakes. If you want to be a good boxer work on your core your cardio above all and from my experience….when I lifted weights…I hit hard with no technique but I couldn’t do it for more than two minutes..so different strokes for different folks but bottom line if you don’t like the guys advice…take yourself elsewhere.

Mitchell February 24, 2015 at 9:29 pm

What about Olympic Lifts such as the Snatch and Clean and Jerk, they develop power, strength, conditioning, flexibility.

You stated you did Powerlifting and through out used the term weightlifting a lot, do you mean Powerlifting and lifting weights in general or Olympic Lifting?

KydgraViTY October 6, 2012 at 10:25 am

You can Rock at the weights ur lifting. What your doing us definitely not heavy lifting. You pretty much conditioning at that weight amount. If u doubled what your doing them we’re talking heavy. I know guys ur size that can double that weight. They’re ur weight just solid mass. U keep doing what your doing. It’s a good ratio.

Johnny N February 21, 2013 at 2:10 am

I would consider it heavy because I can only manage low reps at that weight. I’m built with long thin arms, not a stocky guy at all. I’m also lifting raw and without a shirt. So while it isn’t up there with the powerlifting records, it is definitely a “heavy” weight for me.

Steve April 15, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Yes i understand thank You for the message. You are smart


armii April 12, 2013 at 5:22 am

yes heavy. I m sure that from 1-5 at the begging is a good way to be stronger. It helps to punch harder if you do handstandpush ups- you lift 95% of your body!
One hand push ups are good too beacuse it is strenght and strenght+ endurance makes you stronger but if you lift your weight, or you do one hand push ups but i dont think that you do one hand push up johnny? You will say that strenght doesnt help much at boxing , but skill and endurance? okey but strenght do help more at grappling maybe? anyway it is better to not avoid lifting weights (not heavy) beacuse it help at boxing too.. And we should not be scared to lift weights of course not heavier than your body. lets us not paranoid

armii April 12, 2013 at 8:04 am

EDIT: i mean weights not heavy weights like kettlebells swinging.

Johnny N April 12, 2013 at 2:00 pm

I can do one-hand push-ups. They’re not really a big deal. I can do many of them so they’re really a hard strength exercise for me. I prefer to do 2-hand push-ups because it’s easier to keep proper form that way.

aaron December 1, 2013 at 5:53 pm

well yaeh cuz its a sport its not fighting ive been jumped by six people and my boxing didnt help for shit

steven shelton March 11, 2014 at 9:10 am

thanks for this…i stopped equating boxing to street fighting a long time ago when i got over my insecurities.

Tom April 18, 2014 at 2:49 pm

A little crazy will go a long way in a street fight.

Johnny N July 15, 2014 at 9:35 am

Well 6 on 1 isn’t exactly what I call “fighting” either. There is nothing besides a gun that’s going to help you in that situation.

Liam December 16, 2012 at 3:26 am

No references to back up your claims so its all just opinion! Pushing and Snapping(?) are irrelevant, it is all about Power. Power gives you the snap. Its about generating the force up the Kinetic Chain, from the Legs through the Core and up to the Shoulders and Arms. With the right Strength and Conditioning you will increase your punch power. Think Olympic lifts, Medicine ball throws and Plyometrics etc.

P.S. Never heard of snapping. We have pushing, pulling, rotating, twisting. No such thing as snapping.

Johnny N March 23, 2014 at 6:01 pm

There isn’t much I can discuss with you about. If you’ve never heard of snapping, it sounds like you’ve never had a real boxing coach.

Moses January 2, 2013 at 7:35 pm

If lifting weights makes you slower then explain Bruce Lee. What about Floyd Mayweather he lifts allot and is undefeated. Ill agree that size doesn’t equal power but all the professional fighters I can think of all lift weights.

George Parigian Jr. January 19, 2013 at 6:32 pm


I think you also have to factor in gnetics. Some guys are just fast because that is their nature. Yes, Bruce Lee did lift weights, BUT not heavy type powerlifts. He did lots of repeitions in his training.

I don’t know about Mayweather, but I suspect he would be great no matter what he did. He is just naturally fast. There may well be guys that are not slowed down by lifting, because again they tend to be naturally fast. Just a guess on my part.

I knew a guy who was a former Mr. Massachusetts and also won New England Golden Gloves on year, but again, if he had natural ability, that would tend to explain it.

Marciano on the other hand was the closest thing to a weight trained fighter in his day (they really didn’t train with weight then) but I don’t think he was very fast. He won by being toughter than the guys he fought. He would absorb a lot of punishment and then just hit incredibly hard and wear his opponenents down.

What he lacked in speed he made up for in toughness and strength. However…let’s face it, guys like Rocky only come along once in a lifetime.

I might also point out that the some of the guys in MMA that are good with their hands, take anabolic steroids. Steroids (if a fighter is using them) change the equation quite a bit, because steroids are just a form of testoerone which again juices up the nervous system and makes you faster.

So that could explain a weight trained fighter who also seems to have really good speed. An example of this would be Vitor Belfort, especially in his younger days when he was clearly ” on the juice.”

Tom April 18, 2014 at 2:54 pm

I agree natural ability has A LOT to do with it, but is it terribly difficult for so many people to fathom that it might be possible to do both speed and strength training at the same time?
And it ain’t like boxers are any strangers to the juice.
Just sayin’…

Moses January 20, 2013 at 9:36 am

Guys like Bruce Lee are not genetically gifted. In fact if you look up his history he was actually quite lanky and scrawny. It wasn’t until he moved to the U.S. at around age 24 that he started lifting weights. As far as MMA goes steroids are absolutely forbidden. Sure, a few fighters have been caught but they are immediately kicked out of the sport.

Snoopu March 3, 2013 at 8:59 am

In MMA steroids are silently accepted and alot of people take them.
Sure, they are ridiculed when they get caught but all is forgotten when that fighter gets a streak going untill they lose again.

Tom April 18, 2014 at 2:57 pm

Please. IN MMA, just like every other professional sport, steroids are rampant.
With the tests 3-4 years behind the chemists, only the dumbasses get caught.

rod August 9, 2014 at 12:01 pm

testosterone replacement therapy is very common in mma with is steroids

Ian June 8, 2014 at 12:48 am

Bruce Lee was mindful of functional efficiency too. The whole premise of his martial art, Jeet Kun Do, was to use what works, discard what does not; that applied to how he approached his fitness too:

“According to Glover, however, Lee wasn’t particularly pleased with the added mass; “I noticed that he was bigger after he was weight training. There was a time after he went to California that he went up to 165 pounds. But I think it slowed him down because that was real heavy for Bruce. He looked buff like a bodybuilder. And then, later on I saw him and this was all gone. I mean, one thing that Bruce was [about] was function — and if stuff got in the way, then it had to go.” – (source: http://www.mikementzer.com/blee.html)

Boxing’s a specialized discipline for fighting–with Jeet Kun Do, it’s the fighter’s capacity and readiness to employ any appropriate possibility that matters–grappling is par for course as are kicks, jabs, and even biting. Whatever works to win. Boxing has its own set of rules and certain body parts benefit more from different intensities and focus.

randell1985 July 13, 2014 at 9:41 am

Glover may have believed he was slower but bulking up a bit will not slow you down thats a myth not grounded in science. in his own books Bruce said that its a myth that training your body will make you bulk up. he specifically said that proper training will not have you gaining weight but loosing weight, on top of that his Diet would have prevented him from getting to big because he believed that a low fat content made him look bigger

Johnny N July 15, 2014 at 9:44 am

I’m sorry…you need to read the title. I’m talking about the correlation between weightlifting and punching power. You’re talking about the correlation between weightlifting and pro boxers.

Carl December 7, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Hi Johnny, you sure took a lot of heat on this one. Too funny, I almost feel sorry for you, your site is so good and right on the money. My Gym would Hire you on as a trainer in a heart beat. I can not believe you put so much time into this site it is much appreciated.
I have been away from Boxing since March 2013 but it is a great sport and your information is spot on.
Thanks for keeping the faith.

Johnny N December 11, 2013 at 5:46 pm

Hahaha, Carl! Thanks for the comment.

Avishek July 22, 2014 at 7:42 am

Not a fighter either (recreational) but I agree with this article based on my experiences powerlifting to improve athleticism.

Lifting HEAVY, >80%1RM, teaches the nervous system to recruit muscles more slowly. It is well known that rate of force development decreases with a strength training program. In a sport where you need to develop force very fast, strength increases will only help if the movement (a punch in this case) is affected by the training. Since the movement takes milliseconds, it may not improve from strength training with slow movements. Also, the movements are memorized by muscles as author stated; punching vs pushing. Heavy weight training, which takes several days to recover from, will cause the motor units to want to recruit muscle fibers in a way specific to the lift performed and this can cause muscle confusion when sparring or practicing any sport involving quick movements.

I also see how the debate on this won’t end: people have the belief that more strength = more force therefore strength training must help, but don’t realize that the peripheral mechanisms that dictate how that strength is expressed is ultimately why heavy weightlifting can actually reduce punching power and strength.

Nandando August 1, 2014 at 2:53 pm

“Lifting HEAVY, >80%1RM, teaches the nervous system to recruit muscles more slowly.”

No it does not. You don’t know a thing about powerlifting. The author said the same thing as you, “the next step is to lift HEAVIER. Speed is not the focus, strength is.” This is completely wrong. In Oly and PL, strength without speed is useless.

Powerlifters and olympic lifters do heavy weight, low rep, and they do so through the building of fast-twitch muscle fibers. It’s the low-weight, high rep of bodybuilders that builds slow twitch muscle fibers. Powerlifting is like sprinting, bodybuilding is like endurance running. Ask any coach of elite-level PL or oly lifters, and they will tell you this. Ask Louie Simmons whether or not speed is important to lifting heavy.

Johnny N August 1, 2014 at 3:21 pm

I agree with you, Nandando. I’d love to chat but don’t care so much for this subject since I’ve already said practically everything that is relevant. Between me and you, it’s important that you understand that my past comments are all in context to what someone else said. So while I did say that powerlifting has more to do with strength than speed, it definitely doesn’t mean that speed is useless to a powerlifter.

And then of course, there’s also the matter of WHAT KIND of powerlifting. When you’re talking about a clean & jerk vs a raw benchpress….OH YEAH, huge difference. Because in one, you have a much smaller window of opportunity to coordinate your entire body into a successful effort. And you require a chain of complex movements to work together.

tom July 18, 2012 at 2:30 am

Strength is just not that useful when it comes to boxing. Hell yeah it effects power, (that whole snapping vs pushing thing is a severe misunderstanding of how the bodies muscular system operates btw) however the rate it does so is p4p pretty useless. A fighter will gain punching power but be forced to go up in weightclass, pitting him against taller, more rangy fighters with larger frames. Totally not worth it. Boxers should thus limit their muscle mass as much as possible. If they could clinch wrestle like in the old day well, that extra muscle mass would become useful.

Johnny N July 18, 2012 at 12:52 pm

It’s actually possible to gain strength without gaining muscle mass. Powerlifters and olympic weightlifters have been doing it for a while. I would say strength is useful in boxing (clinching and close quarter combat where you spend a lot of time pushing each other), just not so much for power punching.

nick July 25, 2012 at 10:32 pm

Man you are slow.

In boxing there is stuff called GROUND work Which involves strength movements

push ups
sit ups
medicine ball
Heavy bag
Pull ups
More than enough to rip muscles.

John January 7, 2013 at 4:05 am

actually Olympic lifting and kettle bell circuits are good, its not just your body weight its the snap from your hips if you could power clean 200 pounds fast for 6 sets of 10 you would would certainly have enough snap and speed to have a greater power punch, also track events with throwing in them shot, discus, etc is good for learning how to get that snap its a very similar motion, same basic principal.

armii April 12, 2013 at 5:25 am

hand stand push ups? one arm push ups

NickWest April 2, 2014 at 11:42 pm

Tyson Did Wrestlers Neck Bridging to build his neck, not Shrugs, What the guy was saying about “The shrugs were for his hips” was probably that he was doing “Hang Pulls”, which ARE an explosive hip snap/extension power move, so he is correct, I am a strength and conditioning coach , I DO know my ass from a hole in the ground btw.

scdvs1 January 9, 2013 at 8:15 am

Johnny, the only way your philosophy actually makes sense is under the old adage “different strokes for different folks”. While I agree that what works for some doesnt always work for others. Olympic and powerlifters dont gain strength without muscle mass, in almost every case they use extreme weight loss to make weight just like alot of boxers. your weightlifting philosophy sounds alot like some basketball players and coaches who believe that Heavy lifting ruins their shot. weightlifting has its place in every sport and those who dismiss it are usually the ones that eventually fall behind and dont excel in their respective sport. FYi fellas Tyson was an avid weightlifter he just concentrated on his lower body more-so than his upper body.

NickWest April 3, 2014 at 2:47 pm

it is possible to get STRONGER, neurologically, without gaining an ounce of new muscle tissue, just as its possible to get bigger muscles without getting much stronger. that is a Strength and Conditioning Fact that holds true to EVERY human, not “different strokes for different folks”, its like taking a 4 cylinder Toyota and without increasing the engine SIZE, you tune it and super charge it and squeeze MORE horsepower out of the Engine, you simply Maximize the Potential that was already there. Increase muscular innervation and you increase strength, which you then turn into POWER with speed work and Over-speed work, which will increase punching power thru more Fast twitch muscle and arm speed as well as SOLID clenching of the whole body upon impact, transferring the GREATEST amount of force with very little loss in energy. Also the main area to target to increase punch speed and power would be the Core, working with STRONG “anti-rotation” exercises like Shoulder tap planks, Pallof Presses, Wood chops, Sledge hammer swings, lateral medball wall slams probably being the best. The more STIFF the obliques and core is, the more speed and energy gets transferred from the ground / Legs / Hips to the ribcage via the obliques and core musculature, losing no energy or speed, the more snap and power gets transferred to the arm and fist and the Harder you hit. Bruce lee hit so hard because he used his entire bodyweight and rotational Hip speed and total body stiffness and tension JUST at the moment of Impact.

randell1985 July 13, 2014 at 9:46 am

Bruce Lee would disagree with you he gained tremendous amounts of force with out increasing his weight or mass

Abe December 22, 2015 at 11:46 pm

A boxer with big muscles from powerlifting is strong for about 1, 2 rounds
I would take him to deeper waters where that added mass would tire his arms much
More quickly, then turn up the heat and watch him gasp for air, and start lowering
His arms from muscle exhaustion.

Watch how ufc champs, nick and Nate Diaz go against more muscular guys, that look great, with plenty of muscle, probably juiced a bit, they endure, handle the first round or two, by then
The guy spent his muscle glycogen storage, then Diaz has a field day with the guy and either
Knocks him out, or cuts them up pretty badly, and fight is stopped, victory!

david August 19, 2012 at 1:46 am

I’ve been boxing for about 7 years, I just started strength training a year ago. once you get use to the mass of muscle , its just a matter of shaping though the new strength is all. more and more boxers are using strength training. take a look at bruce lee’s fitness programs

Brett December 10, 2012 at 1:49 am

Love this website massive fan on most of your articles. But im going to have to disagree this one, power comes from your legs so increasing the strength by performing such lifts as squats, deadlifts, etc is only going to good for both your power and your speed.

Tom April 18, 2014 at 3:01 pm

I agree 100%.

Noob January 3, 2013 at 8:14 am

Someone with good boxing form using weights to become a larger human being would punch harder in my opinion…

Callahr March 7, 2013 at 11:02 pm

As someone with a masters degree in exercise science (also having taught biomechanics for a few years), I can say this is partially right and partially wrong. Following a periodization program would involve some heavy lifting for a boxer. You will develop optimal power at the weight you train at.

For an Oly lifter this is very heavy, there maximal power output is at a very high %of their maximal lift. For a boxer it is the mass of the arm. This is why having a baseball pitcher throw a weighted ball is a horrible idea, they need to develop optimal power at the weight of the ball, not heavier.

It is physics:
Force = mass * acceleration

Increase acceleration with no change in mass (it’s your arm, it wont change much) will result in higher forces. The average individual with no/some training generally is the most powerful with a very light load (~30% of their max lift). A person moving slowly under a heavy load likely has much lower muscular forces due to the dramatic reduction in acceleration.

A boxer should spend most of their power training VOLUME at a bag or throwing punches. Lifting heavy weights explosively (with control please do not be stupid) will help a boxer increase the power of their punch. Go look at power research from the NSCA, ASCM or pubmed.com (probably only abstracts, sorry).

The title of this post is misleading if you are very knowledgeable It is a good general title for the individual that wants to train and not be a highly competitive boxer.

Emerson January 23, 2014 at 1:59 am

Gostaria muito de comprar seu material mas tenho receio porque as páginas mudam para o inglês e eu fico sem entender tem outra formam de adquirir estes matérias?? Por favor responda se poder é claro obrigando. Eu moro em

Johnny N January 24, 2014 at 11:51 pm

Hi Emerson, which instructionals are you trying to buy?
Also, have you seen the Brasil website? http://www.expertboxing.com.br 🙂

beau ste croix July 13, 2014 at 3:25 pm

lifting heavy weights is working your fast twitch muscles, fast hard punches require powerful fast twitch motion. Lift heavy weights helps hands down punching power. Its the recovery time that is needed when lift heavy weights that the author didnt consider. It does leave you feeling stiff and slow. with proper recovery from a once a week weight lifting session everything from foot work hand, speed and power increases. ITS NOT THE WEIGHT LIFTING!!!!! ITS PROPER RECOVERY AND TIMING OF YOUR WORKOUTS!!!!!! This is only the newest science im reciting here. nothing more.

John H February 13, 2012 at 5:58 pm

I gotta agree with the above comment. These articles are so well-written and informative that it really is a special service you are providing. Mahalo nui loa from Hawaii. I have always liked boxing but have only actually thought about taking it up recently. I plan on joining a gym soon but I wanted to put myself in as best condition possible beforehand. In the meantime I have been using my time reading up on articles like the ones you have been writing. I have been into lifting for a while and I always planned on pretty much stopping once I started boxing but I still lift today and see myself joining a gym in about a month. What should I be doing in this month to prepare before I start? Also, how soon should it be for a newbie to start sparing and how long does it usually take to start getting into competition? Thanks again and alohaz!

Johnny N February 14, 2012 at 3:38 am

These are tough questions, John. I recommend you go to a gym and see what goes on in there. After you see how everybody trains you will have a better idea for how long it might take you. Everyone is different. Don’t forget to post your first video when you fight.

Laura February 13, 2012 at 6:14 pm

Weights should be lifted for the purpose of endurance and conditioning (being able to withstand punches and for the purpose of general, overall fitness (to help avoid latic acid build up – though if your punching properly this shouldn’t be too much of an issue) calisthenics and plyometrics (once you have developed the necessary strength and fitness) is a good place to start to achieve this; pushups, dips, situps, chin ups, sissy squats (or standard body weight squats), jumping split lunges (old truck tires are awesome for this), standing calf raises etc.

The benefits of calisthenics and plyometrics are; they will improve not only your anaerobic fitness but also your aerobic fitness (which is the more important of the two), when done properly they will strengthen the joints and increase overall flexibility (though not a substitute for good old fashioned stretching), It costs next to nothing to do, you can pretty much do them anywhere (no gym membership required!)

Here are some examples and workout ideas for calisthenics and plyometrics;


Here’s an awesome video of calisthenics and plyometrics in action (check out where the guys are working out, in the playground!)


NickWest April 2, 2014 at 11:44 pm

you want GOOD workouts, stay away from bodybuilding.com. try Al Kavadlos books “Raising the bar”, and “Pushing the Limits” as well as Convict Conditioning 1+2. also look up Al Kavadlo on youtube for all kinds of videos.

Alex D February 13, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Can u get out of my head? Lol just about everything u wrote in this article I have experienced with”push” punching & really snapping someones head back. I’m going to try to suck up my pride & not strength train. But I must say my routine doesn’t involve crazy barbarian weights I use lighter weights & do a full body routine in 30 minutes 10-12 exercises & I do only 1 set to complete muscle failure. Would recommend more explosive body weight exercises(push ups, squats, pull ups) & obviously cardio? Once again thanks for the articles.

Johnny N February 14, 2012 at 3:38 am

Lighter weights is fine, Alex. This article is only against heavy weight lifting for boxers.

Coleman June 2, 2012 at 9:13 am

I have to disagree with you on this dude. i’ve been in combat sports for 10 years and a couple years ago i started experimenting with modified Olympic lifts (mainly Clean & press and power snatch) and noticed that my explosive power had increased as my strength & body-weight(155 to 179) had increased at NO decrease to my speed which took me 2 years to build. Weight lifting CAN assist in increasing power it’s just that almost no one know how to apply it correctly.

Greg June 19, 2012 at 8:20 am

Heavy weights is fine as long as rep range is no more than 5 reps, you only increase muscle size if you put ur muscle under a continuous stress for a long period of time so rep ranges between 6-15. Lifting heavy weights correctly can increase all over body stability which will give you the base which is needed to throw a powerfull. A powerful punch comes from the legs and the core driven by the hips by lifting heavy weights super setted with a movement found in boxing your body will become acclaimed to replicating the power output there fore given you a more powerful punch!!!!!! If done correctly weightlifting can only help you improve you as a boxer and have no negative effect at all

Johnny N June 19, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Lifting heavy weights CAN increase body stability, but to reach maximum muscle stability you need great conditioning and control exercises. You can watch a gymnast or ballet dancer exhibit incredible muscle control and they do so without heavy weight lifting.

Jack Stowage November 9, 2014 at 4:11 pm

I think you are on the right track intuitively but when you try to explain it with physics the explanation is incorrect. I am currently more focused on kiteboarding and snowboarding than martial arts and have realized for a while that my strength in weightlifting does not directly translate to explosive rotational movement, either horizontally or vertically. Relaxation- well, part of your body has to be relaxed but some of your muscles have to be firing in the right order to initiate the rotation. Keep it up but stay away from physics formulas.

Tra F February 13, 2012 at 7:58 pm

Enjoy your site. Great info. I can understand why lifting weights doesn’t help with you punching power, but in your experience have you noticed it helping anyone absorb more punishment on the receiving end?

Johnny N February 14, 2012 at 3:40 am

I don’t get how lifting weights is going to help you absorb punishment. That has more to do with skills than physical ability. I do know neck exercises can help punch resistance.

Bryce T June 17, 2012 at 4:38 pm

what are these neck exercises you speak of?

Johnny N June 19, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Neck rolls, neck bridges, also putting a weighted strap on your forehead and lifting with your neck muscles. There are plenty.

saber khan February 13, 2012 at 8:06 pm

beautifully written, its a bit rambling like me. thats how i know you really feel deeply about this. man i hope the ppl take your advice. i get so sick of telling just-past-newbie fighters who’ve been dropped in sparring that lifting weights wont get them their revenge. and the look they give me, i mean sometimes i wanna say something nasty. its a look that says `youre not bigger than me, why are you giving me advice ?’ times like that i really want to put on a pair of 8 oz and teach them a lesson but.. what are u gonna do..

the weightlifting phenomenon seems to be a virus in the mind of newcomers to the sport, they simply wont listen. i know even guys who’ve developed snap in their shots and know how power is generated, pretty exerienced guys and girls, who still feel there MAY be somethign in lifting heavy that will help them.

my personal feeling johnny is heavy lifting does stiffen up the body. i used to do plyos for my legs (basketball training). guys on the team who had a history of lifting heavy weights simply never had the speed other `normal’ people did. their ligaments couldnt handle the plyometric explosinve movements and they got sprains much more than people who hadnt done heavy weights and were comparatively, less healthy. thats my theory. its not packing muscle itself. its weight training that i think alters the ligaments, making them thicker so they can handle heavy slow loads. plyometrics does something different, it creates strength inside the ligament to handle moderate fast weight loads. and provided more resistance to injury in explosive movement. people with extra muscle definitely run out of gas much quicker. its impossible not to really. so totally agree, weight lifting not a great idea for boxing power. it does improve strength which is very useful for a bullying fighter but it has major disadvantages. plyometrics is a much better idea, explosiveness with moderate loads very much like boxing.

Johnny N February 14, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Plyometrics is the way to go, I’m with you on that Saber.

armii April 7, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Saber so can i do handstand push ups? 1-5 rep= strenght so will that slow me and make me slower? it is 1-5 for strenght..

saber khan May 8, 2013 at 2:25 pm

heavy is based on how strong you naturally are. its subjective. but… if ure doing something so heavy youre forced to be slow, your brain will get used to making muscles move slowly. imagine practicing at a 1/4th speed for all your training for a month. you think your speed will stay the same after that ? try it 2 days and youll feel like youre in mud. you get used to what youre always doing as simple as that.

if u can do 1-5 reps fast/moderate speed, go ahead. hell do it one handed. but doing it really slow isn’ the best idea. why not do clap pushups ? improve tendon strength, speed, reaction time and strength. if you want more weight, use one hand. if its handstands or nothing, then lean on a wall so you can be fast enough with them. you can use that power to push someone off you in a fight.

i personally used to fight professionally. then i quit and used to do lots of weights including heavy lifts for fitness. i stopped became a fatass and went back to boxing and stretching. doing lots of gym weights didnt help my power when i came back to boxing. i had much less till i got my timing and technique right again.
now im doing the deadlifts again but at a weight where i can be fast. it hasnt hurt my speed at all so there’s no issue to me. it doesnt help my power but helps my strength.

if doing heavy weights doesnt slow you down, doesnt make you stiff or more easily tired, go for it man. if u find your partners telling you your speed’s better or your power’s improved, tell us the secret. in boxing, things work for one that dont for another. its experience that will tell you which. and the experience of those that did it before you. we should all experiment.

armii June 1, 2013 at 8:18 am

Thank man, i will try it , yes it depends how strong you are if you can do handstandpush ups fast and correctly. all variation of push ups are good but if you do them enough fast and clapping push up are important?

dyte August 6, 2013 at 3:09 am

You there ;)?

NickWest April 3, 2014 at 3:07 pm

Good thoughts, however this is where trainees and most coaches get it wrong, no athlete should do “Just heavy lifting” or “just Plyometrics”, there needs to be a system to their training, which there is in any pro athletes training and coaching, it goes like this; off season phase= STRENGTH ENDURANCE , then comes HYPERTROPHY (SIZE) training; next step up; MAX STRENGTH; then they go to the POWER Phase and lastly the SPEED / AGILITY phase (this includes their sport skill training as well) , this is where Plyos and other speed and agility drills are done, thru this phase you work with less weight than the MAX STRENGTH phase yet fairly heavy, adding speed to this, like High Jumps with a 50 pound vest on, as the Athlete progresses up to the beginning of their season, they start using less weight but more speed, then less weight and even more speed, until they are using no weight and jumping or whatever at MAX SPEED. THEN they are ready for game time. If the athlete were to start doing HEAVY SLOW SQUATS lets say during the POWER phase, they would be causing harm to this power and speed, the reverse of what they want, its about the “RATE OF FORCE DEVELOPMENT”. This whole process is just like sharpening a knife, you start with a blunt piece of steel, you roughly grind a bevel on each side to bring a hint of an edge, then you use a Coarse Stone to remove large amounts of unwanted steel, next, Medium stone to further refine the edge, then the Fine stone to put a sharp edge on the blade, and the last step before you can shave with it, hone the edge with a leather strop to SMOOTH out any imperfections in the blade, straightening the bevel on the very edge to make it RAZOR sharp. That is how ANY athlete needs to be trained for their sport, They are the “Tip of the Spear” as it were.

Tom April 18, 2014 at 3:09 pm

So train your plyometrics after you do your weight training.

Svenjamin February 13, 2012 at 8:31 pm

For an alternative perspective I recommend reading the thoughts of a highly respected combat sports fitness writer:

Johnny N February 14, 2012 at 3:43 am

Ross is awesome, I agree with many points in this article!

John Taylor York February 13, 2012 at 9:00 pm

So Johnny are you saying to relax your whole body until the punch has almost reached the target THEN flex? I’m lost

Johnny N February 14, 2012 at 3:42 am

Yes. Exactly that. And it’s only confusing if you’ve only learn how to do everything with tension rather than with relaxation. Talk to some pro boxers so they can show you how it’s done.

ROD L March 25, 2012 at 1:40 pm

so true. i did karate, judo and then shootfighting for about 26 years all together. the one man i laernt most from – earl montague, a slight mad aussie tai chi master. power comes from contrast, from being relaxed and allowing a wave of uninterrupted tension sweep your body.

the alternative, being muscular and constantly tense, and hitting like audley harrison!

Rocky February 13, 2012 at 9:11 pm

Awesome article Johnny. I agree with you about weight training. It’s hard to convince the skeptics that weight training doesn’t help with boxing. I personally don’t weight train, but more power to those people (no pun intended) who think it helps.

Eric February 13, 2012 at 9:27 pm

The only weight training I would recommend for a fighter would be high repitition (20-100-reps)squatting or lunging type exercises for strengthening the legs, core, hips, and improving cardio. I think fighters could better strengthen their necks, as well as their backs, legs, shoulders by performing bridges instead of using a neck harness with weights. I think people falsely believe weight training improves punching power because well there have been a lot of punchers who have had impressive physiques like Cleveland Williams, Sonny Liston, Rocky Marciano. Mike Weaver, George Foreman, Mike Tyson, and Earnie Shavers(who actually did lift weights), were all murderous punchers who looked like they had at least did some weight training. Even old school MMA bad boy Tank Abbott, who has a video on youtube showing him using monstrous weights carried a hell of a punch. Of course there are films of Tyson, Roy Jones, Klitschos lifting weights but thats probably done when a fighter reaches a certain age and starts to lose muscle mass. When all is said and done most old-timers feel you’re more or less born with punching power, who knows until someone can come along with some kind of legitimate reason better than that, I’ll stick with the old-timers.

darren February 13, 2012 at 9:50 pm

great read johnny, have you had any experience with kettlebell training? i would like to start kettebells but worried it might slow down my punches

Johnny N February 14, 2012 at 3:45 am

I’ve done kettlebell stuff before. It’s fun and gives you great exercise that can be functional depending on how you use them. Most kettlebell training doesn’t fall under the category of heavy lifting.

don February 13, 2012 at 11:44 pm

another awesome article mr.Johnny and im still saving for that e-book i hope to get it soon. hmm what can you say about bruce lee? he is pretty fast yet he did weight training http://www.bruceleedivinewind.com/feats.html

how was he different from other fighters?

I would also like to ask how will studying other forms of martial arts affect my boxing, because in judo my sensei supports the idea of using weight training to us, since it will help in our total body strength and judo has lots of pulling involved. Does it mean my boxing will be affected? My fellow judoka’s are always pumping iron in the gym, but on the other hand will it be bad for my boxing? since my instructor dosent want me to use weights either.

Johnny N February 14, 2012 at 3:46 am

Bruce Lee is a freak of nature, Don. That guy can do whatever he wants anytime he wants. He’s amazingly good at everything and not quite an accurate specimen of anything except for human potential. I don’t want to give you any advice for judo because I know very little about it. If you’ve read the article, then you know how I feel about HEAVY weights.

don February 14, 2012 at 3:10 pm

thank you I understand, Im just caught in the middle because my boxing instructor doesnt want me to use weights but my judo instructor approves using it (and punching is not required in judo). Now I asked my taekwondo instructor and he said use moderate weights not the heavy ones.

Ive read your article and I see your point, about using the muscles effectivity for adoptation to fighting sports, because this is not a powerlifting contest. And I bet those olympic power lifters cant punch fast.

don February 14, 2012 at 3:19 pm

as youve said “If the weight is light enough that you can lift it with a burst, then it wouldn’t be considered heavy weight lifting. If you’re exerting force in short bursts than that qualifies as an explosive exercise”

I think this is just right for me since Im doing boxing and judo. I also clarified this with my judo coach and he said that muscles are to be used for fighting and not body building and he also said lifting very heavy weights my injure someone. I think my problem is solved now, thanks mr.Johnny

Jamie Hayward February 14, 2012 at 5:49 am

Great post, as always, but I was wondering what your thoughts are on the development of fast twitch muscles and whether they help. I always thought that lifting a heavy weight with a short sharp burst of energy encouraged the fast twitch muscles that enable you to punch faster and with more power – for example an explosive press-up from complete rest (no muscle tension).

Johnny N February 14, 2012 at 2:42 pm

If the weight is light enough that you can lift it with a burst, then it wouldn’t be considered heavy weight lifting. If you’re exerting force in short bursts than that qualifies as an explosive exercise…but even then I’m assuming you’re lifting the weight even if you’re holding it in place while you’re exerting the bursts.

BoxingTrainingFitness February 14, 2012 at 9:26 am

You talked about the mis-use of dumbbells when shadowboxing, but I wonder what your opinion on a similar, but alternative exercise is: Shadowboxing with resistance bands.

Because resistance bands can provide specific pressure back towards your body, they definitely assist a snapping motion more than a pushing motion.

Johnny N February 14, 2012 at 2:46 pm

I’ve seen boxers use resistance bands before. It’s a good workout but I wouldn’t say they’re the magical pill for punching power.

Ron February 14, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Great article Johnny, always on point…

Man, I hate it, and make no excuses and feel blessed with what I work with, but I have one of the ‘worst’ body types for boxing..short, stocky, wide shoulders, thick arms, barrel-type chest, short legs but at least they’re extremely strong…I always look at guys with that slender boxing build with the skinnier arms with envy…

Enough self pity though! 🙂

You’re absolutely right. I stay away from weights like the plague. I also discovered boxing through powerlifting (I took Tae Kwon Do growing up, I’ve always had an interest in combat sports). Early on, I never learned about snapping instead of pushing. All that wasted effort and energy….

It’s funny, but I’m more nervous when I’m going against a lankier, boxer type than a big, burly power looker because I’ve been there and know what’s more dangerous…keep up the great work Johnny!

– With Respect,


Johnny N February 14, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Those lanky guys scare me too, Ron. You see those long arms and legs and you’re know you’re in for a long fight. They run and run and run and if you dare to come into range, those arms snap like Thomas Hearns! I’ve got a flat chested friend who hits like dynamite even when he’s not trying.

ROD L March 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm

man, i am in exactly the same boat. built more like a wrestler than a boxer!!

i take my inspiration from tyson (hey, aim high, no?) focusing on movement, bobbing and weaving and always going forward to cope. i find defence a nightmare. what about you?

kavon February 14, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Dude, i love the stuff you write. But in this case you are wrong. Il tell you why. First of all to establish my credentials, perfection of war is my lifelong trade. So, having said that, let me continue. The prime intent of an effective strike of any kind are a combination of precision, timing and power. First we need to make sure we can effectively hit the target, be far warned, for each of these there are many sub components, but for the purpose of this they are considered deviations. Likewise you need to ensure that the timing is correct thus the precision is timed in accordance with what the environment is providing, ie the opening of your opponent. Like sun tzu said, know yourself know your enemy fear not the outcome of a thousand battles, this is a microcosmic reflection of this principle. Merged with the Clauswitz principle of the “swerpunkt” or main effort, ie the culmination of forces at the point of entry to create the desired effect, ie power. So you have two components, one is your ability to hit the chosen target, the target itself, last but not least is the power aspect, this ensures that you not only hit the aformentioned target but also that the desired result is achieved. In terms of power we have the combination of two aspects, the movement of an object containing mass via a given velocity. In a punching movement, it may appear to be a snap, but the mechanics of movement dictate specifically that it is in fact a pushing movement. Observe the jab, if we are to break down in time, and look at sequentially the given movements we have from the ground up, the push of the feet against the floor, the rotation of the hips and torso which facillitate the thrusting of the arm and fist towards the target, we are seeing the application of power. There is a direct link between the weight of the object being moved, ie the body in space and the speed by which that object can be used in a manner that is quick enough to give the appearance or felt sense of a snap, but it is not a snap, it only appears to be. They say push from the ground up, but in reality that gives the opportunity of your impulse to strike being seen in the shoulder area, ie a tell. You should in fact have the object of striking moving a split second before the component parts move to act synergisticlally behind the fist, thus no tell is present aside from the fist. (fencing) To late. Like the difference between an explosion of c4, and the ignition of karosene, we are seeing the same sequences at a different rate in time, thus they appear different to our eyes and their respective capacities to destroy are likewise different, they are the same causal sequence. So, lifting weights, is not the issue at all, it is the purpose by which we lift, ie the goal we have in mind that dictates the method by which we do. Lift heavy, but lift quick, i mean max effort quick. Plyometrics are a goldmine in this. The goal is to master the technique of the move, break down the respective elements and train them in accordance with the goal, which is the union of precision, timing and power to obliterate the obstacle. It is this very mastery of this principle that allowed bruce lee to thrust two fingers through a coke can, its not mystical or strange. Believe me, if any of this defies common sense feel free to call me out. I admire your work a great deal, i love to read what you write and i have learned a great deal, so thank you. I hope that what i have provided can likewise assist you.

good hunting,

Johnny N February 14, 2012 at 3:44 pm

I read your long post but I still don’t understand your claim (if any claim) at all. If you’re going to start your post with “You’re wrong and I’ll tell you why…”, you should actually disprove my points or at least bring in relevant points that weren’t covered. I know you’re trying to be helpful but you didn’t say anything new or contradictory.

Plyometrics is not the same as heavy weight lifting. For the record, I highly approve of plyometric training which has been a part of boxing training for a long time. A snapping motion visually moves the same as a pushing motion; a punch will travel like a punch regardless of how you throw it. The difference is when the weight is applied; a snapping motion applies the weight at the very end, whereas a pushing motion applies the weight constantly throughout. Please read the guide more carefully because many of the things you said were already addressed above.

Sam June 2, 2012 at 10:14 am

One quick question, do you mean weight lifting as in like body building, or do you genuinely mean just lifting weights, dumbbells, bench curls, ect… Thanks.

Johnny N June 4, 2012 at 10:43 am

I’m only against HEAVY weight lifting.

Tom April 18, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Dude, it sounds like you’re agreeing with Johnny N. So what exactly is your point?
Sorry, it might have gotten lost is the mound of text I just waded through. You gotta split that shit up bro!
I mean, indent, hit return a couple of times or something. Just sayin…

kavon February 14, 2012 at 4:29 pm

weight is applied throughout, gravity or dropping your weight, that has been pushed in a forward motion.

listen, you dont move forward by your arm pulling you forward. simple, a to b involves pushing. your postion to closure of the punch is a push no? simple math dude. i dont have to disprove anything, its self evident. im not arguing a point im explaining so as to clearly state that lifting a weight, ie plyometrics which is weight lifting applied in a specific manner is conclusively useful. this is the difference between hitting a target and destroying it. applied mind you, not thought out.

period bro.

Johnny N February 14, 2012 at 5:03 pm

Whoa kavon…you said you were going to tell me why I was wrong. Read the first line of your post. You offered to explain and I’m trying to listen. Anyways, thank you for your post.

Diomedes aka JKD February 14, 2012 at 6:01 pm

I think you are confused about what Johnny wrote. He is talking about explosive movement as opposed to sustained movement(pushing).In your example you state: “you don’t move forward by your arm pulling you forward. simple, a to b involves pushing. your postion to closure of the punch is a push no?” In this respect you are correct. The difference is that Johnny is advocating explosive movement. ie: Plyometrics, slap shots, ect, instead of the slow “pushing” motion involved with traditional weight lifting. Technically they are both pushing motions. What differs is the amount of time applied thus affecting the inertia of the target. This then reclassifies Johnny’s idea of effective pushing as “snapping”. I don’t find fault with his ideas at all. If I’ve missed anything correct me. Thanks.

saber khan February 15, 2012 at 11:10 am

hey kavon, just want to try and help clarify if i can. i could probably do it with just one sentence: boxers don’t carry HEAVY weights into the ring, they carry BODY weight so bodyweight exercises are the key. but ill try to be clear.

the key point to hitting hard in boxing is speeding up a person’s own body weight using the body’s muscles and letting it impact as small a target as fast as possible.

heavy weight lifting at slow or quick speeds like olympic lifts is focusing on helping us lift more weight than our own body’s quickly. A boxer’s body weight doesnt change unless he is going up in weight (hopkins-tarver). if a person doesn’t have the prerequisite strength to mobilise his bodyweight already, or his supporting and stabilizing muscles are weak, doing bodyweight exercises and heavy weighted olympic style explosive exercises will help.

but lifting heavy weights more than a boxer’s own body weight, slowly or quickly. is useless to a boxer’s power since he will never get a chance to push or pull a 300-500 lb object slowly in a ring. and lifting heavy weights quickly has limited use since he will never have to push of pull a 300-500 lb object quickly in a ring. all he has to pull and push on fast is his own body weight and shove around a similiarly heavy opponent. so the best exercises for him, are based on his own bodyweight and trying to get as much of it into his punches as fast as possible as many times as possible.

plyometrics has very low weights (if at all) and the purpose of plyos is the same as in boxing: the constant is the bodyweight, and the aim is to move it as far or as fast as possible (jumping vs exploding). the speed or distance and repetitions is the variable, the weight moved is the constant. in weight training, it’s weight and repetitions that become the variable and the speed is constant or worse irrelevant. ive noticed keyboard warriors throw around a lot of physics in these discussions without seeming to understand how the math relates to the practical application.

however resistance training (which is what weights are) are not totally useless. flexible resistance bands helped me develop my power. one should however use resistance which impedes speed about 5% and work on making it effortless before going forward. using a band so heavy that the punch speed is reduced by 10% or so is pointless, because the focus just becomes how many punches can be done not `im going to punch at 105% of my speed to overcome this 5% resistance’. and so on. and it shouldnt be done without an expert trainer because its easy to injure ligaments using bands while going full speed.

Johnny N February 15, 2012 at 11:15 am

Beautifully written, Saber! I need to make you a columnist around here. LOL

saber khan February 15, 2012 at 4:10 pm

thanks coach. remember how ****ing crappy my first posts were? really important topic this, its a virus thats infecting so many boxing gyms. and im guess it may even be leading to them dropping the sport because i dont think anyone likes being disappointed with their performance after putting in the hard work of doing weights. keep up the good work johnny

trevybear88 June 7, 2012 at 4:44 am

Feb 15th actully. 🙂

trevybear88 June 7, 2012 at 4:42 am

Im new to this site but just read Sabers post (Feb 14th) that explains Johnny point. Its very well written guys and I know its tottaly accurate from personal experience in real life situations! I should also explain that Im more a weightlifter/bodybuilder that does boxing and martial arts. I plan on changing my focas to boxing and martial arts but still doing some weightlifting (mainly cause i enjoy it). Because Im about to start boxing again Ive been thinking about the most powerfull and devastating punches Ive ever thrown. Three times in my life ive thrown punches that were almost unbelievable regarding the amount of power and the effect they had on the opponent and all three times they were thrown the exact way that that johnny described! Ive been thinking about this alot recently as i want to start training to punch like that all the time (my new punch bag goes up today and am joining a boxing club in near future once an injury has healed) and fortunately i just happened upon this site. Anyway the snapping technique you have described has put what I did with those punches into words. Great stuff! I also couldnt agree more about the physics regarding practical application!!

Johnny N June 10, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Great self-observations, Trevy. You’re ahead of the game 😉

Tom April 18, 2014 at 3:24 pm

Once again I would argue, according to Mr. Johnny’s theory (well, okay, really Mr. Newton’s theory), if power=acceleration times mass, then greater mass will produce greater power.
And why is it so hard for people to grasp doing shit like yoga, and plyometrics in conjunction with weight training?

Tom April 18, 2014 at 3:27 pm

And why is it so hard for my auto correct to realize I’m talking about “plyometrics” and not “ploy metrics”?

Eric February 14, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Weights can and have been used by fighters desiring to fight in heavier weight divisions, perhaps the two most notable being Michael Spinks and Evander Holyfield. Both fighters added bulk without sacrificing speed, agility, or power. I think once a fighter gets in his 30’s or older ala Tyson, Foreman, or say Roy Jones he/she could use weights to MAINTAIN muscle mass we naturally lose as we get older. One poster asked if weight training could help a fighter absorb punishment better and I’m assuming he’s talking about body shots, I would think that while the weights wouldn’t help much for punching power they would help absorb body blows much like, or better than traditional conditioning exercises. Former Heavyweight Champion Primo Carnera a former circus strongman while not much of a fighter or puncher could take body shots all day. Of course a lot of people believe Carnera’s earlier fights were fixed but he did in fact fight and absorb body punches from two all-time punchers in Max Baer and Joe Louis with no ill effects. He was chopped up and tko’ed by both but never knocked out by either Baer or Louis.

Alex February 14, 2012 at 6:14 pm

Kavon, I think you’re missing the point, respectfully. From what I understand, you’re basically saying that a punch is force that is exerted forward (pushing motion rather than pulling), and no one is disputing that.

What I believe Johnny N is trying to communicate is that pushing punches are not as effective as snapping punches. Even though the word “push” is used, it is describing the effect on the target (i.e. the force of the punch is sending the target moving backwards, rather than penetrating the area of impact). By your terminology, both pushing and snapping punches are “push” motions because they are going forward a to b (push) rather than retreating b to a (pull). But it is not the forward motion of the fist that is being described here, only the effect on target.

Incidentally, the reason why there is more damage done by a snapping punch vs a pushing punch is because minimal force is wasted pushing the target backwards (i.e. the bag moves backwards minimally rather than swinging wildly). The reason why snapping punches work is because we are effectively reducing the “time on target” by snapping the punch back (quick recoil). Reducing the time on target increases the impulse of force (http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/impulse.html). An easy way to think about it is: if you extend the time of impact, you reduce the force (“If you jump to the ground from any height, you bend your knees upon impact, extending the time of collision and lessening the impact force” one of the examples from the above link).

Johnny since you are talking about maximizing damage of punches, other ways you can maximize damage are reducing the area of impact (lighter/smaller gloves), introducing torque (corkscrewing), and catching a forward moving target. Would love to get your perspective on corkscrews, since it is a technique I use with varying degrees of success, depending on the sparring partner.

Also, I would just like to commend you Johnny on your site. Even though I don’t agree with you 100% on everything in this site (maybe 95%!), I can always tell that your advice is from your OWN experience or from advice given to you from those you trust. Your discussions on technique are always enjoyable, you’ve only scratched the surface on nutrition, and I also enjoy your articles on mentality. Oh, and gear reviews have personally been helpful too, thanks for recommending the Rival headgear which I have now switched to. Thank you, and I wish you all the success you deserve.

Finally, sorry for the physics lesson, these are only my thoughts and they may be wrong. Please do your own searching if you believe me to be mistaken and feel free to correct me!

Johnny N February 15, 2012 at 1:11 am

Alex, I should have had you write this post. Thanks for the well wishes and useful link.

ROD L March 25, 2012 at 2:54 pm

mv- – mv = 2mv

basically, the reverse snapping motion can double the power of your punches

Alex February 14, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Diomedes, sorry to reiterate what you have already explained. I had this on my computer and did not click Post Comment until after lunch (different time zone) and by the time I clicked Post Comment there had already been 3 replies to Kavon’s post

Diomedes aka JKD February 14, 2012 at 9:21 pm

It is quite alright, Alex. You’ve probed deeper than I did and clarified what I’ve neglected to include. Impulse time is indeed the key factor. You’ve hit the proverbial nail on the head. You seem like a Physics major, right? I’m switching to Physics after I get my B.A. in Mathematics (minor in Physics).

Alex February 14, 2012 at 9:38 pm

No, not a physics major nor a “boxing nerd” as Johnny would say (ok well maybe a little)! I do have an engineering background though, which is why I do tend to overthink when I’m not in the gym (and when I’m bored at work). It’s important to find a balance and make sure we all get out there and actually hit things though 🙂

ps. besides boxing, I’m also a JKD practitioner – which probably explains why we are quoting the same info. Bruce borrowed a lot from boxing and he was definitely a thinker..

Diomedes aka "JKD" February 15, 2012 at 8:05 am

Lee was definitley a thinker and the main reason I got into competitive fighting. I tend to agree with his student Ted Wong when it comes to combat as he seems more grounded in reality, so I stay away from trapping hands and just take the kickboxing elements from jkd. Although I love jkd, I believe it hasn’t progressed with the times and as a result is antiquated. The principals are still great to have and definitley helped me excel past other begginers. I use cage fighting as the litmus test for effective martial arts. While not perfect it is still a good indicator of effective style. I see a few traditional jkd techniques every now and again( back leg stop kick( used by Anderson Silva, Carlos Condit) and once saw a straight Lead(Anderson vs Leben) but never a full jkd stylist. Why? Because they get eaten alive in the amateurs. I could go on and on about the effective and ineffective elements of jkd but this isn’t really the place, but just letting you know where I stand. You definitely seem intelligible about JKD though. Have you read “The Straight Lead” by Terry Tom, lot of the same info you described. Anyway, I am rambling so i’ll cut it here.

Alex February 15, 2012 at 10:15 pm

Hey Diomedes, I am of the JFJKD (ted wong) stream, and agree with some of what you’re saying. Agree 100% about trapping, funnily enough. I cannot comment on how effective “pure” JKD would be in a sport like cage fighting – I’ve sparred many MMA guys (most of them are MMA guys these days, don’t know what happened to the boxers) and have mostly done ok, but that doesn’t say much as I wouldn’t classify myself as a JKD purist. Anyway, the concepts on footwork, movement are timeless and true, that’s the biggest thing I’ve taken away from it.

Yes I’ve read most of Teri’s books, I think she’s a good technician but not sure how good she’d be at sparring 🙂

Well we digress…let’s keep the discussion aimed at boxing, that’s what we’re here for! Any thoughts about the Cotto/Mayweather or Canelo/Mosley fights anyone?

Alejandro February 14, 2012 at 11:29 pm

What’s up Johnny! Always getting better I see huh bro! You are right on point with your article. As I was reading about the snapping of the punch for power, I was like yeah, he is talking about “the touch” – to me, I’ve always thought of it as having the rhythm and rhyme, or the touch, to SNAP the punch into power from the ground up, or even describe it as sharply throwing my weight. That is how I think of it anyway. You are also explaining or directly speaking of “kinetics” – the study of motion.

Below are two links I know you’ll enjoy seeing and it will also help to describe your points in your article. It is so cool too…

Speed of the BOXING punches

The Power of one PUNCH

Also – the weight lifting is on point as well. I did the same trial and error you did too with weights but for football and boxing and what I found out was that -weights (heavy lifting) and boxing – they don’t mix very well. Heavy weight lifting increases muscle mass and is great for short spurts of action like football which is start and stop. But for the stamina needed for boxing, 3 to even 12 rounds, forget it. Benching 315 is worthless in boxing, but great to push off a 300 pound offensive guard though (I was a linebacker). In boxing you need to be sharp, agile, quick, balanced…and the muscles come with the rigorous training anyway – but the strength comes from your action in movement, not so much from your muscles. But sit ups, dips, and pushups in high reps are great for boxing.

Take Care Johnny, I am glad to see your success,

Your Friend Alejandro

Johnny N February 15, 2012 at 1:12 am

Well said, my friend. I was surprised to see Chad Dawson is faster than a rattlesnake. I wish he used that speed against Jean Pascal.

MIke February 15, 2012 at 4:42 am

Great article. This is something I’m going to try and work on. I seem to wonder why I tired so quickly all the time especially with all the cardio I do. After reading your articles I have notice I do push a lot. I do seem to have good power, but would like to see the difference more snap makes. I do recall Bruce lee talking about this, by staying relaxed and not clinching fist till moment of impact and snapping through the target. Must be why such a small guy had so much power. Thanks

andrewp February 15, 2012 at 5:05 am

hi johnny good article and lots of spot on observations.you are definatly the best boxing column by far .you must have a really analytical mind which is a rare thing.altough nobody remembered to tell ricky hatton and evander hollyfield both of whom had extensive heavy weight regimes.a mystery ? well no.even though force of punch doesnt involve strengh {{your article states it does}} .its just acceleration and mass.what heavy weights do target are fast twitch fibers .plyometrics power drills etc only target these fast twitch fibers to a minimal effect although this has been enough to make multiple world champions when added to natural ability and proper technique.you are right about relaxing into or down into the punch but where does speed come from?fast twitch fibers nothing else and nowhere else.no matter how relaxed you are fast movement comes from fast twitch fibers.the science backs this up.the lighter the load the more repititions the more and more you body will use slower twitch fibers.its millions of years of evolution strategy to consevre energy.this is also why doing slow bench press with heavy weights makes you good at pushing slowly.{ you are what you do } but at the cost of bulk and speed.sports specific principle.a contradiction well it would be if that was the only way to train fast twitch fibers.its not these can be trained without adding bulk and only increasing explosive speed.remember everybodys born with a set ratio of fast slow twich fibers but it doesnt mean you cant improve what you have

Lee Paxton February 15, 2012 at 7:13 am

Incorrect lifting will cause bulky & slow muscles; it will not, as the article states, make you into a puncher, something that you have to have an aptitude for, and the heavy bag will assist the most in this area. Almost all sports require not strength, but power, and boxng is no different. In short, best thing for boxing is boxing. Any weight training should be done when not preparing for a fight, and strictly limited to power based activities, i.e., no bench pressing, but squats & the quick moves of Olympic lifts, the most valuable power exercises. Don’t overtrain on weights period!

Angus February 15, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Love your articles, especially your video articles where you dissect famous fighters. Keep up the good work!

Have to really disagree with this article though mate. Lifting heavy weights (and eating extra) makes you bigger and stronger. And therefore better at punching!

I used to weigh 72Kg. I’ve been working out and now weigh 90Kg. My boxing skills have not gotten worse, I’ve not become slower or stiffer. Don’t you think I can punch harder now?

Totally agree that punching is 99% snap. At the moment of impact however, if the bodyweight behind the snap increases, so does the power generated. Why do you think there is weight classes in boxing? Because a 145lb fighter vs a 200lb fighter is a no-contest!

max February 15, 2012 at 4:52 pm

As usual, great article. It’s great to see you answer the question ‘should i use light weights when shadowboxing’ literally 2 minutes after i think it. Although I’ve put my boxing hobby to the side for now, I still greatly enjoy the knowledge and honest opinions you share. Thanks Johnny. And way to converse with your readers too!


D February 15, 2012 at 9:51 pm

Johnny, I have a question. How do you explain ripped boxers whose bigger physiques translate to bigger punching power such as: Victor Ortiz, Jean Pascal, Tavoris Cloud, and Mike Tyson? They are/were short for their divisions, and every one of them is/was loaded down with muscle. I doubt that these boxers got their muscular physiques by doing more reps on the speed bag.

Johnny N February 15, 2012 at 10:02 pm

For every buff guy you name, I can name Thomas Hearns, Julian Jackson, Felix Trinidad, Alexis Arguello. They aren’t the only skinny guys with HALL-OF-FAME devastating punching power. I could name a dozen more that are fighting today. Look them up…

On the flip side, there’s Timothy Bradley, a guy with a background in weight lifting, buff as hell, and doesn’t quite have that elite punching power. There are many types of physiques in boxing…some with power, some without. And some guys are just naturally buff (they’re called “mesomorphs”).

A puncher is a puncher regardless of his body type. Some guys are born with power, others develop it through technique. To credit a boxer’s punching power only to his physique is an insult to the thousands of hours he spent in training.

D February 16, 2012 at 7:19 am

I think my question was mis-understood. I guess I’m asking “how did these guys get buff if they weren’t lifting weights?”

Johnny N February 16, 2012 at 12:10 pm

…some guys are just naturally buff (their body types are “mesomorphs”)….

Santiago June 16, 2012 at 10:04 pm

so realistacally even if a guy like timothy bradley did do everything ,the exercises the movement ,everything they could do for punching power could they really ever achieve that elite level of knockout power. a program called the boxing blueprint promises something like that but it sounds like a little too much

Johnny N June 19, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Everybody has room for improvement. Keep working hard because you never know how good you might get.

Eric February 16, 2012 at 7:33 am

Tyson never lifted weights until after his release from prison. Even George Foreman in his prime, who while not built like a bodybuilder, had an impressive physique and punching power, didn’t lift weights until his second career. I do suspect that in the past, fighters like Mike Weaver and Ken Norton lifted weights, but because of the stigma around weight training for boxing back then they kept it secret, much like steroids of today. Traditionally, and with good reason, boxers as well as wrestlers have felt that bodyweight exercises performed from various angles have provided more useful than weight training exercises, because their sports require being able to handle your own bodyweight. We all know you can develop a fine physique with bodyweight exercises if you are willing to really push them beyond the norm into advanced exercises like pistols, single-leg/single-arm pushups etc, but I doubt many boxers devote that much time to bodyweight exercise especially after a 1-2 hour workout punching bags, sparring, rope skipping etc. Personally I feel bodyweight exercises and weight training are both resistance exercises and your body can’t tell the difference only that it has a weight that must be pushed, pulled etc. I don’t think weights would improve punching power that much, if at all, but if used sparingly they can help condition or maybe strengthen fighters who lack upper body strength etc.

Johnny N February 16, 2012 at 12:17 pm

” I doubt many boxers devote that much time to bodyweight exercise”…

I highly disagree with this statement, Eric. I’ve been in big gyms like Wildcard even seen top guys like Manny Pacquiao spending an hour every day doing bodyweight exercises. If anything, bodyweight exercises (calisthenics) are the standard in boxing training.

Eric February 16, 2012 at 7:40 am

Also a lot fighters chop wood which is a helluva upper body workout and can put some muscle on your physique. Some fighters like Earnie Shavers have even credited wood chopping as their best exercise for increasing punching power. Even punching a heavy bag will help develop some musculature and if you ever wade shoulder deep into a pool and throw rapid uppercuts until you can’t move your arms ala Marciano you’ll be as pumped as if you performed a heavy set of barbell curls.

Eric February 16, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Pacquiao certainly does cover all bases when it comes to training and no one can dispute that bodyweight exercises are the perfered choice of resistance exercises in boxing, wrestling, and mma. However, a lot of past greats like Muhammad Ali did mainly just abdominal/core and maybe neck exercises. I think Angelo Dundee was describing how Ali’s body matured naturally into a heavyweight and that he couldn’t even ever remember Ali doing push-ups much less weight training. Hell the real old-time boxers even wrestled as a form of conditioning and strengthening their bodies. I remember reading about 60’s middleweight Rubin Carter performing over 1,000 pushups & situps daily along with hundreds of knee bends & pullups, even though this could be an exaggeration. Then in the 70’s you had James Scott, a Lt. Heavyweight contender who it was said performed similar pushup and situp numbers to Carter. Personally I don’t see the reason behind performing hundreds if not thousands of regular pushups and the amount of time it takes to do them. It probably would be far more beneficial to either start doing more advanced forms of the exercise or some form of weight training for conditioning. As long as you don’t overdevelop the arms,chest, and shoulders from bench pressing and effect your stamina and ability to hold your hands high I see no difference in pushups or bench pressing.

Johnny N February 16, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Eric, the thousand sit-ups is what strengthens your core day after day. After doing it for so long, it feels more like maintenance exercise. In every sport I’ve done, doing a couple hundred push-ups and sit-ups everyday was no big deal. The pros do more because they can handle it and they need it. Doing a thousand sit-ups everyday is really not that much. Many athletes from many different sports have been doing this for a long time. There will always be exceptions but doing many core exercises a day has always been the standard.

saber khan February 17, 2012 at 12:26 pm

1000 crunches is not at all uncommon training practice in gyms where body punching is still alive. our main gym was not exactly this type, but a whole lot of latin fighters do ridiculous amounts of ab work and leg work. in the late rounds, even those kind of reps dont prevent bodyshots from doing damage. i used to do a 3 circuits of 100 slips, 50 pushups, 100 crunches, 100 reverse crunches and 100 obliques every other day. and as you say coach its very maintenance the only effort is getting through the boredom and doing it continuously week after week. despite that, in long fights when i got winded taking body punches i swore id start doing 1000, 2000 crunches every day 🙂 and i have a feeling even that isnt enough against really good relentless punchers. i preferred doing slips and rolls to just squatting because it was more fun to me and i sometimes had to go down really low on slips to get inside a taller opponent targeting my chest. great practice and just as hard as 200 pure squats. one thing i never got was doing 500 pushups a day, i feel boxers spend too much time running and doing pushups when they could be doing more double end bag work and tabata-style sprinting in 3 minute breaks

Zach February 16, 2012 at 3:58 pm

What if you lift heavy weights with low reps for strength, but with little hypertrophy? Lifting can increase your body’s recruitment of muscle fibers and not increase the size too much if you lift correctly. Would that still be an issue?

Johnny N February 16, 2012 at 4:06 pm

If you’re doing it for strength, I don’t see why it would be a problem. There’s no doubt about the fitness benefits of weight lifting…the question is whether or not it will be of any real benefit to a boxer.

The article is only against lifting heavy weights for power. But if you want my opinion, I would avoid lifting heavy weights completely if you want to be a serious boxer. You can also ask your boxing coach for a second opinion and see what he says.

Josh February 17, 2012 at 3:01 am

i would really like to start boxing, but there is no boxing gyms close to where i live, is there aything i could do? i have a heavy bag set uo in my garage and a friend i use mitts with, is there anything i could do to become better?


Johnny N February 17, 2012 at 10:00 am

Look for kickboxing gyms or MMA gyms, there might be somebody with a boxing background there. Doing mitts with a friend will also help but if you really want to learn you should go to a gym where there are many other boxers more talented than yourself. I would also check out my ebook, it will help you learn quick on your own.

Tim February 17, 2012 at 4:13 am

Really enjoyed the article, it was very informative. Was wondering how you feel about heavylifting for the lower body? I like doing explosive training for legs, but some trainers i have talked to say a little heavy lifting for your lower body is all right. I know a heavyweight pro who recommends taking a 45lb weight plate and doing 100 squats. What is your opinion on heavy weightlifting for the lower body?

Johnny N February 17, 2012 at 10:03 am

Explosive training is more like plyometrics, it’s not heavy lifting so it’s ok. Doing squats with 45lbs is not a problem, (doing squats with 450lbs is more like heavy lifting). And once again…just as the article says… I don’t believe in heavy lifting AT ALL. If you insist on doing it, then follow the routines used by high jumpers to increase their vertical height. Don’t follow the routines used by powerlifters or bodybuilders.

paul February 17, 2012 at 3:02 pm

I work out with dumbells 2-3 times a week.I usually work with weights no heavier than 15-18 kg on each arm,I do three reps of 10-15 depending on each exercise.I usually do these exercises after 25 minutes of cardio which involves 5 minutes on a cross trainer and 20 minutes running on a treadmill.Is this ok for my boxing training?I don’t really consider this serious weight training what do you think?

Johnny N February 18, 2012 at 1:58 pm

15-18kg seems like an awful lot of weight. I don’t know how big or strong you are so maybe it’s not that heavy to you. The only way to know for sure is to stop it for a month and see if your punches become snappier. Punching power doesn’t come from the arm so there’s not much benefit. The only risk you have is a stiffer, slower arm, or less endurance in your arm.

Landon February 18, 2012 at 12:33 am

Don’t get me wrong, i like most of your articles, but having done years of research on strength and conditioning for combat sports, I completely and utterly disagree with this article. Lets go through all 5 points:
1. Punching is snapping, lifting is pushing….wrong. Weight lifting can be broken into many motions, pushing, pulling, rotational and anti-rotational.

2. Punch power comes from relaxation and not strength…the first part is true, a relaxed punch with a good snap on the end is very powerful. But to say no punching power comes from strength is utter lunacy. Take a look at two of the hardest hitting heavy weights of all time, Tyson and Foreman, both strong as an ox(and could prolly pull a plow through the fields all day).

3. Lifting weights doesn’t teach you how to relax…obviously, creating tension creates strength. Relaxing your body comes from a state of mind and from plenty of practice.

4. The weight behind your punches is not muscle…First, “Lifting weights generates force PURELY from your muscles.” Wrong, although the majority of the work is done by your muscles, another huge player in lifting is the tendons, a part of the body much like a rubber band that holds your joints together. The more you strength/power train, the more powerful your tendons become creating faster eccentric and concentric movements.
Now, the lower body and core muscles have a huge role to play in creating a powerful punch. A large player in a powerful punch is being able to pivot, turn the hip and rotate the core, and extend the arm as fast as possible. Now, someone who has never lifted weights before, when they start doing compound lifts such as heavy squats will feel that there muscles are firing much faster than before(if you don’t believe me check out this article http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15155427) a faster firing muscle creates in increase in speed, which in turn will allow you to turn that hip and twist the core at a faster rate, obviously.
5. Well in this one, its just kind of moronic and self-inhibiting in the progress as a fighter. You state “Having powerful muscles doesn’t guarantee a great punch. You’ve got to have skill. You need technique, angle, accuracy, and timing.” Well clearly a good skill set does need to come first in any sport, an olympic lifter can’t snatch 350lbs without perfecting the technique. Your point being said, take two fighters of equal skill level, every attribute the same except one guy is strong as shit and the other has never lifted a day in his life, you take a guess on who hits harder…

Lifting heavy weights, contrary to boxing culture, does not inhibit flexibility, but increases range of motion, it does not make you slower, a stronger muscle fires faster (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15155427), and it definitely doesn’t make you fatigue faster…a larger muscle needs a greater supply of oxygen, yes, but to become strong doesn’t even mean you have to gain muscle size, you can only put muscle mass on if you eat an excess of calories. Two muscles of equal size but of different strength levels still require equal amounts of oxygen. And on top of that, a higher max strength will increase endurance. Take for example a friendly competition of two persons wanting to see who can squat 185lbs for the most reps(competitors names are A & B). A has a maximum squat of 485lbs, while B has a max squat of 285lbs, take a wild guess at who can squat 185lbs for more repetitions. Thats right, A. Strength training will increase, not decrease muscular endurance.

Try a simple workout plan that i like to use, 2 days/week, usually monday/thursday.
Monday – Deadlifts – 3×5 heavy and Bench Press 3×5 heavy
Thursday – Squats – 3×5 heavy and Weighted Chin-ups 3×3 heavy.

Keep calories at or below maintenance and you won’t grow larger, just stronger, yet you’ll see, speed power, and endurance all increase.

Now, im still a little drunk and extremely tired and have to be up very soon for work, so im not proof reading this. G’night mates.

Johnny N February 18, 2012 at 2:00 pm

I disagree from my own powerlifting experience as well as from the instruction of great boxing coaches far more knowledgeable than myself. But I appreciate your time in writing this. Much respect to you, Landon.

Smurf October 1, 2012 at 5:59 pm

yeah your absolutely right landon, alot of guys go off there own experience and think its applicable to every human being. I must say from a pure scientific and physiology stand point johnny has no proof to what he’s saying, he is only using his own experience and the problem with that is no human being is the same.

Dave March 1, 2013 at 10:37 pm

If that’s the case Landon, then why can a 150 pound gymnast who does handstand pushups shoulder press 150 pounds but a weightlifter who weighs and shoulder presses 150 pounds CAN’T do a single handstand pushup. The fact is muscles learn to react against the stress their given. This is why gymnasts HARDLY use weights but are still some of the strongest most explosive people in the world.

landon March 2, 2013 at 11:54 pm

What are you talking about? It says “why lifting weights won’t increase punching power.” Not “why are gymnasts bat shit strong.” What does that have to do with anything I said?

Dave March 4, 2013 at 12:36 pm

It has everything to do with it. You’re making the argument lifting weights doesn’t inhibit explosiveness or muscular coordination. I gave you an example that it does. Gymnastics and boxing are different sports but have the same training philosophies. No weights! And don’t give me snatching as an example of muscular coordination. The difficulty level is nowhere near the same as handstand pushups.

armii April 12, 2013 at 5:30 am

what you thinka bout ketlebeels?

shimon May 7, 2013 at 9:54 am

Since you are using force and acceleration I’d like to put the right formulas, this will explain much of it.
Newton’s second law F=m*a where F is the force m is the mass and a is the acceleration. From this one might say the mass is important (it is but not from this). This is the wrong formula in a way. Consider for a moment a car deriving at 80 k/h at constant velocity. According to Newton’s law the acceleration is 0 (dv/dt=0) hence the force is 0. Well anybody tries to stand on the way of a car running at that velocity? What about a car running 5 k/h, any difference? This is because the right formula to understand this is M=v*m, where is is the Momentum v is the velocity and m is the mass. This is the forces exerted on the body which gets the hit. So for a given mass, starting from time zero you body has to accelerate, that is to invest power so to reach velocity.If you body is heavy you will have more momentum, and you need to invest more power to get to the same velocity, but if you do so you get more momentum. Just consider the impact of car driving 20k/h and the impact of a track at the same speed…
To summarize in order to reach momentum you need to invest power. When you have more mass you need more power to reach the same speed. What you want mass which can be accelerated and to reach to high speed in short time, to get momentum. Usually when weight training muscles become slow, unless one add training on speed and flexibility. The other issue is that speed kills, because if you can punch faster than your opponent reaction time, you are going to land punches at the target. It is difficult to get at the same time muscles that are fast and flexible, there should be a trade off between muscles and speed, and I would go for speed.

Johnny N May 17, 2013 at 11:55 am

I addressed this more in detail in part 2.

andrewp February 18, 2012 at 12:34 am

johnny im sorry but i disagree with you .bodybuildings only purpose is creating bulk then sculpting that bulk your observations that its detremental to boxing are spot on .where you then jump to all heavy weights are wrong ?its like saying a burger makes you fat =every body who has ever ate a burger is fat/.also bodybuilders muscle bulk tends to lead to slower movement=bigger muscle slower movement.i think what is throwing out your deductive reasoning is weight division constraints where limiting weight=smalleropponents/but this article states lifting wegihts wont improve ability period.seriously how do you explain the real greats the multiple weight class champions who have moved up and been much much better for the move up.in my oppinion they have improved their fast twitch fibers as result of going up.taking off the shackles of weight division=targeting fast twitch muscle and dont think i am refering only to knockout power all aspects of boxing ability are improved by better fast twitct fiber involment .i.e.faster handspeed comes from muscle fibers in your forearms.at the lower to middle class of boxing ability 4 inches of height or 6 inches of reach are solid reasons to stay down in weight class at the higher elite level is a solid reason to go up.keep up the good work johnny im only taking time to comment because your column has helped me train my tremendously.

Johnny N February 18, 2012 at 2:02 pm

I disagree from my own powerlifting experience as well as from the instruction of great boxing coaches far more knowledgeable than myself. After being on both sides of this issue, I now confidently stand on this side because I know it benefits me the most. I appreciate your comment, andrewp.

Smurf October 1, 2012 at 6:11 pm

hey johnny they may be great boxing coaches but they may not know a damn thing about exercise physiology. the problem with your statement is you are talking from your own experience and discrediting other individuals experience who have had success with lifting heavy weights. I love boxing but i do think its a bit outdated when it comes to strength and conditioning. If you lifts heavy weights only and do not transfer your brute strength into explosive power sure any one can become slow by exclusively lifting heavy weights. But if an individual learns how to apply their brute strength quickly with plyometrics and proper skill training they can become an explosive athlete let alone an explosive boxer. like the great louie simmons says, “you can not lift a heavy weight slow”.

Landon February 18, 2012 at 12:38 am

Also a little more advanced set up for weight training would be periodization. Few weeks, training to increase maximal strength, next few weeks increasing speed and power through plyos, medicine balls, and contrast training http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/contrast_training_for_strength_size_and_power and then the next few weeks being focused on muscle/power endurance.

andrewp February 18, 2012 at 1:12 am

sorry should have explained that using heavy weights the same way as bodybuilder is bad for boxing ability.but using heavy weights to target superfast twitch fibers for optimum speed is the only way to train to optimum genetic potential.in fact the only way to recruit these fibers.dont beleive me think of big cats lions or cheetahs their muscles are nearly entirley fast twitch fibers (they are also most relazed creatures in nature when exploding into action no restriction of movement).admittedly no heavy weights here but they are preloaded for explosive movement.our muscles have completly different composition lots and lots of slower twitch fibers(no matter how much you train slow twitch fibers they stay slow think of them as 1000cc engines and 3000cc engine).humans and big cats(in captivity) can live their whole lives without ever using their superfast twich fibers. 99% of all activity uses slow and medium fibers

curtis February 18, 2012 at 10:31 am

i watched the the deception of floyd mayweathers fight with jose luis costillio and in this fight mayweather was smother all of his opponents punches with his shoulders and upper body. How can he do this? this seems to manhandle castillo and dismantle his offence compleatly tying up his arms keeping him from punching. How is this possible? Is he pot shoting or picking his momments to attack carfully. what?

saber khan February 18, 2012 at 1:27 pm

floyd’s first fight with castillo was his worst performance by far… in the opinion of many me included thought he lost. a big reason for his performance was, floyd had an injured shoulder.
u want to see what he can do watch him against castillo in the 2nd fight, oscar de la hoya.

floy’ds technique is based on the shoulder roll, used to keep right punches from landing. what makes it look like he’s smothering punches is the rhythmical turning floyd does with his upper body to prevent punches from landing hard or flush. the upper body work seems even more impressive considering how good an understanding of range floyd has. watch james toney do it he is better than floyd at using the shoulder defense (but floyds obviously quicker). floyd doesnt just slip punches, he’s a master of leaning away from punches successfully. he also blocks with his elbows and parries very efficiently.

he also uses different methods of clinching and holding to prevent having to fight when out of position. with fighters who want to get close and fight floyd puts his left elbow in the throat of oppponents. clinching and using elbows are illegal but nearly every boxer-puncher type fighter has done it at some point, dont let people tell you floyd’s the only guy who does them.

also, watch pernell whitaker if you want to see perhaps the greatest defensive fighter of all time (i only can imagine willie pep would be near him, even benitez isnt on whitaker’s level). whitaker’s more of an upper body lower body all body defensive fighter u gotta see it to be lieve it. if u like floyd’s style most watch james toney in many ways he’s more impressive standing right in front of opponents and still being unhittable.

Eric February 18, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Generally for a muscle to get stronger it has to get larger and we all no the larger the muscle the more oxygen it requires. I seriously doubt you will see many people with 14″ arms or 40″ chests bench pressing 405lbs no matter if they trained for sheer strength or bodybuilding. However, if a fighter spends the bulk of his training sparring, hitting bags, rope skipping, running distances as well as sprints, doing anaerobic as well as aerobic exercises, the little useful muscle he adds from weight training shouldn’t effect his stamina or cardio. If a fighter elects to weight train, for whatever reason, they should do a mixture of high reps, fast explosive reps with light weights, heavy weights for low reps, etc. Certainly a fighter should never sacrifice boxing or skill training to spend more time pumping iron, and should always elect to use weights like barbells, dumbbells, sandbags, kettlebells over machines which don’t engage the stabilizing muscles at all. You probably have some fighters and trainers who even swear by weight training and I know you also have fighters and trainers who swear at it. Hell you have critics of long distance roadwork or even running in general for fighters. I’ve even read where Sugar Ray Robinson wouldn’t swim for exercise because he thought it would confuse his muscles which were meant for boxing. I’ve seen people berate weight training and at the same time talk about the virtues of calisthenics which are just resistance exercises performed with your bodyweight. You’ll even see these same critics add a person or weight vest for resistance while doing pushups, squatting, running etc. and swear they’re opposed to weight training, DUH.

Johnny N February 18, 2012 at 2:05 pm

If it helps, the overwhelming majority of trained boxers and coaches are against weight lifting.

Eric February 18, 2012 at 7:04 pm

Wlad Klitscho follows an 8-week training program where he lifts weights for the first three weeks only, not sure how much he lifts when he isn’t in training, but I’ve read he actually is lighter between fights than when he fights which is rare in all weight classes. He also doesn’t do an excessive amount of roadwork preferring to build his stamina through sparring rather than traditional long distance running. Weights can be used to condition fighters but at the same time you definitely wouldn’t want to build bunchy, over-sized bodybuilder type muscles either. Baseball used to be as opposed to weight training as probably boxing but proper weight training and not just steroids have helped many players. There are pros and cons of all training and conditioning methods not just with weight training, but even running long distances, swimming, etc.

Lee February 18, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Hi Johnny,
I must say this is a great article. It was a very interesting read for me because I am actually into strength training and boxing right now. I also had that idea of more strength would equate to more power but thanks for the nice explanation that is not the point. When it goes to a fight, I can say that it almost always go to technique not in the physique and strength one carries. I’m trying to develop that snapping punch right now and hopefully I’ll be able to utilize the full potential of my punch. However, I won’t give up on my strength training, I know it wouldn’t benefit my boxing that much but it did benefit my life at a great deal. Developing strength is not enough it’s the skill that matters most, proper technique delivers the best results(actually in strength training proper technique also precedes the amount of weight you can carry).
And btw, I would just like to thank you on all your articles, especially the one on relaxation and breathing through your nose. Before, after two rounds I would be breathing heavily and feel really tired, now I can handle a boxing workout without losing my breath.

Richard February 19, 2012 at 1:59 am

Hello mr Johnny. How do you feel about isometric exercises? Thanks for all your great articles.

Johnny N February 20, 2012 at 4:42 pm

I don’t particularly like isometric exercises. Many of them can be boring or impractical. Boxing is a bunch of movements that contorts your body into weird angles and forces you muscles to use the entire range of motion. The angles of force are constantly changing so working out with only one angle is a disadvantage.

Isometrics have aesthetic purposes, targeting an angle that makes your muscles look better. Also functional purposes, like targeting an angle for a perfect handstand.

andrewp February 19, 2012 at 4:28 am

thx for comments reply johnny sports science technology is always evolving and sports specific advancments are cutting edge.breaking things down to what is actually taking place at the micro level is the only way to keep advancing.your observations on how top trainers train elite fighters are as excellent.roll back 100 years and jack dempsey was cutting edge i mean how can you improve training regime of a champion knocking out boxers twice his size.im sorry but your anti heavy weights stance will prove to be wrong .whats really confusing is most of a bodybuilders bulk comes from slow twich fiber involment to move a heavy weight slowly say 10 reps your body recruits lots and lots of slow fibers.it prefers to fire more and more slow fibers because firing fast fibers (even though there are far fewer)uses far far more energy.your body always takes easy route.so increase of bulk is the body getting more and more efficient at slow fiber recruitment.bear in mind even a highly conditoined atlete only fires 30 to 40% of any muscles fiber capacity wether slow or fast twich.there are ways to target fast fibers without adding detremental bulk it involves traing to true muscle failure with extremly heavy loads
.when added to a boxers training load running etc its almost impossible for the body to get too bulky.the test of
time will always truly tell so we will see.thx johnny as always

pete February 19, 2012 at 6:35 pm

Great article.
How do you feel about bodyweight exercises such as pullups, chin-ups, dips, ect.
You know…the harder ones that take a while to get a decent rep number at.

Johnny N February 20, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Calisthenics (bodyweight exercises) are great, highly recommend for boxing or even general fitness. It’s the best form of exercise if you ask me.

Eric February 20, 2012 at 8:07 am

There was an event popular back in 70’s & 80’s featuring top athletes from various sports competing in various events like a 1/2 mile run, weightlifting, bowling, tennis, 100-yd sprint, swimming, obstacle course,shooting basketball etc. called ‘The Superstars.’ Well I do remember seeing 3 prominent heavyweight fighters compete in 3 different episodes in the 70’s and they were Joe Frazier, Jerry Quarry, and Ken Norton, and not even the heavily muscled Norton did well in weightlifting. Matter of fact none of the 3 top notch fighters competed that well in any of the events against other athletes, even in the 1/2 mile run where you figure a fighter should smoke(no pun intended) a group of football or say baseball players. Interestingly the hardest puncher of the 3, Joe Frazier, performed the most poorly in the competition particularly the swimming event where Joe finished dead last well behind all competitors. Frazier was also the “weakest”of the 3 push-pressing a racked weight overhead. In the weightlifting competition the contestants would take a weight from squat racks and attempt to lift it overhead, Frazier failed at a modest 170lbs, Quarry the lightest of the 3 fighters lifted about 210lbs, and I believe Norton might have lifted about 220-230lbs. Clearly Joe had never lifted weights in his life because his lifting form was terrible and his modest weight lifted had as much to do with lack of technique than strength. Despite Frazier’s modest weight lifted no one can deny he certainly had strength, when he bulled much larger men around the ring relentlessly. Frazier, Norton, Quarry, were all top notch heavyweights from the Golden Era of heavyweights but it was the worst athlete among the 3, Frazier who was the best fighter and puncher. Joe Frazier came out with a book on learning how to box and Smokin’ Joe is dead set against lifting weights for boxing, interestingly his son Marvis is a proponent of weight training for boxing, so there you go.

Johnny N February 20, 2012 at 4:54 pm

I’m not surprised at all. All of boxing history is flooded with examples of these. Some people will simply never understand this is how the human body works. Technology can improve fancy weight lifting machines over the years but the human body will always be the same. The human body will always adapt to whatever method you train it — there’s no way to get around this.

Thanks, Eric.

saber khan February 20, 2012 at 9:09 pm

great reference eric. i never had any idea about this. and it makes me feel better about my own abilities in the gym which like other boxers is certainly no better than average. im surprised i can squat more than joe! now that i think about it, that might not be a good thing… but then i took up normal weightlifting after i left serious boxing. if it was plyometrics they were competing in i think the results would be pretty different

Eric February 21, 2012 at 9:02 am

Youtube has the clips of Quarry and Frazier weightlifting. In addition they’ve also clips of Frazier competing in the bicycle race, sprint, and Frazier’s legendary attempt at swimming. Frazier competed in the first ever ‘Superstars’ event held in 1973. Too bad this kind of event no longer exists but with the money athletes make today, it probably wouldn’t be worth their time, or they wouldn’t want to risk embarrassing or injuring themselves. Norton competed in the 1976 version I believe, and I remember bodybuilder/actor Lou Ferrigno, who was also a competitor, was giving him advice on lifting during the weightlifting event. Athletes weren’t allowed to compete in events that were their specialty like say a baseball player couldn’t compete in the baseball hitting event, but Ferrigno competed in weightlifting, since he was a bodybuilder and not a weightlifter per say. Suprisingly, Ferrigno did quite well in most of the events and was impressive at batting and the bicycle event, but he lost out in weightifting to shot putter Brian Oldfield. At the time of the mid-70’s nearly all sports where still skeptical about weight training making athletes “muscle-bound,” and Ferrigno’s excellent showing helped put away a lot of those myths. Also shot putter Brian Oldfield, who was even bigger than Ferrigno at the time, could compete with sub-World class sprinters at the time, and he barely lost in the 100 yard dash to Pittsburgh HOF receiver Lynn Swann.

pete February 20, 2012 at 10:27 am

Yeah, but I bet that Frazier, Quarry or Norton would have knocked the snot out of any of the “superstars”.
Frazier trained for boxing, and he was the world champ for a time. I’m sure he couldn’t care less if he was weak at the push press or swimming.
Marvis being a proponent for weight training for boxing doesn’t speak well of weight training for boxing.
Compare Joe Frazier’s success in the ring with Marvis’s.
There you go.

Eric February 20, 2012 at 10:47 am

Seriously, I think I explained that while Frazier proving to be the so-called “weakest” of the 3 fighters in weightlifting, he still was the best fighter and puncher of the 3. Frazier, Quarry, and Norton I believe are all in BHOF at least I know Frazier & Norton are and Quarry should be if he’s not already. Nobody is even comparing Marvis to Joe because while Marvis was a decent fighter with wins over much larger fighters like Bonecrusher Smith, Joe Bugner, James Broad, etc. he certainly wasn’t an all-time great. However, I’m sure Marvis Frazier being a WORLD RANKED HEAVYWEIGHT CONTENDER if far more knowledgeable about training fighters than anyone posting here. Also many especially today will argue that the best heavyweight fighters do flock to team sports like football, basketball, or baseball instead of boxing. I know football players and basketball players have tried boxing with limited success but then again what if these superior athletes would have elected to train for boxing instead of say football for all those years. I think MMA has taught people to never underestimate athletic talent and physical fitness.

Reapz February 22, 2012 at 1:26 am

This is all very true, when it comes to boxing. Lifting heavy weights can have some use if fighting but I would avoid it in excess for anything ring based. I’m referring, of course, to grappling styles. I’m a big fan of body slamming peoiple to the ground so lifting helps in that aspect. Even then, that’s not really based on how much you can bench.

Lifting light to medium weights in fast explosive movements has, however, greatly increased my punching power. Basically, if you train slow controlled movements or fast and powerful movements, that’s what you’ll get. Pylometric pushups and explosive dips are faves of mine.

Of course, if your fighting pro and in weight classes. Bulking up on weight lifting is going to put you at a disadvantage. I have little to no experience in pro fights but a decent amount in sparring and street fights. lol

Gil February 22, 2012 at 10:09 am

Excellent article, as always, Johnny.

This subject will always be a topic of debate as long as boxing is around. I was someone else who finally realized that lifting heavy did not benefit me in boxing. I for one simply prefer to use bodyweight excercises, the medicine ball and very light dumbells i.e. 3, 5 and no more than 20 lbs for high rep movements such as overhead presses, punching movements (not the 20 lbs, though) and light squats in stance. Additionally, i like the portability that BW, dumbless and the medicine ball provide. I can travel and not worry about finding a gym.

I personally now find lifting boring and redundant. On the other hand, I realize that people love powerlifting and bodybuilding. I, for one prefer to be a better boxer and spending hours in the weight room will simply not accomplish that. I would rather spend that time improving skills technique, working the bags, etc. If heavy lifting benefited boxers, then everyone would be doing it, I suppose.

Another consideration with lifting heavy is that the risk of injury, a failed lift, etc is very great. I can’t even begin to tell you the failed attempts at benching heavy weights, torn rotator cuffs, etc I dealt with during my heavy lifting years. I have seen people with blown out knees from heavy squats, bad backs from deadlifting and such. In fact, had I not stopped the heavy weights years ago, there is no way I could train today with the intensity that I do at my ripe old age. Not lifting will certainly aid my longevity in this sport.

Pete February 24, 2012 at 1:11 am

A few weeks ago, I stopped lifting weights and made up a routine of only bodyweight exercises that include pullups, parellel bar dips, chinups, pushups with feet on bench, bench dips and hammer pullups, isometric squat holds against a wall, bodyweight squats, planking and leg raises.
All of my aches and soreness from lifting weights are disappearing, and I’m starting to snap my punches into the heavybag instead of pushing them. My endurance is up, and my punches at the end of my boxing sessions are as hard as those that I throw in the beginning.
What a difference. Boxing is fun again!

Johnny N February 24, 2012 at 3:41 am

I’m really happy for you, Pete!

Gil February 24, 2012 at 6:43 am

Absolutely. Johnny

Johnny N February 24, 2012 at 3:42 am

I got bored of weight lifting just as you did, Gil. After awhile you realize you can get a much better physical and mental workout doing other boxing exercises.

Gil February 24, 2012 at 6:41 am

Good for you, Pete! Thanks for sharing

Rant February 24, 2012 at 11:44 am

You have a lot of good articles. This one is rubbish. All the top fighters today employ proper weight training methods. You are confusing powerlifting training with weight training for boxers. This sort of thinking went out 30 years ago.

Johnny N February 24, 2012 at 2:52 pm

You’re confusing my article with something else. I am talking specifically about avoiding heavy weight training for boxers. I’m still ok with the proper weight training methods (although they are few and limited).

Daniel February 24, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Rant,sorry but there is no top fighters today.They can`t match up with all-time greats.Tyson,Foreman,Frazier,Hearns,Arguello,Ali,Pacquiao,SRR,Julian Jackson and many others.They didn`t lift weights.Thats it!

Eric February 24, 2012 at 1:28 pm


The author’s title of the article is “Why Lifting Weights Won’t Increase Punching Power” and not that weights couldn’t be used for conditioning fighters. Personally I feel weights can be used to condition fighters as long as the training is sports related and doesn’t resemble a bodybuilder or powerlifter routine. After all swinging a sledgehammer or throwing medicine balls can be considered weight training in a sense. Weight training for sports wasn’t at all popular and actually shunned by nearly all sports as recently as the early 1970’s, with the exception of maybe shot putters, discus throwers and other Field athletes. Of course now nearly every sport from football to even golfers train with weights, however for some reason weight training has never really made an impact in the boxing world despite being widely used in wrestling, MMA, and other combat sports. Even proponents of weight training for boxers who’ve extensive knowledge of both boxing and weight training will almost unanimously agree that weight training or weightlifting prowess has absolutely nothing to do with increasing punching power. In the end weights are just a conditioning tool just like calisthenics, plyometrics, medicine balls, sledgehammers, heavy bags, etc., and can be used properly to help in all sports.

Eric February 24, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Sorry Daniel, but Foreman and Tyson both lifted weights later in their careers. While weight training didn’t help Mike I wouldn’t say it was the main reason he lost in his later fights either, now in Foreman’s case pulling trucks, and lifting weights certainly didn’t hurt his stamina, punching power, or his success in his second career. The reason why you don’t have many successful weight trained fighters before the 1980’s is the same reason as in other sports. Hell even in football, a sport known for exceptionally strong weight trained athletes, most college and pro teams didn’t require their players lift weights until maybe the mid-70’s. There might have been weightrooms and weight training facilities for these players but most players didn’t train with weights and were actually discouraged against doing so. There have been numerous successful fighters who’ve trained with weights since the 1980’s such as Michael Spinks, Evander Holyfield, Earnie Shavers, Pernell Whitaker, Vinny Pazienza, both Klitscho brothers, George Foreman, Floyd Mayweather Jr.(yes there are Youtube clips of Floyd weight training), and Sugar Ray Leonard even lifted weights in his comeback against Marvin Hagler, etc. and these are just the ones of the top of my head so I’m sure there are many others.

Daniel February 24, 2012 at 3:07 pm

You are doing wrong conclusions only by watching youtube clips.FMJ lifted only for moving in weight classes.Holyfield too.Foreman didnt lift weights and still cutted his opponents heads in his young years.Mike Tyson`s trainers said he never lifted weights in his prime.And because my opinion its not so important,i will quote Alex Ariza,conditioning coach of Manny Pacquiao,Amir Khan,And JCC jr.And yes,he is from the new era.He said that lifting weights like bench press,deadlift,squats its not efficient,because it builds muscles which are not useful in boxing.He believes in strong core and legs.Which he train with isometrics and plyometrics.And sorry for my english,maybe I have mistakes.Piece

jamey April 24, 2012 at 9:33 am

well said brother but you use more of those muscles than one would think… how many ppl on here are actual fighters????? i am amd most of what you guys are arguing has been argued for years… i lift and and still do my calistenics daily and i have no problem going 10 rounds

Daniel February 24, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Nothing against lifting weights in general…I`m muay thai fighter for almost 7 years and I have a lot of competitions.I love to lift weights!Ive been benching,squating,deadlifting,snatching and a lot of other things.I`ve been very big and strong.Ive been train for explosivness and so many other bullshits.And guess what,it didnt help me so much.Then I just decided to try the old school method,and focus like Johny said on relaxation,technique,timing,accuracy and footwork.And also to be very calm when I fight.Thats the true behind the speed,power and the good fighter.Believe me…

Daniel February 24, 2012 at 3:27 pm

And one more thing about Foreman.No one said that lifting weights hurted his power.But dont forget he is a big heavyweight.There is just so many skills that must be develope,and lifting weights will obstacle that

Eric February 24, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Everybody is different and has different needs so while weights might be fine for some, others may find it more beneficial to train in more traditional ways. I just think of different methods as tools and don’t hold one method above the other. You mentioned you like to train in Muay Thai, well there are no better examples than two excellent fighters named Alain Ngalani and Buakaw Por Pramur. Both of these fighters dominate in Kickboxing/Muay Thai and while Ngalani uses a lot of weight training in his routines, Pramur is more about old school style training with little if any weight training.

Pete February 24, 2012 at 8:23 pm

Weights would be good for someone who is severely lacking in basic strength, and it would make sense for someone who couldn’t do even one pullup to do lat pulldowns until he built up enough strength to do pullups.
Weights used to give me sore muscles and make me stiff in my joints, even while stretching religiously, but bodyweight movements seem to get me loose and allow for more flexibility.
My arms and shoulders would be tensed up, and I couldn’t rotate my hips properly into my punches while training with weights. I felt like I lacked smoothness and didn’t have the ability to relax. As a result, I would gas quickly.
In the short time that I’ve been doing only bodyweight exercises, I seemed to have loosened up a bit, and have been able to concentrate on my punches and moves in more of a relaxed state. It’s going to take some time and plenty of practice for me to fully realize the advantages of this type of training, but the early results are promising, and I’m eager to see where this will take me with my training.
The old-school guys weren’t as clueless as most would have you believe, and I think that if they thought that weights were the best way for their fighters to train, then they would have been training with weights. I’m sure they tried it before they formed their opinion on it.

andrewp February 26, 2012 at 2:52 am

well the anti strengh training brigade keep refering to skill and timing etc as though anyone who has ever lifted a weight has never even heard about these abilitys only within reach of bodyweight training boxers.stereotyping any power exercise as neanderthal man.using bodybuilding stereotypes instead of multiple world greats as references. well i hear the flat earth society are looking for members you should all give it serious consideration sticking your head in the sand comes in handy there too.no seriously stop confusing bodybuilding with sports specifc targeting of fast twich fibers (FOR SPEED NOT STRENGH).nothing ever stays the same everthing is always evolving and changing boxing is lagging behind most sports in terms of scientific training advancements trust me this will change.

Eric February 26, 2012 at 9:13 am


What I find humorous is that many anti-weight training posters espouse the benefits of bodyweight training, plyometrics, isometrics, etc. and some even state these exercises will improve punching power while weight training won’t. Well guess what you can do plyometric pushups, isometric exercises with your fist against a wall in various punching positions till the cows come home and it will do little if anything to increase your punching power. These calisthenics and isometrics will however be great conditioning tools just like weight training. In fact what is a pushup but a bodyweight version of a barbell/dumbbell bench press. Personally I think most punchers are born with punching power, maybe some exercises might help, but I feel these exercises are mainly for improving strength, flexibility, stamina, quickness, etc. instead of punching power. Where do you draw the line in determining what is weight training anyhow? I’m sure the average person couldn’t even crank out a single rep on some advanced bodyweight exercises like muscle-ups, single-arm/single leg medicine ball pushups, Aztec pushups, pistols, plyometric pullups, so by doing these bodyweight exercises are you “lifting heavy weights?” Ray Mancini would do pushups with sand bags on his back and push loaded wheel barrows uphill, did Mancini weight train?

saber khan February 27, 2012 at 4:23 am

eric you read my mind… get some gym goer to try a planche pushup and then the meaning of strength becomes a little more `grey’. i can do a planche pushup but i dont think ill ever be able to do a one handed version

and johny totally with u on interval sprints wonderful for all kidns of reasons. too many people are in love with jogging all day

Eric February 27, 2012 at 7:08 am


There are certainly all kinds of strength and not all gym numbers whether bodyweight or weight training guarantee you’ll overpower another athlete. Pittsburgh Steeler legend Mean Joe Greene wasn’t much for the gym workouts and his weight room totals would probably be on par with local high school lineman of today but he dominated other athletes on the field. You could take a 132lb World Class Olympic lifter and he would probably be lifting overhead what a lot of weight room 230lb gym rats are benching. There are people out there who can perform an unassisted(no feet on the wall) one arm handstand pushup, now that’s some kind of world class strength. I read a book on boxing great and knockout king Archie Moore titled ‘The Ageless Warrior’ and ancient Archie swore that walking on his hands helped him with his power, whether that’s true or not walking on your hands would certainly develop your endurance in your shoulders, upper back and arms, not to mention giving them enormous functional strength.

Eric February 28, 2012 at 6:55 am

Oops, sorry no one has ever officially done an unassisted one-arm handstand pushup. One-arm handstands and one-arm lever to handstand pushups yes, but never an official full range of motion unassisted one arm handstand pushup. Oh well that’s something for some ambitious person to shoot for.

Carlson December 28, 2013 at 1:15 pm


tumppi February 26, 2012 at 11:07 am

is chopping firewood “mechanical wood processing” good exercise for boxing?

Johnny N February 27, 2012 at 3:09 am

Chopping wood is an old school exercise, very similar to the guys hammering a tire today. I like it.

John G February 26, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Oh man, I’m going to stop lifting heavy weights now. Anybody know a good workout to increase cardio in the ring?

Johnny N February 27, 2012 at 3:11 am

Running (distance & sprint intervals), jump rope, speed bag (for the shoulders).

John G February 27, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Thanks man

andrewp February 27, 2012 at 6:58 am

ERIC your points about where to draw the line between weights and bodyweight are spot on .consider pullups on a bar everybody struggles far more on these than there weights equevalant and anyone that masters this bodyweight exercise will have excellent results .well this has always been a boxers staple exercise joe frazer swore by them .in fact pushups pullups situps are quoted as all you need in his book (box like the pros).this debate will go on and on lotsof excellent points on both sides its the genrilizations of all weights are wrong which is wrong.most people that have a weights background pre boxing trained in a completly different manner with power and size usually there goal.of course this is detremental to boxing.JOHNNY you are truly a boxing genius no other site comes close but not on this

Johnny N February 27, 2012 at 7:25 am

Andrewp, I’m not against weight training or resistance training (the umbrella term) for boxing. Pull-ups is not heavy lifting at all, I can do 20 even when I’m not in shape. Some people can do over 50 with consistent training. Of course some people have such poor upper body strength or low strength-to-bodyweight ratios that pull-ups would be considered difficult.

I’m not against plyometric training, or high intensity lifting, or explosive type of weight training. I’m mainly against heavy lifting (anything above the 15-20 rep max). Of course, we can discuss all day and night about the different types of muscle fibers and how muscle adapts differently to different types of weight lifting. But I don’t worry about that because I understand it on a functional level. All the science talk is for people with something to prove. I’m not offering proof, I’m offering a very strong opinion along with practical reasons.

The article isn’t a crusade against people who lift weights for boxing. It’s a reflection of my own experience as well as the knowledge of great trainers of generations before me.

And no, I’m not a boxing genius. I simply take what I know and share it with people who want my opinion. After spending thousands of hours doing something, it gives you a certain confidence to speak about it. Everyone is free to train and do whatever they want with their BODY. I speak proudly on this subject because I took the time to experiment with MY OWN BODY. I know what my body is capable and I saw with my own 2 eyes what many other fighters — amateur & pro — were capable of.

I did my homework and I spoke to many successful boxing trainers (some of them with weight lifting backgrounds). When you ask 15 different trainers the same question, and get the same answer along with 100 different reasons, you have to respect that. Even if you don’t agree or you don’t like the answer, you have to respect it. Someday, maybe you’ll agree with it or you’ll disprove it but still, you have to respect other people’s opinions — especially from ones that came way before your time. More often than not, when I respected my trainers opinions over mine I was more successful.

Last note: thanks for putting your thoughts down. I’m sure a lot of other people feel the same way you do but can’t articulate. (Someone actually emailed me the other day calling me an idiot for this article but didn’t explain why, LOL!)

andrewp February 27, 2012 at 3:38 pm

wow johnny strong reply i wasnt being sarcastic about you being boxing genius your columns are more than enough prove of that and im not a geek i study boxing have boxed and train my son.the only reason i explain in basic scientific terms is because unless theres lots and lots of proof to back up something people nether change their opinion .we are prewired to form opinnions then make all evidence and experience fit into them regardless.its why people nether change religion or political party.i try myself to have an open mind and i definatly respect your opinion its just one tiny peice of the jigsaw puzzle that doesnt fit

Carlson December 28, 2013 at 1:46 pm

1. so you mean anythign above 15 reps is ok? If i do train low row machine and put for example 2. “200kg” and doing 15 reps will be ok ? 3 Please i need exercises which are good for boxing and weight lifitng is good but notheavy lifting. But if talk about weight lifting , deadlift, squats or what is good for us?

Johnny N January 9, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Start with the EASY Boxing Workout and go from there.

JoshNZ February 27, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Hi, what is a good diet todo for boxing, and also what is the best way to get the physique of a fighter. Thankyou. Josh

Johnny N February 27, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Boxing training will give you the fighter’s physique. Check out the “Expert Boxing EASY Boxing Workout” and also the “Common Sense Boxing Diet”. Both of these guides are linked on the right side.

Eric February 28, 2012 at 8:33 am

Probably another traditional training method advocated by old-time trainers and fighters would be daily long distance roadwork. Old school fighters ran so much it was like they were training for a marathon. Now some “newbies” are saying that sprints and/or intervals are more conducive to a fighters needs since boxing does have 3 min rds followed by 1 min rest periods. Probably the best thing to go by is if something works for you do it, if not discard it. Everybody is different and therefore their training routines shouldn’t mirror each other. Weight training does have its pros and cons just like everything else. Obviously you don’t want your arms, chest, and shoulders to get so large that it effects your ability at keeping your hands high, or causes you to loop your punches. I guess a good rule of thumb is if you’re weight training is how it effects your performance boxing or even in doing calisthenics like pull-ups. If you are in the lighter classes getting too big won’t be an issue but if you’re a heavyweight you wouldn’t want to get so large that you no longer can do at least a good 15 pull-ups.

Eric March 4, 2012 at 12:52 am

Olympic Weightlifting, Powerlifting, and Bodybuilding are sports and all three have about as much in common with boxing as ping pong. We’ve all seen freakishly developed fighters fail miserably against more “normal-sized” fitter fighters in MMA and boxing. But then again you must examine the whole story. Take MMA’s most recent “musclemen” ex-WWF behemoths Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley and ex-World’s Strongest Man winner Mariusz Pudzianowski. We all know that none of these men are proficient strikers and Lashley and especially Pudzianowski are well below average at all phases of the game whether grappling, submission, or striking. Of course Lesnar did win the title and is a far superior athlete to either Lashley or Pudz, but he relied on grounding and pounding and not devastating punches. What I’m getting at is a lot of people see some muscled beach body type who blows up in the ring or cage, and they automatically assume everyone with biceps larger than a 12-year old stamp collector can’t crack an egg with a punch or they gas out walking up a flight of stairs. I assume just because I see a skinny guy with a weak punch or no stamina that all skinny guys are the same. I’ve listed Tank Abbott as an immensely strong bulky weight lifter who could punch like a mule kicks in his prime. Say what you want about Abbott’s spotty record, but he took on and knocked out some of the world’s baddest fighters and he did this all without any formal martial arts training and Tank’s idea of training cardio consisted of walking to the bar. Also former Mr.Olympia Franco Columbu was some kind of amateur lightweight boxing champion in his native Italy and there is a scene in “Pumping Iron” where a 180-190lb muscular Franco still looks sharp punching the heavy bag and skipping rope. Granted the bodybuilders now are total freaks compared to Columbu’s day but it just goes to show that a lot of people who are athletic will remain athletic because of, or despite weight training or bodybuilding. While others like Mariusz Pudzianowski will never be particularly athletic or much of a fighter whether they lifted weights or not.

don March 4, 2012 at 6:10 am

Mr. Jhonny, can you make an article regarding kettle bells? As you have mentioned before you use it in your exercise, can you show us proper exercise with it to improve on our boxing? also dont forget the boxing as self defence article you promised 🙂

thanks for writing really awesome boxing articles here

Johnny N March 4, 2012 at 7:04 pm

I’m not a kettlebell expert and don’t use it much. The only exercises I use (if at all) are the basic kettlebell swings.

Eric March 4, 2012 at 11:17 am

Don, glad you brought up boxing and it’s usage for self denfense. I’m assuming you’re talking about using boxing techniques and training for the street. Well if we judged ALL BOXERS by how they performed in MMA bouts which more resemble REAL WORLD fighting we would assume boxing training is a complete waste of time for REAL WORLD fighting. Ex-boxers Ray Mercer, James Toney, Art Jimmerson, Frans Botha, Butterbean etc.,have been dismal failures at competing in K1 or MMA events. Of course Mercer did ko Tim Sylvia and ex-Cruiserweight James Warring who was an ex-kickboxer did relatively well in MMA, but for the most part boxers have proven to be extremely ineffective inside the Octagon or in K1 competition. I mean who can forget UFC 1 when Royce Gracie submitted Art Jimmerson in the blink of an eye. Jimmerson actually entered the Octagon wearing a single boxing glove, duh! Old-timer Judo Gene LaBell submitted a pro-boxer rather easily in the 1960’s long before UFC even existed. But despite boxing’s rather spotty record against other martial artists, every fighter worth a damn puts in a lot of time in specific boxing training. This ties in with the whole anti-weight training for boxing agenda. If we just judged boxing training for self defense on what we actually saw in the MMA we would say boxing is useless for on the street encounters or MMA, but we all know that boxing is as useful as muay thai, wrestling, jujitsu, etc., but it just doesn’t fare well against someone who is well versed in different methods of self defense. Of course MMA fighters wouldn’t do well against boxers in a boxing match either. A MMA fighter doesn’t train boxing to be able to throw hands with a Mike Tyson, and a fighter wouldn’t spend so much time in the weight room that he had the strength or build of a Ronnie Coleman. MMA has evolved since Royce Gracie dominated without much of a striking game out all. Now a MMA fighter might become proficient in boxing, muay thai, and wrestling even though his skill level in all three wouldn’t be necessarily world class. Boxing needs to accept weight training as a supplemental form of training as well because if two athletes of equal skill compete it’s usually the stronger one that will prevail.

Joshua March 6, 2012 at 2:07 pm

“Boxing needs to accept weight training as a supplemental form of training as well because if two athletes of equal skill compete it’s usually the stronger one that will prevail.”

I don’t think so. Technically, the fighter with the reach advantage is more likely to win, who is more likely to be taller, who’s body is able to physically contain more muscle. Taking a page out of Johnny’s article, longer limbs = more snapping motion = more power in your punches. More muscles isn’t win fights, reach does.

And talking about MMA, yes, fighters do need to lift weights to get better, but not so their muay thai/boxing gets better. Wrestling/Judo/Sambo/BJJ, especially wrestling, make much better use of a strength advantage. They need to weight train but only because it helps with their grappling.

That being said, a lot of MMA guys don’t box very well. If you’re taking that into account then yes, a strength advantage probably would help their power, but only because they don’t use proper technique.

Joshua March 6, 2012 at 2:11 pm

I typed “isn’t” instead of “doesn’t”. Yikes.

Eric March 6, 2012 at 4:29 pm


“longer limbs = more snapping motion =more power in your punches” well that’s the first time I’ve ever heard that one but if that’s true you better advise all those short arm short punchers like Rocky Graziano, Rocky Marciano, Joe Frazier, David Tua, Mike Tyson, Rubin Carter,Tom Sharkey, etc. etc. etc. Matter of fact exceptionally tall fighters who are successful and hard punchers are rarer than short arm shorter punchers. Sure you have the Tommy Hearns, Sandy Saddlers, Gerry Cooney, etc. but for every relatively tall puncher for their weight class I could name you dozens more of normal or below normal height for their weight class.

Johnny N March 6, 2012 at 4:57 pm

This is already going way off subject but now I’ve got to jump on in the fun. There isn’t a surefire correlation between arm length and power. Different arm lengths can perform better at different angles and different punches using different techniques.

At the amateur level, all the power punchers are usually long armed because amateur boxing relies on a lot of reach.

At the pro level, you see more short armed power punchers because people like seeing aggression and guys that come inside. The pro game also relies more on making weight so shorter guys have room to make weight whereas taller guys cannot. Of the recent years, there have been many tall power punchers like Corrales, De La Hoya, Trinidad, Vernon Forrest, Junior Jones, Morales, Funeka, Cintron, Pavlik, Bute, Froch, there are many more. In the pro game, tall power punchers are often avoided and I believe they don’t last as long because they sometimes have a smaller chin which doesn’t hold as well over time. But anyways, that’s a different subject for a different time.

Eric March 6, 2012 at 6:20 pm

Shorter than average or average height heavyweight power punchers
Modern Heavyweights since 1970 6’3″ and under
Joe Frazier 5’11 1/2″ *probably an inch shorter than listed height
Earnie Shavers 6′ arguably the hardest punching Heavyweight of all-time
Mike Weaver 6’1 1/2″
Mike Tyson 5′ 11 1/2″ * probably closer to 5’10”
David Tua 5’9″-5’10” depending on source
Gerrie Coetzee 6’3″
Sonny Liston 6′-6’1″ depending on source, * exceptionally long reach however
Ron Lyle 6’3″
George Foreman 6’3″-6’4″ * Foreman might be a bit taller than 6’3″ depending on source

Heavyweight power punchers 6’5″ or above since 1970
Lennox Lewis 6’5″ * really more of a boxer puncher but had decent power
Wlad Klitscho 6’6″
Vitali Klitscho 6’7″
Gerry Cooney 6’5 3/4″-6’6″ depending on sources

Eric March 6, 2012 at 6:40 pm

oops left off on the shorter and average height heavy power punchers

Razor Ruddock 6’3″
Tommy Morrison 6’2″ * might even be closer to 6’1″
Ray Mercer 6’1″-6’1 1/2″ depending on source
Cleveland Williams 6’3″

This is just the Heavyweight class from 1970 on and I’m sure I left off more than a few names but if you went from Jack Dempsey’s period till 1970 the disparity would be even greater. Yes there have always been large heavyweights even in Dempsey’s time but they just couldn’t compete with the smaller heavyweights. Dempsey and Joe Louis ko’ed there share of giant-sized heavyweights. In fact Dempsey & Louis ko’ed men almost the size of the Klitschos and in some cases like Buddy Baer, Primo Carnera, and Jess Willard even larger. Even little Rocky Marciano who is often ridiculed for beating up old or smallish heavyweights ko’ed 3 men over 6’4.”

frank cartwright September 12, 2013 at 10:45 pm

i feel the hardest punching and vicious have been 6’1″ or under and some were really only cruiserweights fighting heavweights..here’s my list:john l sullivan 5’10” 200lb,langford 5’6″ 185lb,johnson 6’1″ 200lb,fitzsimmons 5’11” 165lb,dempsey 6′ 3/4″ 187lb,sharkey 5’8″ 180lb,chonski 5’10” 170lb,louis 6’1/2″ 200lb,galento 5’8″ 225lb,marciano 5’9″ 189lb,liston 6’1” 210lb,frazier 5’11″1/2 205lb,bonavena 5’10” 210lb,mike weaver 6’1″ 210lb,ray mercer 6’1″ 225,cooper 5’11” 215lb,shavers 6′ 212lb,tyson5’10” 220lb lionel butler 5’11” 230lb.you can see the smaller guys were overwhelmingly the hardest punching ones,

frank cartwright September 12, 2013 at 10:47 pm

i forgot david tua 5’9″ 235lb.thanks.

jamey April 24, 2012 at 9:26 am

guys lifting weights can improve the power and speed of your punch… not only does lifting weights give you more of the plyometric explosion needed in a punch but it also helps to improve your range of motion inspite of what most people think… albiet most of the power in a boxers punch comes from the core and the glutes and planted feet. but it is as has always been said in boxing, speed is power!!!!! its the velocity of the punch followed with the “snap” from the hip , core and the pivot of your feet… most people do not understand the difference between power and strength… its not the brute strength of an ox that causes the snap( oxen are slow) it is the plyometric explosion from the saccamores and muscle spindles in the muscle fibers that give you the quick exposive force

Eric March 4, 2012 at 7:36 pm

They have the Gene Lebell vs. boxer Milo Savage bout on Youtube. This bout took place in 1963, 30-years before the first UFC. Back then it was assumed the Heavyweight Boxing Champion was “the baddest man on the planet” and most other martial arts and even wrestling(not rasslin’) were dissed as inferior means of self defense. If interested the bout is on Youtube: “MMA History Gene Lebell vs Milo Savage 1963.” Granted Savage wasn’t a world beater as a boxer and wasn’t in his prime but there you are.

Eric March 4, 2012 at 10:12 pm


Not sure if any of these 3 authors/trainers cover kettlebell training for boxers in their books/dvds but all 3 are highly knowledgeable on all aspects of fitness whether bodyweight, kettlebell, and in combat sports training. I’m sure Steve Cotter and Steve Maxwell both have dvds if not books out on kettlebell training and they say Pavel Tsatsouline’s “Enter The Kettlebell” is an excellent source. I know there are plenty of free vids on Youtube of Cotter and Maxwell using and explaining training with kettlebells so maybe that would save you a few bucks because I know Pavel’s books and dvds are quite steep in price. Probably the best book out there combining fitness and including valuable exercises for boxing is Ross Enamait’s “Infinite Intensity.” No kettlebell training but Ross uses dumbbells which many believe are actually more useful than kettlebells anyhow. Think about it, you can replicate any or most kettlebell exercises with dumbbells and dumbbells are much easier on the wrists. Ross covers specific training for boxing, sandbag training, bodyweight training, isometrics, medicine ball exercises, dumbbell workouts, sprinting and running workouts, core training, and even exercises for the often neglected neck and forearms. Ross is also an ex-boxer and currently trains boxers. Of course you can always visit his website Rosstraining.com. “Infinite Intensity” is probably cheaper than the other books and will cover boxing training also, so don’t be dismayed about using dumbbells over kettlebells. There is a reason dumbbells overtook kettlebells in the first place and until the last 20-years or so kettlebells were stuffed away in someone’s attack. Another great book by Ross is “Never Gymless” for bodyweight enthusiasts. Hope this helps and good luck.

Eric March 4, 2012 at 10:14 pm

oops sorry that’s “stuffed away in someone’s attic” and not “attack”

learner March 6, 2012 at 7:12 am

Hey man”’ great website
Im not to sure how many guys get some of the indepth info you explain here”’
relax and bodyweight/gravity power” how to punch harder” snap punch” its top notch stuff for someone who dosent know” or put that info as a priority when training”’

about weights” what are your thoughts on using kettlebell snatches as a weight workout?

Johnny N March 6, 2012 at 1:34 pm

I like kettlebells for resistance exercises. I would recommend using a light weight within the 15-20 rep max range.

andrewp March 10, 2012 at 9:59 am

learner ???? are you saying anyone that uses weights doesnt relax snap punch or use gravity etc.and all boxing knowledge is wasted on them.wow didnt know that.i suppose they sort of bench press their opponent into the corner slowly.

jamey April 24, 2012 at 9:28 am

good one i like that … i dont know where people get this ridiculous info from????

Eric March 10, 2012 at 11:04 am


What is doubly amusing is that somehow a kettlebell is different than a barbell or its modern brother the dumbbell. While kettlebells are a valuable tool and really work wonders doing non-conventional exercises such as Turkish Get Ups, Windmills, Swings etc., all these exercises can be done with dumbbells and without the high risk of injury done to the wrist. Kettlebells are great for strengthening the grip because of their awkwardness and thicker handles but at the same time they pose a greater risk for injury. Kettlebells have been around forever, and the reason they all but disappeared except for maybe in Eastern Europe for decades, is that people found out the dumbbell is a superior tool. Unless you have adjustable kettlebells the increments are usually over 8lbs and that sometimes can make progressing to a heavier load difficult. Over zealous fitness gurus have used ingenious marketing to make a mint off promoting the kettlebell as a miracle fitness tool superior to the mundane barbell & dumbbells. Just like internet guru Matt Furey took a few exercises performed by Indian wrestlers grouped with some basic gym class bodyweight exercises and made heaps of cabbage off all the suckers willing to shell out exorbitant amounts of their money to purchase books filled with exercises they performed in gym class. Furey would go on to flat out LIE about Indian wrestlers only using bodyweight exercises for their training citing the Great Gama’s workout routine of endless Hindu Squats and Hindu Pushups. What Furey neglected to tell his gullible audience is that Gama would often use some stone-like weights around his neck when performing these exercises or even for running, in addition to using weighted macebells, and of course Indian clubs.

Eric March 10, 2012 at 11:14 am

oopsie Overzealous not “over zealous” Seeeeeeeeyaaaaaaaa.

Eric March 10, 2012 at 11:42 am

Now this is how to get proper torque and hip rotation into your power punches. Check out on Youtube: Sports Science: Hits Like A Girl Pt.2 featuring female boxer Lucian Rijker, who played in the film “Million Dollar Baby.”

jason tran March 16, 2012 at 5:46 pm

nice johnny 🙂 very informative but theres something really confusing me…Mike Tyson during his prime was massive!! he looked like a bodybuilder kinda…how did he get such big biceps and huge muscles with just body-weight exercises?

Johnny N March 17, 2012 at 12:27 am

He actually looked normal to me. Sure he has a thick build but there are many guys are naturally like that. He didn’t look very much like a bodybuilder if you ask me. I’ve google-image the word “bodybuilder” and found much less natural looking guys.

Vato Loco July 5, 2012 at 3:18 pm

There have been plenty of guys built like Tyson in boxing for years going way back to the early 1900’s even. You had 5′ 1 1/2″ Barbados Joe Walcott the welterweight champion(not the former heavyweight champion who adopted his idol’s namesake) who had 16″ biceps that were larger than many heavyweights. Then there was 5’9″ 185lb Tom Sharkey who was an extraordinary hard puncher and has often been thought of as a old timer version of Rocky Marciano who was another short stocky brawler in the same mold as Tyson. Others were the 1940’s heavyweight contender Turkey Thompson who although started out as a middleweight grew into a solid 200+ pound heavyweight at only 5’8 1/2″ in height. More modern versions of short pit bull like fighters have been jr. middleweight & middleweight contender James Green who was only 5’4″ in height, and of course Dwight Qawi who won both the Lt.Heavyweight & Cruiserweight titles despite being only 5’6 3/4.” Then you have the massive David Tua who is even built more solid than Mike Tyson. Tua is at least an inch shorter than Tyson and his best fighting weight was probably at least 10lbs more than Tyson’s best weight. As far as I know none of these fighters ever lifted weights while boxing in their prime(even though Tyson would later lift at the end of his career), and all had physiques that looked like they could have belonged to people who had weight trained for years. In fact there are plenty of extremely strong bodybuilders or powerlifters who don’t have the leg development of David Tua, who like many Samoans were blessed with extraordinary genetics in their massive development. Who knows maybe it comes from climbing coconut trees and eating coconuts. After all they say coconuts are very good for you.

Eric March 17, 2012 at 9:03 am

I agree with you Johnny. Tyson is a classic mesomorph, if not an extreme case of being a “natural mesomorph.” I’ve seen prime Tyson’s strength building workout posted on the internet where he did countless reps of dips, pullups, and pushups, and the only weights he used at that time were supposedly a 50lb. barbell for prodigous amounts of reps doing shoulder shrugs to strengthen his shoulder girdle. Matter of fact early Tyson was quoted as saying “weight lifting has as much to do with punching power as cheescake,” whatever the hell that means. I’m always skeptical about the amount of reps used supposedly by athletes who do calisthenics, and weights used by those you lift weights that are reported, often in both cases they’re exaggerated, if not extremely exaggerated. Hell many athlete’s height and weight are exaggerated so much so, that if you meet them in person, you’re often suprised at how much smaller they appear in person. People that have met Tyson often state he appears at least a good inch shorter than his listed height of 5’11 1/2.” Matter of fact there are plenty of people who do NO exercise, who can have impressive physiques based on their genetics, ever see that many skinny Samoans for example. And you can build quite an impressive physique using JUST bodyweight exercises, have you ever seen those guys on Youtube like “Hannibal” and others doing extreme versions of pullups, dips, and pushups, or the physiques on male gymnast. In most cases these guys are built just as good if not better than a prime Tyson. Tyson being massive is all relative of course. If you put Tyson next to many everyday bodybuilders at a local Gold’s Gym he wouldn’t stand out at all, and if you put him next to a top pro bodybuilder he would appear almost to be suffering from malnutrition, hell even a prime Arnold would appear skinny next to freakish bodybuilders of today.

Eric March 17, 2012 at 9:23 am

Herschel Walker was another athlete who built an impressive physique using bodyweight only exercises. I think you just have to in most cases go beyond the norm of standard pushups, dips, and pullups to even more advanced exercises. But then again people like Herschel and Mike Tyson aren’t your normal run of the mill athletes and what works for them won’t necessarily produce the same results in less physically gifted athletes.

kakkanaama March 17, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Think two different fighters, which both have exactly same amount of experience, skills, they fight in same weight class, are both evenly well conditioned, have same reflexes, speed, toughness and so on… The other one has big muscles and the other one just weighs the same but haven’t really trained his muscles so much, he is skinnier.

Which one will win??? Powerful one or the not so powerful one??

Johnny N March 17, 2012 at 2:58 pm

I typically pick the skinnier guy assuming he is not THAT much skinnier. It also doesn’t make sense when you say they’re both evenly conditioned but one guy didn’t train his muscles as much. But ideally, the guy with the better (and more effective) training should win.

J July 3, 2012 at 11:55 pm

I would like to state an opinion on this, a close example would be mayweather vs ortiz ortiz was way more muscular than mayweather the skinner guy would have more of an advantage due to the fact he or she can move and take angles the muscular fighter cannot being muscular prevents the body from closing in tight, back to the mayweather ortiz johnny stated it best before mayweather was able to reach certain spots that ortiz’s muscles wouldnt allow him to defend

Eric March 17, 2012 at 7:22 pm

Bigger muscles don’t always equate with being stronger on the athletic field or even the weight room for that matter. Powerlifters and Olympic Weightlifters are generally far stronger than bodybuilders, their size and even larger, despite the bodybuilder often having “bigger muscles.” If the guy with the “bigger muscles” didn’t overemphasize strength training and he didn’t neglect his conditioning at the expense of too much strength training, his superior strength might be enough to pull out the win. Generally when someone says a boxer is “strong” they’re talking about strength endurance or great stamina. A Rocky Marciano or Joe Frazier would be a perfect example of a “strong” fighter, both had fantastic work rates from the opening bell to the final round and retained much of their power the whole fight. While a brutish George Foreman was certainly physically stronger than Joe Frazier judging by how he manhandled him in both fights, in his first career his power and strength would weaken considerably the longer the fight went. So a “strong” fighter is definitely based more on his conditioning level than say brute strength.

J March 18, 2012 at 8:15 pm
Eric March 19, 2012 at 7:17 am

Bodyweight exercises are resistance exercises like weights. That’s the whole point. Your muscles don’t know if they are using free weights, sandbags, or your own bodyweight, only that they are working against a set resistance. If you get to the point where you’re doing a couple of one-arm pullups with each arm and maybe 10 one-arm/one-leg pushups medicine ball pushups you will certainly have an impressive if not strong physique and also learn how to handle your own bodyweight at the same time. Certainly as a combat athlete and/or boxer you should spend more time doing bodyweight exercises than weight training because combat athletes whether MMA, boxing, or wrestling, have to learn how to handle their own bodyweight. But at the same time weight training can always give that little bit of added extra strength and also be used as a change of pace from doing bodyweight exercises. Resistance exercises should be no different than running workouts. If your running always consisted of 5-7 mile jogs your progress would soon stagnate, and you would become quite bored, not to mention you wouldn’t gain any explosiveness that sprints or hill sprints can give you. Using all sorts of resistance exercises with an EMPHASIS on bodyweight exercises would probably make you a better athlete regardless of your sport.

Mike March 19, 2012 at 6:48 am

So is it always a bad idea to hold light weights while shadow boxing?

Christopher March 19, 2012 at 7:16 am

Mike, when I shadow box, I use these gloves that I put on and they are each one pound. I think those are better. Ive seen a difference in my speed but thats only if you use those often. Using weights, I prefer you use a maximum of three pounds. They will make you faster. Just be sure that your getting faster and not stiff or any slower. Ive also seen a difference in my punching power when I lift weights that arent so heavy. The trick is, to do them fast with explosive power. Remember you dont want to be a body builder. I think the explosive weight lifting will get you bigger but its for more strength and speed. Always remember to work on speed though.

Mike March 19, 2012 at 7:32 am

Thanks Christopher, I’ll give it a try with some really light weights and look out for those gloves. This site rocks!

Johnny N March 21, 2012 at 9:57 am

I don’t recommend it because the weight can damage your wrist and it doesn’t really help you that much if at all. Try it for yourself.

Liam March 22, 2012 at 8:37 am

It has been shown that explosive lifts, in low reps of heavy weights, can increase your ability to generate power – but like you said, there is a difference between push and snap. I am mostly talking about olympic lifts, but deadlifts/squats also. I don’t see how incorporating a few lifts( once/twice a week), that are based on developing power not size, can affect you adversely. It is also a great tool for weight management. You say lifting weights will not increase punching power, but would you agree it can develop your overall explosiveness? Assuming, of course, you are not lifting for size.

Johnny N March 22, 2012 at 11:53 am

Yes, weights can increase explosiveness. When done a certain way for a certain purpose it will work.

Tony March 26, 2012 at 2:38 am

In my personal opinion, I dont believe lifting heavyweights increases punch power.At my local amateur boxing club we use light weights , I suspect for toning the arms and working different muscle groups , do you use light weights at your gym.

Josh March 26, 2012 at 8:32 am

Lifting weights can help you increase punching power, speed, and muscle endurance. I have to disagree with people who say lifting weights does not increase punching power. I was scrawny freshman on varsity not so long ago and my coach made me a long with other teammates lift weights.. over 4 years I gained 25 pounds of muscle.. I was 5’11-6’0 and could dunk(increased power, fast twitch muscles), 40 time went to 4.7 to 4.4(increased speed). Well, lifting weights will enhance you.. Thats why you see NFL players doing quite the numbers in their combines.. Roy Jones Jr is a perfect example of someone who strength trains.. Why was he so much faster and a beast in his prime? strength training and conditions. He was fast as hell in his middleweight and amateur days.. but at light heavy,super mw he was incredible(added power).
It’s all about HOW you lift weights.. for endurance.. swift movements with 15-30 reps.. You want just general strength with size and tone? 8-12 reps…for POWER increase 3-5 reps…now for speed? Do 8 reps as fast and explosive as you can. (Like pushups with a clap…but i can do like 50 of those.. so I do it with 150 pounds on bench press). I believe strength training a long with my natural athletic ability helps me and prepares me to enter the ring..I usually the strongest and faster guy. I’m lean and muscular at 165. People in the boxing world mess up with they lift for size and not ATHLETIC ABILITY. Big hefty muscles will not help you punch faster or harder.. actually it will do the opposite.(duh). But if you do 3 sets 8-12 or high reps 15-30…and 8 reps of exploding it will help(olympic lifts).

Smurf July 3, 2012 at 11:23 pm

That was on the money Josh. Heavy weight training along with plyometrics can make you a superior athlete. Believe it or not the best athletes most of the time are the most athletic and conditioned ones. Still you never want to neglect skill work but to me if you want to be serious about boxing than you should be serious about strength training.

Vato Loco July 4, 2012 at 8:34 am

I’m a firm believer that weights will definitely help condition athletes in all sports, including the “Sweet Science.” Olympic weightlifters like former gold medalist David Rigert have posted times in short sprints that are impressive, and even 300lb Olympic weightlifter/pro wrestler Mark Henry is capable of dunking. So no one can dispute that heavy squats will produce impressive speed and jumping ability. Matter of fact the overhead squats & front squats probably are even more valuable than back squats, especially since the front squat activates the core more, and the overhead squat promotes great flexibility and conditions the core and lower back, as well as the shoulders. Another reason why Olympic lifters are renowned for their leaping ability and explosiveness is many perform plyos and other various bodyweight exercises that a bodybuilder or powerlifter would never perform. Also look at how an Olympic lifter performs the back squat with the bar high on his shoulders instead of low, and he squats all the way down arse to the ground, and not just some ridiculous quarter knee bend you see people performing in gyms. But one thing I don’t see weights improving that much or at all for that matter is punching power. You mentioned you were just a freshman so you probably would have naturally gained mass and even punching power just by your body naturally maturing. Weights have been proven to increase speed, explosiveness, jumping abiltiy, and even flexibility but not punching power.

armii April 12, 2013 at 6:47 am

high reps only high reps!! you begin doing 1-5 reps when you do handstanpush ups but later you can do more than 5 ! right? then you go for endurance. But weights? ou go for not size but endurance and endurance will give you size also but better to have real size not bulky size..
quickness=speed ball, bag, clapping push ups, even if you do puhs ups long time youa re doing them fater and it igves you speed too..

Johnny N April 12, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Well that’s why you work your way up from an easier exercise that allows you to do more reps. Being able to do more reps increases your ability to do them with proper form and get more out of the exercise.

armii April 14, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Sooo true

Daniel March 28, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Nothing personal, but you are talking big bullshits about Roy Jones Jr.He used weights only for one fight in his entire career and this is against John Ruiz.And he did it because he needed to gain mass for weight class.And he said after that, that he will never do this again!I can find the interview, and i will give you a proof , that he said that.He never lift weights before…never.Only old school training from his beginning in boxing…please dont talk things, which u r not sure…Power on the bench press has nothing with power of the punch…when you start to KOTF people, then you will know that you`ve been increase power for THE PUNCH

Joey March 28, 2012 at 3:18 pm

I’m a 15 year old boxer and I’m on the skinny and fast side. But I want to become bigger and have more muscle to, because I dont like it being seen like that I’m weak and that you can see my bones stick out. I know heavy weightlifting isnt good for a boxer, but could it work if I start with heavy slow reps for becoming bigger and after that do light fast reps for boxing? I know that if I get muscle I will become slower, but I prefer becoming a bit bigger and musclar. And if I reach the musclar body I want, then I will decrease the amount of weight lifting and concentrate more on boxing. Could this work and not affect my boxing skills?

Johnny N March 28, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Everything you do has a reaction. The more you do it, the stronger the reaction. Weight lifting can affect your performance but not your skills. It’s all up to you, Joey!

Joey April 1, 2012 at 10:13 am

Well will it affect my performance alot if I do it how I mentioned above?

Johnny N April 2, 2012 at 12:54 pm

If you do it alot, yes. If you do it a little, probably not. But if you do it too little, you won’t get the effect you want.

Eric March 31, 2012 at 8:12 pm

I honestly don’t know why people assume everyone with a little muscle on their frame is going to be naturally slower than a leaner person. Look at a world class sprinter’s physique compared to a marathon runner’s physique. Many top notch sprinters have amazing physiques even in their upper bodies, and then look at the emaciated marathon runner’s body. Is the long distance runner’s less muscular body an indication that he would be faster than the much more muscular sprinter? Now look at two completely different body types of two all-time greats in the boxing world, former multi-weight world champion, the late Alexis Arguello, and former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson. Both of these fighters were power punchers for their respective weight classes, although Arguello’s power wasn’t as effective when he moved up in weight, but both of these dynamite punchers were built entirely different. Tyson was thickly muscled and built like a pit bull, while Arguello was rail thin and almost built like the typical emaciated marathon runner. Interestingly it was the stocky Tyson who was not only known for his power, but also his extraordinary hand speed, while the power punching slightly built Arguello’s hand speed might have been slightly above average for world class fighters in his division. The same could be said for thick legs and foot speed in a boxer. Muhammad Ali had perhaps the fastest foot speed of all-time in the heavyweight division, and while he didn’t have the massive legs of a Joe Frazier or Mike Tyson, his reasonably muscular legs were faster than all of his opponents. Back in the seventies you had a massive shot putter Brian Oldfield who could compete with sub world class sprinters in the 100 meter sprint and would in fact race world class women sprinters for show. I think the massive Oldfield weighed in at about 270-280lbs and even competed well against former Steeler wide receiver Lynn Swann in the 100 meter sprint.

Johnny N April 2, 2012 at 12:55 pm

No one is making any assumptions, at least not me. All my statements have no correlation between muscle size and boxing performance.

Daniel April 2, 2012 at 5:07 am

Exactly man…what is the conclusion?Its not the muscles,its the skills.There are muscular punchers, and skinny punchers.There are out of shape good punchers, and there are fighters with great phisuqes who cant punch.Oh, and Tyson and Frazier are natural heavyweights, they have muscles, but natural muscles, not build it with lifting 🙂

Eric April 2, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Although relatively short at 5’11” Frazier was definitely a natural heavyweight. But while Tyson didn’t invade the weight room earlier in his career, there are rumors he had a little pharmaceutical help in developing his physique. Same thing with Holyfield, while Holyfield unlike Tyson certainly lifted weights, there are also rumors he was helped along by steroids. Frazier would often call his much taller comptemporaries Larry Holmes, Muhammad Ali, and Ken Norton “little guys” because none of the three started out as heavyweights, while Frazier has stated he weighed about 230lbs when he was a 15-16 year old.

Kevin April 6, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Hey Johnny,

Thanks for the info! I’ve been training for about a year now and am at a point where I’m trying to put everything together and get to the next level. I like your comment about form and technique. If I understand correctly, I want to keep my body as relaxed as possible (not tense) while coordinating my punch, and then have my body contractions come together at the point of contact? I’ve been having a hard time figuring out the body dynamics of what makes a punch harder (e.g. shifting weight, muscle tension, brute force, etc.)

Johnny N April 7, 2012 at 11:12 pm

You are correct. Keep everything relaxed and contract only at the very split second of exerting force through your punch. As for the body dynamics, I could write a whole book on that subject so I do that later. The guides on this site will help you figure that out though.

Joe April 6, 2012 at 9:25 pm

Please revisit your thought process and take into consideration some natural inhibitors such as type of mucle fibers the person has (fast twitch or slow twitch) and what is his week link genetically. Some guys are born with stronger push or pull muscles which are the protagonist vs antagonist function of any movement. Lumping all weight training under your basic definition of Pushing and punching your really only talking about bench press and that is pointless for any sport exempt and offensive lineman in football. Hower maximizing fast twitch muscle fibers with heavy weight training then conditioning them with explosive training will leave you just as you were with faster (snapping motion) you are speaking of. That snapping motion by the way comes from the hips not the arm, just look at a hook. A hook performed correctly you don’t even move your arm, its all hips. Hips are best to be born with, but you def and improve you hip propulsion or “snap” though heavy lifting periodized with explosive lifting and great mobility retoines. DO NOT STATIC STRETCH! STATIC STRETCHING LIKE MOST BOXERS TO MAKES YOU SLOW!…GOOGLE IT A HUNDRED TIME, AND A HUNDRED TIME YOU WILL BE TOLD NOT TO STATIC STRETCH BECAUSE IT DECREASES POWER! Also stamina comes from heat rate, and cardiovascular training which has nothing to do with why you got tired sparring. Yes you had more muscle to move and used more energy, but with proper diet you would have had more energy or (ATP) in your muscles to prolong your power in the ring.

However you point about being “tight” is completely correct and you must stay loose to conserve energy and lifting weights does make people subconsciously feel like they have to “pose and show off there muscle and size all the time with perfect posture” which burns lots of energy staying stiff.

Do not body build, do not do a lout of bench, and do get a elite trainer that is up to date on the latest findings of the college of sports medicine and the national strength and conditioning association and find out why age old myths have been busted. Or don’t and keep doing what you are doing, but they day you meet the guy who has explosive power you have never seen before due to lack of knowledge in the ways of old school boxing, it is a very very sad thing to see!

Johnny N April 7, 2012 at 11:19 pm

I get what you’re saying Joe and my article is not conflicting with anything you’re saying. I’m not a proponent of old school or new school or PRO-weights or AGAINST-weights. I’m simply explaining how the human body functions in the context of boxing.

I’m not against weights or resistance training. This is not an article to say that “weights are bad”, it’s an article to explain the “ways how weights do not increase punching power”.

Ultimately, everyone is free to use as much weights in whatever manner they wish if they know that it benefits them. I trust the coaches I trained under and the world champions I trained alongside so I know how I feel about the subject. Lastly, I’m confident of the effects of weight lifting on boxing performance because I’ve done it myself. The result of my comprehensive experience is founded in this article. I’ve gone a long way and I’m happy with my knowledge and results today.

Steve April 12, 2013 at 6:53 am

it’s an article to explain the “ways how weights do not increase punching power
does bodyweight training increase power?

Johnny N April 12, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Not all bodyweight exercises, but overall they would be more effective in my opinion.

Steve April 14, 2013 at 3:25 pm

yes i think so too. dont you need extra weight if you do more than 20 pull ups? i have read that somewhere…

Smurf July 3, 2012 at 11:30 pm

on the money with that comment

Smurf July 3, 2012 at 11:33 pm

on the money with that comment Joe. Think about it, if you can increase your vertical leap with heavy weight training what makes you think you cant increase your punching power with heavy weight training! it just needs to be done properly.

Eric April 8, 2012 at 8:03 am

I’ll have to agree with Johnny and others about weightlifting or weight training not being able to increase punching power to any significant effect, if it would help increase punching power at all. However, I’m a proponent of limited weight training for fighters but with more of an emphasis on bodyweight exercises for CONDITIONING purposes. I’ve never found or heard a iron clad definitive explanation on how to increase punching power, and I personally lean to the old school philosophy that for the most part punchers are born and not made. I’ve heard or read of fighters claiming or crediting certain training exercises for increasing or developing their power like wood chopping, heavy bag, etc., but every fighter hits the heavy bag and a hell of a lot chop wood or use a sledgehammer so why doesn’t every fighter have a powerful punch? Some of boxing’s most powerful punchers from the past or present look like they’ve never seen a weight room, much less worked out in one. Jimmy Wilde the first Flyweight Champion and one of boxing’s all-time pound for pound top punchers looked like a concentration camp survivor, Ruben Olivares was a doughy looking man with little muscle tone but had a dynamite punch, etc. Of course you have punchers who fit the bill of what the general public thinks a puncher should look like, thickly muscled fighters like Ruben Carter, Sonny Liston, George Foreman, Mike Tyson, etc. Interestingly, in the 1970’s, light heavyweight great Victor Galindez took on an ex-olympic weightlifter Ray Elson in a non-title match. I believe Elson had some state records in olympic weightlifting but he was certainly not a noteworthy weightlifter or fighter for that matter. To be fair to Elson he had only a handful of professional fights before meeting a fighter the caliber of Galindez, and he still gave a relatively respectful performance considering what he was up against.

Niaz April 9, 2012 at 9:00 am

Hi Johnny, I totally agree with the mechanics you describe about punching and the techniques about strengthening your punching but I do honestly think lifting weights can be helpful in some ways..

I personally powerlift twice a week and train in muay thai thrice. Honestly, it’s rigorous to keep heavy weightlifting in between but I find it IS indeed beneficial. As you know, one of the best ways to strengthen the core and hip strength is by doing the fundamental deadlifts/squats (these are very important in boxing/any martial art right?).

Also, one of the key aspects of powerlifting is training the CNS to be able to create nervous impulses to as many muscle fibers as possible, in order to generate the strongest contraction – this sounds useful according to your point about relax-then-tense (the more muscles you can contract and the harder they contract, the ‘heavier’ the punch at the end according to you?).

I would like to know your opinions on this because I have a rather average (if not slender) physique as I’ve only been lifting seriously for a year now – I’m 5’8 at 70kg BW. SQ/DL/BP 1RM are 120kg/120kg/75kg only. As you can see I still have a lot of room for improvement when it comes to weightlifting and I love seeing the muscle build – i feel stronger. I really don’t want to leave it but i DO take my martial art training more seriously than my weightlifting. SO… what do you think??

Johnny N April 9, 2012 at 6:28 pm

I’m 100% behind everything I wrote in the article and comments. I have faith in my experience and the experience of my coaches. It’s hard to have a body that serves opposite functions (weightlifting & fighting). Imagine trying to buy a pair of shoes for sprinting & soccer.

Of course there’s a million ways to re-interpret what I say or come up with logical reasons why weights could increase punching power. Do whichever one you feel helps you. But if you want to do what I do, I generally stay away from heavy weights and I punch like a fricken beast. You can go to any serious boxing gym with pros and you will see the same.

HSingh April 12, 2012 at 11:11 am

Im addicted to both boxing and lifting weights. I do realize how lifting weights slows me down and gets me tired faster. So i try to minimize my weight lifting time into 30 minutes and 1 set excersizes of 6-18 reps with only 45 second rest in between. Dont think I will stop lifting until im 220 lb (25 to go), because im addicted to it. The opening post mainly talks about HEAVY WEIGHTS, so would it be considered alright for boxers to lift light weights up to 18 reps? Like i do.

Johnny N April 17, 2012 at 9:37 am

It’s ok for boxers to lift lighter weights that go up to 18 reps. I wouldn’t worry so much about minimizing the weight lifting time as I would maximizing the boxing exercises time. If you really want to gain weight faster, I would stop boxing and only lift weights until you get to the size you want. Boxing is naturally an exercise that slims you down.

dude October 1, 2012 at 3:16 am

Could you help with calistehnics? if yes i will post something

Saeed April 13, 2012 at 3:20 pm

If Force=Mass X Acceleration, then surely having extra muscle mass would increase punching power, just as an increase in acceleration would. Could you clear this up for me? Also, I love the site.

Johnny N April 17, 2012 at 9:56 am

The equation remains correct and accurate. The human body punches in a much more complicated way. Where weights and damage applies into the punch is not so simple as the force = mass x acceleration equation.

andrewp April 18, 2012 at 4:12 am

hi johnny sorry but boxing is not outside rules of physics KISS keep it simple stupid is a mantra my old trainer drumed into me.to increase power you increase either the mass(get heavier) or the speed(punch faster}.granted old fashioned bodybuilders tend to (sorry definatly do) lose speed as they gain mass.the science eqation more mass times less speed=less power.but more speed times same mass=more power and thats what targeting explosive fibers with heavy weights does for you.yes without adding mass.just because you dont understand the concept doesnt mean it doesnt exist.nobody is questioning your observations and knowledge remember this is latest sports science im just trying to give you a heads up

Johnny N April 18, 2012 at 11:44 am

Andrew, I appreciate you sharing the relationship between mass, speed/acceleration, and power.

But when you’re ready, we can start thinking way beyond that…
Boxing is way WAYYYY more complex than a simple vector physics equation explaining a single (consistent) mass traveling along a linear path.

Here are some more advanced physics you must take into consideration if you want to be more scientific about it:
– The human body is not really one solid mass…it’s like several masses connected together. Each mass (limb/part of your body) is responsible for its own generate force and movement. Each mass may or may not be conjoined together to contribute to part of the overall force generated.
– Speed and acceleration refers more to actual effort exerted from the core as opposed to actual displacement from its position. Isn’t it strange that you must “punch with the whole body” but it is only the fist that travels to your opponent? A punch is therefore not really a powerful moving object but more like a projection of power. You must understand that the body moves BUT does not displace itself during a punch. In other words, your body is moving in position (rotational and centering movement, not displacement) but it is not traveling from its initial position. When you punch, your body stays in the same place and exerts force…you don’t actually move.
– Weight, speed and power have a somewhat inverse correlational relationship to each other in boxing. In your simple physics equation, more weight and more speed equals more power. Boxing doesn’t work this way. In boxing, again you are projecting force, not actually moving (so it’s not like sprinting although similar in other ways). In boxing, you need to decrease the weight at first (relaxing your body..thus seperating the body masses) in order to be faster…and then right at the very end you tighten the whole body to solidy your body mass into a more powerful punch.

Sure, having powerful muscles will help you move powerfully but first you have to understand your body’s natural mechanics–YOUR BODY IS NOT A SIMPLE SINGLE MASS. If you want to be a simple fighter and move with simple definitions, then keep treating your body as a simple mass moving and generating force along a singular vector.

If you want to be more advanced (and more powerful), you will find out how to use your body as several complex masses and generate force along multiple vectors. Somewhere in there, you will find the truth in where true power comes from. ***HINT: your true punching power is generated within the relationship of the multiple masses in your body and their ultimate physic relationship to the ground (physical limits of gravity).

You can be like most people and work out all day to punch harder by exploding AGAINST gravity. Or you can be smart and punch harder by simply letting yourself fall. If you work WITH gravity, you don’t need muscles to generate power.

Anyway, what I said probably wasn’t much help to you. If it confused you, good. If you disagree with it, even better. But if you really wanna learn something, give it a try first and then come back and tell me I’m full of crap. 🙂

PS: this isn’t solely my observations and my knowledge. This stuff was passed down to me by trainers and athletes who’ve been dominating their sports for years. It doesn’t hurt any of us if you choose to ignore.

David April 20, 2012 at 1:33 am

Makes me doubt the credentials jonny. As a successful coach in Canada i am very much in support of andrews KISS approach. there are so many flaws here, not least of which is letting yourself fall with a punch. For boxers to be successul they need to uinderstand risk and they need it presented in simple terms, and when i work with the boxer, young or old, I have to much convern for their well being to tell them to ‘fall’ in with punches. spending time hitting a bag or pads is one thing, wortking with fighters year in, year out to develop them is a hole other ball game. this article simply throws lots of classroom physics around the place. not sure its really helpful or advisable

andrewp April 23, 2012 at 4:43 am

david in fairness i think the term fall into punches is more of a visulisation to help the relaxing into a punch.in real terms no actual falling takes place when applied to snap punching just the timing of your body releasing its constant fight against gravity and the speed of contact.the snap effect is no magic or myth .what happens is the rotation force of your torso accelerates your fist and no matter how relaxed you are when the hand is snapped back there is a point when you truly (let your fist go)its the point where you are inbetween throwing and pulling .what happens is centrifugal force adds speed and it puts more bang in your buck.then the power is increased.what confuses people is the time factor this method involves milliseconds to transfer that force.but again power=speed times mass time is immaterial it doesnt come into it.boxing or anything infact in life johnny is outside the laws of physics but i love your passion to try to make it mystical.also david i for one do not doubt johnnys credentials this site is the best of any sport not just boxing keep it up johnny

Johnny N April 25, 2012 at 2:32 pm

David, I’m not literally telling people to fall (as in fall to the ground) during a punch. The idea is to let your weight drop and ground a bit when you punch. It’s not too far off from Jack Dempsey’s “Falling Step” principle. I’m sure you know that Jack Dempsey didn’t mean to literally fall to the ground.

Benno Roick April 28, 2012 at 2:24 am

Dear Johnny,
I haven´t read many boxing guides with this subject. You are absolutely right. Lifting heavy weights will never increase punching power, nor increase your boxing!
I have been through all this stuff of vanity & caring what others might say about how I look in the ring. I can only support you. It hadn´t been until I only cared about my boxing skills instead of caring my looks that my punching power had increaded.
A very good site. It is a pleasure to read all this stuff, which goes far beyond what trainers and coaches are teaching their boxing students today most of the times. At least from what I know and that is more than 49 years of boxing.
Keep punching, chin down & your ass off the canvas.
Keep up the good work.

saber khan April 28, 2012 at 3:08 pm

you put it as correctly as you could johny; its really about multibody mechanics and that isnt as simple as 10th grade physics (idealised rigid body mechanics). if we use simplistic f=ma, mass is always the same whether one uses the bodyweight or the weight of the fist as m. so its all about speed of fist at point of contact (v) or the acceleration of the fist (a). considering the fastest most accelerating punches are tapping jabs, according to these equations the most `powerful’ punch is a range finder? somethings not right here.

the mass behind a punch changes depending on how many parts of the body the puncher has managed to join together like one rigid body behind the fist at the point of contact. its called kinetic linkage.
when throwing a left hook, punching off a lead leg bent leg is much more powerful than doing it with weight balanced on both legs. it allows the addition of the calves and lower legs to the mass behind the punch a lot more. dropping the front foot while jabbing like one is going down a single step on a staircase creates also huge amount of power but not through muscle power rather through gravity. anyone who has tried both and is sane wont argue physics over something that’s practically provable. power comes indeed from mass and speed, but masses do have to be connected together when landing a punch. either by timing, by contracting them together (the reason for exhaling or shouting in all such activities) or by gravity. and its that timing used to connect punches that weight training cant teach. nothing can come to think of it. in boxing itself all we can do is teach technique and eliminate the mistakes that prevent us from using whatever natural timing we have. golf tee-offs, cricket fastballs and tennis say the same thing.

all this however is the first part of the equation in my opinion. the second part is newton’s action reaction principle.

how much the force a punch lands on the opponent depends on how much force the puncher’s fist and body absorb by acting like a rigid body. a glass axe used by a trained woodsman would break itself on a piece of wood, a steel axe would go through the wood, and a rubber axe wouldnt damage either. thats word for word how my trainers taught me what `heavy hands’ meant. some guys’ punches deliver more damage on the opponent even when they apply equal force to the punch, because of their bones ligaments tendons holding the arm and fist like a rigid body (steel) longer and not letting the force pass backwards like a flexible body (rubber). my own experience street fighting vs boxing totally supports this; holding anything solid in the hand greatly increases the effectiveness of the punch in a fight. without it, i could feel my fist’s hardness get lost before the full impact of the punch was delivered, like it was vibrating from the force rather than staying rigid.

people should keep things as simple as they can be-but no simpler 🙂

Dave May 2, 2012 at 8:51 am

Hey Johnny, love the site and have to say that this is the first article that I disagree with. I stand on the opposite side of the fence and firmly believe that weightlifting done correctly can be of benefit to a fighter.

This explains it better than I ever could, so I’ll let that do the talking: http://www.rosstraining.com/articles/strengthtraining.html

I can say from personal experience that when I lifted properly, I experienced benefits both in terms of speed and power. My punches had more ‘snap’ to them and feedback from my coach on the pads also made me aware that I had gained a degree of power.

Johnny N May 8, 2012 at 5:11 am

I’m a big fan of Ross. The article you linked clearly states it is about “strength training, not weight lifting”. It also goes on to address some of the same issues I mentioned above in this very same article.

lewis May 3, 2012 at 4:51 pm

im going to be repeating other peoples comment by saying how good this site is, other wise i would, all im going to say is one of your quotes ‘The worst part about training incorrectly is waking up one day to realize you’re holding back your progress’ this is exaclly how i feel

Eric May 4, 2012 at 8:12 pm


Love Ross’s site. He covers the whole gamit from combat sports to weight training to general fitness to even inspirational. I know that Ross is an ex-boxer(don’t know what his stats are or how much experience) and that he trains fighters by reading his blog, and I do know he believes in a well rounded training program of bodyweight exercises, strongman-type exercises, weights, rope skipping, rope climbing, you name it Ross does it. But I’m not sure if he trained with weights when he was fighting, or if he recommends his fighters lift weights. I will agree with Johnny that most old school trainers have a STRONG aversion to weight training for boxers. Angelo Dundee once stated he would personally break his fighter’s arms if he caught one of them lifting weights and Dundee’s most famous fighter Muhammad Ali while watching Sly Stallone lift weights in Rocky II said it was the worst thing a fighter could do. Well given the more recent success with such boxers as Evander Holyfield and others maybe Ali was a little bit off with his comment and maybe Dundee was just refusing to adapt to the times. I remember watching Earnie Shavers fight some fringe contender in the mid/late 70’s and the commentator remarked about how massive Earnie’s upper body looked, former contender Jerry Quarry who was also sharing duties as a commentator stated that Earnie was lifting weights which was a practice very few boxers did because of its effect on punching speed and stamina.

Angelo Dundee, Muhammad Ali, and Jerry Quarry’s opinions aren’t ones to easily discount since Dundee trained numerous world champions, and Quarry was top notch contender in the golden age for heavyweight boxers, and well Ali is Ali. It is much more sensible to accept a fighter like Ali’s or Quarry’s opinion than even a knowledgeable fitness expert. However, I personally do think weight training while not being much in the way of increasing punching power is a tool no different than pushups or situps to help condition a fighter’s body rather than his punch. I’ve never understood the reasoning behind a fighter doing countless ordinary pushups which are no more than like bench pressing 2/3 of your bodyweight more or less. Given I do agree bodyweight exercises are more conducive to sports like wrestling or boxing because they teach you how to handle your own bodyweight instead of a barbell/dumbbell, but I still don’t see why a fighter couldn’t supplement some weight training into his schedule as long as he didn’t sacrifice his skills or conditioning training. Personally I do think some fighters today especially among the heavyweights might be spending too much time in the weight room and it can be seen by a lot of fighters “gassing” early on in fights. That’s why your conditioning exercises in sports like boxing or wrestling should ALWAYS be number one priority and your strength training should be used as icing on top of the cake. Surely conditioning and stamina are more beneficial but it doesn’t hurt to be stronger than the other guy if all other things are equal.

Johnny N May 8, 2012 at 1:44 pm

The reason why bodyweight exercises are so effective is because they train your body to become more functional. The body’s muscles were evolved to move your body around objects as opposed to moving objects around your body. Humans are made to run (along the ground), climb (over walls), stand (against gravity), crawl, etc. Sure we have fingers for picking objects and stuff but our bodies are not designed for the main purpose of lifting heavy things.

Look at nature, you will see very few animals trying to lift heavy objects. The main purpose of our muscles is to move our body not to move objects.

Eric May 8, 2012 at 3:42 pm

I definitely can see why bodyweight exercises take preference over weights whether they be in the form of kettlebells, dumbbells, barbells, sandbags etc. in sports like wrestling, boxing, or martial arts. Take the pullup exercise for example. The only ways to improve on your maximum pullups are to either lose weight, gain strength, or both. So bodyweight exercises have a way of helping the practitioner reach their optimal “functional” weight. We all have seen large bodybuilders who can use the whole stack plus extra plates on machine lat pulldowns but because of their large mass struggle to perform a few bodyweight pullups. Granted the larger the person the harder the pullup exercise and other bodyweight exercises are, but a lot of the reason why some large athletes don’t perform well on bodyweight exercises like pullups is because they NEVER do them, and like anything the more you do something the better you become at whatever it is you’re doing.

I don’t buy into the whole don’t lift weights because animals don’t lift weights and they’re in far better shape and much stronger than humans mantra. Certainly a human being is pathetic when compared to animals in all aspects of athletic prowess. The world’s fastest man couldn’t outrun a house cat much less a cheetah. The world’s strongest man is weak compared to a 120lb chimpanzee much less a 400lb gorilla. Gorillas are vegetarians also but does than mean that if a human being becomes a vegetarian they will start to gain the strength of a gorilla, and they will become far stronger than humans that eat meat..

Johnny N May 8, 2012 at 4:30 pm

I’m not saying don’t lift weights. I’m saying the human body is more functional over a certain type of movement than others. It’s no surprise that the human body can more effectively and more efficiently exert force through running than it can through weight lifting. Yes…our bodies can be trained and stimulated to lift heavy weight, but athletically, we are far more functional doing something like running.

Apply this fact wherever you wish. If you want to be a more functional athletic, you will have to use your body the way it was intended (or at least in a way that is as close as possible).

dadam July 31, 2013 at 10:51 am

what kind of lifting weights are good? and how many reps max and minimum shall a boxer do?

dyte July 31, 2013 at 12:35 pm

i like to read your sentences. What are the all exercises you use in boxing?
legs, core more important than chest?
I mean the exercises when you use the body to move it.

Johnny N August 6, 2013 at 5:34 pm

Check out my “EASY Boxing Workout” article. There are lots of good exercises in there.

Eric May 4, 2012 at 9:20 pm

Dave, you mentioning Ross’s site just made me think of a recent blog entry on that site in regards to Indian Physical Culture which featured training routines done by Indian wrestlers. While Indian wrestlers certainly focus a great deal of their training on bodyweight exercises they also incorporate club swinging and mace swinging exercises. I know some people have commented here how they feel kettlebells could benefit boxers I feel these Indian/Persian clubs, and maces given the circular motion of the exercises and their specifically targeting the arms, wrists, hands, grip, shoulders, and lower back/core would be even more sport specific to a fighter. Given that the club and mace exercises are performed in relatively large number of reps they would also increase stamina and the various twisting motions would also help with flexibility in the arms and shoulders. Where as standard weight training might cause shoulders and arms to get too bulky and limit the ability to hold one’s guard high, the club and mace exercises are designed to increase strength, flexibility, and stamina all at the same time. I recall seeing pictures of many old time gyms where bowling pin shaped versions of Indian/Persian clubs were a staple along with kettlebells, dumbbells, and barbells. I even saw a clip of old time boxing great Henry Armstrong skipping rope in some boxing gym and right off to the side was a rack of these bowling pin shaped versions of Indian clubs.

nelson pons May 6, 2012 at 10:45 am

i ve got a question, if you work (without building size but definition)on the muscles that are involved in punching such as the shoulders, the back and legs doesnt it help at least a little??

Johnny N May 8, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Compare a boxer’s body to a bodybuilder’s body. Having a little muscle helps. Having a lot of muscle is too much or can work against you. The point is not to prioritize heavy weight lifting. Lighter weights and more natural style boxing exercises is good. Trying to lift the heaviest weight possible will not improve punching power at all.

Daniel May 6, 2012 at 12:34 pm

sorry but who is Ross Enamit?!what are his stats, his achievements?Which elite boxers does he train?!Enough said!Stop believing to everything you saw, only because he made cool exersises and he punch the bag fast and hard!

Eric May 6, 2012 at 2:14 pm

What exactly are you talking about?? Did you read my post right?? Personally I’m in favor of weight training as a strength training tool just like pushups, pullups, wood chopping etc. Do I think it will have much of an impact on punching power? Maybe minimal at best, if at all. I’ve never read the article associated with the the link “Dave” sent, although I’m a frequent visitor to Ross’s blog and enjoy it immensely. If you read my posts right you will notice how I stated that fighters such as Ali and Quarry, and trainer Angelo Dundee were against weight training for fighters. Well at one time in history the majority of so-called experts thought the world was flat also. Do I think it’s beneficial for a fighter to spend 2-hours a day pumping iron on a bodybuilding routine? Well only if he’s more interested in becoming a bodybuilder. But I could say the same thing about a fighter swimming 1 mile a day, or running 10 miles a day. Wouldn’t it be more beneficial for a fighter to engage in shorter more explosive hill sprints or shorter faster runs, and wouldn’t a fighter’s time be better spent in the gym punching bags, sparring, doing mitt work, than swimming laps in a pool? I’ve heard/seen/read of fighters doing everything from conventional calisthenics like pushups and situps, to rowing boats around a lake, picking up stones, pushing loaded wheelbarrows uphill, treading water with only their legs, etc. etc. etc. to supplement their normal training. So why should weights be any different as long as like I said they don’t take away time spent on skill or conditioning training. I look at boxing trainers the way I do baseball managers, or football coaches. It doesn’t matter how knowledgeable the trainer is if the fighter doesn’t have talent. I mean how could it have been training fighters like Ali, Leonard, or Foreman? It’s kind of like being the manager of the New York Yankees or coaching the PIttsburgh Steelers,

Johnny N May 8, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Ross Enamit is legit! I definitely respect his viewpoints and agree with many of them.

Eric May 8, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Love Ross’s website! Purchased some of his products and I was well pleased. He definitely practices what he preaches and is in fantastic shape. Just look at some of his vids on Youtube or his site and you will be impressed at his fitness level.

Eric May 6, 2012 at 2:49 pm

There is a vid on youtube featuring one of my all-time favorite light heavyweights Victor Galindez training for his first fight against Mike Rossman in late 1978. Google Youtube: Galindez vs Rossman Prefight. You will see two-time World Light Heavyweight Champion Victor Galindez rowing a boat around a lake, kicking a soccer ball, lifting a light barbell doing shoulder presses, chopping wood, etc. Now would you think kicking a soccer ball around would normally figure in a fighters training routine? So if it works for you, that’s all that matters in the end.

andrewp May 7, 2012 at 3:04 am

i totally get the fact that most of the greatest trainers past and present are against heavy weights.but what they are against is an outdated stereotype of bodybuilding.its like the greatest generals of wars of bygone years being rolled out to fight the latest technological warfare.trust me a major war now would be unregognisable from even 10 years ago.the latest breakthrough in terms of sports science is the importance of INTENSINY as oppose to duration.to increase INTENSITY duration has to decrease and load increase period.most of the old brigade are really really against this premise but trust me the basic laws of evolution survival of the fittest will force this change of attitude on boxing.this does not mean that any trainer that doesnt advocate heavy weights is wrong with outdated weight training methods they are correct not to incorperate it.going back to my original point a general fights a war with the latest technology available it doesnt make GENERAL Patton less because he didnt have heat seeking missiles.THIS ONLY APPLIES TO 1 SMALL ASPECT OF BOXING.using all the other aspects of boxing ie SKILL TEChNIQUE TO RUBBISH IT IS RIDDICULOUS.ofcourse im hugley exaggerating this anollogy but i hope it gets my point across.the truth is are understanding of sports science is changing at its fastest EVER rate and the role of INTENSITY is at the very core of it

Iron Boy May 7, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Weight lifting helped me alot eapecialy the explosive high rep stuff..and here are results on my 3rd fight.


Johnny N May 8, 2012 at 4:41 pm

I’m all for the explosive high-rep stuff! It’s the heavy-weight low-rep stuff I don’t like.

Tim May 15, 2012 at 3:40 am

i Agree u want to do light rep olympic style lifts those are for the puepose of letting you move a certain amound of weight in the least amount of time.

J May 7, 2012 at 5:27 pm

I have a friend that placed in state (California)in track and field made it to state all four years of high school when i ran track back in 2005 my varsity ended up winning the San Joaquin sections, we had a coach that had no tolerance for anything but improvement, where im going with this is he used to jump all over his jumpers and sprinters for lifting too much weight, back to my long time friend he ran the 400 in about 49 seconds, im not too precise but it was around there one lap in 49 seconds is still very fast. and he would not dare life too much weight, he was an advocate of light weight, when your talking about speed i think track and field is too closest comparison in sports to martial arts let alone boxing.

Eric May 15, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Perhaps your coach needs to reevaluate his thinking because sprinting speed is aquired by more force applied to the ground rather than how fast you move your arms or legs. Look at the world’s top 100-200-400 meter sprinters and most are pretty well muscled with large thighs and calves. In fact the former Soviet Union’s David Rigert, a former Olympic weightlifting gold medalist from the 1976 Olympic games was able to run 100 meters in 10.4 seconds while weighing close to 200lbs. Rigert won the gold medal in the 198lb wt. class and cleaned and jerked 488lbs. American weightlifter Mark Cameron who also lifted about the time Rigert was competing and was the second American ever to clean and jerk 500lbs ran a 100 meter race just for fun against former world record holder in the 100 meter hurdles, and former San Francisco 49er Renaldo Nehemiah. After 10 meters remarkably the 240lb Cameron was ahead but afterwards Nehemiah took over. But nonetheless Cameron competed remarkably well considering the weight handicap and not to mention Nehemiah had run the 100 meter hurdles in 13 seconds. Massive shot putter Brian Oldfield another strongman from the Seventies could run the 100 meters in 10.5 seconds and the 40 in 4.3 seconds!! Oldfield put up these OUTSTANDING times while weighing about 280lbs of sheer muscle.

zyzz May 29, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Thank you this is very very useful

Michael May 31, 2012 at 8:50 am

That’s an uneducated opinion… Do you understand anything about stiffness and compliancy of tendons and their relationship to heavy weight lifting? It’s the recoil of tendons that is responsible for power in fast movements like a punch, maybe you should read up on that before you tell athletes to stop lifting weights. How much do you know about the nervous system and the MTU adapting to heavy loads?
I also read your article on flexibility, you need to learn about the difference between active range of motion and passive range of motion. Stretching doesn’t help with active range of motion, and that’s the ROM that is relevant to performance. You have some good ideas but when you try to pass off your ignorance as scientific fact it hurts everybody. There are some basic things you need to learn before you spread advice.

Johnny N May 31, 2012 at 11:25 am

Michael, please read what I said before you attempt to argue with me (or call me ignorant). I appreciate you sharing your knowledge but c’mon MANNNN! We’re on the same team! LOL

– I never said “stop lifting weights”, I said “don’t lift heavy weights for power”.
– I also never said “weights is bad”, I said “WHY lifting HEAVY weights CAN be bad”.
– I also implied that lifting weights CAN be beneficial for boxers, if done correctly.

Smurf July 4, 2012 at 12:20 am

Heavy weights can be beneficial to boxers if done correctly. but to do heavy weight training solely can actually slow fighters down. to be brief, if you build your max strength by lifting HEAVY weights and and apply it to your explosive strength(strength speed) by lifting submaximal loads EXPLOSIVELY along with applying your max strength to your speed strength( body weight or very light resistance) you can definitely increase punching power and become a faster, quicker and better fighter. And for the anti weight lifting guys max strength improves your muscular endurance and it called strength training not body building. By eating right and proper training you can drastically improve strength without muscle hypertrophy(muscle growth).

Daniel May 31, 2012 at 10:01 am

Tell that to Tommy Hearns,Mike Tyson,Muhammad Ali,Julian Jackson,Jack Dempsey,Joe Frazier,George Foreman,Sugar Ray Leonard,Floyd Mayweather Jr. etc etc. and all the mexican hard hitters.Haha, you understand me, right? 🙂 Like my coach said ”You bench with 160?Ok, come and help me to move my wardrobe” 🙂

Ese Holmes May 31, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Oh I almost forgot vato both of the Klitschko brothers Wlad and Vitali both lift weights and they both are World Heavyweight Champions and have been dominating the heavyweight division for almost a decade now. Those are two bad Eastern European hombres amigo and both can punch hard ese. Lets see I’ve already mentioned several World Champions so that should be enough info.

Daniel May 31, 2012 at 10:04 am

He doesnt need to read anything, all the crap articles for lifting weights are from people like you…who thinks they found the new ”el dorado”, and the old school methods are no more useful.But guess what, the boxers from the past, are the same like us.Nothing new.Stop repeating these complicated words like aerobic, anaerobic, scientific, ROM, MTU and other bullshits.This is fighting, not scientifics.Tell me one boxer, who lift weights and had success.Or shut up forever.

Ese Holmes May 31, 2012 at 2:47 pm

“Tell me one boxer, who lift weights and had success.”

Evander Holyfield, George Foreman, Ray Mancini, Pernell Whitaker, Vinny Pazienza, to name a few and all were WORLD CHAMPIONS.

Michael May 31, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Your definition for lifting heavy is for weights heavier than 15-20RM. A 10 RM is not even heavy, heavy would be in the 1-6RM range and that is what you’d want to be doing. You have to lift heavy weight for power, that improves your ability to recruit larger fibres and strengthens the neurological connection. Heavy weight increases the stiffness of tendons which means that tendons also recoil with more force. The muscles are there for support, it’s the tendons recoiling that give you your power and snap.
By periodising your heavy weights at the right times of the season it gives you the ability to gain more power when performing your plyometrics and boxing specific work. This is basic stuff really, things you haven’t taken into account. Functional exercises like heavy squats, heavy deadlifts are incredibly useful tools for improving a boxers power indirectly by increasing recruitment potential both centrally and peripherally as well as increasing tendon stiffness, not to mention the benefits in reducing injury risk. There’s a reason why every powerful athlete spends time in the weight room, boxers aren’t unique athletical specimens that can’t benefit from heavy weight lifting. The tendon stiffness gained from heavy weight lifting improves efficiency of movement, you produce more power through a shorter range of motion (at certain joints, not whole body ROM)….. increased velocity and force is to be desired no?
The skinny guys you talk about about can recruit the muscle they have, a bodybuilder weightlifting routine builds muscle without strengthening the ability to recruit muscle. Heavy weight is 1-6RM and that is very useful for improving the ability to recruit, bodybuilding is about volume of sets performing isolation exercises in the 10-12RM range and that is detrimental to an athlete unless they want size just for the sake of having size. Size doesn’t equate to strength or power.
The reason why many a boxing coach will tell you that weights are bad is because they are uneducated and stuck in traditions of the past, they also probably think of weights as bodybuilding. There is weight lifting for athletes as well and it is completely different to lifting weights for bodybuilding. Having a good strength-weight ratio is massively important for a weight category sport like boxing.

Re: Daniel, first of all bench press is a largely useless exercise for a boxer, you don’t punch with your arms and a famous Russian study showed that in experienced boxers that only around 15-20% of the force in a punch was produced by their arms. Bench press isn’t sport specific to boxing or many other athletic pursuits, having stiff tendons around the shoulder joint would likely be detrimental to a boxer. With that said many boxers still perform that exercise, I wouldn’t recommend it though.
Secondly you want boxers who lift weights? Mayweather, Martinez, Gamboa, Holyfield, Pernell Whitaker, Andre Ward etc. You could go on and on forever. Not to mention every national team preparing for the London olympics has weight lifting in their programs. The successful ones anyway – The Ukrainians, Russians, England and Irish teams. I think that may be a large part of why the USA and the Cubans have been slipping so much in the amateur ranks, I don’t have in depth knowledge of their programs unlike the aforementioned teams however they appear to be more stuck in ‘traditions’. Some traditions are great and boxing is a wonderful sport with a long history. It also pays to have an open mind if you want to improve anything. If you know it all that’s all you ever know.

Johnny N May 31, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Michael, I agree with your definition of “HEAVY weight lifting” being anything within 1-6 RM. But I recommend everyone on here to stay within 15-20RM because that’s a safe load for beginners that don’t have good technique, form, body awareness, etc.

I already know the basics of weight lifting, muscle science, etc. But I also understand punching beyond many people. But since you’re so smart, Iet’s see if you can follow this train of thought:

– true punching power is ROTATIONAL power
– ROTATIONAL power is generated by force going INWARDS (which constantly battles centripetal force…watch a figure skater trying to spin faster–does he/she go inwards or outwards?)

TRY THIS, just try it. Spin yourself on one foot like a ballerina. And notice how when you bring in your arms and free leg, you spin faster. And TELL ME… when you were spinning…what muscles were you using?

…the real reason why weight lifting isn’t effective for increasing punching power, is NOT because weight lifting isn’t beneficial for muscle power. It is because weight lifting is not very effective at targeting the TRUE rotational power muscles. 😉

PS: I know how the olympic dudes train. I was able to speak with and/or train alongside some of international boxers from USA and also Canada. They lift weights for muscle conditioning and targeting different ranges of movement. They don’t lift heavy weights and they don’t lift weights for the sole intention of power.

And don’t insult the old timers (calling them undeducated) because they’ve been in the game for over 30-40 years. They tried it all…just like we’re doing today. If I had to choose between training like a boxer today and training like a boxer from back in the days, I’d choose the old school because they were way better. They fought more fights, more rounds, and generally boxed better than the guys today.

Carl January 5, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Right on the money, basically all sports use some form of resistant training, mostly weights but they are routines designed to usually help in other aspects. The Russians do punching routines with light hand weights, to improve speed, most sports focus on more than one exercise while doing any weight training, i.e. the usual bench press, curls etc. are not specific to their sport,(s)
most straight punches or punches directed at the head require a whipping motion. the power comes from lower down and generates to the arms, the arms are basically lever, the biceps are needed to pull the arm back in position, quickly nothing else. body punches you can use a bit more muscularity but still this is developed more through rotation and leverage.
I suppose George Foreman, and Mike Tyson lifted a bit more on the traditional side of weight training but was this as beneficial for them as say other types of training, personally i doubt it.

Michael May 31, 2012 at 4:26 pm

They fought at a lower intensity, that’s why they paced themselves and had to focus on skills more than some boxers today might. Those coaches might have tried it all but there’s no use in trying anything if you don’t understand why you’re doing it and how to do it properly while implementing it into a training program at the right time.
From the same Russian study I mentioned in my previous post they also looked at the proportion of force generated from the legs and from rotation of the core, around 45 and 35% respectively.
The majority of your punching power is generated from pushing into the ground whether you like it or not so your centrifugal force example is irrelevant. I can get into the biomechanics of a punch if you like, biomechanics is my background. A heavy squat improves your ability to push the ground, it’s also probably the best core stabilising exercise you can do. When you incorporate your Russian twists, med ball plyometrics or whatever it is you use to develop rotational strength it is extremely important to have strength and stability in all planes of motion. Muscle tendon/neurological benefits aside isn’t that reason enough to include heavy weight training into a program?
Also why would anyone gain anything from weight lifting performed at 15-20RM? Endurance? Just punch a bag and do push ups, why mess around with weights if you’re not using them to improve strength and power.
Thanks for the insight, now I have more of an understanding why USA and Canadian amateur boxers are generally weak and under perform on the world stage.
What are your thoughts on olympic lifting, explosive force through the legs.. also no good for boxing?

Johnny N May 31, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Michael, I agree with your scientific knowledge but respectfully disagree with your boxing theories and technique. As for lifting with 15-20RM, there are many benefits. Free weights can target different range of motions that would otherwise be difficult to do with body weight calisthenics alone. Weights are far more beneficial to athletes than just strength and power alone (ie: speed, endurance, flexibility, coordination, muscle triggering, etc). I figured you knew all this but disregarded it to make a point.

ANYWAY, if you’re so well informed that you can speak down on international boxing teams (the SAME teams that produced current world champions like Andre Ward), then PLEASE allow me to shut my mouth. And please continue to inform me what I don’t know. Don’t let my opinions and old-school knowledge get in the way of your newly advanced science! I’m all ears, man—type away!!! 🙂

Carl January 5, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Many countries have gone back to strong fundamentals surpassing the USA,
Canada had some good boxers , 80’s with DeWitt andO’ Sullivan in the Olympics, then the program took a nose dive. In recent years it has been slowly picking itself back up. As for funding Canada does not promote Olympic Athletes very well, especially in summer games sports. Not a lot of money in Canada compared to other Olympic Programs.
As for the U.S. they have focused too much on fighting that became flashy, i.e. Roy Jones and stop going to the fundamentals, Roy Jones and guys like Prince Naseen were great fighters, but relied on their natural athletic ability more than superior textbook technique. (There is obvious a place for both, but truly you need to be sound fundamentally. England has returned to teaching some very good techniques.
Frank Tate and o’sullivan little more exciting match and show for Canada and U.S than of late.
check out what Kenny Weldon thinks about boxing in other countries and his own country.

Vato Loco June 2, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Daniel I just told you several world champions who lifted weights you’re full of frijoles ese.

Sam June 2, 2012 at 2:19 pm

So Johnny your not against the use of Weights for Explosive Training,
just heavy weights small reps, i think you should change the title thought, its kind of misleading you should add the word”Heavy”. i agree though i dont see how 3-5 reps on the bench press will increase power.

David Haye is a very fast punching heavyweight who lifts lots of weights, say what you like about his boxing lol

Johnny N June 4, 2012 at 10:46 am

I wish some people would read what I said carefully because the article is not even about why I don’t like heavy weights. It’s about how lifting weights MIGHT be ineffective for increasing punching power.

I wish people would focus on my reasons which are purely more technical and more about punching technique, instead of the focus on the effects of weight lifting on the body.

bruce June 3, 2012 at 4:52 am

i don’t like powerlifting and i research about can powerlifting help me to throw a power full punch and my deduced like you. when i read your article i think you read my mind and after that write it 😀 .
but i just have a problem and its that the Klitschkos and David Hay are use weights and they are so strong and its so different with my research result . do you have any answer about it ?

Vato Loco June 3, 2012 at 8:52 am

Wlad Klitschko lifts weights for the first 3-weeks of his 8-week training program for a fight. Don’t know how much lifting he does when not “in training” for a fignt, however. Weights have always played an integral part in ALL sports training in Eastern Europe, but interestingly bodybuilding type training was always frowned upon in Eastern Europe and in particular the Soviet Union. And given the former Soviet Union’s success in the past Olympic games and the recent success of Eastern European fighters and MMA athletes it says a lot about the values of a good solid weight program.

Johnny N June 4, 2012 at 10:49 am

Those guys aren’t lifting heavy. I can see Haye doing a little of it to gain weight for the heavyweight division.

Jacko June 3, 2012 at 6:33 am

I really don’t agree with what some people are saying here, whether you’re resistance training “doing heavies” gettng ripped (many light reps) …weights are a massive part of any form of training the muscle groups. Learning technique is a foundation, and building upon that consists of countless forms of exercise, i think a main point left out here is peoples breathing! 50% of power comes from breathing technique, im not saying bigger muscles meen bigger hits, but i think the use of weights are being very under estimated! – ive used weights for over 16 years , trained with both the british army boxing and judo teams , trained in many different forms of martial arts and not one senior person or coach has ruled out use of weights for power, i have found breathing, resisitance and the “slow” use of weights increases power dramatically, especially if u do not rule out speed training! in my experience vary your training programme to gain best results …with maximum effort ofc!

Vato Loco June 3, 2012 at 8:08 am

No one can dispute weight training or weight lifting will increase power, strength, or even speed if used properly, but the question is are weights useful for the sport of boxing and in particular do they increase or can they help increase “punching power.” There is no disputing the majority of “boxing people” such as actual fighters and experienced trainers are opposed to most or all weight training and they’ve the credentials to back up their argument. While weight training maybe good for “judo” or even MMA is it good for boxing. Their are different skill sets and training needs for grappling sports and striking sports like boxing. Hell there are different needs even for kickboxer versus a boxer for that matter. There have been many successful weight trained fighters but these were talented fighters and even had already turned professional before they decided to take up weight training, and some weight trained to gain muscular mass for advancing to a heavier weight class. I definitely feel there is room for weight training in a fighter’s training regimen, preferably when he isn’t training for a fight in what could be considered a fighter’s “off-season.” However, all weight workouts should be curtailed leading up to a fight when a fighter should be concentrating on his sparring, conditioning, skill training, and increasing his stamina. I don’t think weights will play any significant role in increasing punching power but at the same time I think spending exorbitant amount of time on the heavy bag won’t produce a punch either. I think more or less you’re born with a punch and any kind of training has minimal effect if at all.

Vato Loco June 3, 2012 at 9:34 am

Just found this video on Youtube of Evander Holyfield doing some weight training. Interestingly the former champ is doing “bodybuilding type” exercises like barbell bentover rows, leg curls, and leg extensions instead of Olympic lifting or explosive speed training with weights. Obviously this video was taken recently given I think at some point Holyfield mentions his age at 49. Weight training and even using a “bodybuilding type” routine certainly had no ill effects on Holyfield’s career, quite the contrary, it helped him become the Heavyweight Champion even though he was never really a heavyweight. Granted the foundation for Holyfield’s success was the traditional type boxing training long before he adopted a weight program but the weights certainly had no detrimental effect on his boxing career. Will weight training alone make you a better fighter, of course not, just like running 5 miles a day won’t make you a fighter, but both can help a fighter with his conditioning. Watch the Holyfield vid on Youtube: Evander Holyfield-TV 4 Sport Sweden.

Pete June 3, 2012 at 5:48 pm

I think that if you talked to the loser in any fight, and ask them what they wished they would have done differently in their training leading up to the fight, one thing that you will never hear them say is “I should have lifted heavier weights”.

Daniel June 4, 2012 at 12:06 am

Ok, someone gave me example with fighters who lifted weights.Evander lifted to move in weight, George Foreman never do it.For Pernell I really dont know, but i know for sure he is not a hard puncher and he rely on accuracy and timing.That is his own words.But whatever, maybe i should change my question(tell me one boxer who lift weights?).So…tell me one hard puncher, who lifted weights?I really really cant rememer just one, or if there is, the number of the hard punchers is a lot more…And dont give me for example the Boring Freak of Mass Brothers Klitschko, who fight with nobodies, and punch them 12 rounds with left jab…And sry about my english.Cheers!

Vato Loco June 4, 2012 at 1:32 am

You’re saying the Klitschko brothers can’t punch ese? Vato they have some of the highest kayo percentages in the history of heavyweight boxing. You are full of frijoles amigo. They have knocked out something like over 80% of their opponents. You can’t be serious. Maybe they are boring to you because you think a puncher is supposed to be some unskilled face fighter who blocks punches with his face. The Klitschko’s are SKILLED boxer/punchers and have DOMINATED their opponents for the last decade. What about Earnie Shavers does he punch hard enough for you. What about former middleweight champion Randolph Turpin who beat the great Sugar Ray Robinson. And yes George Foreman pulled trucks(which is weight lifting by the way) and even did conventional weight training in his comeback. Hell Mike Tyson lifted weights after he got out of prison, and I guarantee you former WBA Heavyweight Champion Mike “Hercules” Weaver lifted weights and he could punch like hell.

Daniel June 4, 2012 at 12:07 am

Because the discussion is are lifting weights increase your PUNCHIN power.Not pushing, moving, benching etc..

Daniel June 4, 2012 at 3:31 am

Because Klitschko brothers have the highest percentage, doesnt mean they are so powerful punchers.Its called skills, timing, accuracy, and combinate with their height and weight+the weakest heavyweight division ever…chiko.I didnt said they cant punch, i said they are not example for one of the hardest punchers.You dont need to be the hardest puncher to knockout someone out.But obviously you dont understand boxing and only watch knockout highlights all day,all time and make wrong conclusions.So I forgive you.In his prime Tyson doesnt lift weights.Foreman doesnt lift in his young ages.He pulled trucks when he was old.And nothing against E.S.Its obvious he is very powerful puncher.
And something else.This is a quoute from ”Box Like a Pros”-Joe Frazier`s book.
”’God hasn’t made better fighters yet than Joe Louis, Henry Armstrong,
and Sugar Ray Robinson. And those guys never lifted weights. Neither
did Jack Dempsey or Jack Johnson. I never lifted weights and I was
plenty strong in there”.So…

Vato Loco June 4, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Both Klittschko’s would beat prime Foreman or Tyson ese. Tyson is a midget and Foreman prime had no stamina and threw wide looping punches you could see coming from a mile away. Can you imagine 5’10” Tyson fighting one of the Klitschkos or some mummy like “Big” George Foreman fighting the Klitschkos? “Big” George looks rather small standing next to the 6’7″ Klitschkos. Yeah we all know why the Klitschkos don’t get the credit they deserve especially from certain segments of the population. hehehe. Yeah them Eastern Europeans have been kicking arse in the heavier weight classes for better than a decade but for some reason boxing is on a rapid decline and everyone assumes the heavyweight division is at its weakest ever. Hmmm and just who did prime Tyson ever beat that either one of the Klitschkos couldn’t beat? An ancient Larry Holmes, a fat Tony Tubbs, a drug addict named Pinklon Thomas, bwah hahahahahaha. You’re probably one of those Tyson bootlickers who think that stumpy midget would honestly have a chance against the Klitschkos. bwah hahahahahaha.

Vato Loco June 4, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Who cares what Joe Frazier says anyhow ese. Frazier was a fat boy who only had a left hook and absolutely no boxing skills and the only thing his right hand was good for was waving bye bye. Jack Johnson was the most overrated Heavyweight Champion of all time. He got knocked down by a middleweight and won the title beating up 5’7″ 179lb Tommy Burns and it took him 14 rounds to do so. Matter of fact Johnson wanted no part of little 5’6 3/4″ Sam Langford after he won the title and refused to fight him. Despite what Johnson says he lost legitimately to probably one of the worst heavyweight champions of all time in the inept Jess Willard. Of course Johnson was fat and old but still Jess Willard the man whom Dempsey absolutely almost murdered. Take two aspirins and call me in the morning amigo. You been schooled.

Ricky June 4, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Loco you sound like you know alot about boxing man! thats cool, you must be some fighter, hopefully you can give me your name so i can see what record you have and by the way your talking you must of been some pro 😉 then you’ll be on youtube, cool but what are your thoughts about mayweather jr? sugar rays? roy jones jr? bernard hopkins? diego corrales? whitaker? marvin hagler? tommy herns? wow the list goes on dude, i will seriously be thankful for your advice with theze guys. and by the way, what’s your favorite brand? i like ringside, rival, and some of the protex series, title is awesome also

Vato Loco June 4, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Who is tommy herns? bwah hahahahahahaha. My brand is Magnum XXL ese.

Ricky June 4, 2012 at 6:33 pm

wow, a guy that knows nothing about boxing is going to try explain techniques. thank you for your theory N 😉

byron alexis June 6, 2012 at 4:20 pm

The fuck did this come too late….im searching tons of articles like this one for years…Now that i’ve seen a good 1 ty very much AUTHOR for posting this…i bet u could sell a book or two with this article making it more and more detailed even a single bit to make a book…very nice work…thanks you soo much…by the way i live in philippines where animal rules work…survival of d fitest on the streets…im more rock solid muscle type dude (Large upper especially arms and small lower extremities) but im geting knock d fuck out of skinier but taller dudes…now that i read this article im equiped with a technique that i will develop for my defense…again kind author thankyou very much…

B June 6, 2012 at 11:06 pm

Wouldn’t squats benefit you though? I mean you make more muscle which would gain you weight and also increase the speed of your legs which is a benefit is it not?

Same with building your chest. Being able to throw an uppercut at higher speeds.

Stefan June 7, 2012 at 9:26 am

This is false, because more muscle equals greater mass.
And thus, Force = (mass)(acceleration)
Therefore more muscle equals more force.

Basic physics.

J June 7, 2012 at 2:09 pm

im glad you said that stefan force=massXacceleration and that is correct! before you punch have your hands open throw the punch (acceleration) and at the split second before impact you make a fist (mass) so your theory is correct, i just feel your going in the wrong direction, you will build more acceleration in your body by being more relaxed not tensed up, try it, flex as hard as you can then punch, then try relaxing as much as possible then punch

Daniel June 7, 2012 at 12:23 pm

mass is not muscles.

Niall Tucker June 9, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Well i dont mean to be a pain or anything but if you lifgt the right way. like explosivly lifting weights you dont have to push hard to lift but have a tiny bit of resistance. Speed+Mass = power

Think of it as a car going slow and a car going really fast

The car going slow wont do knock you far it will move you slowy and not far but the car thats going really fast will knock you very far that the way i see it and say to people.

Yes pushing power is usully slower movement

But punching is fast movement

Hope this helps

Niall Tucker

Ty June 10, 2012 at 8:57 am

I apologize in advance.

On the most basic level, you are wrong. However, this is mostly due to a lack of clarification on what “power” and “strength” mean. Heavy strength training will ONLY increase your punching “strength.” A stronger muscle is able to exert more maximal contractile force… period. The laws of physics and human anatomy bind us to that principle. I completely agree that punching is a snapping motion.. but that doesn’t change the fact that you use the muscles of the shoulder, arm and torso to generate the force necessary to initiate the snap.

The number one thing that people need to understand is the difference between Strength and Power. Strength is best increased by LIFTING HEAVY WEIGHT. You absolutely need to be as strong as humanly possible. Period. However, as you stated, hard strength training can make you slower, less flexible and have worse technique. This is where stretching, and POWER training come into play. Power is force/time. Better though of as the ability to apply the strength you have gained through lifting to your sport of choice. Plyometrics, speed training and of course boxing will accomplish these goals. Power is a neurological adaptation and strength is (mainly) a physical one.

I encourage you to rethink your article… lots of people read your website, and to be perfectly honest you are simply not quite correct with your statements or conjectures about lifting and its effect on the body.

Ty June 10, 2012 at 9:01 am

Or to clarify… your blanket statements about lifting are incorrect.

Proper application of strength training will ONLY make you faster, stronger, better conditioned and more powerful.

Proper being the key word.

Johnny N June 10, 2012 at 3:40 pm

My article is 100% correct and valid because of the way I punch.

If I punched like everybody else…I’d be using *cough* WASTING *cough* energy and muscle like them. If I punched like everybody else, I might actually need weights to punch harder.

But I’m not like the rest, I wasn’t trained like the rest. I don’t think like them, I don’t train like them, I don’t punch like them. And so for me….heavy weight lifting adds negligible power to the punch if any at all. i don’t dispute the validity of weights on muscle power… I simply dispute the necessity of heavy weights for increasing PUNCHING POWER.

Muscle power is a measurement of anatomical performance. Punching power is really a measurement of technique (depending who you were trained by, of course). But sure…everyone is free to their own opinions. I only try to share mine every now and then, you know? 🙂

trevybear88 June 11, 2012 at 3:24 pm

I can remember training in thai boxing a few years ago. I had been training 3 to 5 times a week for 6 months, Im 18 stone and very strong. I was training with 2 pretty experienced guys. one of them was about 21 stone (naturally big guy but surprisingly VERY agile) and a thin wirey built guy with great technique. Both these guys were kicking the thai pads with serious power (much more than me, even though i was the strongest) but I noticed that they kicked with similar power to each other, even though there was about 9 stone difference in weight between them. If anything the thin wiry guy kicked the hardest! Actually he kicked so hard that it really stuck in my mind. I was thinking that if he landed a kick like that on my thigh that i would be on the ground finished!! I studied his kicking technique as much as possible (without bugging him) and he kicked the same manner that you advise for punching i.e. relaxed and fast but tensed and solid just before impact. I was strongest, another guy the heavyist. So in my mind the only way this guy could kick that hard was with the correct technique!!! I do like being strong and in a street fight/ working as nightclub security it really matters but in the ring with a guy of similar build/ weight its not as important in my mind from my experience. Ill be reading your other articles in the future. cheers

Daniel June 12, 2012 at 1:37 am

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” – Bruce Lee.This is the way to develop punching or kicking power.I train muay thai, and havent been yet in Thailand, but I have friends which were.They said the thai fighters kick absolutely everyday around 500 times.On pads, on bags, on shadowboxing.

trevybear88 June 12, 2012 at 3:37 pm

@ Daniel. Totally makes sense. The more you drill a punch/kick or combo the better. Your motor units learn to fire more efficiently/ faster etc and as a result you are faster and more powerful.

Bill June 14, 2012 at 7:08 am

This is a dumb article.. All your reasons for not lifting have to do with technique not anything detrimental caused by lifting. If you kick/punch with perfect technique, than add explosive strength and power on top of that, you -will- kicker harder/stronger – period. All the strongest and most explosive fighters in the world like gsp, alaistair overeem, manny pacquio etc use heavy weight lifting extensively

Vato Loco June 14, 2012 at 2:11 pm

I would say Overeem definitely lifts heavy weights and is definitely on the juice also. however, GSP I’m pretty sure uses relatively light weights in training and he even does gymnastics. Not sure about Pacquio but I would bet he primarily uses light weights if any at all and mainly does bodyweight along with using various medicine ball exercises. Kickboxing champion Alain Ngalani is an avid weight trainer and has some tremendous power in his kicks and is very flexible to boot. Despite his bulky physique he is far more flexible than probably any skinny anti-weightlifting dweeb out there.

Johnny N June 19, 2012 at 11:37 am

No Bill, alot of those explosive fighters do NOT use heavy weight. I’m sure Manny Pacquiao doesn’t because I’ve seen him train in person.

Daniel June 15, 2012 at 7:32 am
Vato Loco June 15, 2012 at 1:24 pm

What about Alain Ngalani then. I’m sure you’ve heard of him since you’re into muay thai kickboxing. Hell that guy is flexible enough to do gymnastic bridges while sporting the physique of a buff bodybuilder and he’s a damn good fighter to boot.

Ty June 15, 2012 at 8:38 am

I’m sorry Johnny.. but you are no different than any other fighter out there. You are no different than any other ATHLETE out there. You punch with excellent technique I’m sure, however, muscles drive the punch. They stabilize your legs, whip your core around, and throw your fist away from your guard position. This is fact. Muscle + Neural connectivity are what controls your entire body, including your punching strength, speed and power.

As Bill stated… if you take an athlete with excellent punching technique, improve his Strength, improve his Power, and you will have an athlete that punches even HARDER and FASTER than before.

I urge you to do some research on weight training.. from coaches who coach athletes. Not from archaic boxing superstition passed down from fighter to fighter.

Have you ever done any olympic lifting? Are you aware that these men and women are the most POWERFUL athletes on the planet? What about sprinters? Do you really think they do not use heavy ass weight at least a portion of the training cycle? Do you think they derive their incredible power and speed from simply sprinting thousands and thousands of time with no effort to increase maximal output? These two sports are INCREDIBLY technical. They require just as much as technique as punching… maybe more. Are you so naive that you think you know better than hundreds, thousands of elite level coaches who push athletes to perform at olympic and professional levels?

Punching power is NOT a measurement of technique. It is a measurement of Strength+ Neurological factors+Technique (Which is of course neurological.) You cannot tell me that a man who is stronger than another man, but both have the same level of expertise, will not punch harder than than the weaker man.

The bottom line is that you are wrong. If you were to properly (being the key word) train, you would see a marked increase in punching power and speed. Period. Sorry to be so blunt.

Basic physics and anatomy tell me, and hundreds of thousands of other athletes that you are wrong. That a muscle which grows stronger, (and is then taught to fire quickly) will be able to produce more force, in less time than a weaker muscle. Period.

That being said, I enjoy your website and the vast majority of the rest of your articles. Keep it up… but please consider doing some research and rewriting this article. You are doing the online community a MASSIVE disservice by having this up.

Johnny N June 19, 2012 at 11:42 am

Yes Ty, I’ve done Olympic lifting. I coached my brother and close friend to 2 gold medals in powerlifting back in 2004. I was also a former sprinter and I can tell you myself that everybody on the team (including state-level sprinters) avoided heavy weights. If heavy weight lifting increased running speed, all Olympic lifters should be half-decent runners right? (Unfortunately, they wouldn’t even outrun the average basketball player who only plays streetball and never lifts weights.) I think you should talk to some real Olympic lifters or sprinters before you go around talking like you know how they train.

I’ve done my time and I’m not going to write 100 pages of explanation preaching to those who refuse to listen. I did the work, I tried many things and spoke to many people. I’m confident of what I know and certainly possess the ridiculous punching power (and technique) to prove it.

If you’re so sure that you know the right way, then keep doing what you’re doing and make sure you teach it to others. In the meanwhile, I’m gonna keep doing what I do best and keep using the method that allows me to punch MUCH HARDER than any powerlifter. 😉

Alan December 10, 2012 at 8:48 am

Mass X Accereration = Punching Power.

Mike Tyson was naturally at a high weight and didnt need to do alot of weightlifting but he did some such as squats and neck barbells. Why do you think heavyweights punch hard? because they weight alot and have high velocity/speed x their bodyweight.

Weightlifting does increase your punching power

I think youll need it man, Trust me I am a boxing coach and I used to train Danny Green.
However its the faster acceleration weightlifting exercises like blast squats and bench press, deadlifts, pullups and pushups dips and core rotational exercises that give power as well and not just boxing on heavybags.

You need to have alot of weight to punch harder as well With the speed.

But Johnny that was a great post, its informative. I follow the equation Force(damage) = (speed/acceleration) velocity X (mass)body weight

and of course skill, technique etc

Yes, alot of pushing exercises are useless but the rotation ones like swinging a medicine ball into a wall is a good one, and that involves lifting weight.

I believe that you should do 70% cardio, plyometrics heavybag and 30% COMPOUND weightlifting(mainly the ones that involve leg, back and arm acceleration)

They dont need to be too heavy because it can slow you down but if their too light thats not good either, The point is to gain weight as well and gain speed. 50% gain weight and 50% speed. > 100% gain weight (slow movement) 0% speed

Alan December 10, 2012 at 8:59 am

They can be fairly heavy though if you want to gain alot of weight, but I wouldnt aim on going too heavy and doing little reps because you need to accelerate from the ground to the air by pushing upwards in a squat. The more you do (more reps and) faster you get from the ground to standing position the better speed youll have along with the weight gain. But you can use 100kg squats for eg. As long as you can accelerate fast.
This is proven to increase crouch down to up hook punches, because when you squat you will do that.

By going too heavy and too slow you wont be doing a cardio like weightlifting. It will be more like just a pure weightlifting that uses little acceleration which is not as good for boxers.

Heavybag and cardio are the prime power punching exercises, but you need mass to be heavier as well to punch harder with your speed. If you have so much speed but no weight behind it you wont punch hard like Mike Tyson or Danny. 🙂

Technically you are right Lifting weights alone doesnt increase punching power, but when combined with boxing to increase speed, AND have more mass(weight). You will punch harder. Just make sure you dont do TOO MUCH weightlifting or you will become weaker. You should only do 1 Main compound weight exercise for 1 part of the body. eg Squat for legs, chest press for chest, deadlift for back.
Lifting weights partially increase punching power but you have to have speed from boxing and the strength power from heavybag. Lifting weights (different strength gain) doesnt increase thesame strength power from heavybags but lifting weights increases your weight which can generate punch power, and increases acceleration from some exercises to increase punch power.

Alan December 10, 2012 at 9:05 am

This is the answer

Fighting Strength (not from weights) + Speed (mainly from fighting but some from weights) + Body Mass (entirely from weights) = Punch power(damage)

Boxing increases power and speed/acceleration. (Cardio and Boxing is the PRIME exercise for Increasing Punch power/speed)

Weightlifting increases mass and little acceleration. (Does increase punch power from mass)

Alan December 10, 2012 at 9:07 am

However I respect your opinion. Everyone is entitled to his /her own.

Daniel June 15, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Well, actually you are wrong.Punching power is measurement of mainly technique, and of course stong muscles(legs,core,back mainly).And these stong muscles can develop with calistenics, running, isometrics, plyomterics etc etc.And why you mention sprinters or olympic lifters?This is boxing.The good knockout is called by the people ”power of the punch”.But its not power.Its efficient accurated impact.Not power, which you use for benching, squatting, snatch etc, but IMPACT.The punch its explosion, not pushing.And you are talking about thousands of athlets, technology blablabla.Talk to me for fighters.Fighters which has developed their knockout ability(called power if you want) with lifting weights.Even Earnie Shavers, the hardest hitter of all time said lifting weights its not good.You are so naive.And do you know why boxers dont lift weights.Because boxing is science.Its beautiful sport with so many different aspects, which require years and years of hard work.They dont waste their time for lifting weights.They use it for training boxing.There is no such thing like ”two fighters with same experience, technique, but one guy has more power..blabbla” total bullshit 🙂 And i am a semi-pro muay thai fighter for about 7 years.I`ve been on the other side too(weights lifting), but with the years i understood what is good for my body.Sorry about my english.Cheers.And nothing personal 🙂

Vato Loco June 15, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Yeah I know Earnie Shavers did say that lifting weights would slow you down and to train natural by lifting bales of hay and wood chopping. You’re correct there for sure. But what puzzles me is that Earnie Shavers said this in retirement but while he was boxing he DID in fact lift weights. There is a fight on Youtube where Shavers is fighting and the commentator mentions Earnies massive upper body and Jerry Quarry states the Earnie has been lifting weights, also Ken Norton who took up weight lifting after his accident stated that he wished he would have lifted weights when he was boxing. In a interview Ken Norton was asked he hit harder George Foreman, Gerry Cooney, or Earnie Shavers, and Norton said Shavers because he didn’t get up from that knockdown and Norton says that he believed Shavers weight program helped with his power. Once again I know the interview about Shavers denouncing weights for boxers but Shavers DID lift weights, and really what is the difference in lifting bales of hay or a barbell, a weight is a weight.

Vato Loco June 15, 2012 at 2:01 pm

What is a “semi-pro” muay thai boxer dude? Either you’re a professional who makes money or you’re just a amateur there is no in betweens.

dyte July 31, 2013 at 12:26 pm

hi daniel you there? what are the best exercises when you want to lift weights?
what about barbell rows or dumbbell rows?

Daniel June 15, 2012 at 12:21 pm

So you are telling me for example if Sugar Ray Leonard or Roy Jones in their prime lift weights with the modern technology and knowledge, they will be more faster?And they will save their boxing skills?Or Mike Tyson will hit harrder and faster?Tell me please, maybe these guys are wrong.. 🙂

Vato Loco June 15, 2012 at 1:33 pm

No I have never stated that weights would significantly increase punching power, if it would increase it at all. Same thing with the heavy bag, every fighter hits the heavy bag but some fighters couldn’t crack an egg with their punch so the heavy bag is about as useful as weights for increasing punching power, but it still should be used in training. Punchers are born not made. You can blah blah blah about technique all you want but I guarantee you I could find some seasoned street fighter who never set foot in a boxing gym and he could come in and punch harder than people who’ve boxed and trained for years. Does that mean the street fighter could beat some skilled boxer in the ring? Of course not because he wouldn’t have the skill set, stamina or conditioning but he still would be able to punch harder.

Daniel June 15, 2012 at 12:31 pm

You guys are so naive.You write some stupid article from some very ”wise” S&C coach, who is thinking he has found the new El Dorado and trying to sell his knowledge, and you think that this is THE WAY.But look the facts.The hard punchers of boxing are from the 20s-90s.From the old school.The true is there is no boxer, who has developed his punching power with lifting weights, and you continue to talk about science, modern athlets, blabla.U r so funny 😀

Vato Loco June 15, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Bwah hahaha hey I got proof that Earnie Shavers lifted weights while fighting. Google Earnie Shavers vs Howard Smith on Youtube. Don’t know why Earnie would denounce weight training when in fact he lifted weights. I will agree with commentator Jerry Quarry about weights may cause bulky muscles that could effect a fighter’s stamina and Earnie Shavers sure didn’t have stamina for sheet. I said it before and I’ll say it again for some strange reason fighters lifted weights but they would deny it. It’s like weights were the steroids of the 60’s and 70’s. Look at Mike Weaver from the 1980’s. Weaver at one time was asked how he got his muscular physique, and Weaver said he never touched a weight, but later on Weaver said he lifted just to tone his muscles. Damn I mean what the sheet.

justin June 15, 2012 at 3:42 pm

if you happen to do testing, research, and have firsthand knowledge of lifting weights for improved sport performance, including punching power, then you will find “heavy” weight lifting is the only way to go.

You don’t need extra conditioning from lifting weights. Strength and conditioning is EXTREMELY specific. There is no point in running 10 miles or doing some barbell complex for “conditioning”. You’re just going to confuse your body and limit your fighting ability.

Lifting weights on the other hand you should be doing 1-3 reps to train maximum power and more importantly your NERVOUS SYSTEM!! getting your nervous system to recruit all the fibers and power it possible can requires heavy lifting. There is no point lifting 5 or more reps unless you want to put on weight.

spend some time, a lot of time, researching something that is so vital to your training/lifestyle before you come to a conclusion based on a lack of knowledge.

Johnny N June 19, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Actually, I do have first hand knowledge and it doesn’t correlate to what you’re saying. And not surprisingly, the same has been said for almost every boxer, sprinter, weight lifter I have trained with.

Alan December 10, 2012 at 9:16 am

And its all about weight ratio. If you get someone who is 5’5 and very built, he can punch as hard as someone who is 6’5 and thesame weight ratio.

Mike Tyson is an example, his weight and speed/power is the reason he can punch harder than any taller person. Just lift to gain weight but mainly do Heavybags, (forget skipping) do running, bike machine, speed bag wheel(pedal machine) an advanced version like the one Rocky’s enemy used and our Danny Green used, rotation punching machines, plyometics, dips, pushups, pressups, pullups, situps, medicine ball swings, sledgehammer into wheels, accuracy bags, punching weight machines, resistance band while running and punching,

then weights- squats, deadlift, pullups, chest press, neck barbells, side shoulder press ( but accelerate fast) like your uppercutting, but dont punch with them, just do the weight faster)

NEVER PUNCH WITH WEIGHTS. They will damage you if you punch at full speed or moderately punch.

Vato Loco June 15, 2012 at 4:06 pm


You are just wasting your time bro. Everyone here is “semi-pro” or “experts” and still believe the earth is flat. All kidding aside that sounds like good advice on that traditional long distance running caca. I would think that weights would make better since than running like your training for a marathon. Probably far better to employ sprints on a track or hill sprints, or even some fartlek runs than slogging along 8-10 miles.

Daniel June 15, 2012 at 4:17 pm

justin bieber,shut up.And about the semi-pro, i have couple professional fights, but i have another regular job 🙂 And i`m fighting on amateur competitions.Its obvious you have opinion,me too.And you mention Alain Ngalani.And Overeem.First for Ngalani.He is great fighter.And he is no even near to top k-1 level.And also he dont lift heavy.Second for Overeem.He is great muay thai fighter even from his skinny days, he beated people before started to bulk and take steroids 🙂 Its called technique.And please, dont say again that for the street fighter .. 🙂

Vato Loco June 15, 2012 at 4:41 pm

semi-pro = amateur

Vato Loco June 15, 2012 at 4:47 pm

Tank Abbott = no technique = punches like a mule kicks. Guarantee you Tank Abbott EVEN NOW, could punch harder than a lot of trained professional boxers.

J June 15, 2012 at 6:40 pm

you can punch yourself through a brick wall doesnt mean nothing if you cant hit you target! muscle will slow you down, “a fast boxer is more dangerous than a muscular boxer, muscle dont mean nothing”-Freddie Roach

LalorAus June 16, 2012 at 4:12 am

Punch Harder?
medicine ball against the wall as hard as you can, 10 reps, 3 sets each arm yeh??

Johnny N June 19, 2012 at 1:46 pm

That works, it’s one of the many workouts we do.

Daniel June 16, 2012 at 4:27 am

Tank Abot was 120kg.And he was a fighter, i dont know why you mention him…And lets not compare boxing with kickboxing or muay thai.Muay Thai round per round its more demanding, because there are kicks, knees, clinchs, throws, etc.And thats way its 3 round or 5 x 3minutes.The fights are shorter, not 10-12 rounds like in boxing, where you must be able to be relaxed , movable and with clear mind for the entire fight.And about Freddie Roach…words from one of the greatest boxing coaches of all time..But i`m sure there are still some morons, which think they knows something more than him.You are pathetic 😀

Vato Loco June 16, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Tank Abbott is basically nothing but a street fighter with limited boxing and wrestling experience but he has tremendous power.

Daniel June 16, 2012 at 4:30 am

And someone will say now ”But to be faster, you should lift heavy weights, look at the sprinters”. No, you dont.The sprinters are runnin 10 seconds,The boxers are fighting for 30 minutes per fight! And its total different sports.

J June 16, 2012 at 5:00 am

referring to sprinting can do with speed, thats the whole point, we are wasting our time arguing with each daniel me vato loco seriously were not going to change each others mind so we should just let it go, and use this site for what its really intended for to improve our boxing and to understand the sport much better

Vato Loco June 16, 2012 at 2:02 pm

No it’s DEBATING “J” I’m certainly not arguing with anyone. If you read my posts I clearly state that the author is right about weights not improving punching power, however, I think they might help a little, or at least as much as hitting the heavy bag. I’m certainly no expert in boxing but I’ve a deep interest in all combat sports as well as physical conditioning. I just post a comment when I’m on the internet just out of boredom and I think it’s fun DEBATING not arguing on various subject matters whether it’s boxing, baseball, football or politics. I’m an avid sports fan and really like all sports and boxing is just one of my interests. Thanks again for your civility my friend.

J June 16, 2012 at 8:10 pm

this site isnt for experts man, the man who made this site is johnny Nguyen we are fortunate to have someone such as himself willing to share his knowledge, this is a way to get better at boxing, maybe you should look into being a sports writer or sport analyzer they pay pretty good though man, since you like sports, should try out for being on espn give it a shot you may be able to do it and thats all they do is debate on espn

vato loco June 17, 2012 at 10:57 am

Lighten up “man.”

Daniel June 16, 2012 at 4:40 am

Perfect example is Mariuz Pudzianowski.The strongest man on the planet.Much respect for him and the courage for stepping on the ring.But he cant punch.He is 123 kg, and he starts to hit like a crazy for the first 1 minute.And if he couldnt bringsyou down, he is gassed.

Vato Loco June 16, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Mariuz Pudzianowski CAN’T punch for sheet. But if you read my post and aren’t illiterate you see that I say weights will not increase punching power much if at all. Tank Abbott can bench 600lbs but look at his punching power. Just because some muscular guy can’t punch doesn’t mean anyone who lifts heavy will be muscle bound and not be able to punch with authority. Also by the way why are you always name calling when everyone else is entitled to their own opinion. You must be Johnny’s friend because he doesn’t DELETE your posts when you call people names like he does when someone responds to your grammar school name calling rant. Dude anyone who was really an expert at fighting wouldn’t even be on this site so get off your high horse because if you were all that you wouldn’t even be here.

Johnny N June 19, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Correction: I have absolutely no idea who Daniel is. LOL.

I do try to moderate posts and cut out the name-calling. I’m not letting this site turn into a troll forum. Aside from that, keep arguing away!

Daniel June 16, 2012 at 5:25 am

I Agree with you ”J”.Peace

Vato Loco June 16, 2012 at 1:00 pm

I agree with “J” also. We all know that in boxing speed is a valuable tool to have in your tool box. I would say conditioning and heart trump everything even speed or power. But until Lennox Lewis and Klitschko brothers came around the best heavyweights were never really super big men like you see in basketball and football but they were just big enough. No doubt most super size men wouldn’t have the agility or speed of a somewhat smaller “big” guy. But that’s why Lewis and the Klitschkos are so underrated because to have that kind of agility, stamina, and speed on such a large frame is rare indeed.

Tom June 17, 2012 at 2:37 am

very intersting facts, never knew that till now, well i was never really lifting weight myself; do you suggest i should still lift heavy weight with my left hand for the time begin till the arm gets abit stronger in general? its because im right-handed and fighting in southpaw, and i enjoy it, its just i hav to make my left arm stronger

Johnny N June 19, 2012 at 1:56 pm

No, I don’t suggest heavy weight lifting.

Champ June 17, 2012 at 10:42 am

Love your site, but you contridict yourself several times in this article. Even your subtitles go against basic principles. You have a strong opinion but only hearsay and personal experience to back it up. Saying your body weight does more than you muscles is ridiculous, certain muscle groups are being used to move that body weight. As for heavy lifting being not helpful most heavy lifts are going to recruit fast twitch fibers from your core muscles to stabilize your body. These types of fibers will help in explosive movements, like snapping a punch or hitting a baseball, both transverse movements. Its called the sweet SCIENCE for a reason, im just one of a few who belive SOME of the science is outdated! Strength and Conditioning has come a long way with some sports look at todays football players are bigger and move faster and more explosive than ever. I will continue to visit you site because I love learning and getting others perspectives but you should really try to keep an open mind and reasearch to back yourself up instead of inviting people to your gym to see how hard you punch.

Johnny N June 17, 2012 at 11:11 am

Hi champ, I can understand you disagreeing with my techniques but I’d especially want you to know I’m not speaking out of hearsay or personal experience. I’ve been surrounded high level coaches my whole life for all sports and participated as an athlete. I’m not the god of lifting weights but I did coach my brother and friend to 2 gold medals in powerlifting way the hell back in 2004 (when I still believed in weights).

You are welcome to disagree with my theories but I wouldn’t want you to think for one second that I did not try everything seriously (weights, no weights, iso, plyo, etc). My body is predominantly fast twitch so every sport I’ve been involved in was almost always training for power. I trained for power under various methods by different coaches for different sports. I think if people were still to insist on the potential of lifting weights for power, I would hope they didn’t make the same mistakes I did. Ultimately, I wasted a lot of time focusing in the wrong direction. For all those who will listen, finding out whether or not weight lifting will increase power is not the right direction.

vato loco June 17, 2012 at 5:28 pm

To be completely fair to Pudzianowski his first MMA fight was against a former champion in Tim Sylvia. And while his huge muscles surely played a part in his getting gassed so quickly, that and not to mention trying to lift a resisting man as large as Sylvia, no doubt anxiety caused him to gas also. We all know that the man surely had to feel apprehension as any normal human being does facing ANYONE in a fight where another man’s goal is to either knock you unconscious, or hurt you as bad as possible. Of course even if Pudz had no fear of Sylvia he still would experience the anxiety of being out of his element and worrying about performing badly whether he won or lost. Also it is much easier to hit someone with large boxing gloves on than those tiny MMA gloves. As far as Pudz’s punching power, well he didn’t send any of his opponents flying ala early Mike Tyson but who is to say how hard he punches if you haven’t been hit by him. How many times have you seen a person get hit while viewing a fight live or on tv where the punch didn’t look like all that much but it puts the other guy to sleep. Say what you want about Pudz but at least he had the guts to enter an event completely knew and foreign to him and take on not just any opponent but a former world champion who stands several inches taller and had tons of more experience. Now how good do you think Sylvia would do in a Strong Man contest against Pudz? Say what you will about Pudz but he performed better than James Toney did and that’s a fact. Former boxer Art Jimmerson was a world class Cruiser and he was submitted Royce Gracie in like a couple of minutes.

vato loco June 17, 2012 at 5:30 pm

whoops, that’s submitted BY Royce Gracie

buenos noches senor

trevybear88 June 18, 2012 at 4:51 am

I think that the original intent of this article was to say that your time and energy could be better spent by doing plyometrics etc..? Through my experiences and having lifted weights and or trained boxing martial arts for most of my life I would have to agree. I do think that 2 boxers of equal technique and equal in all areas except that one lifts weights (for power) the one lifting weights will be the better fighter so long as he has not compromised his speed!!! You can of course develop great strenghth/power by doing plometrics etc.. Either way I have leared alot from the various posts from both sides of the debate. To sum up You can propably punch harder by lifting heavy weights correctly but probably not that much harder and your time/energy could be better spent bearing in mind how taxing lifting heavy is on your body/mind!!! Do you guys agree or not? I .look forward to your replies. Cheers

Johnny N June 19, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Don’t try to compare athletes in this manner: “puncher that lifts weights” VS “puncher that doesn’t lift weights”

Think of it more as “conditioned puncher” vs “conditioned lifter”.

vato loco June 18, 2012 at 6:08 am

I would have to agree that lifting weights even done PROPERLY probably will have little effect on someone’s punching power, it might help somewhat but MAYBE the individual would achieve better results from chopping wood(many fighters swear by this) or swinging a sledgehammer. Rocky Marciano stated that throwing punches in a pool in shoulder deep water did wonders for his already formidable power. Of course their are people who think the heavy bag will improve power especially if you keep progressing to larger bags even ones as heavy as 200lbs or more. I’ve never heard anyone come up with an ironclad method of increasing punching power so therefore I would say for the most part punchers are born and not made. You want to talk about technique, but any professional boxer knows how to throw a punch but not all can punch hard. Even the wood chopping exercise doesn’t really give you a powerful punch although it might help. Ali always chopped wood in training and while he was a great fighter nearly all of his opponents said he wasn’t that great of a puncher. I would end by saying this that proper weight training/lifting probably helps as much/or almost as much at increasing power as other methods like chopping wood, learning technique, plyometrics, or heavy bag, etc.

Daniel June 18, 2012 at 8:37 am

Everybody knows on theory, but can he do it during a fight?Can every boxer throw a punch in the right moment, at the right place?Can he throw it after 9 rounds of war, with blood in the eyes and broken nose?This is the moment when the courage, heart, mental state and experience take a role.And these qualities has developed at the boxing gym.Ali wasnt hardest puncher, but he was very fast and accurated and that was enough to knock out people :).In MMA almost everybody lift weights…but not everybody can knock out people.I thinks they are good example for that the technique and the skills are more important, then the physical develpment.

Vato Loco June 18, 2012 at 8:44 am

I think the real reason that all the legendary trainers of boxing have been against weight training for their fighters is how the added muscle will effect a fighter’s stamina and POSSIBLY speed. Not to mention it could make the fighter gain weight and make it that much harder to cut weight to fight against fighters his own size. It’s hard to get stronger without adding at least some muscle and size to go along with it and some xtra muscle could be a detriment to the fighter. The whole mass x speed x blah blah blah theory also doesn’t work for the most part. One of the hardest punchers in the Heavyweight division of all time was little more than an overblown Lt. Heavyweight named Rocky Marciano. Marciano weighed about 184-187lbs in shape and had tremendous power whereas there have been huge heavyweights like Buster Mathis who was a pure boxer without much power. Leverage is a key component I believe in punching power and Marciano’s short arms alloted him tremendous power especially in close to deliver his blockbuster punches.

trevybear88 June 18, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Yeah levarage will almost certainly play a significant roll in punching for the same reason why bodybuilders and weightlifters are often (myself included)not the best arm wrestlers! Biomechnics are more significant to an arm wrestler. @Daniel. You mentioned Ali not being the hardest puncher. Mayweater is the same i.e Although he doesnt try to take someones head off with huge punches, his punches DO cause alot of damage because of his timing, accuracy etc.. in other words ‘great boxing skills’

Vato Loco June 18, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Marciano also had thick strong legs which he developed by doing hill sprints. He would sprint up the hill and jog backwards doing countless repeats over and over. This no doubt helped his power and gave him tremendous stamina. He was probably the finest conditioned fighter ever. You’re spot on about arm/wrist wrestlers. Some of the top arm/wrist wrestlers do have muscular physiques but nothing like a bodybuilder. Probably the most well known arm/wrist wrestler John Brzenk said that the most important exercise for a arm wrestler is pullups. Another common trait in the elite arm wrestlers is huge hands as well as great grip strength. Punchers are kind of like hard throwing baseball pitchers or guys who have rocket arms whether throwing a baseball or football. There are no standard rules on how these guys developed their skills at throwing a baseball hard or punching hard. All pitchers go through the same training, just as most all boxers basically train the same way. But some pitchers will throw 95-100+ an hour fastballs and some are hard pressed to get in the upper 80’s. Just as punchers come in all shapes and sizes so do the “power” pitchers in baseball. Some things just can’t be taught.

J June 18, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Vato Loco let me clear things up with this reference

Vato Loco June 18, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Thanks J,

And I agree with Ross’s article completely. It’s basically saying what I’ve been saying all along, albeit more definitive and more detailed. If a fighter puts on a weight vest to do plyos, roadwork, hill sprints, or pushups, he is in fact doing weight or strength training. Perhaps most weight training by a fighter should be done “dynamically” as Ross alluded to, instead of heavy 1-3 rep maximum lifts which not only probably wouldn’t benefit the fighter much but could also cause some injuries. I’m no expert on weights or weight training for fighters like Ross Enamait but probably the best form of weight or strength training a fighter could do would be “dynamic” or speed training. Say where a fighter picks a relatively light weight say for the bench press, maybe about 50% of his 1-rep max and do many sets of maybe just 5-7 reps and concentrate not on how much weight is being lifted but how fast they can move that weight. I wouldn’t think high rep sets of 15-20 reps would benefit a fighter much if at all either, other than maybe increasing a fighter’s size.

J June 19, 2012 at 1:06 am

give it a try loc seriously man experience is the best teacher, get 5 pounds and do curls for a minute each hand, and see how you feel afterwards

Daniel June 19, 2012 at 2:16 am

lol no one from the ”anti-weight” guys didnt said ”no strenght training” 🙂 . plyos, push ups, hills ,roadwork is strenght training, not weight lifting 🙂

Haines June 20, 2012 at 3:49 am

Hi Johnny,
Interesting post but unfortunately you kinda miss the point with this.
First of all you don’t take into accounts the needs of each individual athlete. Heavy weight lifting in the 1-5 rep range with limited sets is a good way to build absolute strength without adding mass particularly if you have a fast excentric phase.
Some athletes particularly beginners are deficient in strength in certain areas and this can contribute to a lack of performance.
Secondly the demands of each of the body parts are different in a punch. I will use the arms and legs as examples for this.
This points to a difference between strength, speed and rate of force development.
In a punch the hand and arm are essentially unweighted (just the arm and glove) and moving extremly fast. The ability to express force in a muscle is proportionate to the time under muscular tension and due to a punch being fast this limits the amount of force the muscle can apply. This follows and agrees with your theory that lifting weights (heavy) does not add to your punching power.
Incidently adding a small load and low reps at maximum speed can increase this quality, the important thing with this is to perform movement that are specific to the action (such as a one arm bench press) but not the action itself with added weight ie hold a dumbell while punching as this will disturb the skill of the regular action.
The legs however are moving the body in total in a short period of time.
This means that rate of force development is important as the weight being moved is moderate and we want to move as quickly as possible.
The limiting factor of rate of force development is often maximum strength and will improve with heavy weight training designed to improve this.
This is due to the percentage of maximum that your bodyweight represents to your maximum strength, if your are insufficiently strong then a fast movement using the legs could be up to 70% of your maximum strength. If this is the case then a strength focused program will increase the strength and thus reduce the percentage of your maximum and in fact at lower levels of athletes rate of force development is proportional to maximum strength, therefore a beginer would be well advised to undertake a max strength program for the initial part of training. In fact it is used by the female jamaican sprint team (and they definitely are not slow)
Once the body reaches a certain strength this amount of maximum will fall to the 30%-50% range, at this range the rate of force development is not proportional to an increase in maximum strength and a program of either plyometrics or explosive lifts (snatches, cleans etc) will improve this ability.

There are other qualities which i haven’t addressed such as speed endurance and strength endurance, however this is a comment not an article.

In summary.
A basic strength program can improve athletic ability particularly in a beginner.
In an explosive sport there reaches a point of diminishing or nil returns for maximum strength development.
There is a difference between speed and strength speed.
Each athlete has individual requirements and these need to be analysed before designing a program and what is right for one person is not right for another.
Be carefull with adding weight to existing techniques such as holding dumbells when punching as this can disturb the neural pathways
Development of correct technique is most important thing in any sport.

Johnny N June 22, 2012 at 3:26 am

The only thing I agree with is your summary but the whole explanation above that, although highly logical, is full of holes.

For one example: punching cannot be compared to sprinting because with sprinting your body is actually being moved away from its position. With punching, your body must stay grounded in place or else you will bounce off your opponent during a hard punch. (Likewise you wouldn’t even be able to generate a hard punch if your body wasn’t grounded…kinda like trying to punch hard while suspended in the air.)

Anyway, I’d rather not invest anymore time discussing the topics of weights. Thank you for the detailed comment.

Keith September 7, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Sorry but what Haines said is true.Over all better limit strength in regards to your body weight will make you a better puncher IF your skill training in proper punching is good as well.Take shot-put as an example if not sprinting.Either way all things being equal as long as your weight training mimics the needs and forces of your sport (BOXING) and you train in proper punching technique,you will punch harder! Sorry but this topic has pretty much been put to rest a long time ago.The real issue is that people keep BODYBUILDING and using lifts that build up their body in ways that are not useful for the sport of boxing.Good weight lifting exercises for boxing would be:
1.Squats 2. Snatches 3. clean & Jerks 4.Shot putting 5.One Arm Bench press(Incline as well)
6.Front Lever Presses 7.Bent Over Rows 8.One Arm standing Presses 9.One Arm Push Presses
10.Resistance band Punches.
Pretty much any lift that will build up the CNS and the muscles that perform the movement of punching but will not build up useless bulk.Like an Olympic Lifter!I mean you can even buy a book about this by a guy names Ross Enamait. Google Him if you need to. Over All the article was incorrect. What he should have said was that you need to exercise your ability to “snap” .
Not to stop lifting heavy weight all together.HEAVY weights done correct use the same muscle fibers fast explosive lifting does, which is the same muscles fibers punching uses.but you need to train things at the right time.So if all you do is power lifting your not going to be a good boxer. Cause most of your training is weight lifting not boxing.If you did some of the exercises listed by me in the training format that Haines put forth as long as your training in this manner is only 30-40% of your training and the other 60-70% was good boxing and punching technique you will hit harder and better! PERIOD!

This is just a place to look around and see how wrong you are on this topic!


The Freak September 7, 2012 at 8:25 pm

The single-arm dumbbell incline bench press seems like it would be an excellent exercise for boxers to adopt IF they weight train. The exercise mimics a punch somewhat and being that you’re using one arm at a time it strongly activates the core. Personally I really don’t buy into the whole Olympic lifts being that sports specific to boxing, but they are overall good strength and conditioners. I’ve seen clips of Soviet fighters from the eighties performing limited exercises with pretty light weights, however. One of the movements was where the fighter would take a light barbell and thrust it out horizontally repeatedly at a brisk pace from his upper chest to full extension of his arm. Don’t know what you call this exercise but it resembled a standing vertical bench press. The other exercise you see many MMA fighters do is where you take barbell loaded on one end and rotate the trunk and arms twisting side to side, don’t know what this exercise is called either.

Johnny N September 10, 2012 at 10:51 pm

Yes, I’m very familiar with Ross. He’s an awesome guy…and also linked to my site. 🙂

The topic of weights and boxing was never put to rest. On one side is where I (and most boxing trainers stand), with the feeling that weights does little if anything for punching power. On the other side, is the strength and conditioning coaches who feel weights improve punching power. I don’t worry about the science because I spent my time on both sides. All I care about is the best possible result.

Anyways. What I wrote in this article is my opinion…and you have every right to disagree. 😉

The Freak June 20, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Is there any exercises that can decrease punching power? Bro’, I’ve ran all the other heavyweights out of my gym. I just maybe the hardest puncher to ever walk the face of this earth. I can’t get any sparring in because even when I tap these guys they go flying all over the ring.

Johnny N June 22, 2012 at 3:18 am

Hahaha! Maybe you can practice leaning away from your opponent when you punch. Problem solved!

5DragonNinjutsu June 27, 2012 at 11:04 am

I am a diehard martial artist. I’ve been studying Ninjutsu for twenty eight years. I’ve been studying and practicing a bit of boxing as of late since I train for the streets and real life altercations. I’ve found that martial arts isn’t always necessary in most street fights and straight up boxing skills are really all you need. However, the real purpose for my comment is to say that one of the hallmarks of a true warrior is humility.

I can tell/sense that you know what you’re talking about and that you’re not just talking for the glory. Only warriors can be this way. I’ll keep on peeping your articles because I like your vibe and style and it’s refreshing to see another warrior whose discipline has made him both humble and truly powerful. It’s what a warrior doesn’t do (when he could) that differentiates him from those loud mouth, YouTube thug, MMA violence promoting bullies. Thanks.

Mziggy June 28, 2012 at 11:01 am

Well written article! I have a question regarding balancing boxing (which I am a newbie at most of my striking is karate/taekwondo based) with the lifting I want to do for the heavyweight grappling I will be doing at my MMA club. Is there a good balance between getting the pushing power needed for grappling and ground work and not hindering the fluidity of my strikes?

Johnny N July 1, 2012 at 11:46 am

I’m not an experienced grappler so I really have no idea. From what I know, good grappling technique is about relying on leverage instead of pushing strength. If you have to push, you will be countered when a better grappler uses your own momentum to take advantage of your limbs. Anyway, I really don’t know.

Vato Loco June 29, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Even Freddie Roach states “that punchers are BORN and not MADE.” So not only will weights not help punching power much, but neither will “technique,” plyos, heavy bag, hitting a tire with a sledgehammer etc.

Joseph June 29, 2012 at 9:10 pm

Hi Johnny I want to say I completely agree with your points of lifting weights not mixing well with boxing. I know from personal experience. Before I took up boxing I lifted from the age of 15-19. I was horrible when I started. Now 8-9 months later I’m leagues better but I stopped lifting weights completely. Anyway my question is can you explain how a fighter could go about fixing his technique so that he no longer pushes his punches. This is a complaint I always heard from my trainer when he saw me punching the heavy bag but I never understood what he meant by pushing and not snapping until now from reading some comments above.

Joseph June 29, 2012 at 9:58 pm

Just realized you already had an article explaining the snap.

Johnny N July 1, 2012 at 11:46 am

Yeaup, that’s the one! 😉

vvtill June 30, 2012 at 6:35 am


Just out of my curiosity, but why mike tyson is so muscular and recently he even lift weight and build muscle?And most of the heavyweight world champion were muscular.

Vato Loco June 30, 2012 at 8:27 am

A lot of those past heavyweight champions built plenty of muscle doing calisthenics, throwing medicine balls, heavy bag, chopping wood, etc. Then again they were naturally bigger and more muscular being heavyweights. There have been rumors Tyson might have been taking steroids also, and I don’t believe Tyson ever lifted weights until after his release from prison, even though he reportedly did hundreds of reps of shoulder shrugs with an extremely light barbell of bout 50-55lbs, along with dips, pushups, and pullups. Ken Norton stated he never lifted weights while boxing, and he certainly looked like at least a part-time bodybuilder in his upper body. There are plenty of natural mesomorphs especially in contact sports like boxing, wrestling, and football, that is why they are successful at those sports. Look at Joe Frazier, he had thighs like a fullback, but yet he never performed a squat(at least not a barbell squat) in his life.

Johnny N June 30, 2012 at 11:32 am

Vato, I owe you for fielding all these questions. You explain it better than I could. Thanks, mang.

Brawn July 10, 2012 at 6:59 pm

I saw Iron Mike Tyson in a biographical video deadlifting 600 pounds for multiple reps in his prime, before Gus died. Thanks for the great site Johnny!

Pootism June 30, 2012 at 8:40 pm

True on most points, although bigger arms land harder than smaller arms it’s not going to be a big difference.

Punching is about Explosive Speed, Lifting Weights is about Strength. I don’t understand where people are getting this “Lift weights for non strength sports” stuff. Plyometrics can make you punch harder, but you’re not lifting weights like a typical Muscle Man at that point.

Now don’t get me wrong, Liftings weights is not a waste of time. In my experience Resistance Strength translates into one badass wrestler, After 5 years of Bodybuilding none of my friends could handle me in the ring. I’m just saying all that Resistance Strength doesn’t translate into hard punches. If you lifters get in a fight you’d be better off Body slamming your opponent and breaking his arm or trying to hit him with a 150lb blunt object than trying to out box him.

In Conclusion, don’t hate on each other Boxers and My fellow lifters. Aknowledge what you don’t have, and respect the other Man for what he does have and just keep doing what you love.

Johnny N July 1, 2012 at 1:07 pm

I disagree that bigger arms land harder than smaller arms. It’s not true at all. As for bodybuilding. Bodybuilding is the wrong idea for boxing because if you dare stack on muscle, you will end up fighting someone who is naturally a bigger weight class than you and he will STILL hit harder than you. But yes, everybody love everybody!

Mark Tomkins February 13, 2014 at 2:25 pm

I think that bigger arms do land harder than smaller arms by virtue of their weight Johnny. I think there are places where the weight can be distributed on the body that somewhat affect punching power, arms being one of them, back being another.

But I also think big arms is a hindrance to overall boxing performance costing speed and endurance.

Johnny N March 4, 2014 at 6:23 pm

I won’t argue with your logic but I’d be curious to see how you explain Tommy Hearns and Julian Jackson. There are many more like them as well. Even if bigger arms do land harder than smaller arms, I think the difference would be much lower in priority than all the other variables.

I’d also be thinking that the guy with the bigger arms would be at a disadvantage because that means the rest of his body has less weight compared to the guy with lighter arms… and when you consider that the body is generating the power and not the arms…it would make a lot of sense. It also matters that the arm is lighter because that means it can travel at a higher velocity using the same force than a heavier arm.

Ultimately, I’ve seen successful champions (both powerful AND fast) with both big arms and small arms. So it doesn’t really matter so much. And besides, that’s not something you can change anyway. It’s genetic.

Vato Loco July 1, 2012 at 7:08 am

Boxers who lift weights aren’t lifting to improve punching power, they’re lifting weights to improve strength and conditioning. Boxing isn’t considered a “strength sport” but strength can be a valuable asset to have along with speed, stamina, flexibility, etc. I saw a clip of Timothy Bradley cleaning and push pressing a 135lb barbell with chains on each end. Now considering Bradley probably weighs about 150-155lbs when he’s not cutting weight, that is an impressive feat for a man his size who isn’t a weightlifter. Granted Bradley isn’t much of a puncher, but he’s not lifting weights to improve his punching power, but rather he’s lifting for strength, explosiveness, and conditioning. Barbell clean and push presses will improve your cardio, strength, and general conditioning. MAYBE you can improve punching power through better technique, plyos, or even weights to some degree, but when all is said and done, no method is going to make a powerful puncher out of someone who wasn’t born with a punch.

Smurf July 4, 2012 at 11:30 am

Vato Loco can you send me a link where timothy bradley is doing the clean and press, if you can thank you it’d be muchly appreciated.

Vato Loco July 4, 2012 at 2:32 pm


Just google up Youtube HBO Boxing: Portrait of A Fighter-Timothy Bradley.
The guy got a gift decision but he seems like a humble, well spoken guy nonetheless.

Joaquin July 4, 2012 at 10:39 am

I have had my wins and my losses and have learned from all of them. I have trained “old school” and “new school” and have a found that whatever works for each individual fighter is what should be done. I agree that punchers are born and not made cuz if not the proof would be whoever benches the most would be the world champion. Plyometric programs some with weights and some without have helped me the most. Plyo bench presses did increase the explosiveness in my punches because speed is power. I strength train and do plyos two days a week but it took me a long time to find what worked best for me. If you want to be a good boxer then you got to pay those dues in the gym just like a marathoner will only improve by running. I had 86 amatuer and 23 professional fights and still am always finding ways to improve myself. Love the website Johnny!

Smurf July 4, 2012 at 11:22 am

I agree with joaquin, i never once said you need heavy weights or some kind of superior training program. As i stated once before there is no magic pill or routine of training i find whatever works for the individual is the way to go, whether they use heavy weights or not! and remember a lot of the great boxers were gifted athletes and were naturally strong and athletic, to me these type of boxers don’t really need to weight train. The best way to become a better boxer is to actually do the sport, there is no other way around it, weight training is for supplementation!

Chris July 5, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Sorry but you said it yourself speed x force = power

Increase maximum strength = increase force, then you convert it to power.
This is standard in any periodization model which is one of the most dominant models in training for sports.

Heavy weight lifting with the attempts of lifting with acceleration will recruit more fast twitch fibres.

Not recommended for the rookie athlete but for someone with experience in strength training or who goes through an adaptation phase, the maximal strength phase is critical to increase power.

Luis July 6, 2012 at 2:58 pm

I’ve heard of the equation E=mc2
M = Mass obviously and C = speed
I’m thinking that there is probably an optimal combination of speed and mass. If you are too skinny or too heavy then you might be able to increase punching power by gaining more or less weight. This depends on the individual. This is assuming that the individual already has strong boxing skills but simply ways too little or too much. You would have to keep testing your punching power as you gain or lose weight. Once you see your punching power decrease then you know that you have lost/ gained too much weight.

Luis July 6, 2012 at 3:03 pm

In other words, losing weight will only give you a certain amount of speed. You could drop to 100lbs but you won’t become a lightning fast hard hitter because you have sacrificed too much mass which is a big part of the equation.

E = mc^2

If you put on too much weight then you have sacrificed too much speed which is a big part of the equation.

J July 7, 2012 at 4:46 am

i would like to explain my opinion on mass, the mass is your fist clinched up in a ball and the speed is the arm, the power comes mostly from the core, the arms just guide along, there is no right way or wrong way we can spend hours looking up theories and counter theories but at the end of the day reality is its what works best for you no two fighters are hardly the same

Vato Loco July 6, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Don’t matter how much mass is in the equation. A bee ain’t big but if it stings you it will put knots on yo’ @ss. Bob Fitzsimmons weighed only 167lbs and was knocking out men well over 200lbs. It ain’t mo’ bounce to the ounce, ese, it be all bout the pop & lock, comprende.

Andrew July 7, 2012 at 10:44 am

Most bees deliver a unique but mild venom when they sting, and this causes a localized reaction that describe the knots that you mentioned. Also, in honey bees, there is a rupture in the bees’ bodies that is created when the stinger is left behind, ultimately killing the bee. But yeah Fitzsimmons was insane in the ring. Had one of the best punches in boxing history. Comprendo.

Puncherr July 6, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Have a read of ‘Charles Poliquin’s work who is a strength and conditioning expert. Lifting heavy can be GOOD for boxers if done correctly of course. Not saying anything about punching power here,

Vato Loco July 7, 2012 at 7:47 am

If the core does indeed provide most of the power generated in punching power than weight training could provide help in increasing punching power. Overhead Squats which work the core muscles(which include the low back, and hips) as well as the shoulders and increase your flexibility at the same time. It is said an extremely “fit” person should work up to a goal of being able to Overhead Squat their bodyweight for 12-15 reps. Now 12-15 reps certainly doesn’t qualify something into the “heavy” lifting category but 12-15 reps in the Overhead Squat will test your stamina, balance, flexibility, and core & shoulder/upper back strength. Shoulder flexibility and especially shoulder endurance is important in boxing and many sports and you will increase both with the Overhead Squat. Start out with just your bodyweight and hold your arms in a upraised position as if you have a barbell overhead, next graduate to a broomstick or an empty barbell. Progress very slowly in this exercise and be sure to squat deep and not some half @ss half squat. Like I said only elite fitness freaks or weightlifters are capable of handling anything remotely heavy in this exercise so don’t think or try to think of this being an exercise to load up tons of weight on. Add on some weighted situps and hyperextensions with the weight held behind the head and not the easier version of holding it to your chest. Place a medicine ball between your feet and do leg raises.

Vato Loco July 7, 2012 at 9:05 am

Martial arts expert and fitness guru Steve Cotter gives an excellent demonstration on variations of the bodyweight version of the Overhead Squat just google on Youtube “OH Squat Mobiltiy .”

Brian Baertlein July 10, 2012 at 4:00 am

Hi Johnny N!
My favorite book is called Periodization Training for Sports 2nd Edition by Tudor O. Bompa, PhD. I just got the 5th Edition but have not read it yet. This material is tough to read but worth it. You sound like a smart guy. Thanks for the head gear review. These books are all science based. I have been weight training for 35 years. I am a 3 time world powerlifting champion and now a strength and conditioning coach for amateur boxers. I am a certified in personal training and martial arts conditioning. I disagree with a few points.
1. Punching is a snapping motion Not a pushing motion.
I don’t know how successful you were in powerlifting. I did not just push the weight I accelerated it. This is different to the central nervous system. Yes, punching is a snapping motion but you have to be able to apply force to start the snapping motion. When you crack a whip the higher the force applied to the handle the faster the business end will go.
2. Powerful Punches Require Relaxation, NOT Strong Muscles.
My version of the most powerful punch I learned while powerlifting. My best competition bench press is 460# at 181lbs. Just like a punch the bench press starts at the floor. When you bring the bar down to the chest I recommend pausing the bar. I would have boxing and powerlifting clients do the same thing. By pausing it helps them get their timing down. They fire from the floor with their legs the kinetic chain goes through their body and if timed properly will be able to explode the bar off their chest. I can get 500 lbs half way up using this technique and still keep my butt on the bench. When a boxer throws a punch it starts from the floor and it is the summation of forces that has the power. Another way to say this is push off the floor with your foot, hips, torso, shoulders and out your fist. Yes keep your hand loose until just before contact. If you clinch your fist your apposing muscles will create your own resistance and slow you down.
3. Lifting weights can decrease your relaxation capability.
Weight lifting doesn’t teach you how to relax, and doesn’t help you practice that type of movement.

These are two different skills like comparing apples and oranges. One does not detour from the other.

4. The Weight Behind Your Punches is NOT Your Muscle.
Without muscle your body can’t do anything. See answers 1 and 2.

5. Punching Power Doesn’t Guarantee Damage Delivered.
Yes punching is a skill to be learned. There is no sport including powerlifting that doesn’t require skill.
Power = force X velocity
If you do not lift weights you will plateau. In order to improve power you have to increase the force or the velocity. The weight of your hand will always be the same.
I believe you do have a hell of punch and I think you got more out of your powerlifting than you think. I know that I would not want to be punched by myself.
Why do you think so many fighters are on steroids? Or athletes in general.

Johnny N July 10, 2012 at 10:54 am

Nice reply, Brian. I love scientific explanations and here are my responses:

1. Punching is a snapping motion, not a pushing motion. This is a matter of punching technique. If you want to throw push punches, then yes–lifting weights will help you PUSH harder. However, a push punch won’t be anywhere near as deadly as a snapping punch. And if you want to develop a snapping punch, heavy weight lifting is not the way to go about it.

2. Again, this is a matter of technique. If you want to punch by pushing everything around–go ahead. You will only get tired and STILL not be able to punch very hard because that’s not the right mindset. However, if you learn to punch by relaxing, you will experience more speed, more endurance, and MORE POWER! (Even by the argument that velocity = speed times mass, how are you going to have speed if you push? The more relaxed guy will burst quicker…this is also the case with sprinters, etc. All the guys who load will always be slower and less powerful than the ones with an instant snap.)

3. Yes, lifting weights CAN decrease your relaxation capability if you train yourself to punch by exerting force, as opposed to punching by relaxing. Even the fact that so many fighters already believed that lifting weights increases their punching power is already proof to me that they don’t really understand how punching works. It’s not a simple acceleration equation combined with a simple movement of the fist from A-to-B…. (actually, it CAN be that simple if you want to think of it that way. Or you can take the more advanced approach).

4. If you’re an unskilled puncher, you use the muscles to BECOME THE WEIGHT. If you’re a skilled puncher, you use the muscles to DIRECT THE WEIGHT.

5. If you do not lift weights you will plateau. Semi-true yes and no. If you increase force or velocity in an ineffective way such as from muscles developed via weight lifting, you will experience less power increase than if you developed muscles in a movement more akin to punching. It’s a hard concept to discuss but a punch LOOKS like a push but it doesn’t function the same. (Punching does not require you overcome so much static friction at the beginning of the movement.)

– “I think you got more out of your powerlifting than you think.”
—- my answer: powerlifting helped to give me confidence when I first started boxing. I was definitely stronger than the average kid and punched harder than the average kid. But then I was still getting outclassed by the pure boxers. Then I stopped lifting weights like everyone in the gym told me to do and WOW, what a difference. Now of course, I wasn’t just stopping weight lifting…I also stopped punching like a weight lifter. I had to learn completely NEW punching technique and NEW training methods before I was able to grow beyond my previous results with weights. Now that I know, I don’t waste my time with HEAVY weights anymore–it’s that simple. (It’s been 10 years since I did heavy weight lifting and my punches are 3 times harder even when I’m not in shape. I think I made the right choice. :))

– “Why are so many fighters on steroids?”
—- my answer: not all fighters are taking banned substances for boosted strength…some of them are using substances to boost their endurance (red blood cell count, etc).

Ultimately, I’m not going to argue with your logic but I will say just as I had for all other comments…I’m using different punching technique that utilizes my body differently. If people want to punch like a simple pushing movement, go ahead. But if they want to REALLY REALLY learn how to punch–they better start understanding that a punch is so much more than a simple velocity equation.

saber khan July 10, 2012 at 1:20 pm

hey johny, just a few ideas i thought of. played cricket, swinging a bat and throwing a ball. tensing up is the worst thing to do. imagine a baseball batter or pitcher tensing up. in medicine it’s called increased tone and cogwheel rigidity when people have too tense arms. it’s in parkinson’s patients and ppl with the disease become soooooo slow. in boxing speed kills, and standard weightlifting kills speed if one makes it a habit. i think a snap punch and a push punch are different based on the velocity when they reach the target. both are as stiff as they can be when they land but the snap punch is totally relaxed until the moment of reaching, therefore being faster less tiring easier to change aim. and i dont think lifting weights makes a naturally powerful puncher worse as a puncher. except for losing a little something with speed. it helped me a little because heavy weights initially made my hands stronger, my ability to stand the impact of my punch better. i went to lifting cuz i want power too.

today i just mock sparred with a friend, a weightlifter who has no training fighting, just a 180 pounder whose punches were slow and i was showing him how to slipping and parry. when he landed, i realised he barely put any of his full bodyweight just the muscles he was using into the punch. and while shots he landed did hurt, i was thinking `wow what a STUPID way to create power, so much wasted effort, so much muscle power, so much time lifting all those weights.’
not being disrespectful to body builders here, what im saying is my friend was generating half the power he should have with the ridiculous effort he was putting in. so there’s less weight behind the punch, its slower. its the natural way amateurs punch. does a guy who can do 200 pound dumb bells curls create the same force doing the motion without the dumbbell ? i dont think so. i think muscles respond to different weight loads with different amounts of force produced. so unless theres resistance he’s not getting any of that awesome benefit of being able to do 200 pounds, probably the effect of doing 5 or 10 pounds or 20 max. he cant get his muscles to work harder when there’s nothing on the other side at the same speed.

but boxers try to put all their weight into a shot, which is never 100%. we’re using bodyweight as the load. the difference between snapping a whip from the middle vs snapping it from the handle. the more the length of whip the harder the whack and the faster it is (exponentially).
theoreticallty if someone increased the speed with which they used their muscles (the speed of the fist) while still connecting their bodyweight as well as before, their power will get better. if they were heavier at the same weight their power will get better. i dont think the speed of bodyweight movement improves by doing heavy weights fast or medium weight somewhat explosively. for me power increases by increasing the resistance of punch motions while getting the same or greater speed while increasing the weight.
resistance slows down speed, so we have to compensate by getting faster. and more weight is only useful if we achieve the same speed. and get that extra weight on our bodies when we’re in the fight. more speed, more weight behind the punch and more actual bodyweight can increase power (apart from timing etc). ill assume a weightlifter boxer knows how to still put weight behind the punch. but medium to heavy weights cant be done fast enough to work on increased speed. even sprinter type medium heavy explosive lifts arent done fast enough. and one cant carry those weights into the fight they have to gain weight. so quite simply working out with any weight thats heavy enough to reduce speed somewhat i dont think it helps power. chopping wood banging tires are ways to get more strength more strong muscles. i dont think it helps power. the underwater punching marciano did would develop power if he focusedo n throwin those punches the same speed. just my own logic

frank cartwright September 12, 2013 at 10:39 pm

HELLO JOHNNY,I FEEL YOU CONTRADICT YOURSELF,YOU STATED:”If you want to throw push punches, then yes–lifting weights will help you PUSH harder. However, a push punch won’t be anywhere near as deadly as a snapping punch. And if you want to develop a snapping punch, heavy weight lifting is not the way to go about it.”PRACTICING THE “SNAP” IS WHAT YOU DO IN BOXING BUT ISN’T IT BETTER TO HAVE MORE PUSH FROM THE WEIGHTS TO CONVERT INTO A PROPER PUNCH? NEXT:”powerlifting helped to give me confidence when I first started boxing. I was definitely stronger than the average kid and punched harder than the average kid. But then I was still getting outclassed by the pure boxers.”AGAIN YOU ADMIT WEIGHTS MADE YOU PUNCH HARDER,NO ONE WITH HALF A BRAIN IS SUGGESTING IT WILL MAKE YOU A BETTER BOXER! LASTLY:”many fighters already believed that lifting weights increases their punching power is already proof to me that they don’t really understand how punching works.” WHEN YOU ALREADY STATED IT DOES INCREASE POWER!?!? I THINK YOU ARE CONFUSED,FIGHTERS OF ALL CLASSES THROUGH THE AGES HAVE DONE SOME FORM OF LIFTING OR DID

Daniel July 10, 2012 at 6:36 am

Why do you thinks so many heavy punchers dont lift weights and if they start to lift, will they punch harder?

Johnny N July 10, 2012 at 10:55 am

I figure they don’t lift heavy weights because they think it doesn’t help.

Joe Public July 15, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Dont forget to roll your shoulder over too as you come in for the punch, especially on jabs. In addition to making it a more powerful punch, its uses your shoulder as a natural guard against the counter hook and protects your chin. Too many boxers leave their chins exposed as they jab or come in.

J July 18, 2012 at 1:42 pm

“So Johnny are you saying to relax your whole body until the punch has almost reached the target THEN flex? I’m lost”(someone posted this but i cant recall the name my apologies poster) but back to this its good to flex your whole body at the second of impact? is that to make it a more solid punch johnny?

Johnny N July 18, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Not “flex”, it’s more like “contract explosively”. Timing all your muscles contractions together makes the punch more powerful.

Paulie July 23, 2012 at 1:03 pm

I agree about the heavy weights.

What rep range would you say is the best for weight training for boxing? I prefer simple olympic style lifts but not sure about reps, sets etc. Can you recommend a simple weight work out?

You say you punch hard but have you thought that the weights you did before boxing might have contrbuted to this power now? Just a thought.

Slightly off topic but related; how do you feel about running for boxing ? Barry McGuigan wrote a good article saying that the old ways of running miles and miles at a slow pace is counterproductive to a boxer. He recomends short 200m , 400 m type runs and no more than 3 times a week.

Heres the link, can’t do the hyperlink thingy


Johnny N July 23, 2012 at 1:16 pm

I would keep the rep range in the 15-20 range; sometimes I go into the 30-50 rep range. And no, I’m not going to write a whole weight-training program in this comment. It will be an article later when I get around to it. I touch weights maybe only 10% of the time in the gym so it’s among the least important things to me. Not only that but there are so many other good weight programs already out there…but very few good guides for boxing stuff so I’ll stick to the more important boxing stuff.

The weights before definitely do not help me now. I had to stop lifting weights for about 2 months before my body adapted more effectively to my boxing training. My body has changed and so has my physical abilities. I no longer have that raw strength from weight lifting, but I punch much more effectively. My punches are faster, more relaxed, more energy-efficient, and oh so much MUCH harder. I haven’t touched the benchpress is 5-6 years and neither does anybody else in the gym.

My punches are better now because of the changes I made in my technique as well as my physical conditioning. My body is better conditioned for boxing.

Running for boxing should be dynamic just as every other part of your boxing workout. Long miles and slow pace, short distance and fast pace–all of it needs to be used to prepare your body for any type of fight. Doing short sprints alone in itself won’t do you any good when you run into a guy who can take all your punches and he never stopped punching. A couple weeks ago, I went to my friend’s amateur fight and saw about 2-3 fights where both fighters NEVER stopped punching. In moments like that, you need long distance ability. I ran distances as long as 5 miles and sprinted distances as short as 50 meters, and of course I did every distance in between. I never stopped trying new things.

Keith September 15, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Well most explosive exercises (Snatch,Clean & Jerk,Power Snatch,Power Clean,Up hill Jump Squats) have you use weights that are relatively heavy for you but the reps must remain explosive.So what a lot of Explosive athletes do is they take a given weight that they can do for various rep ranges and do a few reps short of failure but for an extra few sets with longer rest periods.You can also do this with shorter rest periods but less weight or reps.An example is if you can usually do 5 reps of Power Cleans with a certain weight for the sake of speed training you would only do 2-3 reps with that weight.What you are trying to teach your nervous system to do is remain EXPLOSIVE on EVERY REP!
So if the speed of your reps slows down stop the set.Your either using to much weight,doing to many reps or taking short rest.This usually allows you to do 1 or 2 extra sets.If you want to condition you self in stead of adding weight as you get faster and more explosive you could slowly shorten the rest periods.An Example workout:

1.Power Cleans 5 sets 2-3 reps With a weight you could do for 5 reps.Must maintain speed above all else!!!
2.Up Hill Jump Squats Same as above.This exercise is good because you build up explosive power in the legs but by going up hill you don’t fall that far so this has very little impact on the knees! Usually You use a weight that is only 5-10% of what you use for power cleans.Once again if speed drops stop the set or even the exercise.You will only get slower and this does not teach your nervous system to be fast/explosive.
3.Medicine ball throwing Same as above reps and sets or if the weight is set (not able to go heavier) then for distance.This teacher’s you to push through with the legs Like a shot putter.
This speed and coordination will help a lot with punching.
4.Resistance Bands while doing punching drills helps as well.This doesn’t take a lot of resistance and you would do this the same as normal boxing drills but with more rest and shorter sets.You can actually practice perfect punching technique while slowly adding small amount of resistance.
5.Actually Punching mitts/Heavy bags with proper technique and sparring will teach the most on effective punching!If your Generally Powerful and Explosive but have poor technique you will never see your gym work pay off in punching ability!
6.Full Contact twist/Lever Pushes with the same rep/set ranges and recommend weight levels as other exercises above.(See a pattern here,lol)
7.Do exercises that mimic the technique of a good punch as closely as possible.If you spend most of your time doing an exercise that not punching your not likely to see huge results in punching power.

You would only do 2-3 of these exercises in one training session and the others on a second training session later in the week.This way you have plenty of time and energy to do Boxing/MMA related training….or just have a life out side of training, such as a job!


P.S.- Most trainers don’t realize that a one arm bench press or squatting is not a punch and will have their trainee’s do these more often then actually punching anything with good form.If you have Perfect punching form and get stronger and more explosive muscles then you will hit harder.If you get stronger and more explosive but lose skill/ability at punching you will not gain a more powerful punch, if anything you will lose power! You must build up your physical capabilities while maintaining perfect punching form.If you can’t punch right from the start adding power/strength to “bad punches” will make your “bad punches” worst!

Paulie July 23, 2012 at 1:04 pm

PS thanks fro article.

Paulie July 23, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Thanks for reply.

However you can’t say for sure the weight training didn’t help you.

Johnny N July 23, 2012 at 1:43 pm

LOL, yes I can.

I can say for sure that weight training decreased my effective punching ability. I was punching weaker than everybody else–even the ones who never lifted weights before. And then once I dropped the weights AND trained like a boxer, then my punching power increased to match everyone else. Even now without weight training, my punches are still getting stronger whereas before they weren’t getting any better even though I was able to lift heavier weights.

But this is only my story. You don’t have to follow me, you can find out for yourself. You’ll never know for sure until you try both. Try training with weights for 2 months and test it in sparring. Then try training without weights for 2 months and spar again. I was powerlifting for 2-3 years in a row when I started boxing. And my punches sucked ass, they were lacking that real snap. then I stopped lifting for only 2 months and WOW, what a difference. It’s not something you have to write down in a journal, you can feel and see the difference.

Carlson December 28, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Hello guys. I would like to ask You guys about exercises for boxing and i would like to gain some muscle mass with increasing the power punch (yes the bag is the key, hammering a tire?) What kind of exercises are good, best for boxing. Calisthenics is great? what about weights? Keetlebells, bench press? i think that bench pressing is not that good( not the real power) snatch, dead lift etc, push ups, pull ups, dips, but is it better to do dips with or without weights? I heard many times that weights make you slower etc at boxing. Deadlift, squats will make me bigger? I know that i did a lot of push ups- all variations but i cant get more muscles and gain weight. I like dips but what is the max weight i can add?

Johnny N January 9, 2014 at 1:23 pm

Different exercises improve different things about your body. Since you have many questions and seem to be missing a foundation, I would suggest for you to check out my “EASY Boxing Workout” and go from there.

Vato Loco July 23, 2012 at 1:50 pm

I’ve heard of boxers and wrestlers using a 100-rep system and of course complexes where the weight never leaves your hands and you perform 5-6 exercises for the total body for 5-7 reps for 5-7 cycles. The 100-rep system is where you perform 100 continous reps for each exercise. Barbell Squat Thrusters and The Barbell Bear Complex are great conditioners. I’ve heard while the old timers did do long distance running it was called roadwork for a reason. They didn’t just jog say 8-10 miles but they would run then drop and do various calisthenics, then maybe jog backwards, sideways, then sprint and then walk, all the while doing various other exercises and of course shadow boxing while they were running. Try jogging backwards up a steep hill. There is a big difference in ROADWORK and jogging.

Johnny N July 23, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Going backwards up a hill at the end of a workout is a KILLER! I give respect to anybody who does that. Brutal workout I used to do back in track & field.

Vato Loco July 23, 2012 at 2:41 pm

I always jog backwards going down hills after sprinting up the hill. I’ve heard jogging backwards down hills is easier on the knees. But one day I thought why not jog backwards up the hill for a couple repeats. My calves, quads, and arse were sore for days.

Paulie July 23, 2012 at 2:06 pm

don’t miss understand me, was not critising you. I just mean you’ll never know what you would have been like without the weights, as can’t turn back time. It could have given you a really good core base strength without realising it. I haven’t done much weights for years but I feel that I am much stronger as a person than I would have been if I’d done no weights.

Johnny N July 23, 2012 at 2:21 pm

I’m not misunderstanding you. I’m telling you I’m pretty damn sure the weights affected my body negatively. I don’t need to turn back time because I already trained from both ends of the spectrum and seen others who trained the opposite way I did and never touched weights. I got my core strength from other exercises, far different ones. Sure, the weights might have improved my core a tiny bit…but then I was able to improve my core far beyond that by doing other more sport-specific exercises.

I tried a lot of different things and I know very precisely how each one affected me. So I have to share what I know and tell you the HEAVY weight lifting affected me negatively. At best, it did nothing–at worst, it held me back. But I can’t give any power punching credit to the weight lifting. No way at all. It did wonders for my max strength back when I was lifting it, though. But as soon as I stopped, it went away. I can credit weights for giving my body a better response and adaptation capability for developing strength if I start lifting again. But for my power punching and true core strength today, I credit my success to other exercises.

– I agree that a person lifting weights will out-punch a person NOT lifting weights. But a person specifically trained for punching will out-punch a person lifting HEAVY weights. I would say it’s similar to comparing a long distance runner against a pure sprinter. The sprinter would out-sprint a distance runner, and distance runner would out-sprinter a non-runner. Whatever you do, the goal is to be more specific in your training. Whatever helps you along the way is great but you should always evolve past that.

Gil July 24, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Johnny Wrote:

“Ultimately, I wasted a lot of time focusing in the wrong direction. For all those who will listen, finding out whether or not weight lifting will increase power is not the right direction.”

I couldn’t agree more. I will not make this same mistake with boxing. For me, I’m simply sticking to old-school methods, save for my bodyweight routine and VERY light dumbells. If I need more “strength”, my body will let me know and I will adjust accordingly. As a beginner, my time is well invested in the basics. Simply put, boxing, wrestling and other sport specific skills are not made in the weight room.

Vato Loco July 24, 2012 at 5:12 pm

The only two professional boxers who I know of who had a extensive background of lifting weights or being an actual weightlifter were seventies light heavyweight Ray Elson who was a New York State champion and/or record holder in Olympic weightlifting before becoming a professional boxer. Elson wasn’t a world beater but he wasn’t all that bad either. Elson was vastly inexperienced when he took on all-time great light heavyweight world champion Victor Galindez in a non-title bout. Elson actually gave a pretty good account of himself considering the incredible odds he was up against. I believe “Viscious Victor” got Elson out of there in about 8 suprisingly competitive rounds. That fight is on Youtube last I checked. The other “former” lifter was ex-convict and now present day convict heavyweight Floyd “Jumbo” Cummings. Cummings was a fringe contender in the early eighties and his fights with Mitch Green, Frank Bruno, and Joe Frazier can be seen on Youtube. Cummings was the opponent who Frazier selected in an ill fated comeback attempt in late 1981. The Frazier-Cummings bout was ruled a draw but most felt the decision should have went to Cummings. Cummings actually laughed when Frazier landed his textbook left hook during one of the exchanges, clearly Frazier was past it and wisely retired for good. Cummings is also remembered by being featured on the eighties sports show “Sportsworld” where he was matched with fellow undefeated contender Renaldo Snipes. Both fighters were undefeated at the time and were looking to crack the top ten. Cummings would actually bite Snipes on the shoulder during the bout and also go on to lose a 10 round decision. Snipes would go on to fight Larry Holmes and actually floor Holmes before Holmes won on a controversial stoppage. Cummings would become a trial horse for the Brunos and Greens and eventually land back in prison. Like many old school convicts, Cummings built his massive physique in prison by hoisting iron for hours and years before being released for the first time. These men were muscular and strong weight trainees before becoming boxers. But there are countless boxers who have used weight training since the eighties for conditioning if not to improve punching power.

Daniel July 31, 2012 at 6:02 am
Johnny N July 31, 2012 at 10:01 am

Nice link Daniel. Mosley did a lot of weight lifting and power lifting when he was younger too…similar to Bradley today. It’s nice to hear another experienced weightlifter share his knowledge on weights and boxing.

These are the notable quotes from Shane Mosley I read below:
“And I learned that lifting too much weights isn’t good for a boxer anyway.

“I noticed that my knockout ratio went down when I was lifting. I stopped before I fought Fernando Vargas (in 2006) and I started knocking people out again. I just didn’t have the same snap on my punches.”

Daniel July 31, 2012 at 11:44 am

Vato how you really can mention this boxer?Cummings?He is nowhere to hard or fast puncher!His endurance sucks!The fight vs Frazier is his last fight at 1981!Really enough said

Eric August 1, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Both Elson and Cummings had winning records and both flirted with possible top ten rankings in the world. I wouldn’t call that too bad if you ask me considering one spent his youth training to be an Olympic style weightlifter and the other was an ex convict who had little if any formal boxing training. Both would retire with winning records and both fought world champions. Elson would fight not only Galindez, but also Eddie Mustapha Muhammad, and Michael Spinks, while Cummings would fight Tim Witherspoon, Frank Bruno, and Joe Frazier, all were world champions who either held an undisputed belt or at least part of a world title. Cummings would finish with a record of 15-6-1 with 13 knockouts against some pretty decent competition. I used Cummings and Elson as examples of fighters who had an extensive background with weight training or weightlifting before taking up the sport of boxing. Indeed Cummings huge weightlifter muscles did limit his stamina, but he also went the distance with Tim Witherspoon, Joe Frazier, and shook Frank Bruno before being stopped in the 7th round of their fight. I don’t care if it was December 1981 when Cummings fought Frazier, Frazier was still only 37 almost 38, but he was only 5 years removed from his last fight. Funny that’s the same link of time Jim Jeffries was away before taking on not a “fringe contender” like Cummings, but the actual world champion Jack Johnson, and Jeffries had to lose about 100lbs of blubber at that and was only a few years younger than Frazier. There have been scores of professional world ranked boxers who have lifted weights as part of their training, among them are of course Holyfield, Michael Spinks, Ray Mancini, Pernell Whitaker, Timothy Bradley, Vinny Pazienza, Frank Bruno, Earnie Shavers, George Foreman, Mike Tyson, Gerry Cooney, Randy Turpin, etc. etc,

Daniel July 31, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Hey Johny, this is something i`m thinking for a long time..Why is it that with all the advanced strength training boxers have today, they are not nearly as good as the fighters from the 70,80, and maybe 90’s? Every sport(sprinting,soccer, basketball) has advanced because of weight training, but boxing has not.What is your theory, what do you think?

Johnny N July 31, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Maybe it has less to do with weight lifting and more to do with the popularity of the sport. Back in the days, boxing was the premiere sport and so more people did it and it thrived from the better competition and produced stronger champions. Today’s youth are busy doing other sports. The best athletes usually go to other sports where they can earn more money.

Then again, I’m not sure I agree with you about basketball. We haven’t had another MJ or other greats like we used to have. Sure we have Kobe and Lebron and whoever but I’m not so sure today’s basketball players are better than yesterday’s. And I’m not even sure I could say that every sport has advanced due to weight lifting. Who’s to say that sprinting benefiting only from weight lifting and weight lifting alone? And even if it did, boxing has very little to do with sprinting. I would say boxing is a lot more like basketball. Lots of jerky movements and fast paced but then again, even basketball players are allowed to rest on their own terms when they get tired.

To me, there’s nothing advanced about modern strength training programs. The human body is the same as it was back in the days. The body is the same. We can push it and try to stimulate it in whatever way we want but it will only respond to a certain degree. Just because we invent new machines isn’t going to make our bodies more advanced. Sure, we might be able to stimulate it better but by how much? Resistance training is ultimately a matter of LOAD, ANGLE, and FREQUENCY. That’s all it is. You can keep calling it whatever you want, “new advanced xzy training system” and blah blah blah marketing hype but ultimately, it’s simply another combination of LOAD, ANGLE, and FREQUENCY.

I would say the previous boxers were far more informed. There were more boxers, they trained harder, for longer rounds, and knew of many more training methods. Ultimately they decided to stay away from weights not because the technology didn’t exist but because they didn’t like its affects. As a fighter today, you can choose to follow what previous successful boxers did or you can experiment with your own time and your own life. Maybe you end up wasting time because you didn’t obey past wisdom but maybe you’ll find uncover a new method that will give you advantages. I used to be the latter but then eventually realized improving was so much easier when I followed the wisdom of those before me. The choice is YOURS to make.

Al August 1, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Hmm. Just a few things I’d like to point out:

(1) I don’t think anyone will disagree that proper technique is essential to powerful punching. I fail to see how that’s really relevant to this conversation.

(2) The whole “oh weights will make you stiff/slow/tire more” argument has long been disproven as just an old wive’s tale. Proper weight training can make you more flexible and build stamina and speed in addition to making you stronger. If speed was unaffected by weight training you would not see so many athletes using them nowadays.

(3) Speaking of athletes – why if weight training is not of use to any of those athletes that use snapping motions (tennis/volleyball/baseball pitchers/golf) then why do so many of them use weights as a part of their training? Even when you were comparing a weightlifter to a dancer it’s interesting to point out that a lot of male dancers do tend to weight train as well.

(4) And if pushing movements and the like aren’t good for boxing then why later on in the article do you recommend those same movements just with light dumbbells and calisthenics? Seems to me doing a push-up is a pushing movement.

I can appreciate the opinion behind the article but it doesn’t have any basis for it other than sheer opinion. It’s well known nowadays that proper strength training is enormously beneficial to anyone looking to aim high in their athletic career. You won’t find many Olympians on TV right now that haven’t spend some time in the gym doing some kind of strength training.

Johnny N August 3, 2012 at 6:08 pm

1 – no disagreements here

2 – yes, building unnatural muscle CAN make you slower. Sure, you might be able to PUSH a weight faster, but you lose your raw speed because you literally have more of your body to move. This can also affect your stamina if the muscle you developed was for strength/power instead of endurance.

3 – volleyball/baseball pitchers/golf are completely different from boxing. They do not have to keep exerting the force as many times as a boxer and therefore have more room to build just pure strength. As for tennis players, I don’t know where you got the idea that tennis players lift heavy weights. I know they do strength & conditioning (using weights), but not heavy weight lifting.

4 – I never said pushing movements aren’t good for boxing. Please read the guide. I said true power punching is not a pushing movement. Now…resistance training (done through pushing movements) is still highly effective for regular conditioning!

Yes, the article is based on MY opinion (not yours). My opinion was built upon years of my own experience and learning from many others with their own opinions and their own experience. And yes, proper strength training is A PART of good conditioning….but it doesn’t mean “good strength training = heavy lifting” and doesn’t mean “heavy lifting = increase punching power”.

Anyway, when you figure out the magic link to heavy weights and power punching, please come back and share. I’ll be here ready to listen.

Al August 5, 2012 at 3:08 am

Johnny N –

Care to share some of this documentation? As it goes against most physiological studies I’ve seen. Unless you’re competing for the Olympia adding a bit of muscle mass won’t slow you down. And what you’re referring to is max strength but there are many different types of strength training that you can do. Take Westside Barbell, the most popular powerlifting approach out there. Sure they have their Max Effort days where they try to lift heavy but they also have their Dynamic Effort days where the idea is to lift a submaximal weight as quickly as possible. This is basic exercise physiology and as a trainer you should be aware of this. As far as affecting endurance – if you focus totally on strength of course your stamina will suffer. As part of an overall routine though sensible weight training will not affect stamina.

As for the other sports you used them as an example of a snapping sport hence why I stated that. As for tennis players weight training, one example is Roger Federer. Check Youtube for some of his training videos and you can see him using barbells and machines in addition to other training modalities.

As for pushing movements – you recommended people not train pushing movements in weight training for boxing but then recommended push-ups which is just as much of an upper body push as the bench press. Hence why it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.

There are quite a number of benefits of sensible weight training to boxing and other combat sports, hence why there has always been some kind of weight training used in the routine of a fighter as far back as ancient times. You have all sorts of neat stuff like maximal tension and the Valsalva manuever that carry over well (but that’s for another day). I’ve been into the sweet science for almost two decades now, both as a young amateur fighter and now as an assistant coach at a youth club in my town. This is old, outdated thinking often parroted by guys who don’t have a lot of ring experience I’m sorry to say.

Johnny N August 5, 2012 at 11:19 am

Documentation of what? That having big muscles can make you slower? You can find proof of that all over the internet and in person (talk to any college-level athletic coach). Top coaches, world champions, not just boxers but athletes from many other sports, people say it over and over. If you choose to disagree, then that’s on you but don’t act like you never heard it before. To me, it’s not really the size of the muscle that makes it slower. It’s HOW you built that muscle. Suppose you develop huge arms from breakdancing (as I did in the past), that muscle was very strong/fast/powerful even had great endurance. But if I developed huge arms from pure heavy weight lifting, then I wouldn’t expect that muscle (although big) to have as much speed or endurance…but it could definitely be stronger. I have nothing against developing muscles…I’m concerned of the method in which you acquired them.

I am aware that Roger Federer lifts some weights. I never said “don’t exercise with pushing movements”, I said “power punching is not a pushing motion”. Please read my guide carefully before you misquote me.

Anyways, I don’t know what you’re trying to prove or what you’re really saying. Weight lifting and resistance has proven to benefit boxers. The ONLY THING I’m saying is that heavy lifting does little if nothing at all to increase punching power. Everything else is up for grabs. If you know better or know differently, go write a long super scientific post so we can all learn from you. Aside from that, I’m here to share what I know and what the greats before me have taught me.

Al August 5, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Johnny N –

If you can find a scientific study done and posted in a peer reviewed journal that shows how hypertrophy will actually affect speed I will eat my hat. That’s one of the age-old myths that still are prevalent today (like the one that says don’t squat below parallel because it will damage your knees). Many top coaches and champions also credit a lot of success to proper weight training as well so the card goes both ways. Most other sports have gotten with the times but for some reason many boxing trainers inexperienced with modern S&C are terrified their guys are going to jump weight classes as soon as they touch a barbell.

Of course pure weight training isn’t the whole answer to the puzzle. That’s like saying all a fighter needs to do to prepare for his next match is roadwork. It’s all just one piece of the puzzle.

I’ll agree to disagree from this point on but just some food for thought – a stronger muscle can produce much more force because of its strength. Power is directly correlated with the amount of time it takes to move a weight. If you can squat 500 pounds compared to someone who can squat 250 pounds when it’s time to squat 200 pounds who do you think is going to be able to squat it faster and longer? The guy who is lifting 80% of the max weight he can lift or the guy who is lifting a mere 40% of his max weight? It’s like comparing how many push-ups you can do on your feet versus on your knees. Everything is interrelated – you can’t develop endurance without developing some strength and you can’t develop strength without developing some endurance.

Good luck in your future endeavors. Personally I don’t mind that so many gyms are still stuck in the past and think weight training is harmful to boxing. Just lets our young fighters dominate that much more.

Vato Loco August 5, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Some prominent Olympic weightlifters have posted some impressive times in timed short sprints, so the whole theory about large muscles being slow is easily debunked, however, large muscles can indeed effect stamina. Regardless of how Tyson built his physique, he still was built pretty massive for a boxer, and yet he was one of the fastest heavyweights of all time. We all know that larger muscles require more oxygen, but so do larger bodies in general, a heavyweight will usually never have the stamina of smaller men. Of course someone who squats 500lbs can squat 200lbs faster and for more reps and than someone who squats 250lbs, but that is a poor example of testing their endurance considering that 200lbs is 80% of the 250lb squatters max and less than half of the 500lb. squatters max. There are indeed a lot of bodybuilders and powerlifters who have poor muscular endurance when it comes to bodyweight exercise like running and calisthenics, or even sports like wrestling or boxing, but that mainly comes from most hard core weight trainers caring little about how many miles they can run or how many burpees they can do without puking. There are probably many 500lb squatters or 400lb bench pressers who would have trouble performing 100 bodyweight squats in 4-5 minutes or doing 100 full repitition pushups without stopping, not to mention a dozen pullups.

Al August 6, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Vato – I agree completely on all counts. That’s why proper weight training is just one piece of the puzzle. No fighter is just going to achieve greatness training with just one modality. Your time in the gym is how you bring all of those attributes you develop through supplementary training into the gym. Too many fighters neglect pure strength and power work nowadays and focus too much on endurance. I’ve found on our younger fighters that 2x a week on strength training is perfect and doesn’t inhibit their skill work in the gym. Some of these young kids are hitting hard as heck for their size now and those that hit hard before are rocking our padholders.

Johnny N August 7, 2012 at 12:38 pm

Without too much effort, I found some links for you below:
– I actually did go through some science journal databases but figured I had more important things to do with my time than read 20-page reports to prove a point–LOL.

Now I’m sure if I looked with a different bias, I could probably find articles/studies on how hypertrophy might improve speed. Somewhere out there, is a report to help support whatever bias anyone might have.

As it stands, modern boxers have yet to outdo the boxers of the old days…both in skill and in physicality. They are however, bigger or more ripped than some of the guys back in the days; I’ll give them that. But pound-for-pound, they have yet to do what the old greats did regularly. Again, I’m not against weight training so get that out of your head. I am however under the same umbrella as Emanuel Steward, Freddie Roach, and dozens of other boxing coaches domestic and abroad that feel HEAVY weight lifting does little for punching power.

Your explanation of the strength-to-endurance relationship, although logical, is somewhat flawed. A guy who can squat record tons of weight is still not going to be able to outsprint a sprinter, or outrun a cross-country runner. But yes, he will indeed outsquat a guy who normally squats with much less weight. Your example was like comparing max-strength to strength-endurance, whereas talking about heavy weights and punching power is like comparing max-strength to max-power. These are two different extremes and will require some level of specificity to maximally train towards either one.

I’m probably going to have to write a part 2 of this awesome article because it’s gotten so many views. And here is a tidbit for anybody who wants to hear my opinion. Part of the reason why “pushing strength” does little for power is because you’re not pushing anything when you punch. You are basically free-swinging an empty weighted hand across the air and then applying a “frame” at the end of your punch. (Your punching technique is not even a technique to help you push harder…it’s more like a technique to help you relax your body quickly into position, and then apply maximum rigidness at the end position.) Even your hips don’t really move away from your position (such as in a sprint), yet your legs exert force nonetheless. Punching power doesn’t require so much pushing strength as it does in RESISTANCE strength or isometric strength. So you don’t really need the strength to PUSH a weight, just only to RESIST a weight. Resistance strength is pretty easy…anybody can resist a lot more weight than they can push, especially if it’s only for a split second. So that’s one way of looking at it. The body moves as relaxed and freely as possible until it reaches a position and then it RESISTS from that position. Punching in this manner will be faster, more energy efficient, and more powerful than trying to imagine yourself pushing a weight. The most efficient punchers don’t apply the “push” until the very end of the punch–this is what makes the punch snap and that much more speedy/powerful/deadly/etc.

Anyways, back to you, Al! If you figured out the magic formula, then by all means, share your routine on the comment so that everyone else can learn from your “modern” knowledge. If you have the knowledge, share it. Give me something new to try. Otherwise, I have nothing to give you feedback on except for what I already know.

vvtill August 4, 2012 at 8:41 am

Understand that weight lifting does not increase punching power at all, but the following youtube video, some fighter still lift weight and build muscle, i’m kind of confuse


Johnny N August 15, 2012 at 9:41 am

If you like how they punch, then do what they do. It’s another way of thinking and another mindset. I don’t recommend weights for power but hey, that’s my opinion.

Daniel August 4, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Why you guys read some article or watch some video on youtube with the big name ”POWER PUNCHING LIFTING BLA BLA” and you start to believe?Why you are confuse?Who is this guy?!Everyone can make a youtube video, everyone can speak wise words, bit where are his fights?And mostly, where are his knockouts?!Believe to the real knockout artists, not some false people who only knows to speak,without proof.Personally I believe to people like Emanuel Steward and Freddie Roach, who said lifting weights means s.hit.I believe to fighters, who are knocking out other people, and i believe to their routines.And of course i believe to my own experience, which is about 7 years of MT fighting.Try what you want and see what is the result.

Vato Loco August 5, 2012 at 8:51 am

Oh Danielson, you forgot to mention Gil Clancy and the late Angelo Dundee who were both highly against lifting weights for their fighters. Emanuel Steward stated he walked in on one of Oscar Dela Hoya’s “strength and conditioning” workouts where his “strength coaches” had him doing “heavy” deadlifts and he ran them out of there pronto cuz. Granted, Steward molded Thomas Hearns from a bony kid into one of the greatest fighters of all time, but really, Thomas Hearns was a natural prodigy with tremendous physical attributes like raw power, superior speed, height and reach of a heavyweight etc. Dundee trained countless world champions, including the “greatest,” Muhammad Ali, but like Steward, you’re not a genius just because you happen upon some kid with all the natural talent and physical attributes of a Muhammad Ali. Charlie Goldman, the trainer of Rocky Marciano had a far more difficult challenge, turning a short, extremely short armed, undersized, clumsy, power punching, bleeder like Rocky Marciano into a fighting legend. Freddie Roach, like Dundee and Steward, has trained countless world champions and top contenders, but like Dundee and Steward, Roach started either training these fighters long after they were established quality fighters, or he just happened upon a “natural” like a Mike Tyson or a Muhammad Ali. As far as a fighter, Roach was a fringe contender at best, a tough journeyman at worst, and not much of a puncher at all.

@Mr. Johnny,
When are you going to do that article on rope skipping helping “punching power.” And how do you feel about the old school training method of playing handball as part of a boxer’s training regimen? Many old timers like Harry Greb, Jack Dempsey, Jim Jeffries, Rocky Marciano played handball to help condition them, and improve eye and hand coordination. The attributes used in handball are remarkably similar to boxing. Tyson would even play handball in his early days of training, and of course his former manager, the late Jim Jacobs, was a world champion at handball and was even called “the Babe Ruth of handball.”

Vato Loco August 5, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Gentleman, gentleman, can’t we all just get along. Let’s just agree to disagree shall we. Danielson, two words, ALAIN NGALANI. Oh wise grasshopper people are like snowflakes in that no two people are the same, and being that no two people are the same, why in the hell should everyone train the same. Like Taco Bell, my wise grasshopper think outside the box. No one can argue that history and numbers favor boxers not lifting weights. Most of the wise old school trainers that have been mentioned previously are almost unanimously against weight training for boxers, not to mention that many past fighters have openly spoken out against weight training for boxers. Those fighters have included Rocky Marciano, Joe Frazier, Muhammad Ali, among others, so the wise thing for a fighter would be to forget weights altogether one would assume. But alas, grasshopper while Marciano, Frazier and Ali were all talented fighters, like all super talented athletes, they don’t always know what works best for someone who isn’t blessed with their tremendous physical attributes like Marciano’s power, Frazier’s will and heart, or Ali’s speed and perfect fighter’s body. All the “experts” warn against shadow boxing with more than 1-3lb hand weights, saying that this exercise doesn’t increase speed or power, and in fact might damage wrist, elbows, and ligaments, however, Archie Moore swears that shadow boxing with 5lb flat irons while he was younger helped him develop punching power. All the “experts” would say someone built like Mike Tyson would be far too slow to compete with world class heavyweights or he was far too short, but look how Tyson proved them wrong. All the “experts” would say that someone as massive as David Tua would “gas” after 2-3 brisk rounds, well, Tua and Ike Ibeabuchi(another massively built fighter) threw I believe some kind of record for amount of punches for a heavyweight fight in their classic bout from several years ago. Whatever works for you grasshopper do it. In fact go on and do it, do it to ya satisfied, whatever it is, do it, do it to ya satisfied……

Vato Loco August 6, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Ex-New York Jets all-pro defensive lineman Joe Klecko was a 6’3″ 265lb behemoth who played at Temple before being drafted by the Jets. While at Temple, Klecko also boxed and compiled a record of 25-2, and it was said Klecko had good hand speed to go along with his size. Matter of fact some thought Klecko was good enough to turn pro. I’m sure since this was the late seventies that Klecko weight trained for football and it appears it didn’t hamper his boxing all that much. Klecko trained at Joe Frazier’s gym in Philadelphia while he was boxing for Temple, and even sparred with Frazier. Klecko said a punch Frazier threw that missed him was enough to convince him that pro boxing wasn’t for him, however. Klecko’s old teamate Mark Gastineau also tried his hand at boxing with a couple of unimpressive wins over very limited opposition. You really can’t compare athletes from different sports because each sport has different needs. To be honest it seems most boxers are poor athletes when it comes to participating in other sports. Boxers never did well in a seventies and eighties television show called “The Superstars” where they competed against athletes from various sports in other sporting events. Joe Frazier was abysmal in everything from swimming, weightlifting(yes that’s weightlifting), sprinting, about the only thing Frazier even did remotely well was the bicycling race, hell he didn’t even do well in the half mile run. I heard Roy Jones is a good basketball player, but have you ever seen Mike Tyson shoot baskets? Damn that dude sucks!

Vato Loco August 6, 2012 at 3:13 pm

On the other hand, “slow” “stiff” Lou Ferrigno did rather well in the “Superstars” competiiton and even placing in the top three against the group he competed against I believe. “Muscle bound” Lou excelled in the baseball hitting event, bicycling, and was competitive in the others.

Al August 9, 2012 at 12:08 am

Vato Loco – Of course it should only be a small part of what a fighter does. Gym work is the most important thing for a fighter. Everything else is supplementary training and needs to take a back seat to the skill training. If you have the option to only hit the mitts with a partner or go for a run, hit the mitts. If you only have time to hit the bag or lift weights, hit the bag. Don’t be so focused on the supplementary stuff you forget the main reason why you’re training. Some guys get too focused on improving their run times, or upping their reps in certain exercises, or moving more weight. The only thing you need to be worried about is can you beat the you of yesterday.

Vato Loco August 8, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Personally I think the author is completely right about weight training or weight lifting not increasing punching power. But then again will pushups increase punching power? Will hitting the heavy bag increase punching power? Will chopping wood increase punching power? All of the aforementioned methods have been accredited by actual fighters at helping them increase punching power but a lot of fighters do various types of pushups and even plyometric pushups, a lot of fighters chop wood, and all fighters hit the heavy bag, but not all fighters carry a powerful punch. Weights can be used as a strengthening tool, while not sacrificing time for conditioning or skill training. Again I believe the author is correct in stating that weight training, IF used, should only make up a minor part of the fighter’s training routine.

j August 8, 2012 at 7:11 pm

i like this article you workout slow you move slow there is no way to lift weight up to 250(for example) at an explosive lift

Al August 9, 2012 at 12:01 am

Johnny N –

Regarding the first study you posted all it says is doing fast reps is better than slow reps which is true in most cases. Power training is lifting explosively. However you can still lift heavy and be explosive. Olympic weightlifting is a perfect example. The second study is on hypertrophy and what appears to be bodybuilding which obviously training like a bodybuilder isn’t what we’re after; we’re here to train like fighters. As for the Poliquin article I agree as all it says is what routine is designed for one isn’t necessarily designed for another. None of these really back up your claim as they all state how proper weight training with an appreciable load are applicable to sports.

You talk about achieving maximum tension at the end of the strike momentarily to increase the impact, right? A lot of fighters have trouble understanding this link because they don’t know what it’s like to be under maximal tension. They don’t even know how it feels when all of the right muscles are contracting, much less know how to do it properly. Take that same fighter though and have him do a few sets of low reps of heavy bench presses or heavy weight vest push-ups and then hit the bag right after and I’ve seen it click in quite a few of our kids’ heads. Since you also mention about how it’s only important to resist a weight – doesn’t it seem like it might make sense if you can resist a heavier weight thanks to strength training that there will be some carryover?

Again I’m not claiming resistance training (which is really what we’re talking about here) is the only thing you need to be a good boxer but it’s a darn important part of it. It makes no sense that some trainers avoid a barbell like the plague in the fear that their fighter is going to bulk out of his weight class when it’s much harder to do that then they realize.

Many advocate explosive training when they don’t realize that you need a solid base of strength before training in those types of exercises. A beginner hopping right into plyometrics is going to put a lot of stress on his body that it may not be ready for, which increases the chance for injury and ending a kid’s career before it even starts. Probably the closest movement plane for a boxer is that of a shot putter and you’d best believe they strength train. Doesn’t seem to slow their power down either, but then again strength is an important part in the formula of power.

I’d recommend reading a bit by Ross Enamait. This particular article may be of interest:


Johnny N August 9, 2012 at 10:41 am

I’ve been reading Ross’s stuff back 15 years ago when it was the only training website on the internet, LOL. He’s an awesome guy and he actually links to my website from his forum page. I agree with him on many levels.

What we have here is a disagreement on punching technique. Because I’m not against weightlifting or strength training for improving athleticism. I’m not against weightlifting for improving boxing conditioning. What I’m saying is that it doesn’t translate to punching power.

If you want to punch with a push…sure, you can do it. And it works, and it hurts. But pushing has a limit, once you push too much your body will fall over because your pushed yourself too far into the punch. If you do however, decide to punch with a push, then yes….lifting a crap load of weights might increase your punching power because that’s how you punch!

Now if you want to punch with a snap, then you just have to ground yourself at middle and whip that punch past you as if you were unleashing a slingshot. When it comes to snapping punches (which should really be the technique for most of your punches), the goal of your body is to be as relaxed as possible…to RELEASE the body as much as possible (not a lazy release, but a controlled and technical release)….and then apply a quick little tension at the end to make the entire punch snap.

The ability to push a weight is definitely useful in terms of over athletic functionality. Yes, it can help strength, power, and all that good stuff. But punching does not require any push…you are pushing NOTHING for almost the entire trajectory of the punch. In RUNNING, you push the ground; in SWIMMING, you push the water; but in boxing, you are pushing almost nothing (maybe the glove???). And the goal is not to try and push anything. You want to be as relaxed as possible so that you hand travels as quickly as possible through the air because you’re releasing it as opposed to pushing it.

Now if you disagree with my punching technique, then by all means… you are welcome to disagree. As for weight-lifting being critical for developing better conditioning and athleticism, I’m with you to a certain degree. I will repeat what I’ve said several times before….if you have a WORKING HEAVY LIFTING ROUTINE that increases punching power, then share it for the good of everyone else. Put it out there so we can all try it! I am far more excited about improving my boxing abilities than discussing scientific facts about human physiology.

TO EVERYONE ELSE…… when I say “powerlifting”, I’m not talking about olympic lifts like the snatch or clean & jerk…I’m referring strictly to American raw powerlifts like bench, squat, deadlift. Olympic lifts are a bit like strength, power, speed, timing, skill. American powerlifting is really just raw strength. As for muscle fiber contraction rate… yes, I get it, your muscles must contract quickly in order to lift all that weight. But I’m referring more to the muscles’ ability to move your limbs quickly through the air..rather than their rate of contracting to lift a heavy weight.

Al August 9, 2012 at 2:34 pm

First off since I get paid to train I’m not sharing a workout for free. Sorry. Sufficient to say we have our guys doing a number of different exercises for strength purposes from deadlifts to Olympic lifts and strongman exercises. These are only a few of the modalities we use and are specifically for developing overall body power. I’m not saying this to be priggish but all it takes is some research to see how building strength in athletes is a huge advantage.

I also fail to see how doing an upper body push one way (e.g. with weights) is somehow inferior to doing an upper body push another way (e.g. calisthenics which you have recommended). It’s the same thing just a different modality. One is not necessarily superior to the other and both are a means to an end.

Again no one has said anything that by suddenly lifting a heavy weight you become a phenomenal puncher. However the more raw strength you get the more your power potential grows. That’s why a heavyweight can naturally hit much harder than a lightweight. Size and strength are always key factors in a fight hence why boxing has weight classes. If you’re stronger than everyone else in your weight class you don’t think that would give you a huge advantage? I’d also like to point out that there is a pushing aspect in punching that you forgot to mention and it’s not in the arms.

And speaking of the power lifts – if you don’t think you need to be explosive to pull a heavy deadlift from the floor or come out of the hole in a back squat then you don’t know much about lifting. If explosiveness was unnecessary then groups like Westside Barbell wouldn’t waste their time on increasing their explosiveness to better their lifts.

Johnny N August 9, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Given all variables equal. An advantage anywhere, whether it be in strength/power/speed/etc would definitely be an advantage. If you’re training for strength at the cost of power, then it becomes a tradeoff as opposed to a clear advantage. Beginner athletes will typically respond well to any kind of stimulation…even just jogging and doing push-ups will improve their conditioning in all areas. But once they become specialized athletes, their workouts need some level of specificity to reach that elite level functional-athleticism required in their sports. If you disagree with my views on punching technique or affects of heavy lifting on punching power, that’s totally ok. My job as a boxing coach is to share the part I know. If you know something different, well…you’re also free to share it, sell it, whatever, it’s your business. I asked for YOUR workout because you claimed to know something that even top trainers today don’t know.

I never said an “upper body push using weights” is inferior to an “upper body push using body weight”. Who’s to say what’s inferior? And how is it inferior… depending on what? Everybody knows a one-handed handstand-push-up or one-handed pull-up could easily be considered as heavy weight lifting. Now if you’re going to disagree…at least disagree with something I actually said.

Anyway, thanks for being clear about not sharing your knowledge. I guess I have nothing else to say or listen to from you. Thanks for the chat.

Al August 9, 2012 at 8:29 pm

Not everything a fighter does need specifically be for fighting. In fact training TOO specifically with weighted exercises has been proven to decrease (not increase) performance. And again… strength = power. The more raw strength you have the more power potential you have. This is basic sports science. As far as “being too big” mass is meaningless if you have the strength and power to move it. That’s why huge pro football players can run their 40s fast as heck. The only thing a boxer training with weights needs to worry about is eating themselves out of their weight class.

I don’t give my info out for free because I get paid otherwise to share it. I don’t know anything a lot of top trainers don’t: many use the same ideas I do. You seem like a nice enough kid and have some decent tips on here for beginners but judging from your bio you’re still relatively new to the game. Don’t be so close-minded on an issue that you miss out as being a trainer you’re not just screwing yourself but also your fighters. I’ll agree to disagree from this point on as I’m not really trying to convert anybody to my way of thinking. The success of our fighters speaks for itself.

Johnny N August 10, 2012 at 10:30 am

Srength = power? I’m sure you know there’s a lot of trainers out there that would disagree with that. Many boxing trainers preach speed = power. If strength equaled power, an elite-level weightlifter would be able to outrun a high school track sprinter or out-punch a boxer of equal weight….but we both know this isn’t the case.

Most trainers draw power from speed, rather than from strength. And it makes sense. Train the fighter for as much speed as possible and then simply add body weight at the end of the movements for maximum power. It’s more energy efficient than relying on muscle strength to generate both speed AND power. A very strong weightlifter is going to be powerful in terms of pushing power, but not in terms of snapping impact power.

don August 9, 2012 at 3:43 am

It’s HOW you built that muscle. Suppose you develop huge arms from break dancing (as I did in the past), that muscle was very strong/fast/powerful even had great endurance.

(so if you can strong/fast/powerful muscles from break dancing. why couldn’t you take some one out of the gym and retrain their muscles to increase their speed?

Pro Basket ball players & Base ball players are using Olympic weight lifting as part of their training
and I am sure that the coach would not want to waist the time of a multi million dollar player. (I personally don’t see any correlation between Basket ball, Base ball & Olympic weight lifting except that the coach must be able to convert the increase in power into something positive on the field.

and stop training for a whole year and still punch harder than 99% of most boxers. (I am open to all witnesses if you would like to see this in person.)
how about a u-tube on the subject, (the snap punch)

ps. great articles & web site

Johnny N August 9, 2012 at 10:52 am

If you try breakdancing for just a few months or at least go to a breakdancing session and see how they train, you will understand why it’s impossible to mimic breakdancing moves using weights 😉
It’s simply different. Breakdancing is about moving your body along the ground. Weight training is about moving the weights around your body.

Many olympic athletes do the olympic lifts because they help strengthen the core. And a they’re great chain exercises.

I will be releasing my workshop video for sale soon where you can see me demonstrate AND teach some ruthless punching techniques. You’ll have your opportunity to see my techniques then. 🙂

Daniel August 9, 2012 at 4:14 am

As for the baseball players, not everyone lifts.For example i have read an interview of a pitcher…i dont remember exactly the name, but i know he has very good results in their league.In the inverview he says that a pitcher dont need to lifts , because he is throwing only a light ball, and the important thing for the velocity is to use the all parts of the body, when you throwing.And the plyometrics are very good exercises for developing that skill

The Freak August 9, 2012 at 3:20 pm

I’ve been banned from most boxing gyms because I punch so hard I literally destroy their heavy bags and no one will dare spar with me. I’ve begun to train like Buakaw by beating up banana trees instead of heavy bags and sparring partners. Any ideas on how I can decrease my punching power.

Gil August 10, 2012 at 7:23 am

Al, don’t flatter yourself.

Al August 12, 2012 at 1:19 am

Daniel – Probably the best known of our fighters is Paul Spadafora, former IBF lightweight champion. Currently 45-0-1 though we no longer train him. He’s actually a pretty good guy, just couldn’t stop running with a rough crowd for a while.

Johnny N August 15, 2012 at 1:49 pm

You train Paul Spadafora? Shit, I need to go to your gym! Hahahaha.

Daniel August 10, 2012 at 9:35 am

Hey Al, who are these fighters?Tell names, titles, what are their success?

Vato Loco August 10, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Pro basketball players would definitely benefit from adding the Olympic type lifts and assistance lifts to their training. Olympic weightlifters are renowned for their leaping ability. And I wouldn’t bet an “elite level Olympic weightlifter” being so slow when it comes to short sprints and I’m sure many could compete with a “high school track sprinter” in their own sport, if not actually beat that sprinter in 100 meters. To “out-punch a boxer of equal weight?” Depends on whether the boxer is a featherfist or a puncher, there are certainly plenty of boxers who aren’t powerful punchers and there are average Joe’s out there who can punch hard with little or no formal training in any striking sport. Former Olympic gold medalist in Olympic Weightlifting in the 198lb class David Rigert ran a 9.8 100. And Rigert’s effort isn’t unheard of or unusual in the world of Olympic Weightlifting. Of course I probably would agree that despite their great athletic ability, explosiveness, and other attributes most Olympic Weightlifters probably wouldn’t punch as hard as an experienced professional boxer equal to their weight, but then again that’s a pretty unfair contest to ask one athlete to compete against another athlete in his or her chosen field. Now how well would a boxer do against a wrestler in a wrestling match? Or better yet, how well would a boxer do in a 100 meter sprint against a “high school track sprinter.” Olympic weightlifters aren’t some sort of miracle supermen who can out perform all athletes in their chosen field, but they are in fact the real athletes of the weightlifting world and are usually far more athletic than bodybuilders or powerlifters as a rule. And as all around athletes dare I say they are more athletic as a whole than many boxers out there.

Johnny N August 10, 2012 at 4:08 pm

LOL VATO!!!!! Dude, high school track sprinters are fast. No way does an average olympic lifter beat them in sprinting…definitely not in the 100m or anything beyond that. If so, shotputters (who basically use similar training regimens) would be able to hold their own against them (some genetically lucky ones do). I can see olympic lifters running faster than the average person but not being able to sprint competitively against a trained sprinter. Of course, I understand there were exceptions in the past but that’s all they are–they are exceptions, not the norm.

Vato Loco August 10, 2012 at 4:44 pm

Google up shotputter Brian Oldfield or better yet go on Youtube and watch Oldfield run against world class female sprinters or former Steeler Lynn Swann. Oldfield would race against WORLD CLASS female sprinters in the 100 and actually win.

Johnny N August 10, 2012 at 5:02 pm

I have to say though: a guy racing a girl is totally not fair. Top female sprinters are 10-15% slower than their male counter parts. Even the best male high school sprinters are faster than the world’s fastest female sprinters. So even if Oldfield beat a female record holder, he’d still only be right on par with the best high school male sprinters (that’s still really good, if he ever actually did that).

As good as he is…Oldfield is an exception to the norm, and his freakish athleticism is not representative of other similar athletes from his training background.

Vato Loco August 10, 2012 at 5:41 pm

Yeah but when you factor in Oldfield is 6’5″ weighed 280-285lbs while competing that puts him at a severe disadvantage even in short sprints racing against “world class” female sprinters. Renaldo Nehemiah was a record holder in the 100 or 200 meter hurdles(not sure which) and he was attending the University of Maryland at the same time as Olympic weightlifter Mark Cameron who weighed 242lbs. Anyhow Nehemiah and Cameron actually had a race(nothing official just for fun) and Cameron actually kept pace for the first 20-30 meters or so until Nehemiah kicked it into high gear and won rather easily. But still your talking about a 240-250lb man at least not being totally blown away by a world class sprinter and competing with him at his own game. Now how competitive would Nehemiah have been at competing against Oldfield in the shot or Cameron at weightlifting?

Johnny N August 10, 2012 at 5:53 pm

No way in hell would I expect a sprinter to outlift a weightlifter. Comparing the gap in sprint time with the gap in lifting strength isn’t necessary a fair comparison of overall athleticism. I’m not sure there’s ever a simple sport that can really compare all that. In the case of the sprinter, all you’d have to do is sprint longer distances (200m-800m) and the weightlifter won’t stand a chance at all. Just as how a basic sprinter can be expected to lift minimal amounts of weight, a weightlifter can be expected to sprint short distances.

Some athletes really are that blessed with highly versatile functional athleticism but it still doesn’t mean the average weightlifter can sprint with sprinters because he lifts a ton of weights. Sprinters do have a dig phase though that requires a ton of pushing for the first 20 meters before they get into a more upright running position…so it does make sense that powerful legged pushers can hang with them for at least the beginning of the sprint. Back in track we used to have the fatman relay (racing shotputters against each other) and some of those guys were actually pretty fast, lol.

Vato Loco August 10, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Sorry I was off about Rigert’s time in the 100 meter. It was 10.4 and not 9.8, but either way for a 200lb man with no specific sprint training at all, that is damn impressive.

Johnny N August 10, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Impressive indeed! Assuming those were with legal wind ratings and accurate timings, he just beat some of the sprinters at the London olympics!

Al August 11, 2012 at 2:01 am

I hate to post again but power is the combination of strength and speed, not just speed itself. That’s simple physics and quite frankly exercise physiology 101. You can be as fast as a rattlesnake but can still hit like a wet noodle if you don’t have enough power to make the impact count. It’s funny you mention sprinters. Michael Yessis, Ph.D did an informal study where he discovered Olympic lifters often could sprint faster than elite sprinters for the first 5-10m and had impressive verticals. Usain Bolt has incorporated squats into his routine and can do a fair amount for a tall guy. Quite simply neglect strength and you neglect a key component of your training.

http://www.higher-faster-sports.com/importanceofstrength.html (explains it well)

Watch some of those Tak Won Do guys on the Olympics right now. Some of them are pretty fast but I bet my young daughter can hit harder than any of them using just her fist and not her foot. Speed is important but not to the exclusion of everything else and certainly won’t be at peak levels if you’re lacking in strength. No offense Johnny but rather than taking things at face value it might be worth to do some independent study and see for yourself.

Johnny N August 15, 2012 at 9:47 am

Strength, power, speed. Yes… all valid statements regarding physics, muscles, etc.

My point is…that’s NOT how I punch and not how I was trained to punch. Which is why, for me and for my punching technique, lifting weights does very little. I will forever agree with the physics laws of the universe but I’m not agreeing with some of the ways other people approach punching.

FYI: my best friend was an all-american tae kwon do fighter and represented the US Marines at the national level. They kick damn hard. Unfortunately, amateur TKD competition is based on points, not power. And so that’s how they kick in competition. I highly doubt your daughter punches harder than my friend can kick. Nooooo wayyyyy. LOL.

Johnny N August 20, 2012 at 8:46 am

Al, I deleted some of your posts because I don’t tolerate offensive statements here. You have every right to disagree but you don’t get to offend me or refer to all of my boxing existence, or the knowledge of my trainers as a joke (especially ones that trained multiple world champions before).

This site is a forum for people to share their boxing knowledge and opinions respectfully. Now if you can’t share any knowledge (because you say it’s worth money and shouldn’t be given freely), and you can’t be respectful, then I will delete your posts.

Everyone chooses their destiny and I’m happy with where I am today because of the trainers I chose to listen to. I’m no world champion but having a little site where I can be a big part of the boxing community is something I’m proud of. One of the first fighters I ever coached just won his amateur fight 3 weeks ago and registered 2 standing eights in the process. I was easily the youngest coach in the room and maybe with some time, I can be more like you or at least come around to see things your way.

Vato Loco August 11, 2012 at 8:54 am

Boxing like baseball was probably at its peak popularity back in the fifties. Both sports are full of history and nostalgia. Not too long ago weights were frowned upon in baseball also, no way would a baseball player be caught dead lifting weights, even though I believe the legendary “Iron Horse” Lou Gehrig did do some forms of resistance training even way back then. Certainly large muscles would ruin something as skilled and fluid as the ideal baseball swing which had more to do with “snap” and timing than sheer brute strength. Then along comes the Sammy Sosas, the Mark McGwires, the Barry Bonds type of players who look more suited for the NFL than MLB and suprise they’re destroying the ball and breaking all kinds of long existing records. Granted steroids were involved but so was weight training which produces the same POSITIVE effects as steroids without the detrimental effects. Wasn’t that long ago in boxing where the traditional diet consisted of lots of red meat, sometimes 2-3 times a day, if of course the fighter wasn’t literally starving himself trying to make weight.

j August 11, 2012 at 9:27 pm



Johan September 2, 2012 at 10:43 pm

Nobody is saying that speed is not the key. Or if they are, well… They have a lot to learn. You can train speed in the gym without getting buff if you have a good sports conditioning coach. Has been done both ways really. I would just call it different methods that work.

The Freak August 12, 2012 at 7:51 am

Look at MMA fighters Vitor Belfort and Adrei Arlovski. Both of these guys have excellent “hands” and both train with weights. I would say that even though both of these guys never trained specifically to be boxers, that in their respective primes even without specializing in boxing training only, they could have held their own against a decent 10 round professional fighter. And Belfort had amazingly fast hands for a 200 plus pound man.

Daniel August 12, 2012 at 7:16 pm
Daniel August 12, 2012 at 7:17 pm

In interview Vitor says that he mainly train on the heavy bag and his boxing skills, and his BJJ skills.And that he just lift with high reps.He has excellent hands because he has excellent skills.

The Freak August 13, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Yeah, and you also showed us articles where Earnie Shavers denounced weight training for boxers even though Earnie lifted weights while he was actively competing, and you also showed us an article where GSP says he just lifts weights for cosmetic reasons, but yet there are all kinds of vids on Youtube showing GSP doing snatches, and other lifts not associated with building “showy” muscles as well as bodybuilding movements. People say different things all the time for whatever reason. All you have to do is look at Belfort’s and Arlovski’s physiques and you can tell they do some sort of weight training. I’ve even seen vids of Buakaw lifting dumbbells between beating up banana trees.

Johnny N August 15, 2012 at 9:55 am

Belfort does lift weights.

This was a complaint that the top gracies and machados had with him. Both families said that he lifts too much weights and focuses too much on physical aspects of fighting instead of working on his skills. They also say weights is the reason why he keeps gassing out in fights. And also that he doesn’t work on his ground game as much as he should have. Blah blah blah, I can’t remember everything the machado said.

I’m a huge fan of Vitor, since 2000. Had some friends who trained with him and met him a couple times. Really nice guy.

Daniel August 14, 2012 at 1:27 am

No, I dont.By your logic you can tell Tyson lifted weights.The look of the physiques doesnt mean someone is lifting weights.

Rich August 14, 2012 at 8:46 am

Hi Johnny,

Is 26 too old to start a amateur career? I have only recently got into boxing but would love to compete. Plus what weight division would u recommend, i am 6 foot tall and weigh 142 pounds, tall and very slim!! would this be an advantage at my low weight?

Hope to hear from you.

Johnny N August 15, 2012 at 9:57 am

Not too old at all. Keep sparring other fighters in the gym and you will know your true fighting weight soon enough. Tall and slim is an advantage as long as you don’t trade punches.

You did a mistake at the end August 17, 2012 at 5:05 pm

“Telling me you need weights to lift harder is like saying you need a swim suit to swim fast. ”

I bet you wanted to say “Telling me you need weights to punch harder”, but not “lift harder”?

Other than that SUPERB ARTICLE. I enjoyed every bit of it and thank you!

Johnny N August 17, 2012 at 5:09 pm

You’re right! I corrected it at the end. Thank you.

gago August 19, 2012 at 3:03 am

bruce lee is not a fighter

The Freak August 19, 2012 at 1:51 pm

“bruce lee is not a fighter”

I’m assuming when you say “fighter” you’re referring to boxers only. Often times the legend far outshines the man and in Bruce Lee’s case I’m afraid that is the case also. Lee was a physical specimen who was in fantastic shape, and had infinite knowledge of the martial arts and the physical body, as well as a wise and philosophical man. But lets face it, Bruce Lee was a REEL life fighter for the most part, as opposed to a REAL life fighter, like his REEL life opponent Chuck Norris. Could Lee have really taken the larger Norris in a real life contest? As talented and skillful as Lee was I doubt it. Fanboys of Bruce Lee make all kinds of ridiculous claims about Lee’s physical prowess that sometime border on science fiction or belong to some kind of comic book superhero. The thing is Bruce Lee was 5’7″-5’7 1/2″ and weighed between 125-145lbs at various times of his life. * I’ve heard Lee once bulked up to about 160lbs through his weight training and decided the extra bulk was really detrimental to his fighting skills and trimmed back down. A REAL life fighter who came on strong a year or two after Bruce Lee’s death in the mid-seventies was the great Benny Urquidez, who I believe still trains “fighters.” The Jet as Benny was known would spar with pro boxers and was well versed in several martial arts besides being a dominant kickboxer and muay thai fighter. If the MMA had existed during Benny’s prime he would have been unbeatable just as he was unbeatable in kickboxing. Given that Benny was about 5’6″ 145lbs in his prime, had he been born a tad earlier, or had Lee been born a couple years later this would have been an interesting fight. As much as I admire Lee most of all for his wisdom and physical attributes, the smart money would probably say he wouldn’t defeat Urquidez in a kickboxing match, muay thai match, or an MMA style bout.

Benjamin August 20, 2012 at 8:34 pm

Hey Johnny I’d like to say thank you very much for this post!
I read it shortly after I stopped weight training because I wanted to start boxing.
The thing is though I would like to be bigger outside of the ring as just a personally priority and to deal a bigger punch and just look better 😀
I really wanted to know this: How did Mike Tyson get his size? Or what are some things I could do to get that size while avoiding heavy weight lifting (I’m 5′ 10″ and 160lbs, 16 years old). Mike Tyson has said in multiple interviews and to commentators that he didn’t lift weights (or at least in his early career).
If you could give me an answer on this it would be greatly appreciated!!

Johnny N August 21, 2012 at 2:23 pm

You can develop size with extreme calisthenics. Do a thousand repetitions of anything and you’re bound to get pretty buff that way as well.

Mike Tyson was a big kid naturally. He trimmed down from a fat body as opposed to putting muscle on top of a skinny body. And not’s really such an uncommon phenomenon.

Benjamin August 21, 2012 at 4:37 pm

Hey thanks for the answer! It’s greatly appreciated. I’ll try it out.

daniel August 21, 2012 at 3:16 am

The case with Tyson is genetics.Dont think too much about that.You are too young , you have years still to growth

The Freak August 21, 2012 at 1:57 pm

It is also heavily rumored that besides good “genetics” Tyson was blessed with pharmaceutical help aka steroids. Tyson, while RELATIVELY massive for a boxer, is just really your typical mesomorph, although blessed more than the average mesomorph, which probably explains his becoming a world champion. I’ve seen lots of guys who have great physiques especially when they are young, who do nothing other than play sports or sometimes do absolutely nothing at all, of course when you get older maintaining that physique won’t be so easy. A good way to tell if someone is naturally “big” is to look at their wrists and ankles. If the person has large ankles and wrists, more than likely he or she is just naturally large boned and they may carry a lot of extra muscle and/or bulk naturally. Boxing is an activity that has a “slimming” effect on the body so the 5’10” Tyson who weighed about 217-220lbs in his prime probably could/would “walk around” at 230-235lbs when not in training and still look reasonably fit. There is some so-called workout routine of Mike Tyson’s floating around where he did hundreds of pullups, dips, and pushups daily. Often times these numbers like an athletes height and weight are grossly exaggerated. If someone were to do 100-200 pullups daily they would be grossly overtraining. You can get away with doing hundreds and even a thousand standard ordinary pushups a day but dips & pullups(especially pullups) are far more taxing on the body and should never be done daily unless you’re using a modest number of repititions.

daniel August 21, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Maybe but who knows.Maybe Tyson really has taked steroids and he really do so many calistenics.Something that look wrong for you, can be fine for other

The Freak August 21, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Seriously, if Mike Tyson did about an hour of roadwork in the morning, followed by a 2-2 1/2 hour boxing workout in the afternoon, just when in the hell would he find the energy or the time to devote to performing 500 dips or 200 pullups?(*I forget the exact exaggerated numbers but I think those are approx. close to what was given.) This isn’t even counting the amount of pushups that were listed or the ridiculous amount of situps which I believe were about 2,000 a day. How many people can do 20 GOOD STRICT FULL RANGE OF MOTION pullups in a set, especially a boxer who has prefatigued his arms and back with a rigorous workout of punching bags & sparring. And even then he would have to perform 10 sets to reach 200, IF he was capable of performing 20-strict reps per set. Most of those who claim they can perform 20-rep pullup sets either perform half-reps or even quarter reps or use “kipping” or kicking their legs to assist them while using horrendous form. The former Indian wrestler The Great Gama is often times reputed to have done a couple of thousand hindu squats and about 1,500 hindu pushups a day. Even the king of misinformation and false advertising Matt Furey has stated this is a gross exaggeration. Seriously, I would hate to see someone’s knees after performing thousands of hindu squats daily for years. You would literally wear out the cartilage. Just like Herschel Walker another bodyweight exercise fanatic, everytime you would read about Herschel’s bodyweight routine of pushups and situps, the numbers always seemed to get higher and higher. First it was a 1,500 pushups and situps a day, and then the next you knew it was 2,500-3,000 pushups and situps daily, bwah hahahahaha, seriously does anyone believe this sheet? Far more beneficial to upgrade your exercises from an ordinary pushup for thousands of reps to more advanced exercises like Aztec pushups, single arm – single leg medicine ball pushups, one arm handstand, or maybe even try to become the first human being to ever perform a full range one arm handstand pushup. There is a book out called “Convict Conditioning” that makes the ridiculous claim that one can work up to an elite level of performing 5 full handstand one arm pushups, bwah hahahahaha, but they forget to tell you that a full range one arm handstand pushup has NEVER been performed by anyone, at least not anyone human. Maybe some chimp or orangutan can do it but certainly no one human, not even Gama, Herschel, or Iron Mike.

Johnny N August 21, 2012 at 10:51 pm

Top athletes from many sports have been known to use pull-ups.

100 pull-ups a day is not that big of a deal. I can still do 20 without much effort, and can get 100 after 8 sets of 12-15 pull-ups using different variations of grips. The average person however probably can’t do more than 10 because they have too much fat AND/OR have weak back muscles. Try developing a balanced body and you will see that 100 pull-ups a day is NOTHING. You won’t even feel it the next day.

1,000 sit-ups and 1,000 push-ups a day is also not that big of a deal. Military guys, people in jail, it’s really a common number. When I was in the Army, I did around 100 push-ups in one minute (which was considered very good, but not quite record-breaking).

Dips are a little harder than push-ups but much easier than pull-ups. You can check out all the calisthenics-type athletes nowadays… like Bar Starz, Barholics, they’re getting awfully popular nowdays. (I have some friends in them.) But the exercises have been around forever and used even by boxers.

The Freak August 22, 2012 at 1:20 am

I actually used to do 1,000 pushups a day 4-5 times a week. But ordinary pushups aren’t near as taxing as pullups. I would do the pushups throughout the day and was doing no other exercise except for maybe running a couple of times a week. I’m familiar with Hannibal and and other calisthenic gurus. I’m just saying athletes or writers often inflate their heights and weights just as they do exercise “numbers” so people need to take these things with a grain of salt and not try to emulate such a impossibe workout routine. If you ask me when an exercise gets easy enough to perform 500-1,000 reps daily it’s actually a waste of time and time to move on to more advanced forms of calisthenics.

Johnny N August 22, 2012 at 7:58 am

The average SERIOUS boxer isn’t too far off from what you call a calisthenic guru. Even top amateurs will do a MINIMUM of 500-1000 push-ups, sit-ups, crunches everyday. I did that even in track and field as a 16-year-old. It’s not hard at all and of course you’re supposed to be using different variations every 50-100 reps to stimulate different angles of your muscle. You can crack jokes and be done with the whole daily core routine within about 20-30 minutes, maybe longer if you’re really fooling around. We use it as our warm-down. I would say top amateurs do around 1,000. Top pro’s do around 2,000.

Pull-ups are usually done about 50-100.
Dips around 100-200.
Push-ups around 200-500.
Crunches/sit-ups around 500-1,000.

And this was our daily warm-down work which meant it was really easy for us. We never went home sore from it or anything. We could do this workout twice a day, once in the morning and again at night if we wanted.

I could see maybe some kids bragging about their numbers but for serious athletes, this is the standard or even just a minimum. Many athletes do similar numbers: boxers, swimmers, gymnasts, runners, basketball players, the military, etc.

Gil August 22, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Freak..I admired Urquidez back in the day. I also wonder what the history books would have looked like had he focused soley on boxing. It would have been interesting to see him compete against the likes of Duran, Hagler and Leonard.

Antonio August 26, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Hey, this my firs visit of this site, and I like it. I was born and grew up in Soviet Union, boxing has always been my passion. Since my father was quite a famous boxer I was boxing basically from the age of five. Later I was a competitive amateur boxer, but my boxing record and life somehow a bit similar to Johnny’s. Now I am 37 still in a good shape and I still do boxing routines, although I don’t fight anymore, and I spar just very rarely (at this stage not necessary for me), and I also do lift weights now:)

Now about the weights and boxing. Lifting heavy weights itself doesn’t do a big harm for boxing and punching. However, this excessive strength isn’t that useful for boxing either. I would say if someone can do at least twenty full range explosive push ups on knuckles he has just enough potential strength for explosive punch and a snap. The problem with lifting heavy weights and boxing is that just there is not enough time to squeeze heavy weight lifting routine into intensive boxing sessions of a competitive boxer without compromising other more important things like working in pairs, heavy bag, mitts, explosive exercises… there has to be enough time for recovery, and if you lift heavy between boxing workouts you will certainly compromise your next boxing session because it will affect your sharpness, and besides that, you will eventually overtrain. The other problem that when you lift heavy you will probably gain some weight and will be forced to go weight category up, and who wants to fight with naturally heavier guys:).. weight matters…

Personally I like lifting weights but when I was in a boxing team there wasn’t even possible to dedicate my time and energy for lifting heavy weights. And before competition I would have to lose about three kilos which for me was always the hardest thing in my boxing career. Our resistance training was mostly just medical balls, push ups, pull ups. The rest was work in pairs and boxing boxing boxing… then mitts and a bag work. My trainer was from Ukraine, and Ukrainian boxing school is very good and respectful.

Best wishes Johnny, nice articles indeed. I am thinking about trainer’s career and this kind of reading is very useful for me because the fighting experience itself just isn’t enough to become a good trainer.

Johnny N August 27, 2012 at 9:37 am

Hi Antonio. Thanks for stopping by. I have a lot of respect for the boxing system in Eastern Europe. I totally agree with your thoughts on weight training. Lifting heavy puts your body into recovery mode which slows your daily progress in other movements and boxing-specific drills.

Johan September 2, 2012 at 10:35 pm

This is why you periodization was invented

Antonio September 4, 2012 at 3:18 pm

and yes, lifting weights for strength isn’t going to affect your punching power in any positive way, it could possibly weaken your punches if you lift too much… because when you punch (very different from jumping or sprinting) you don’t have to overcome any resistance, you generate a free movement in the air, and only the technique allows you to put all your body weight and speed on the target. Body weight matters, yes. While the pure strength is irrelevant to the punching power, but in most cases it only disturbs puncher’s technique and speed. I have seen many strength athletes and all of them were very poor punchers, although good jumpers and some of them good sprinters. Actually for a powerful punch one needs surprisingly little pure muscle strength. Yes, you still need to have some, but not as much as most people not related to boxing tend to think.

The Freak September 7, 2012 at 5:17 pm

“Strength athletes” are no different than other athletes or even people for that matter. If you test another athlete at a sport he has little knowledge or experience in he surely isn’t going to excel at it. Look at Maruisz Pudzianowski for example. While the former strongest man in the world is pretty good athlete for a man of his musculature and bulk, he surely isn’t a talented fighter and not much of a puncher at all. But to be fair to Pudz he started MMA nearing middle-age and took on a former world champion in one of his first fights ever. Now look what happened when Toney entered the cage against an elderly Randy Couture. So when you examine both of the neophyte cage fighters it is Pudz who actually performed better albeit both don’t belong anywhere near an octagon. On the other hand you have the very powerfully built Tank Abbott who has thunder in both hands. Abbott doesn’t have the rock hard body of someone like Pudz, but I’ll bet you Abbott has tossed around plenty of iron to be able to bench press 600lbs. Boxing isn’t a “strength sport” so surely you don’t need to go on a powerlifter or Olympic lifter like weight routine, but some weight training might help if it doesn’t interfere with recovery or other workouts. Abbott’s boxing experience is very limited, so one could easily assume that Abbott like many punchers was born with a punch or he just punches hard naturally. I actually read that when Charlie Goldman, the trainer of the late Rocky Marciano, started getting Rocky to shorten up his punches it actually seemed to interfere with Marciano’s natural power even though he no longer threw wide looping punches. Punching is a natural movement just like running and just as some people are “naturally” faster runners, most “punchers” are purely natural.

Gil August 29, 2012 at 8:56 am

I agree, Antonio..very great points

Tyson August 30, 2012 at 3:16 pm

i recently started boxing and im wondering then if lets say my max weight i could lift for a chest press was around 150 (not actual number cause i dont really know it :P) would it be better to do around 3 sets of 10 reps would like 90-80 lbs be good or should i go down? And does this article mean no lifting at all or, only explosive lifting with small weights and more reps or, like maximum 70-80% of max weight lifting slowly and regularly?

Johnny N September 4, 2012 at 3:41 pm

This article is only to explain why heavy lifting might not increase your punching power.

You can still lift weights, done correctly, it CAN benefit your overall boxing performance. As for the rep count, it depends what muscle, what exercise, what goal you’re trying to achieve. There are many factors involved so I can’t really answer that without knowing all the other details. For boxing in general, it’s not necessary to be working out at your max strength all the time.

You asked a lot of questions and to answer them completely would require 20 more pages of writing to really get a full opinion from all angles. Maybe it’s time for another “boxing & lifting” guide?

Johan September 2, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Hey Johnny!
As a Sports Conditioning coach in Finland, a lot of what you are saying is very smart (not that you need my approval). But some of your points are a bit off. Look I get the whole snapping vs. pushing, and one is done more than the other, but snapping comes from kinetic linking from the ground up to the hand. In other words; technique defines you. But you have to remember, there is no movement without the muscles themselfs. Because our body is structured in a certain way, we adapt to the advantages/disadvantages our biomechanics give us. So for example in punching, we have much more power when we use the whole body as rotational machine: our fist becomes a pendulum. BUT if we have trained in the appropriate manner at the gym, sports specific, then you will learn how to recruit more Motor Units from the muscles that you use during the pendulum swing. More motor units means more muscle fiber activation, so if im searching for that knockout punch in the last round, and have trained my ATP-PC system appropriately, I have the power to knock someone out. Now sure eundurance is more important! Even though the old school claim they did no gym work, they did a ton of work with push up variations and medicine ball throws. It should always be the main priority to be able to punch with ease through all the rounds. But those easy punches become also stronger with appropriate training. NOW the question, what is successful sport specific training for boxing in modern times? Well thats a nother discussion, but im telling you, it exists to a very large extent.

Johan September 2, 2012 at 1:53 pm

And I forgot to mention that Max strength training combined with explosive training (so olympic lifting, plyos, ballistic training) increases endurance in the lower ranges. It basically just means you are equally or more powerful with less effort.

Johnny N September 4, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Hi Johan,

I should clarify that I do not let my fist become a pendulum when I punch. Old school guys definitely spend a lot of time in the gym, I don’t know who ever gave the idea they didn’t.

In any case, I appreciate the comment. Thanks for stopping by.

kostas September 3, 2012 at 6:51 am

guys lightweight helps!!!heavy are disaster special when u doing boxing!i try do heavyweights and boxing…easy get tied and i feel stiff!!!

Raj September 7, 2012 at 8:00 am

Hello Johnny,
It is a pleasure to read your awesome article. Even my coach asks me not to go for heavy workout with exactly the same concepts you have. But just one question is hitting my mind and i really need to clarify it. Any kind of suggestion is highly appreciated.

Here is the question:
I’m a beginner and a bit overweight now. I have been to gym 1 year back and left it and in that 1 year my weight shooted like anything. Anyways, i go for my boxing class on alternate days only and on rest of the days i hits my gym (not heavy weights) but all the super sets to increase the strength and edurance and the workout really over pumps my muscle and i do them with the light weight.

Note: workout includes holding the weights in between for 10-15 seconds so that muscles gets tired soon and then do rest of the reps,

Will it help me to punch more with a snap using my own body weight or will it help me to strengthen the muscles used for fast and hard snap.

Thanks in Advance.

Johnny N September 10, 2012 at 10:47 pm

Snap is developed through a loose and relaxed arm. It’s more technique than conditioning. You develop it through drills rather than exercise.

person September 15, 2012 at 2:17 am

lifting weights does help you with your abilities and it wouldnt work as a disadvantage, it would actually be an advantage because youll be much quicker and much lighter off your feet… and how are you going to be stiff?? it might be because of not stretching… your reflexes also becomes faster when you do because you have more muscles to react with, i dont know why you guys are saying that lifting is bad for boxing because it doesnt slow you down, it makes you speed up and makes your capabilities much higher

tantoink September 20, 2012 at 6:52 am

so what is the best fighting style boxing or mma

Gil September 20, 2012 at 8:16 am

and how are you going to be stiff?? it might be because of not stretching… your reflexes also becomes faster when you do because you have more muscles to react with, i dont know why you guys are saying that lifting is bad for boxing because it doesnt slow you down

I beileve that being a beginner to the sport, the ability to stay relaxed is probably the biggest obstacle I’ve had to overcome. Throwing lifting into the mix will not help me. In fact, since i dropped the weights altogether, I’m faster, more relaxed and agile. I’m only speaking on my behalf and what has worked for me. Additionally, I’m spending more time stretching and skipping.

Nowhere in this article is Johnny implying that lifting is bad for boxing. He clearly stated that done correctly it can improve performance. However, when it’s used for the wrong reasons and intentions, then it’s bad. When time spent in the weight room could be directed towards working to improve weak points, that’s time wasted, IMO. As a beginner, relying on the wrong tools and implements like weights to improve power in lieu of working and improving technique itself is simply the wrong idea. The weight room is not a panacea to improve punching power or cure all. Sadly, that seems to be a recurring theme today not only in boxing, but other combat sports as well. Skill and technique work should be the bread and butter of fighters. Everything else is secondary. Just my .02.

jake September 22, 2012 at 12:51 pm

johnny did say that if you lift for boxing it will make you stiffer and slower, he even said that when you stop lifting weights then you are able to punch much faster and stronger. and you do need to work out your weak points because you cant just leave your weakpoints alone and keep on training with your strong points, thats why you have to be balanced. thats what most people that commented and who wrote this article dont understand

yeah September 22, 2012 at 6:11 am

this website is very great it helps me a lot ,and you are now my new trainer ,because my trainer don’t know about boxing.

Antonio September 22, 2012 at 1:30 pm

This is what happens when guys spend too much time lifting weights:) http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=3Q5UP3nU3Oc

Best wishes to all, and stay sharp:)

THE FREAK September 22, 2012 at 2:32 pm

What the hell was that? Dude I thought I was watching gay porn. Next time put a rating code on your recommended vids. Sheeeeeesh. That was more male buttocks than I or any other heterosexual male would ever want to see exposed.

Sky September 23, 2012 at 12:24 pm

I think the key point to any type of physical conditioning for athletes is, how does that training translate into their sport of choice. Bruce Lee was a prime example of an athlete and martial artist who lived and breathed functionality in his training and conditioning. He owned an extensive personal library of combat sports, exercise and physical conditioning books. He absorbed any information that he thought might make him a better martial artist. He read everything, tried everything and then simply discarded anything that he couldn’t translate in his art form. Bruce Lee was well known among his peers and through numerous demonstrations, to be one of the fastest and most powerful punchers and kickers in his day. Bruce trained with weights, but he was very specific about which lifts and strength exercises he performed. He experimented like a scientist when he went to the gym and tried to translate his training into reality. If an exercise helped him, he kept it. If he didn’t show any improvement, he tossed the exercise out. Bruce would perform new exercise routines for several weeks and then take time off from those exercises, to learn how to apply the targeted area of improvement into reality. He would then record the results in his training logs. i read about a study done with female athletes, which reminded me very much of Bruce’s approach. They took a group of college women athletes (volley ball and basketball) and introduced them to a series of weight lifting exercises designed to increase their jumping height. All of the women showed a measurable increase in their muscle size and strength and a small increase in jumping ability. One group of women never stopped lifting during the study. The other group took several weeks off from lifting and worked only on jumping with their newly improved muscle size and strength. At the end of the study, the women who continued lifting were stronger and bigger, but the women who stopped lifting, could jump higher. Keep in mind that both groups continued to jump on a weekly basis, during their usual team workouts. The point of my lengthy post is this: Weightlifting can probably improve performance in many different sports, but if you never stop and take the time to recover and learn how to use and apply your new found strength, then lifting can’t really help you.

THE FREAK September 23, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Exactamundo. Someone posts a vid that shows three bodybuilders of various stages of development who were kicking and punching the heavy bag if not just for some strange vid or photo shoot or maybe just for some cardio workout. Clearly these guys were BODYBUILDERS and not weight trained athletes or boxers who weight train. Seeing how those guys gassed so quickly proves nothing other than the fact that all three have poor cardiovascular conditioning. Holyfield certainly never lacked cardio and he certainly weight trained and interestingly he performed mostly so-called “bodybuilding” movements and/or routines. You could get a marathon runner or triathlete who has very little experience in hitting a heavy bag, hit the bag for a round or so and you would see the same gasping for air after a brief period punching the big bag. Despite their superior cardio and endurance the marathon runner and the triathlete would be “newbies” when exercising their muscles, heart, and lungs by hitting the heavy bag, and would therefore tire pretty quickly. Weight training and bodyweight exercises are both forms of resistance training and your body has absolutely no idea which one it’s performing, your muscles are only responding to an outside resistance such as your own weight or the weight of a barbell.

invertedcomposer September 23, 2012 at 7:06 pm

mhmm, so i signed up for a weights 1 – Strength and Conditioning class for school for the lulz, but anyhow, i have good technique and am still working on mastering it, will lifting weights inhibit my progress for power? I am not trying to be a body builder, i plan on keeping my body at 135 lb; 10 % body fat for boxing(I already have a decent build from boxing work outs). These are the exercises I may do in a week: Calf Raises, Squats, Deadlifts, Wrist Rollers, Shoulder press, push ups, inverted rows, bench press, pull ups, bicep curls.

Johnny N September 23, 2012 at 7:10 pm

Lifting weights might not hold you back from developing power technique, but they can decrease your power output if you’re lifting them in a particular way. That’s the easiest answer I can give without writing a book on this comment post. Let your teacher know what you want to do and try what he says.

Billy Tang September 26, 2012 at 9:10 pm

I went through most of my boxing journey without weights and then I had a coach that gave me weights. I still suck at weights and it helped me build some muscles that I needed. I wouldn’t say that my punches are any better after using weights but it was definitely helpful as part of my boxing training.
His philosophy was start with weights and then I went on to do sparring, bagwork, mittwork in order to loosen up the muscles. It seemed to work because his son is a bronze medallist.
Weights is definitely not the key to punching harder but it is still notably helpful in a training routine.

chad September 28, 2012 at 7:48 pm

hello Johnny
Is it possible to maintain a good muscular physique and boxing technique and power.

I was an amateur boxer fighting national game in my country before.

right now, my job is personal fitness trainer. I need to lift medium heavy weight to maintain my physique and strength.(sometimes surprise my client)

still don’t wanna sacrifice my boxing skill and power so i combine lots of plyometric and medicine ball rotation toss into my workout routine.

Is it okay to prevent my technique getting worse?

Johnny N October 2, 2012 at 1:42 pm

You will not get bad technique from working out unless you are creating a muscle deficiency from imbalanced exercise routines. You will be fine.

Martin October 4, 2012 at 8:34 am

Hey Johnny, your explanation seems to be plausible to me. However, there is one athlete who is one of the hardest hitters in martial arts, and actually does combine lifting heavy weights with punching really fast. His name is Melvin Manhoef. He can bench press more than 300 pounds, while himself only being 5″9 and weighing approximately 200 pounds. Yet, his striking game is one of the hardest and fastest of all heavy weight K-1 and MMA fighters. How do you explain this?

Johnny N October 4, 2012 at 10:02 am

That’s pretty easy, actually.

1) Melvin Manhoef is the exception, not the norm.

2) 300lbs is not THAT heavy for a person of 200lbs body weight. It would be no different than small guys like me benchpressing 200-250lbs at 140lb bodyweight. (Although I do consider that “heavy lifting”.) Please see the world bench press records here: http://www.powerliftingwatch.com/files/PLWR-M-08-26-12.pdf

Explanations aside, you are free to lift if it benefits you. Don’t let my article, plausible or not, stand in your way.

Bryan W October 5, 2012 at 6:55 pm

1) Fine about Melvin Manhoef, but what about FEDOR EMELIANENKO. This guy doesnt lift weight, you punch harder than most heavyweights in his prime. Melvin is an exception, he was the only person to ever knockout Mark Hunt. Every fighter uses their punch differently, I notice Brock Lesnar punches, if you look at slow motion, he is actually pushing the opponent’s face to the fences. But if you look at JDS, or Fedor’s straight punches, it almost like a bullet coming out of a barrell of a gun.

2) I was powerlifting, as a highschool kid, I was obsessed with weights and gym. Until I met this guy with arms a lot smaller than mine. I was holding the mitts, and I was astonished by the power he generated. Feeling jealous, I went to on add up more weights! but again, it didnt do anything. fffff.. a guy advised me to stop the weight lifting and focus on my boxing. Now I stop the weights, and my punching power have been the hardest I can ever imagine.

Antonio October 9, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Bryan, just recently I have been watching lots of documentaries about Fedor and Alexander Emelianenko on youtube, they talked a lot about their training and other things, of course in Russian. To my big surprise in a couple of places Fedor said he lifted heavy weights at some stages, while in another film his brother Alexander said he lifts a lot, very heavy and often… i know, they don’t exactly look that they lift heavy weights but… maybe they say this on purpose so their opponents start lifting even more and loose the fights against them:)… while in those documentaries I saw them doing lots of functional training, I never so lifting heavy weights though…

Antonio October 9, 2012 at 3:03 pm


this is slightly outside of the sport of boxing, but I am interested to hear you opinion. Lets say, if someone is quite experienced boxer – has around 50 fights, weights around 168 lbs raw fighting weight, hight is 5’11, and then suddenly gets the proposal that in one year he will have to compete in a ring with the best fighters in the world in 168 lbs weight category, no head gear. While he himself during that period of one year before the fight is allowed to gain as much weight as he wants, he would still fight in 168 lbs. His opponents aren’t allowed to exceed the limit of 168 lbs. The prize for a winner is two million dollars !!:). Do you think in this particular scenario it would be beneficial for the guy to incorporate lifting heavy weights and lots of protein, and maybe even steroids (lets say they are allowed) into his preparation for the fight ??? Personally I am not sure… What is your opinion?

Johnny N October 11, 2012 at 10:40 am

No I wouldn’t recommend for him to lift heavy weights. Steroids aren’t bad. Keep in mind there are different kinds of banned substances that do different things such as increasing testosterone (strength) or raise red blood cell count (endurance).

Antonio October 11, 2012 at 1:43 pm

yes yes, but my main point was actually, if gaining significant amount of muscle weight would help him when fighting with slightly better and more technical, but lets say 25 pounds lighter opponents???

Johnny N October 16, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Well, I don’t see how gaining muscle is a clear disadvantage. But how you put that muscle on is another story. Either way, the question itself is not practical in competitive boxing situations. Just about everyone is looking to increase their strength by getting leaner and going down in weight….as opposed to gaining weight and moving to a higher weight class. Strength and power is ultimately a relative definition. “Strong” doesn’t necessarily mean that you can do a certain thing…it just means you can do more than most others.

invertedcomposer October 14, 2012 at 2:04 am

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meUNR0SgSXw&feature=related I think this is a great video to demonstrate how a punch is generated.

Terry, Sae-Jaew October 25, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Here is a simple question for you. A boxing punch is thrown in an order of relax==>let go==>contract this is what give us a snapping punch and is done in a split of a second. By lifting heavy weight and low reps we are teaching our body muscle to really contract in high speed as if not t the heavy weight will fall and also lifting heavy weight in low reps recruit fast twitch muscle which can contract in much higher speed than slow twitch muscle. Yes you are right the motion of boxing punches are not thrown by pushing or contracting your muscles all the way, but we do need to contract at the very end right? I am not saying we should give up all the time for weight training, but if we are really serious about boxing isnt that we should do everything we can to improve?

Johnny N November 5, 2012 at 3:45 pm

The contraction is more like a RESISTANCE than a moving contraction. Kind of like when you jump on the ground and your legs “resist” the ground momentarily. A punch is in many ways like a slap which you adding weight to the punch by “RESISTING” right before the hand impacts….that way it feels like a “weighted slap” as opposed to just a regular slap.

And yes, you SHOULD be doing absolutely everything possible to improve; however this doesn’t mean that everyone will improve you. And eventually, you’ll realize the right areas to focus and the wrong areas to focus. Keep experimenting and you’ll see soon enough.

john holmes October 26, 2012 at 2:40 pm

There is nothing wrong with heavy squats if you’re doing daily roadwork/sprintwork and training in the boxing gym 6 days a week. Squats can actually make you faster, more explosive and increase your punching power.

Yes, I’m a pro boxer. I squat once a week with fairly heavy weights, but focus on high reps. Your power comes from the ground and your legs first. Leg strength = punching power. Look at Tyson’s thighs. Not everyone has those big things naturally. Weight lifting (squats) is needed to add muscle to the femur bone.

Not everyone is the same. I’m a great athlete who played college football. I know my body and have lifted for damn near 20 years. It does not effect my speed and I believe it increases my punching power. Saying that, weights won’t help someone not born being an athlete or more importantly BORN WITH KNOCK OUT POWER. I was blessed with both. I get faster when I add weights to my training before a fight.

My 2 cents.

john holmes October 26, 2012 at 2:44 pm

When I said above that squats can make you faster, I meant running speed and explosive power. Squats also release vital hormones HGH and Testosterone. So do DeadLifts. These two hormones are great for healing the body and increasing performance.

john holmes October 26, 2012 at 2:55 pm

1 last thing—I do other parts besides my legs, but I stick to power movements and core lifts. No bodybuilding type exercises. People need to seperate bodybuilding and weight lifting for your sport. Two completely different things!

***DON’T FORGET—Weights were TABOO in baseball and basketball until the 80’s and 90’s when they figured out you can get bigger, stonger and faster at the same time. Look at the NBA and MLB now, those guys are all jacked now and their speed has gone nowhere.

Antonio October 26, 2012 at 5:21 pm

It’s funny, when I sometimes read some forums, I see lots of wannabe boxers or just fighters start from asking a typical question: “what weight exercise routine could increase my punching power”:).. they think those weights are very important:) They see those professional fights with impressive knockouts and think I wanna do the same:).. most of them think probably I need to bench at least 300 lbs in order to be able to knock someone out… ha ha…

In fact, most of the guys already have way more potential power than they really need to knock someone out… and actually that’s why later when they train and spar they have to wear those bulky 18 oz gloves and still arrange to go 75%, that is because they have too much power and try to protect themselves…

But on the other hand, why when this new trainee comes to a ring and spars with a more experienced boxer he just looks useless and his power disappears somewhere??? aha:).. there are three main reasons for this fiasco… and most likely guys have all of those three, some have just two of them, and some few may have just one. OK now, 1) they are TOO SLOW! and on top of that they telegraph their slow punches. With this, even the power of Mike Tyson would be useless. Boxing coaches say speed is power, but that’s OK. Speed kills, speed is crucial. 2) They have NO STAMINA! In the sport of boxing STAMINA IS POWER!, because the lack of stamina reduces punching power as nothing else. 3) They have NO DECENT TECHNIQUE and sparing/fighting experience. Of course, technique has a huge effect on the first two as well, but without technique we cannot even talk about boxing.

When a boxer noticeably improves all those three, the real punching power appears like from nowhere… I am not even talking here about timing, precision of punches, these are also very important attributes for increasing boxer’s punching power. There are many ways how to improve stamina and technique, but the speed is more mysterious. As when throwing a punch you don’t have to overcome any significant resistance, the only way to improve punching speed is speed punching, and speed punching with high concentration. This way you improve your neuromuscular connection and with time start punching faster. While benching, and especially heavy benching, just will make you slower. Look at one of the fastest boxer on the planet Manny Pacquiao and his training, particularly his shadow boxing.

VAlex October 31, 2012 at 9:14 am

Hello all!
I have a question Is it good for a boxer to train with GSP Rushfit or its not a good thing to do when u are boxing ?

Johnny N November 5, 2012 at 3:48 pm

I don’t know why you would do GSP rushfit (an at-home cardio program) when you could just do regular’ole boxing training.

Antonio October 31, 2012 at 10:26 am


if you train boxing seriously you won’t need to go anywhere else to have an additional physical training, nor you will have enough energy and mental recourses for that. However, you may still find some time to play chess with your family members. But if you don’t train boxing seriously anything will work, because it won’t matter anyway:)

Terry, Sae-Jaew November 6, 2012 at 6:39 pm

So if i train 5 days a week, will i really build enough strength and speed by only bag works jump rope and sparring from that 5 days?

Johnny N November 6, 2012 at 8:02 pm

Well you need more than that to maximize your conditioning progress. Calisthenics, plyometrics, mittwork, etc.

Marlon E. P. November 11, 2012 at 11:50 am

I understand Johnny’s position, but I believe there are advantages of strength training, weightlifting, bodybuilding, or powerlifting when “an addition” to great boxing technique/form. I’m no expert boxer [yet], but I’ve an I.Q. high enough to bear my own witness of these advantages [some of which I care not do disclose] which include, yes, “punching power”, “explosive speed”, or [combined] “explosive punching power & speed”. A 200lb male that throws around & handles 120lb. dumbells with 1 hand as if they were nothing, IMHO would be more effective in a fight with his “Boxing Equal” who has a hard time moving 1 of those dumbells with 2 hands.

Johnny N November 13, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Assuming all variables equal, an advantage in any area (such as strength) would be indeed a clear advantage. The problem is that many people develop strength at a detriment to other attributes (such as speed, endurance)…which is common when developing strength through weight lifting. If you can do it without hampering other attributes, you would have an advantage.

Clive November 17, 2012 at 6:27 am

I have been fighting and training for over 25 years and I can 100% tell u that lifting weights in the right direction will improve punch power. Strengh times speed times verlocity equals power that’s what knocks people out. It not just about the weights, u must stretch ur ligaments constantly so your arms can feel free so u can throw that snapping punch whenever u feel ready and that u can feel ready and relaxed enough to throw it. Couple this with ultimate fitness and u will be able to chuck these punches all day long. Don’t pump iron just lift to your maximum Strengh and then u know what u are capable of the rest is in the mind and eye’s.

Sohail November 18, 2012 at 7:56 am

I just wanted to know if punching bags increase punching power . And if it does should I stick with the same punching bag weight for a year (50) lbs or should I increase? Every 2 weeks etc. And what about training for STRENGTH not muscle for workout will that help? plz reply ASAP thanks in advance.

Johnny N November 24, 2012 at 2:14 pm

The punching is one way of developing power. There are many ways to train for strength. A simple boxing workout would be a good place for you to start.

haile November 20, 2012 at 8:17 am

what about lifting smaller weights for building some amount of muscle for being strong and lifting middle weights and doing jab, stretching and other things so that you will be more flex and strong, Is this bad or good? big fan,thank you!