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Some people in boxing say that speed kills… but there are many boxers with fast hands that lack that knockout punch.

This may be due to a lack of SNAP in the punch.

Strength and Conditioning coach Danny Wilson explains and shares training methods that can help increase the ‘snap’ in the punch.

Delivering Hard Punches Requires….

Developing large magnitudes of force in short periods of time

The momentum of the punching arm is important and has been demonstrated to be a key variable contributing to the impulsiveness of a punch

A second pulse in muscle activation is required on impact and has been defined as “stiffening” to create “effective mass”

Increase the ‘SNAP’ with Effective Mass

Effective mass is a term given to the ‘snap’ of a punch. This requires the whole body to stiffen up upon impact.

The snap requires whole body tension, however the main contributors are the arms, shoulder joint and the core.

This is mostly dependant on skill. The ability to tense upon impact takes years and years of practice.

However, it’s much easier and quicker to make physical adaptations to help improve punch force. Changing someones technique may take time, and sometimes hamper a boxers progress, especially for more experienced boxers.

How to Improve ‘Effective Mass’

Effective Mass can be improved through general strength and conditioning methods, such as heavy compound lifts, Olympic lifting and core training.

There are some specific exercises that can be used for boxers focussing on developing ‘effective mass’

Pads and Heavy Bags

Pads and bags are something that most boxers do anyway, but this can be really beneficial for effective mass. However, a lot of boxers see these as conditioning or speed drills.

Instead of aimlessly smashing the bags for cardio, look to sink in your shots and look for quality, forceful punches with added snap!

Coaches can use cues such as ‘Stiffen’ the arm or ‘Pop’ the hips.

Isometric Trunk Training

Trunk training can also be used as means to facilitate improvements in the generation of ‘effective mass’.

Overloading the trunk with heavy, stability exercises such as farmer holds, or exercises that can increase the isometric  force production (bracing) at impact. Try out this one below….

Overcoming Isometrics

This is used Force is developed with the intent to overcome the external force. E.g. Working against an immovable object such as the pins of the Squat Rack. 

The main reason this is utilised in Boxing is because it can increase rate of force development, as well as activating and developing fast-twitch muscle fibres.

An added benefit is that it creates that whole body tension that is required for the punching ‘snap’.

There are many ways to perform overcoming isometrics. Check out the video below to improve isometric strength of the upper-body.

End Range Stiffening

When particularly targeting the development of effective mass in boxing, we use specific exercises that encourage whole body tension at various stages of a punch.

The main exercise we use is the ‘Landmine punch with isometric hold’.

Landmine Punch with Isometric hold requires the coach / a training partner to push down on the bar when the athlete is at full extension of the punching action. This will encourage the athlete to create tension in the arm, core and lower-body muscles in a short amount of time, contributing to the ‘Snap’ of the punch. 

This also mimics the ‘double-activation’ pattern seen in a punch, making the Landmine Punch with Isometric hold a highly effective exercise when improving punching power. 

Perform 3-5 repetitions x 3-5 sets during strength-speed and speed-strength blocks.

Another ‘End-Range’ isometric exercise is the isometric punch holds.

These are a great exercise to use during warm-ups and tapering phases. Isometric punch holds increases stiffness, tension and core stabilisation through the end range of the punch. This helps create an effective SNAP in the end range of punches.

This whole body tension can be an effective tool used to fire up the muscles that contribute to punching. This makes it a great potentiation tool that boxers can use during warm-ups for training and competition. 

A partner should apply sufficient tension to the end range of your punch, getting their body behind it.

Build and apply tension and force for 3-5 seconds, bracing the core, shoulders and lower body. Work through 1-2 repetitions of the jab, cross, hooks, and uppercuts, on both sides.

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