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Rotational power exercises are held in high regard in the Boxing world as rotational force and speed are integral components for a powerful punch.

Rapid rotation of the hips and torso is a crucial factor when transferring force through the kinetic chain. The core is the key link when force is transmitted from the lower body through to the fist.

In effective torso rotation will create ‘energy leaks’, that can negatively impact punching force and speed. Furthermore, boxers may subconsciously super compensate with muscles in the lower-back to rotate or laterally-flex the spine.

This super-compensation can lead to over-activity in these muscle groups, potentially increasing the risk of inflammation, muscular soreness and injury in the lower-back muscles.

In order to improve performance and reduce the likelihood of injury, athletes and coaches should focus on exercises to improve rotational performance.

The Problem with Rotational Training

Powerful and fast exercises such as rotational medicine ball throws are desirable by coaches and fighters as this has kinematic similarities to how punches are delivered during boxing.

However, before an athlete focusses on developing rotational speed they need to develop the foundations – such as rotational mobility, stability and strength. Without these foundations, speed exercises will not optimise the activation of the core muscles that directly benefit rotational performance.

At Boxing Science, we massively prioritise rotational mobility, strength and stability prior to using exercises to develop speed and power.

In this article we will

  • Explain the benefits of rotational mobility, strength and power training.
  • Share a range of exercises to develop each characteristic.
  • Suggest how to integrate this into a training programme.

Step 1 – Rotational Mobility

Rotational mobility of the torso and thoracic spine. Adequate range of motion in this area is important to reduce undesirable core tension during punching and prevent lower back injuries. ⁣

Rotational mobility is needed in Boxing to transfer force from ‘foot to fist’ when delivering punches.⁣

However, tightness in muscles across the THORACIC SPINE can limit rotation, causing the Quadratus Lumborum (QL) to play a big role during rotation.⁣

The QL muscle starts at the pelvis, inserting at the lowest rib and tips of transverse processes of lumbar vertebrae. It plays an essential role in stabilizing the pelvis when a person is upright, and contribute to spinal lateral flexion and extension.

This can become over-activated due to other tightness and imbalances across the kinetic chain whilst throwing a punch. The QL can come under increased strain if an athlete has underdeveloped lateral stabilisers (obliques), poor hip flexor mobility or rotational mobility of the thoracic spine. 

This increased activity can cause lower back pain. 

You can use a foam roller, spend money on a sports massage and try numerous ways to stretch it to make it feel better, but this is likely to be only a short term fix.⁣

To make beneficial long-term changes, we should focus on improving hip flexor mobility, core stability and hip abductor strength. This will reduce the compensatory patterns of the QL and use the preferred muscles of the kinetic chain.

This will make our rotational actions more efficient with increased force, helping improve performance and reduce the likelihood of injury.

Two Key Areas for Improving Rotational Mobility

Thoracic Rotation

The thoracic spine is the twelve vertebrae of the middle segment of the vertebral column. Movement limitations in this area is very common in Boxing due to anterior overactivity of 1000’s of punches, the guard and stance of a boxer and general 21st century living (seated, computers, driving).

Thoracic extension and rotation are the key movements that are limited, and are associated with shoulder and lower-back injuries.

To improve thoracic rotation, we need to separate the movement from the lower-body and lower-back. We can do this through verbal and physical cues during exercises such as eagles, windmills and quadruped thoracic rotations (see video below).

Upper-Lower Body Separation

Upper-lower body separation is an important attribute to train as this will help improve the efficiency of the kinetic chain. 

This is where there is a disconnect between the upper-body and lower-body. The better we are at this means that can create more tension in the core and hip muscles eccentrically, as well as creating increased torque. This can then transfer into a fast and forceful action.

Check out a range of exercises below to help improve rotational mobility.

Building Rotational Strength

Our end goal is to rapidly rotate the torso to deliver powerful punches and fast combinations. However, prior to working on fast and dynamic actions to develop rotational speed & power – we need to create rotational strength and stability through a range of bodyweight, banded and weight-loaded exercises.

These exercises fall into the category named ‘Anti-Rotation’.

Anti rotation for boxing

Anti-rotation is the ability to resist rotation of the trunk ⁣⁣and the lumbar spine. Developing this attribute will help increase the eccentric / deceleration during rotation, this will improve the effectiveness of the stretch-shortening of the core muscles during fast actions.

Effectively, by increasing rotational strength we create ourselves a stable base to fire from when performing fast and dynamic rotational actions.⁣⁣

From a technical perspective, excessive rotation during combinations could affect the angle of attack or defensive position⁣⁣. Developing the SSC will contribute to more forceful combination punching and improves the boxer’s ability to recover from slipping or ducking maneouvres which can create more opportunities for counter-punching.

Furthermore, poor rotational strength and stability can be associated with lower-back injuries through super-compensation.

In consideration, athletes and coaches should integrate ‘anti-rotation’ exercises in order to boost performance and reduce the likelihood of injury.

Check out some of the exercises Boxing Science use in the videos below.


Once we have built the strength and movement foundations for functional and optimal rotation, we can start to focus on developing rotational power.

You can improve rotational power and speed with a range of different exercises, however we need to make sure that we’re working towards our purpose.


Rotational exercises need to develop and challenge the STRETCH-SHORTENING CYCLE of the core muscles. An in-effective SSC of the core musculature will create ‘energy leaks’ and effect our ability to rotate fast and hard. 

This means that rotational exercises SHOULD NOT be from a static start, and there should be an eccentric movement for it to be transferrable to Boxing performance. 

This is where partner MB Throws and fast Banded Rotations can benefit to create eccentric demands to create a challenge for ‘anti-rotational’ strength to then transfer into an explosive rotation. This will develop the stretch shortening cycle of the core


An athletes’s tendency when performing rotational throws would be to lean over the lead leg following release of the medicine ball. This is using your bodyweight’s momentum to generate the power, and not optimising the contribution of the core musculature. 

Plus it’s a bad technical fault to lean over the front foot when Boxing

Make sure to perform the exercises with the trunk in a neutral position. Also this can be challenged with side-step to throw (exercise 3)


Upper-lower body separation is an important attribute to train as this will help improve the efficiency of the kinetic chain. 

This will allow the trunk to rotate more without moving the lower-body. This will increase activation of the core muscles   mduring a dynamic exercise


The myofacia sling consists of the external oblique and internal oblique, connecting with contralateral adductor muscles via the adductor-abdominal fascia. This is challenged through rotational and multi-directional movements, and can massively benefit kinetic chain sequencing during a punching action

The trajectory of the sling is diagonal from the hip to the opposite oblique. This requires a different angle to regular rotational exercises, therefore we have to challenge eccentric and concentric actions through this angle. 

That’s why we use the Rotational Med Ball Slam, Side Shuffle to Throw and The Medicine Ball Woodchops,

Check out the huge range of rotational power exercises we use at Boxing Science.

Putting it all together

This article has given you a wide-range of exercises and a bunch of exercises to start developing your rotational performance. But what is the best way to start integrating this into your programmes?

Add 2 Rotational Strength Exercises Per Strength Session

Add 4-5 Rotational Mobility Exercises During Warm-Ups

Perform Just Rotational Strength / Stability Exercises First 1-2 S&C Camps

10 Week Camp – 4 Weeks Strength, 3 Weeks Supersets, 3 Weeks Rotational Speed / Power

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