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Science Behind Golovkin

Gennady Golovkin is the name on many boxing fans lips this week, with his upcoming fight against undefeated Dominic Wade in Inglewood, California this Saturday.

After an impressive knockout performance against David Lemieux, millions of boxing fans worldwide are now wondering whether Kazakhstan’s superstar is man, or machine.

In a special two-part article series, Danny Wilson will explain the ‘Science behind Golovkin’, and why he hits that hard!

Science Behind Golovkin

As we explain in many of our strength and conditioning articles, punching force is dependent on the Impulse-Momentum relationship. This is the change in momentum experienced by a body under the action of a force is equal to the impulse of the resultant force.

So basically, punching force can be improved by either increased hand speed and increase body mass. However, in a weight restricted sport, a boxer is limited in using increased body mass to develop a harder punch. Therefore, exercises to improve hand speed are preferred methods.

A reminder of the science behind the punch, read more here.

You watch Golovkin box, and he doesn’t particularly have lightening fast hands. So how does he generate that much punch force? Yes, he has neat footwork and timing, but a lot of boxers have that with less knockouts on their record.

Golovkin possesses a secret tool….

Effective Mass

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

So why is this a big contributor to Golovkin’s success?

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

Look at Golvkin in the picture below (middle), the thickness of his core is one of the biggest in boxing. Furthermore, his forearms are quite well developed too. This allows him to create more tension upon impact, giving him a real snap in his punch.

At a moderate stature of 5″10, this makes you question whether being tall and having a long range is a benefit to the 21st century boxer? Or is Golovkin paving the way for the next generation of boxers to concentrate on developing effective mass? 

I am sure our continuation of research in Boxing will answer this in the near future.

Frampton, Golovkin and Kovalev


What exercise can I do to improve this?

There are loads of ways to improve core strength and size. Mainly heavy compound exercises, Olympic lifts and isolated core training.

See our core training article here 

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’. This encourages the stiffening upon impact when throwing straight shots and connecting with your opponent towards the end range of a punch.

Check out the video below.

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World-class footwork

A key contributor to Golovkin’s knockout success is his effective footwork. He moves effortlessly in and out of range, creating angles that his opponents can’t deal with.

GGG finds his range so easily and rarely throws a long shot. He often lets his shots go when he’s well within range of his opponent, meaning he’s able to maximise the force of each punch.

But why does this allow GGG to put so much force into his punches?

A video posted by FIGHTINKING ??? (@fightinking) on

Science behind the mid-range punch

The mid-range punch is the most effective and can be explained by the physiology and mechanics of muscle action.

The length-force relationship describes how much force a muscle can produce at different lengths, and there’s an optimal length at which force is maximised. Muscle action can be limited if the the muscle is stretched or at a short length.

What does this mean for my punch? 

Golovkin Length tension

If you connect with your opponent at the end range of a punch, you might still have hand speed. However, the muscle action may be limited when you stiffen up on impact (effective mass) due to the elbow locking out. Conversely, muscle activation is also reduced when you’re letting shots go at short range.

What does this mean? If you’e out of range or too close, your punch force will be compromised (see graphic above)

The mid-range punch has the potential to provide you with optimal hand speed and muscle action on impact

Due to Golovkin letting his shots go mainly in mid-range, this means the muscle action during a punch will be optimal upon impact – this occurs mainly in the upper-limbs and torso.

We understand that working predominantly within mid-range of your opponent is a difficult skill to master, that’s why Golovkin is at the top of his game. Therefore, our task from a strength and conditioning perspective is to help our boxers become more effective punchers over different ranges.

How can we improve this?

Lets say we want a harder punch at a longer range. One way we can do this is to increase the amount of force generating elements within a muscle-tendon unit but that has implications for making weight. So a great way to improve this is by using a technique called Accommodating Resistance Training.

This is where the resistance of an exercise increases with the range of motion encouraging an athlete to apply more force at the top of the lift. This can be achieved with bands, chains or partial range lifts, mainly done with squats, deadlifts and upper-body pressing exercises.

See the video below where we have applied accommodating resistance methods on pressing exercises across the Force-Velocity curve.


  • In part 1 of this series – the Science behind Golovkin, we revealed that ‘effective mass’ played a big role in his knockout success.
  • In this article, we used GGG’s effective footwork and range-finding skills to demonstrate why his mid-range punches are so devastating
  • With a bit of physiology and mechanics of muscle action we showed you that the mid-range punch is the most effective for producing high-force
  • But it takes a lot of skill to be effective mid-range so improving your ability to produce force across a range of angles is important
  • One of the ways you can improve punch force at your end-range is by using a technique called accommodating resistance training

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