Having serious power in your hands is one of the biggest advantages you can have in combat sports like Muay Thai. A good Muay Thai fighter is equally adept at throwing punches, elbows, knees, or kicks. These weapons are used at different ranges so Muay Thai fighters often choose which strikes to use based on how far away they are from their target.
Punches are the preferred weapons in Muay Thai when you’re too close to your opponent to throw kicks and not close enough for knees or elbows.
Increasing your punching power increases the odds of you scoring knockouts during competition, and it also prevents opponents from crowding you. Aggressive fighters typically like to overwhelm opponents with their pressure, and one of the few things that can back them off is landing hard punches or kicks on them.
Doubling Your Punching Power for Muay Thai
Looking to learn how to punch harder? Let’s take a look at some of the exercises you should add to your fitness routine:
Most people don’t think of shadowboxing when looking for ways to increase their punching power, but they should. Shadowboxing doesn’t strengthen the muscles used to throw punches, but it allows you to work on your technique.
Many fighters don’t punch as hard as they should simply because they have poor punching form. Nothing takes away from your punching power more than not having the proper mechanics. For example, a fighter who throws “arm punches” won’t hit as hard as one with perfect technique – which involves generating power with their entire body – even if everything else is even.
Ensure poor technique isn’t negatively impacting your punching power by shadowboxing regularly to fine-tune your mechanics. Don’t just stand in front of a mirror and throw random punches when shadowboxing. Make it as realistic as possible by imagining you’re facing a real trained boxer. Block their imaginary shots, use your feet to move around, and use proper technique when you exploit their imaginary openings.
Heavy bags were developed to help boxers to increase their punching power, and they work just as well for Muay Thai fighters. The heavy bag provides a soft target you can throw full-force punches without having to worry about damaging your hands. It provides resistance training for the muscles activated when you throw a punch, strengthening them, which, in turn, makes your punches more powerful.
You also get to work on your endurance and mechanics when working on a heavy bag, leading to more powerful punches.
Try breaking up your heavy bag drills into three-minute rounds with one-minute rest periods between rounds to mimic a real Muay Thai match.
Here’s a simple heavy bag drill that’ll have you throwing harder punches in no time:
- Throw ten jabs as hard as you can
- Throw ten crosses
- Throw ten lead hooks
- Throw ten rear hooks
- Throw ten lead uppercuts
- Throw ten rear uppercuts
The key to getting the most out of this drill is throwing all the punches as hard as you can. Don’t worry about speed at all when doing this. The only thing you should be focused on is using proper technique and throwing your punches as hard as you possibly can. You should be trying to make each punch a little harder than the last one you threw. Perform this drill often, and it’s only a matter of time before you develop hands of stone.
3) Clean And Press
This full-body exercise should be part of your workout routine if you’re looking to increase your punching power and explosiveness. It is an Olympic lift that engages many of the same muscles you use explosively when you throw a punch like your abs, arms, chest, shoulders, back, and legs.
It’s an excellent movement to increase overall strength and explosiveness all over your body, which means even your kicks, elbows, and knees will become harder once you make this exercise part of your fitness routine.
Here’s what the exercise looks like:
- While keeping your back straight, drop into a squat and grab a barbell using an overhand grip
- In one explosive movement, lift the barbell to your shoulders and drop back down into a squat
- Push your heels into the ground and extend your arms to press the bar over your head
- Lower the weight back onto your shoulders and drop back into a squat to complete a rep
- Aim for three to five sets of eight to twelve reps
4) Sledgehammer Drills
You’ve probably seen promos of fighters performing this drill as they prepare for their upcoming fights. Sledgehammer drills aren’t something fighters do just to look cool. It’s an effective functional exercise that forces you to generate power by torquing your hips, abs, and torso like you would when throwing a punch.
Performing this drill increases the power you can generate by rotating your torso, so it’ll also help to increase the power behind your kicks.
To perform sledgehammer drills:
- Stand square to the tire with your feet about hip-width apart
- Hold the bottom of the hammer’s shaft with your strong hand, and place your weak hand higher on the shaft. Raise the hammer over your weak-side shoulder
- Engage your core and push your hips back as you swing the hammer down. Slide your weak hand down the shaft during the movement to complete a rep. Aim for three sets of 10 to 15 reps
5) Modified Alternating Dumbbell Press
The alternating dumbbell press is another exercise that targets many of the muscles that are activated when you throw a punch. You can get more out of the exercise by modifying it a bit for punches. Instead of keeping your back and hips flat on the bench when pumping out your reps, use your abs and hips to twist your torso as you press the dumbbell.
Here’s what the exercise looks like:
- Lie back on an exercise bench set at a 45-degree angle with a dumbbell in each hand. Bring the weight up to your shoulder level with your palms facing away from your
- Exhale as you press one arm up and use your hips and abs to twist your torso as your arm moves up. Squeeze your chest at the top of the movement before bringing your arm back down to the starting position
- Repeat the movement with your other arm to complete a rep. Aim for three sets of eight to twelve reps. Use heavier dumbbells if you can easily get more than twelve reps
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