at-tack [uh-tak]
to set about (a task) or go to work on (a thing) vigorously: to attack the workout; to attack the job with zeal

Friday, 9 March 2012

Fight Strength Tip #1

Combat athletes all over the world lust over one thing, devastating punching power. It's one thing to be able to hurt the other guy with a combination, it's another to scramble his brains with a single punch. Real punching power is a great asset in your corner, if you can't beat somebody with you skills alone you can always hope for one good shot that will turn the tide of battle to your side. It can keep opponents that are normally aggressive off of you and even mess with their heads and cause doubt. From Mike Tyson to Chuck Liddel fighters have been revered for their punching power, while not everyone can be as devastating as these two fighters, everybody can improve their punching power to a very respectable level even the powder puffs out there. I'm going to go over some physical attributes that will help anybody attain greater punching power and a few methods to improve these attributes alone.

Shadowboxing: Even the pro's do it

There is a reason that in every gym you step foot in technique will be constantly fine tuned and focused on. With poor technique force generated can be wasted (and thus waste your energy) or never tapped into. Great technique will make you hit harder because all your limbs and even your spine is lined up in such a manner to minimize wasted energy and maximize leverages. As an example if your feet are too close together and you make impact too soon in your punch you will knock yourself off balance and hit before maximum force is generated.

The best way to improve technique is to shadowbox in front of a mirror being a critic of the timing of the twisting motion in your hips, when you turn over your punch, body position, etc. Here is a series of videos that cover technique very well. I suggest shadowboxing every day if only for 3 rounds focusing purely on punching correctly with proper balance and your hands in their place.

All the strength in the world won't help you hit the guy, it'll help make it more powerful but it won't make it land, the landing bit is pretty important. Of course your timing and awareness is crucial but speed gets your fist from point A to point B without your opponent reacting and blocking or getting out of the way.

Now I know this isn't a physics class and there are other factors into this equation but in physics if you double somethings mass you also double the kinetic force BUT if you double somethings speed you triple its kinetic energy.

A great way to improve speed is to punch with resistance bands or weights. Punching with light weights (1-5lbs) is controversial because some claim it can damage your tendons and ligaments, I however have not experienced any problems but I do heed the warnings and do it at a controlled pace while not over-extending my punches.

I also use this resistance band set up, it's very comfortable and is joint friendly, the only criticism it could possibly get from people looking to nit-pick is that it also pulls down a bit and can supposedly screw up your muscle memory but this is negligible because you would be punching much much more without this so a few punches here and there aren't going to all of a sudden make you punch like garbage. I got mine for 20 bucks at an Xcess cargo. Regular resistance bands will work also but you either have to train one side at a time or they can rub your back and arms and it can get annoying.

Imagine hitting someone with but your belly is made of jello, your feet would stay planted of course but your upper body would bend and flop back on impact so it wouldn't be very solid. Training your core to generate force AND resist rotation is key to hitting hard. When punching first you must generate force with your core and hips, this force is carried by your fist into the opponents face or body. Upon impact you must resist the jello effect (the flopping) and continue through, having great core stability will prevent you from recoiling and then you can proceed to punching through your target by once again generating force.

A great exercise for generating the needed force is russian twists, you can do these with or without weight and also on a decline bench. Another exercise for the generation of force in your core is windshield wipers, these however are not as versatile and easy to add weight or difficulty on but is a solid exercise.

To resist rotation a beginners exercise would be the one arm plank, you should begin with a plank before moving to this one, to perform a one arm plank simply follow the advice in this video and remove one arm while keeping your shoulders level. Another great exercise is a one arm pushups, I would say more about this exercise but nick says it all only better, enjoy the video.

When you punch somebody you only have fractions of a second to generate force so you must train with this in mind. Somebody who can bench 500lbs can still be hit (relatively) lightly for how strong they are, the reason for this is because it takes your body .5 seconds to reach maximum force (this is what you would do to the bar while bench pressing) and you have less than .1 seconds. So in theory this bench presser could generate 100lbs of force in .1 seconds, but if he trained with plyometrics and maintained his strength he would soon generate 110lbs of force, 120lbs of force, 130lbs and so on, but without plyometrics he would have to increase his weight by 100lbs to add 10lbs of force in .1 seconds, this is why plyometrics are vital.

Plyometrics are a popular way to train your body to generate force faster, a great exercise for this is clapping pushups. Clapping pushups can be very challenging especially if you try to clap behind your back, over your head, multiple times in front or even once in front then behind then back in front (my personal best).

Plyometrics for your legs and core are also very important because only part of your punching power comes from your upper body. Squat jumps, lateral jumps, lunge jumps, broad jumps and tuck jumps are all excellent for your legs. Throwing anything is great for your core in any direction but in particular twisting motions, throwing a medicine ball by simply twisting your torso works and also using a resistance band.

This ties into #4. Maximal Strength is the maximum amount of force your body can generate, which is usually reached on average at .5 seconds. If you can only generate 100lbs of force and reach your peak force after .5 seconds but you only have .1 seconds, then in theory you could only generate 20lbs of force in the amount of time you have. But by increasing your strength by 10lbs you can now generate 22lbs of force, by increasing it by another 40lbs (150) you can now generate 30lbs of force. This is a rather inefficient way of increasing punching power when done alone and doesn't even guarantee anything but when used along with the plyometrics described above, it can increase the effectiveness three-fold.

I will not get much in depth here because many people know alot already but I will however list my personal favorite exercises for increasing raw strength and a few guidelines. Deadlifts, Romanian Split Squats, One Arm Pushups, Handstand Pushups, Pull-ups (weighted), One-Arm Pullups, Glute Ham Raises and Bodyweight tricep extensions. When training for raw strength keep the reps at 5 or less with an appropriate weight with longer rest periods (2-4 minutes) and the sets around 3-5 per exercise and up to 3 exercises per movement pattern (upper body push, upper pull, lower push, lower pull, etc). Training strength 3 times in a two week period with a full body routine is all that is needed to increase strength while still leaving you energy for conditioning and skill work.

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