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The Elusive Search For More Power in Boxing.

Coach Neil Holland breaks down what you need to do in the quest for greater punching power.

By Neil Holland   - @intuboxing

When it comes to boxing sooner or later all boxers would like more power. Often the notion is that jumping on the weights and improving muscle mass will deliver it. In my experience, though nothing could be further from the truth. Muscle weighs heavier than fat, and an already lean boxer at the top of his or her weight category could easily tip the scales firmly against being able to make the target-weight in future.

I think it’s true that real punchers are born not made. This is where genetics, fast muscle-twitch fibres and natural athleticism come into play. We’ve all seen the muscles some boxers have, and yes, they will propel the hand quickly to the target, but not universally. Still, even with great muscle tone, there can be a huge difference between muscles that deliver strength, and muscles that deliver speed. The latter is where conditioning what you’ve already got comes into play. Making the most of what you already have is key to more power. You could say that mass x acceleration equals power. For example, take an orthodox boxer of ten stones throwing a straight right. The aim would be to propel and transfer as much of that ten stone towards the opponent. If the technique is correct, the boxer ends up with potentially all ten stone of weight accelerating through the target, concentrated in a couple of square inches that is the knuckle part of the glove. The arm locked straight at the point of contact ensures that the effect is like running into a pole set in concrete. If timed as the opponent is moving towards you both actions multiply the effect and deliver yet much more power. The same applies to a power-jab.

When the muscle-laden power puncher meets the skilled boxer and the rounds go by you often see the point where the lactic acid builds up inside those big muscles. Fatigue in boxing is a terrible thing when it arrives in a major way. Lots of slightly-built boxers carry serious power and it nearly always comes from combinations of speed, timing and technique. Power in boxing occurs in context with the opponent's condition or mistake. Great boxers read these moments. Power punches that are concussive come more frequently when boxers are able to bring their feet, stance, distance, timing and ability to read their opponent, together in one split second of instinctive opportunity.

If a boxer is after more power, then it is wise to pull everything together. Too often I see slow hands, poor footwork, poor use of distance, poor stance, poor balance and poor concentration. The boxers where these deficiencies are much harder to identify are usually champions.


 1. Improve and work on defence.

Why? This will give you more opportunities and better positions.

2. Improve your footwork

Why. This will compliment your defence and improve your striking positions.

3. Use weights to train for speed, not muscle. (Less weight, more reps, in shorter times)

Why? Muscle strength dissipates with muscle fatigue. Correct whole-body mechanics delivers power more through technique than strength and is still there during fatigue.

4. Practise punching that involves rotation of the body.

Why? This generates good technique that feeds off good speed and footwork.

5. Concentrate on fitness and conditioning.

Why? Believe me, everything in performance comes off the back of this.

6. Learn the difference between pulled punches and driven punches.

Why? Pulled punches follow the commitment of the body direction. The body weight pulls the punch through and accelerates it like a hammer thrower does. The driven punch uses the body weight to push the punch into the opponent. Both are much more powerful than arm punching alone.

7. Learn the difference between weight balanced evenly on both legs and weight transferred over the front leg or the back leg.

Why? This is a crucial sensation to master because it leads to small, fast and powerful shifts of body weight that enhance the punch. It seems an obvious skill but this subtle mastery is crucial to control of power involving timing.

8. Master timing. Learn to punch as the target moves towards you or onto any favoured shot. It will amplify the power you already have.

Why? It’s the car crash principle, the combining of the mass of two bodies plus their acceleration.

9. Lie on your back with shoulders flat on the floor and punch upwards.

Why? This will show you how power punching relies on body mechanics and is the best way to remind anyone that simply jumping on the weights does not deliver the best power. You will feel useless and robbed of nearly all power. Try it!

10. Get a good coach with a good analytical ability regarding technique.

Why? The sculptor Michelangelo was once asked how he carved such beautiful sculptures. He said that he didn’t, he merely chipped away at the block of marble until the sculpture revealed itself……..You already have what God has given you. Find a good coach who can help you to blossom! It will not come in a weekend, but it WILL come if you work at it.