Throwing a punch may be a simple motion, but throwing an effective punch involves a host of mechanics that all ultimately translate into force. The first step is to learn how to throw a punch, as opposed to wildly swinging with your fist, and practice the movement in slow motion to get used to the shift in body weight and center of gravity. Once you master the motion, you can focus on the mechanics to get the most from your punch, no matter what type you throw. Clap pushups can help in several ways.
Get into a plank position, face down, supporting yourself on your hands and toes. Angle your hands so they are facing about 45 degrees away from your body to place added emphasis on the triceps for a more complete strengthening move. Lower yourself until your nose is about and inch from the floor, keeping your back straight and your elbows close to your sides. Push yourself up hard enough that the front half of your body leaves the floor long enough for you to clap your hands before you return them to their floor position. To make the move harder, push up hard enough that your feet leave the floor as well.
Many people can do a regular pushup but not a clap pushup -- the difference is explosive power. It's the same force that powers you through the initial phase of a bench press, when you are just beginning to raise the bar from your chest, and it's the same force that translates into a harder punch. You are calling on your muscles to contract and release with extreme force, as quickly as possible. No matter how hard you can hit, if you punch someone in slow motion, it won't hurt. The speed is where the power comes from because the strength in your upper body combines with momentum for a more powerful hit. Doing clap pushups mimics the movement of punching with both hands at once.
Many inexperienced fighters tend to throw roundhouse-style punches, bringing their arm around from almost behind the body, rotating the fist inward, and bending the elbow upon impact. Roundhouse punches have their place and allow fighters to gather their full body weight behind a punch, but they are not the solution for a more forceful punch. Doing clap pushups with your hands at the 45-degree angle trains you to contract your back, shoulder and arm muscles quickly with your elbow facing your lower body. Throwing a punch with your elbow facing this way allows more of the force of the punch to travel to the recipient rather than back up your arm, which also means that you will suffer fewer impact injuries. This is why vertical punches are so effective in such close proximity -- it's the position of the elbow that translates the power into force.
Of course, the main benefit of doing clap pushups is the increase in strength. You lift 60 percent of your body weight during a pushup, and the power comes from your back, shoulders and arms, while your stability comes from your core. These same areas are responsible for the force of a strong punch. Though it is possible to take advantage of momentum to throw an effective punch with weaker muscles, increasing your strength will increase the amount of power you are able to put behind your fist. Assuming you keep your elbow in position and take advantage of explosive power, you will be able to throw a much more effective punch.