Many of the greatest boxing legends are known for the speed of their strikes as well as the power of their punches. Plyometric training of the muscles used in punching, such as fast pushups, can train your muscles to fire faster. Faster muscle response means faster punches.
Haymaker in the Making
A fast, strong, powerful punch starts all the way down at the feet. The large muscles of the legs serve as a powerhouse of energy transferring the force into the torso when the hips rotate, and then out the arm at the very end of the strike. The pectoralis muscles of the chest activate as the arm extends, continuing the momentum generated from the hip rotation. The chest muscles contribute to generating the speed necessary to snap your punch out quickly and accurately.
Push to Punch Power
Since the chest contributes to the force and velocity behind your punches, pushups develop muscles directly related to your punching efficiency. Fast pushups challenge the pectoral muscles to fire rapidly and repeatedly, training your muscles to increase you punching speed. This type of plyometric movement conditions the muscle fibers to load as much force as possible at the beginning of the movement and then release maximum force at maximum speed. Consistent plyometric training of the right muscles will increase your punching speed.
More Bang for Your Buck
Though fast pushups can help improve your punching speed, keep in mind that pushups emulate only one part of the chain of movements used in delivering an effective punch. The legs, core and back also factor heavily into the weight behind a punch. Consider using plyometric drills for these muscle groups in addition to other drills that will also work the chest to truly maximize your punching speed. Box jumps and squat jumps work the legs, reverse medicine ball tosses, speed pull-ups and kettlebell swings focus work on the muscles of the back -- while mountain climbers and burpees are plyometric challenges for the core.
Increasing the speed of your pushups can put your form to the test. Avoid sacrificing form for speed. Be sure your body maintains a plank position without the hips sagging or the bottom lifting towards the ceiling, and push through the heel of the hand to focus the exertion on the muscles of the chest. Be sure your arms are in line with your shoulders and the hands are set slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Serious shoulder injuries can occur, especially if performing pushups with speed, if the arms are too far forward or too far back. Remember to warm up with 10 minutes of light cardio and gently stretch the shoulders, arms and chest prior to beginning your pushups.