Hand speed is vital in many facets of life, including athletics, music and emergency situations. Sports such as baseball, basketball, football, table tennis, boxing and mixed martial arts require hand quickness. Guitarists, pianists and drummers need arm, hand and finger speed to excel. Exercises that develop upper-body explosiveness, quickness, strength and coordination will help increase hand speed.
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The speed bag is a standby among fighters looking to increase speed, coordination, timing and rhythm. Beginners should use a larger speed bag, and gradually progress to a smaller bag, since the smaller bag moves faster because of its shorter rebound arch. Targeting speed requires smaller, faster, rhythmic punches, not larger, harder strikes. Try a timed workout, where you attempt to increase the number of punches thrown in a predetermined time frame, or by attempting to execute a specific number of punches in a shorter period.
Plyometric push-ups — an explosive upper-body exercise — help increase hand speed. They work the entire upper body and core muscles, building power, quickness, stability and coordination. Assume a standard push-up starting position, with your hands on blocks a few inches higher than the floor. Remove your left hand and place it on the floor just inside the left block. Lower your chest to the floor, push yourself upward in an explosive manner and lift both hands off the floor. While in the air, shift your hand position so your left hand is on the left block and your right hand is just inside the right block. Perform another explosive push-up, then shift your hands so your left hand is on the floor next to the block and your right hand is on the block. Continue to switch your hand position during each repetition, and moves as quickly as you can.
Martial-arts icon and film star Bruce Lee was known for his incredible hand speed. According to Lee's close friend and fellow martial-arts instructor Dan Inosanto, "Bruce Lee would shadow-box with small weights in his hands." Lee would start with a one-pound dumbbell and execute 100 punches, then gradually work up to a 10-pound dumbbell. He would then reverse the process by working down in weight, performing a total of 12 sets of 100 punches. Work up very gradually with this advanced technique; avoid if you have a shoulder condition.
Shadow-boxing with exercise bands develops punching power and quickness by providing resistance through the entire range of motion. Secure the band under your feet, or anchor it in a doorway. Grab the handle and begin throwing punches in various directions to target the muscles at a wide number of angles. Use a band with very light resistance, and focus on striking quickness.