Powerful punches require a combination of strength and speed in the muscles that extend the arm and flex the shoulder forward. A well-designed program incorporating standard and plyometric push-up exercises can help you develop more powerful punches.
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Developing Muscle Power
Powerful muscles are capable of producing high levels of strength and delivering it quickly. In order to increase your muscle power, train with exercises that develop your muscle strength and the speed of your muscle contraction. To improve your punching power, increase the strength and quickness of the muscles that flex your shoulder forward -- the pectoralis major and minor -- and extend your arm -- the triceps brachi.
Traditional Push-ups to Improve Punching Strength
Traditional push-ups that are performed with your body fully extended and your spine held rigid as you raise and lower your chest provide an excellent way to develop strength in the muscles that power your punches. This type of calisthenic exercise, using your body weight and the force of gravity to provide resistance, is a time-tested way of developing strength in your triceps and pectoral muscles.
Plyometric Push-ups to Improve Punching Speed
To increase the speed of your triceps and pectoral muscles, use plyometric exercises that force these muscles to contract rapidly. To perform this exercise, begin in the traditional push-up position, says speedpowerstability.com. Rather than performing a regularly paced series of push-ups, rapidly contract your muscles so that you forcibly propel your chest and shoulders upward, lifting your hands off the floor. As your hands leave the floor, bring them together and clap before returning to ground in the starting position. As your hands, chest and shoulders return to the ground, quickly and forcefully push up again and repeat the process. Start with a set of eight repetitions and gradually increase as your power develops.
Periodize Your Push-up Training
Periodically changing the type of exercises you perform over an annual cycle is referred to as periodized training. To most effectively increase your punching power, first work to increase your strength and then follow your strength training with a period of plyometric speed training. A period of four weeks of basic strength training with traditional push-ups followed by a four-week period of plyometric pushups works best. Then, repeat the cycle.