Everything starts in the feet.
Though they are one of the most overlooked parts of developing in training.
People just take their feet for granted; using them as two plateaus for holding their weight. I shake my head in pity… The feet are being used for so much more than that! They constantly send thousands of nerve signals with information to the brain regarding your balance, weight distribution and helps generate power in almost every strike.
This last point is really something to consider. To fire a real power punch you need a good connection with your feet and the floor. Because this is where the kinetic chain of power starts - with your toes pushing of the floor. What is a kinetic chain, you say?
It is the sequence, or chain of muscles, coordinated together to perform a certain movement.
A movement that delivers power from one end of your body, like the fist, may actually start in the other end of the body, like the feet. The kinetic chain in a correctly thrown punch activates all the muscles down from your feet, up to your fist. Together they increase the power generated to maximize the force of the impact.
A professional boxer would active much more muscle mass in his kinetic chain of punching compared to a beginner. The feet and legs pushing of the floor, the hips and torso twisting as the generated power transfers up the body, and into the arm; extending in to a punch!
There is actually a great Swedish study done on professional boxers, to see what muscle groups are most involved in a straight punch. Electrodes were attached to different body parts of the boxers to measure the muscular activity in the body as they hit a bag with a right cross.
Can you guess how many percent force was generated by the arm?
39% was generated by the legs (pushing of the floor), and 37% from the torso (rotational power).
If a beginner without any boxing training would hit that bag, the percentage would probably be much higher from the arms since he/she wouldn’t understand the technique or be able to incorporate the same amount of muscle mass in the movement.
So every time you throw a power punch you should feel the feet in the ground, to get your whole body mass behind the strike. Use the body as a unit. Your arms are not capable of generating much power alone - but your legs, hips, trunk and lats together definitely are! See the arm just as an extension of these, and an outlet for the power.
Here is a good exercise for power punching, and understanding the kinetic chain involved in the movement:
- Put your knuckles together and push your thumbs in to your chest, flaring the elbows out wide. Now walk forward and rotate your torso with the right elbow forward as you step with your left leg, and your left elbow forward as you step with your right leg. Drop your weight a bit in every step and feel the connection with the floor. As you reach a wall you repeat the movement going backwards. Once you get the feeling and rotation down, you can extend the arms in to a punch (with your other hand guarding the chin). Go from rotations -> straight punches -> hooks -> uppercuts.
Feel the interplay between the body parts, and find power through rotation – not extension.
Once you get this concept of using your whole body as a unit you will see your punching power increase dramatically!