Whether you're involved in mixed martial arts or traditional boxing, you'll find that many combat sports feature punching in a prominent role. While the primary muscles used when punching involve those of your arm and shoulder, you might be surprised to learn that muscles of your core and lower body also contribute to the amount of power you can pack into a punch. Thus, in addition to performing effective arm strengthening exercises for punch power, you should strengthen other muscles as well. Always exercise with proper supervision.
Your deltoids provide primary punching power, as they produce arm rotation and extension. Performing exercises such as the military press, lateral dumbbell raises and front raises will directly work your deltoids. Additionally, the chest press and pull-ups also help strengthen your shoulders, in addition to other muscles.
Your triceps are important for punching, because they act upon two joints required for the movement -- your elbow and your shoulder. The triceps help extend your arm at the elbow and the shoulder, straightening the limb to enable you to hit your target. Many effective triceps exercises also work your shoulder muscles, for example, triceps dips, close-grip bench press and overhead press. Push-ups and the chest press will also work your triceps to help you build punch strength.
The biceps performs different functions than the deltoids and triceps, as it helps flex your arm and rotate it. These actions are important for preparing to deliver your punch, when you are cocking back to gather strength and momentum. Among the most effective biceps exercises are the barbell curl, dumbbell curl, pull-up and cable row. Pull-ups and rows also work your shoulder muscles.
Although your chest muscles, also known as your pectorals or pecs, are not technically located on your arms, they do act upon the shoulder joint and are important for punching power. Your chest muscles assist rotation, extension and flexion, so they influence both the wind-up and delivery of punches. To strengthen your chest muscles, perform the bench press, dumbbell fly, push-ups and chest press.
Maximizing Punch Power
While exercises for the muscles of your arms and chest can help enhance your punching strength, you should not do arm workouts too soon before a boxing match. It takes about 24 hours for your muscles to recover from intense workouts, so your punching power will actually diminish if you try to fight soon after working out key punching muscles.
Brian Willett began writing in 2005. He has been published in the "Buffalo News," the "Daytona Times" and "Natural Muscle Magazine." Willett also writes for Bloginity.com and Bodybuilding.com. He is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer and earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of North Carolina.