While no shortcuts exist for building a powerful punch, adding isometric exercises to your workout can improve its efficacy. Isometric exercises involve contracting specific muscle groups while holding the joint steady and keeping the muscle length static. For each muscle group you're engaging, alternate isometric holds with dynamic movements to increase your speed and strength.
An isometric exercise can build strength in the particular position involved. It can also be a safe way to maintain your strength during post-injury rehabilitation, since it does not stress the recuperating joint. But in most cases, isometric exercise will not build strength across a range of motion unless you perform multiple exercises at different joint angles. They also won't help improve your speed, which is where a large part of the power of your punch comes from. For strength-building, isometric exercise should be an additional weapon in your arsenal and not a replacement for dynamic exercises.
Combining isometric punch-holds with your usual dynamic punching exercises can improve the speed and strength of your punches. Isometric punches consist of pushing your fist against a wall or other immobile object for three to five seconds with about 80 percent of your maximum effort. Start your punch with your fist close to your body and extend your arm to a mid-range position. After doing these holds with your right hand, complete the set with six fast punches to the medicine ball. Repeat the exercise with your left hand. Perform three to five sets overall. Wear a boxing glove or attach cushioning to the wall to make this exercise more comfortable.
Isometric Core Builders
The strength of your punch comes from your arm and core. Two simple forms of isometric core-building exercise are plank holds and squats. To perform a basic plank, balance on your elbows and toes in a pushup-like position, keeping your torso, hips and legs in a perfect line parallel to the floor. To perform a squat, bend your knees while keeping your head up and shoulders back as though you are sitting with perfect posture in an invisible chair. Maintain these isometric holds for 30 seconds at first. Aim to increase the holds to three minutes as you progress. Alternate with dynamic core-builders such as situps or crunches.
Do not perform isometric punch holds for an excessive period of time. Doing so can risk decreasing your coordination and speed and decrease the elasticity of your muscles. Restrict your holds to five seconds or less.
Isometric exercise involves a big increase in muscle tension, which in turn significantly increases blood pressure. Do not perform isometric exercise if you have high blood pressure or heart problems. Speak to your doctor first.
- MayoClinic.com: Are Isometric Exercises a Good Way to Build Strength?
- RossBoxing.com: A Twist to Complex Training
- Fundamentals of Special Strength Training in Sport; Yuri V. Verkhoshansky
- Inside Fitness Magazine: Increase Your Punching Power
Nicole LeBoeuf-Little is a freelancer from New Orleans, writing professionally since 1994. Recent short stories appear on Ideomancer.com and in Ellen Datlow's anthology "Blood and Other Cravings." She has published articles in "Pangaia Magazine" and eGuides at StyleCareer.com. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from University of Washington and attended the professional SF/F workshop Viable Paradise.