The winner in a boxing match is often the competitor with the fastest punching speed. How quickly you can deliver a punch increases your chances of landing it and improves the force behind it. While punching speed depends partly on genetics, anyone can make significant improvements with consistent training.
It is a fact that some people naturally possess greater punch speed than others. For example, boxers like Sugar Ray Leonard, Roy Jones Jr and Floyd Mayweather are known for their natural hand speed, while boxers like Marvin Hagler, Julio Cesar Chavez, and Roberto Duran are not particularly considered blindingly fast punchers.
Having fast hands means your fists reach the target quicker and more explosively.
Getting there first is important in the grand scheme of offence and defence. You can shock your opponents and land clean combinations because of your faster hands. So developing your hand speed should become a big part of your training.
As a boxer, learning to increase punching speed and power is an absolute must. Doing so can help make your strikes more effective whether you’re working out on a punching bag, shadowboxing, or sparring.
Being able to punch faster than your opponent is a vital part of winning boxing matches. If your speed needs improvement or your progress seems to be slowing down with your current regime, try these five ways to improve punching speed.
Fortunately, there are several exercises to increase punching speed.
Many of these exercises require little to no equipment and can be done from the comfort of your own home. Once you have a background in boxing form and proper punching technique, you can get started.
The next time you’re training in the boxing gym, make it a point to develop your hand speed. We’ve come up with a few exercises that directly enhance hand speed. Give them a try and see how fast you can get.
Tips To Increase Punching Speed In Boxing
The best way to increase speed in any movement is to make the body move faster itself or by tricking it into moving faster by using resistance. This artificially slows the body down, which will increase its speed when the resistance is removed.
The following exercises for increasing punching speed are simple and effective and help increase hand speed over time. A basic weights strength program to develop overall body strength will also help develop speed as there is a definite correlation between strength and speed.
While numerous specific exercises can help a fighter develop punching speed, there are a few general training tips as well that can help:
Use Hand Weights
An effective training technique for improving punching speed is using hand weights when shadowboxing. Hand weights can be anything from velcro wrist weights to holding a light dumbbell (around 2-5 pounds) when you punch.
Ensure Proper Technique
The objective of improving punch speed is to increase your success rate of landing shots. You can possess the greatest punch speed on the face of the planet, but if you have a poor technique in terms of delivering your punch, this cobra-like speed is next to useless.
Poor technique will mean that your opponent will spot your shot coming. A flaring elbow will give away your jab. A drawback of the arm will identify when your straight backhand is on its way. Executing an effective feint will give you a split-second advantage when going for an opening. So make sure that your technique is perfect so that improving your punch speed will bring benefits.
Use Focus Mitts
Start focus mitt training if you have a friend or family member willing to help.
When doing mitt work, one partner dictates the punches that the other partner will throw by holding hand mitts in a certain position. Start by having your partner call out combinations to you, but eventually work your way up to not needing verbal cues to recognize the strikes.
Speed In The Mind!
As with many aspects of sporting performance, there is psychology at play to improve your punch speed. I have a very neat way of harnessing the power of the mind when building speed. Take a gentle stroll around the gym. Breath deeply, relax. As you are gently strolling, think of super-fast objects, such as:
- A fighter jet
- An Indy or Formula 1 car blasting across the start/finish line
- A bolt of lighting.
At a given moment (ideally, someone other than yourself shouting ‘Now!’ or providing some other signal), switch to your boxing stance as fast as you can and throw a 4 or 5 punch combination, again at top speed. Use short, mid and long-range shots. Don’t restrict yourself! Recommence your stroll and repeat for a couple of rounds.
Using this simple method will build the psyche of a real speed demon!
Start With Technique
Another great tip for increasing punching speed is to focus on your technique. Make sure your elbows don’t flare out on jabs or crosses and keep your punches tight to the body. Snap your punches back to a guard position with every strike. Improving your speed starts with refining your technique.
Speed Focused Gym Session
Complete a full gym session that focuses solely on speed. Now, if you are a competing boxer, these sessions should be targeted during the final stages of your training cycle (that is, in the week before your contest).
However, if you are not competing, then a speed-focused gym session can be undertaken at any time.
Complete 6 x 1-minute rounds with just 15 second rest periods for shadow boxing, bag work, and skipping. Aim for maximum speed and multiple variations of punch combinations. Don’t forget that you can do the footwork drill with your session.
When completing the groundwork (e.g. the classic ‘ton-up’ of 10 x 10 ground exercises), do so with a focus on maximum speed, with quality of exercise being secondary.
Perform short, explosive sprints while running, e.g. sprint from one street-light/lamp-post to the next, then jog to the next, then sprint etc.
Think Fast and Stay Relaxed
Many people think that simply punching fast results in fast hands in the ring. But in reality, what we call fast hands begins in the head.
First, forget about throwing hard punches, at least to begin with. If your mind focuses on punching for power, you tend to punch slow.
You want to get the punch off quickly, make accurate contact, and return to a guard position as fast as possible. Don’t think about doing damage. Instead, think about trying to touch your opponent without being seen.
Second, learn to stay loose and relaxed. Please note that “relaxed” does not mean lazy or complacent. “Relaxed” means free of tension.
If you are tense, then you will not maximize your punch speed. A simple way to do this is to ensure that you do not clench your fist until the split second before the shot lands. Keep your shoulders loose and breath in a controlled manner. Remember Relaxed is fast!
Don’t allow your shoulders to hunch, your biceps to tighten, or your fist to clench. Rather, keep your muscles and joints loose and free, ready to spring into action.
Third, make muscle memory your friend. You don’t want to be thinking about what punch to throw or what punch comes next in this combination. Train combinations as complete sequences rather than a series of different punches. The less time you spend thinking, the faster your punch will appear to be.
Exercises To Increase Punching Speed In Boxing
They say, “Speed Kills”. People get excited about punch power. But fighters who can throw more punches than their opponent usually win the day. You don’t need some innate, natural-born talent to have fast hands.
As with every other aspect of boxing, you develop fast hands through deliberate training. It takes time. And like many other aspects of boxing training, you need to train your mind and your body. So we gathered together the most fundamental exercises for improving hand speed.
Shadowboxing involves practising a variety of punches in the air. It helps you improve your neuromuscular coordination, allowing your neural system to send faster signals to your arms. Work on each punch, including the left jab, right cross, left hook, overhand right, left uppercut and right uppercut.
Move on to combinations, such as a left jab followed by a left hook or a left uppercut, right uppercut and right cross combo. Focus on the technique and speed of each punch.
However, one way to enhance your shadowboxing workouts is to pick up a lightweight to add resistance to your movements. A lightweight can be around 1-3 kg, depending on your fitness level. Start at a lower weight.
The idea is to perform your shadowboxing drills with each weight in hand, increasing the degree of difficulty and stimulating the muscles involved in punching to greater effect. Shadowboxing with weights is an amazing workout in and of itself, and you’ll quickly start to see the benefits.
Try to punch with speed and power with every rep. Practice your full arsenal of punches — your jabs, straights, hooks, and uppercuts — all with weights. Do this for a couple of rounds, and then drop the weights and shadowbox as normal.
Pull-Ups And Chin-Ups
- Using a pull-up bar, lift your body until your chin is at the height of the bar
- Slowly release until your elbows are fully extended
Pull-up Hand Grip
- Keep your hands about shoulder-width apart on the bar
- Ensure your palms are facing away from you
- Keep your wrists as straight as possible
Chin-up Hand Grip
- Keep your hands about shoulder-width apart on the bar
- Unlike a pull-up, make sure your palms are facing towards you and wrapped around the back of the bar
- Keep your wrists as straight as possible
Hold your body at the top of the pull-up or chin-up for 10-15 seconds before slowly lowering yourself for an added workout. Next, place your hands at about double shoulder-width apart on the bar for pull-ups to perform a wide-grip variant that will push your back muscles even more.
One of the secrets to getting fast hands is to perform a fast push-up. This can train your muscles to fire faster and increase your muscle response. Of course, faster muscle response means better speed and faster punches.
Performing push-ups is a great way to train all the muscles involved in the science of throwing punches. For example, fast push-ups train the pectoral and shoulder muscles to fire quickly and repeatedly, which gives you better punching speed.
Never sacrifice speed for form. So even if you’re doing fast push-ups, make sure you get the most out of each rep by maintaining optimal form. Once you get the hang of it, it becomes easier to train, and you will notice the speed boost in your combinations.
Push Interval Conditioning
As you become fatigued, your punching speed will subsequently decrease. However, you can build up endurance in your arms and shoulders with punch intervals. Have a partner hold a punching bag steady. Punch the bag non-stop for 15 to 20 seconds.
After you finish:
- Have your partner go while you hold the bag.
- Once your partner is finished, jump into the drill again.
- Continue until you and your partner have completed a total of three minutes.
Complete two to three sets of three minutes each. Rest 60 seconds in between each set.
Another great workout, and one that is used in boxing quite a lot, is jumping rope. Like the push-up, jumping rope helps develop the muscle group responsible for fast and powerful punches, particularly the fast-twitch muscle fibres in your upper back and shoulders.
When you are in rhythm, try increasing the speed you jump rope.
This is important because it trains muscles to act and react faster than normal. To gain speed, you have to utilize speed. Aside from being a great way to develop your speed, jumping rope also improves your endurance.
Jumping rope is a skill that is trained and learned, so don’t get discouraged if you aren’t that good at it when you first start. With constant practice, consistency, and focus, you’ll develop this skill and improve your punching speed in no time.
Specifically, training to deliver lighter combination punches makes your mind think fast, which is the basis of moving fast. To begin, punch as fast as you can in intervals of 15 to 20 seconds using a punching bag, then add in some different combinations that you’d use in the ring. Keeping the punches light is key to increasing speed.
Then, take these techniques and spar with a partner, focusing on quick hits and disrupting their rhythm.
Try not to get too hung up on each punch, but instead work towards an easy flow of different combinations; thinking too much on one punch rather than multiple punches can slow you down. Sometimes try the preferred boxing gloves used in competition, so you’re training with the equipment you’ll use when it counts.
Speed Bag Drills
Work the speed bag. The speed bag is your friend. The speed bag is an amazing workout in boxing and one that explicitly works for your hands and trains your hand speed.
It may take some practice, but once you get the hang of punching the speed bag, you’ll be hooked. After getting the rhythm and pacing down, try to punch the speed bag as fast as possible with each cycle. The faster you can go, the faster your hands become.
In boxing, speed kills. And the speed bag is an important tool in improving your hand speed.
Speed bag workouts also improve your hand-eye coordination, rhythm, timing, and punch accuracy. As a result, it’s one of the best workouts to improve your overall boxing skill.
Focus on improving your breathing technique while punching, with a determination to breathe faster. If you’re tensing up and keeping in your breathe to punch, it’ll be holding you back. Instead, you need to inhale and exhale to the rhythm of your punches and keep your shoulders loose and relaxed as you punch.
Why does this work? Breathing keeps your blood charged with oxygen, which helps keep your mind focused, and your muscles fuelled. The act of breathing also tightens your core, which adds power to your punch.
Short sprints, intense skipping exercises, and sparring with a partner are all effective ways to increase your footwork speed, which will speed up your whole performance.
Interval sprinting will train your body to move faster, increasing your potential speed for boxing, while skipping will build on muscle endurance and improve agility. Combine these with a sparring session where you focus on your stance, weight distribution and movement into the punches.
Learning to react to the unexpected forms the final, important part of training fast hands. And nothing beats another, crafty human for creating the unexpected.
Target training is the most common form of partner drill we see in boxing. Coaches typically use the punch mitt as their favourite target. But your partner can also use strike sticks/target paddles to enhance the focus on speed and accuracy overpower.
For speed training, we advise that the partner present the fighter with various random targets.
Once the fighter has made contact with a target, pull it down and present the other one as quickly as possible in a new location. Force the fighter to respond to lots of different looks in quick succession. This will help to improve reaction time.
How Do Boxers Use Speed?
Boxers rely so heavily on the Speed Bag because it helps get down the timing and rhythm needed to be a successful boxer. Boxers need to anticipate their opponents’ movements and have a solid understanding of the timing of each punch they throw.
What Is The Fastest Punch Ever?
45 miles per hour
Keith Liddell is a mathematician and author. He holds the “fastest punch” record in the Guinness World Records. The punch was registered at 45 miles per hour. In 2012, he qualified for the summer Olympics in London, United Kingdom.
Is A Speed Bag A Good Boxing Workout?
Striking a speed bag in a workable rhythm requires focus, coordination and speed. It’s also an impressive cardiovascular workout, which can improve your circulatory health and reduce your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure and similar disorders. The improved coordination may also help you in everyday life.
Do You Use Boxing Gloves On A Speed Bag?
Despite speed bags being pretty smooth, they can still cause abrasions on soft/delicate hands. Also, if you are doing a LOT of speed bagging, the constant and regular pounding can cause some damage. So wraps or a simple padded glove (without seams around the knuckles) are probably a good idea.
Is Punching Speed Genetic?
You can improve just about anything through training and practice, but a ceiling will be based on your genetics. You can increase the speed of punches through practice, but more importantly, the practice will improve your coordination and form, making your punches more fluid and powerful.
- Find a gym. Boxing gyms aren't typically found in the yellow pages, but there are resources on the internet that can lead you in the right direction. ...
- Be sure the gym is within striking distance. ...
- Be open-minded. ...
- Choose your coach carefully. ...
- Do judge the gym by its cover.
So, can boxing be self-taught? Boxing can be self-taught but it's not the quickest and most effective way to become better at the sport because you aren't able to tap into the knowledge of a boxing coach who would be able to help you one to one.
Best Age to Start
Specialists in sports medicine believe that boxing classes are better to start from 9-10 years. Starting too early could result in putting the student off, as boxing is hard work and not always as fun as team sports, such as football or rugby.