Your mind is the ideal sparring partner when it comes to boxing.
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In boxing, kickboxing and virtually any martial art that involves striking, speed kills. Being able to land a strike with speed and power is as important as being able to avoid attacks from your opponent. Once you have your technique down, you need to gear your training toward exercises that help you punch faster. When it comes to punching speed, keep your workouts simple, intense and to-the-point. Resistance exercises and punching a heavy bag are effective, but shadow boxing will allow you to develop your punching speed more than anything else.
One of the simplest boxing exercises may also be the most effective for increasing the speed of your punches. Beginning and ending all of your workouts with a few short rounds of shadow boxing will help you increase the speed at which you can fire off combinations. To shadow box correctly, you first need to learn the proper technique to throw your punches. Once you've mastered the basics in footwork, positioning and punching, let your imagination be your guide. Work on specific techniques such as jabs and crosses or invent live combat scenarios to help you develop movement and reaction speed for your punches.
How it Works
A big component of speed training comes down to repetition. The more you punch, the faster and harder your punches will be. If your training focus is on punching faster, shadow boxing will allow you to reach your maximum potential. Remove all resistance from the exercise by punching bare-handed and striking at the air. In addition to conditioning your muscles to faster twitches, shadow boxing conditions your muscles to fire quicker in response to mental commands, giving you total control over your body in a way resistance training cannot.
Punching with real speed increases your heart rate and pushes you into the anaerobic conditioning zone. Because of this, it's important to develop muscular endurance so you can fight through lactic acid buildups and continue to punch with speed and power. Hitting a speed bag and doing burnout rounds of fast punching on a heavy bag forces you to overcome muscle fatigue and work through resistance forces at the same time. Punching is a full-body movement, which recruits your arms, shoulders, back, core and legs in a quick response. Thus, functional body-weight exercises such as pushups, planks and pullups can go a long way toward increasing punching speed. Plyometric exercises such as box jumps, long jumps, burpees and stair runs are effective for giving you the ability to generate maximum power in the shortest amount of time.
Programming and Considerations
Knowing how to structure your training routine for faster punches is almost as important as knowing which exercises to perform. Skill training, such as shadow boxing and bag work, should be done every time you train, while more intense anaerobic exercises like plyometric drills should not be done on consecutive days. When you do shadow box, aim for two or three rounds of two to three minutes both at the beginning and end of your workout. You can sprinkle a few more rounds in throughout the day if you're feeling up to it. Listen to your body throughout your training and pull back when necessary. Fatigue often leads to a breakdown in technique. Intense punching drills can also lead to shoulder injuries.