why bench wont improve punch power

So many people think that straight punching power
comes fromyour chest. Most of us know it's in the
body, andreally stems from the feet. But some people
can'tbe convinced. Unfortunately, most people can
onlyanswer with an "I don't know why, can't explain
it,but that's the way it is; power comes from the
feet/hips/torso." Well, here's why.

Your pectorals are there to decrease the angle between
your shoulder line and your upper arm. For example,
look at the bench press below; you can see that as
the weight is pushed up, the angle between the upper
arm and shoulder line decreases from over 180 degrees
all the way down to almost 90 degrees.

Now when you throw a right punch (this applies even
to jabs, though it's less dramatic), the exact
OPPOSITE is occurring; the angle between the upper
arm and shoulders line INCREASES from about 30 degrees
all the way out to about 150 degrees, motion created
by the twisting of the torso and turning of the hips by the legs, not the flexing of the pecs. It would actually make more sense to say that the upper back and lats do a lot more for punching power than the pecs.

Here's a crude illustration I made:


I agree. I cannot explain why in kinesiology terms,
but back when I was a kid, I sparred with a lot of
guys. I can say that there is no correlation between
punching power and bench pressing ability. What I
mean is that some guys can't bench press for
nothing but have incredible punching power, other
guys can bench a lot and hit like my sister. And
there are a few real lucky guys who can do both
well. My guess is Tyson would fall into that lucky
guys category. Most football players I've seen try to
box can bench alot, but hit like girls.

Bench pressing like a bodybuilder won't help your punches. Bench pressing like a POWER lifter will.

There IS a correlation between power increase in punching and strengthening your chest. Weighted, high-velocity push-ups is a good way to put snap in your punches. Heavy dumbbell presses or bench presses really help put the "THUD" behind your punches.

I've met bodybuilders who could bench 300lbs., but hit like average joe's. However, I have a classmate who was a former bench POWERLIFTER in high school, and getting hit by him is like having a bomb go off. Even light sparring with him is a nightmare.

REMEMBER: bodybuilding training is NOT proper strength and power training.

True punching power is generated through your legs and hips, not your chest. Your pecs help to stabilize your shoulder joint while you punch, they do not act as "prime movers" during the punch. Remember Evander Holyfield throwing left and right crosses attached to cables to help improve his punching power. He wasn't benching but he was still using weighted resistance in hopes of improving his KO skills and it never materialized. Some people have naturally "heavy hands" and I don't really know why. I think you can improve upon punching power but everyone has a different ceiling. The very end of the punch is actually the culmination of hundreds of different movements throughout the body, all happening in a flash. I guess I'd compare it to sprinter speed. You can use all the latest training techniques to train a group of runners equally and some guys will still be faster than others. Punching power is the same way. Remember Thomas Hearns? What do you think his bench was?

Ok, but does the chest play a part in hooks, uppercuts, or that "smash" thing that Ruddock used to do?

clean technique makes the biggest difference. But being strong helps in the clinch a lot. There is a delicate balance of strength vs. no strength. On one hand too much muscle mass requires too high of an oxygen surplus which simply cannot be met as efficiently. On the other hand, if you are not strong you will get steered around in the clinch, in the corner etc. Lifting helped me in the power department. But I made sure I keep blance. I run long distances, I work a variety of excercies including aerobic anerobic and plyometric. I know above all technique beats strength. Many people will say strength development has no place in boxing. They will say that muscle weighs more than fat (which is true) but what then is the goal? To become as fat laden as possible and therefore have more mass and less weight? While a punch does start in the toes, it travels through the ankles, knees, hips, back, chest and shoulders before hitting its mark. Condition yourself and come out on top.

I would tend to think that squats and deadlifts, since they strengthen your hips so much, along with lots of plyometrics (push-ups, pull-ups, chins, dips, sit-ups) would really improve punching power. What do you guys think?

Also, what about olympic lifts?

I think benching and press-ups are about the only exercises that adequately strengthen the upper pecs, which always seem, to me at least, to play quite an important role in punching.

Obviously technique and cardio conditioning are the most important factors.

I'm of the opinion that for the most part, and unless you're particularly weak to begin with, getting stronger won't make you hit much harder, but it will let you hit hard longer, i.e. improved muscular endurance. I'd guess olympic-type lifts would be best for this, but any lower-body would probably help. And then there's abs, lower back, and obliques, where it's great to have support. But again, nothing will let you hit harder longer than not needing much muscle to do it in the first place (read: technique) and good conditioning.

As far as upper body lifts, anything that is going to help you stabalize is good. Even big power for hooks and uppercuts comes from torque from the feet-hips, but if you don't have the shoulder, chest, and bicep power to keep it up round after round... Heck, it's nice to have extra muscle just to keep your hands up after awhile (hooray for military press!).

Skinny Tommy Hearns and Danny "Little Red" Lopez are examples of superior punching technique over lifting weights. Mark Gastineau is an example of a cocky football player who thinks he'll make it big in boxing because he can bench press a lot. In one interview, Gastineau said "I don't know why boxers don't lift weights, you can generate so much power. Once they see what I've done, lifting weights is gonna revolutionize boxing". Guess again, dumbass.

The only football player that I can remember who
could fight a little was the late Lyle Alzdado. Had he
started early and trained right, he might have made
a decent figher. He did fight in the amatuers and
lost to Ron Stander who late fought Frazeier in the
pros. Mark Gastineu was too dumb to know that
his fights were all fixed.

The fact that one of the more successful football player turned boxers still lost to Ron Stander (whose best win was a KO over ancient fitness guru Charles Atlas) tells us everything we need to know.

I would have loved to see a prime Jerry Rice get into boxing.

The Charles Atlas thing was a joke, I'm pretty sure it wasn't THAT Atlas that he KO'ed in a round. :)

Stander's best win was actually against Earnie Shavers. Ron was a very courageous pressure fighter with a chin of iron and not much in the department of firepower. He now works as a referee and has a wife and two kids. From all that I've heard, he sounds like a really cool guy.

(edit: Added more text)

I think the key here is you have to be "strong enough." Once you hit that minimum level of strength where it's no longer holding you back you're probably ok. Being strong and explosive will help you be fast, just as a matter of getting your mass moving quickly, but it doesn't pay off like people then to think.

Hardest hitters for their size I can think of can accelerate quickly, and also lock down their frames once they make contact so all their power is making it to the end of their fist.

I have found that weights used in an overall body conditioning has helped my punching power, but it is an addition to my other training, not a replacement. I got some good excercises for "core" strength from Erik Paulson over the last few years when he visits our gym. Those same excercises are helpful for your ground game as well...

Check out www.combatsubmissionwrestling.com or if you're lucky attend a seminar

Ray White

I think the bench press is easily the most overrated exercise out there, but I think perhaps you doth protest too much. For example, illustrative as your diagram is, it doesn't cover hooks, in which the pecs do indeed draw the arm inward toward the centerline.

Also, because the final position of the arms in the old 1-2 do not resemble the movements of the bench press does not erase the fact that the initial burst of the movement is partially initiated by the pecs.

In my experience, nearly every form of physical exercise can in some way benefit boxing performance and, often, punching power as well. Trying to make the case that something does or doesn't so benefit to me doesn't constitute a useful test. For me, it's a question not of effectiveness but of efficiency: what exercises can I do that will maximize the benefit to my boxing game while taking the minimal amount of time out of my overall schedule? In those terms, flat bench just doesn't make the cut.

it doesn't cover hooks, in which the pecs do indeed draw the arm inward toward the centerlineAgreed (which is why I said straight punches, not all punches), to a point. Most of the force of a hook is from the feet/hips/torso rotation, but the pecs are particularly important in keeping the arm still while the torso is turning.does not erase the fact that the initial burst of the movement is partially initiated by the pecsI disagree completely here; as I said, it has more to do with the back and triceps, if anything, and delts to a leser degree.

StockeyBrawler: I think Standers' win over Earnie
Shavers was the highlight of his career. Both were
up can coming at the time. Stander said that
Shavers' punches were like getting a baseball bat
over the head.