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7 Exercises to Increase Punching Power

There are a few things I really love doing.

They are (in no particular order):

  1. Playing with my Boys

  2. Playing with my Dog

  3. Playing with my wife

  4. Seeing my clients reap the rewards of their training

  5. Lifting heavy things lots of times

  6. Hitting stuff, really hard.

Lets talk about that last one.

I like hitting stuff really hard. I’ve been around the martial arts my whole life, starting Karate at the age of 11 and studied a variety of arts in the 25 years since that day. I also spent a good bit of time working on Doors and did the odd Private Security job.

These days I co-own Wild Geese Martial Arts and have a fair amount of scrappers come to WG-Fit to get their physical attributes built up in order to become more efficient at their chosen means of hurting people.

So for strikers, those that prefer to punch their opponents into submission, here are a few of my top training drills to get maximum power into every strike.


The squat may be lauded as the king of all exercises, but for real full body strength, the deadlift trumps it. All strikes come from the ground via a powerful hip extension and tight core. What does the deadlift train? Oh yeah, tight core and powerful hip extension. Load that bar and lift it off the floor. Stick to sets of 1-5 reps, around 3 is ideal and do several sets.



Power Clean

This is the deadlifts little brother. Power that bar from the floor and catch it on the shoulders. This is a little technical, so get someone to take you through it (remember I said “Power Clean”, don’t let some Oly lifting purist convince you to do anything else!” We’re training the same things as the deadlift with this, but with the addition of some serious speed and explosion. Again, around 3reps for a few sets is good.

The Power Clean just before the catch

The Power Clean just before the catch

One Arm Push Up

While many talk about sports specific training and try to replicate a punch with dumbbells and bands, I prefer this. Personally I’m not a fan of replicating skills in a gym environment, but I do believe we can replicate force vectors and the OAP is as close as you get from a strength perspective. I tend to work these to technical failure, ie when stop when form starts to break down. But if reps start clocking up, try elevating the feet or adding a weight vest.

A "do anywhere" drill for striking power

A “do anywhere” drill for striking power

Standing Russian Twist

All strikes, and for that matter all combative techniques involve a huge amount of rotary strength from the spine. There are few exercises that trump this beauty for strengthening this pattern.

Also called the "Twisty on your belly" by one of my black belt members!

Also called the “Twisty on your belly” by one of my black belt members!

Circular Cleans

This is a little known kettlebell exercise that can also be performed with clubbells or sledgehammers. Again we are looking at the rotation but also building a lot of stability through the shoulder. High reps on this will leave you exhausted for days.

oooh look, a video!

One Arm Clean & Jerk

Again, we’re talking force vectors, and the One arm long cycle pretty much hits it all. High reps with a heavy weight feel just like you’re slogging it out in a scrap. This is one of the most effective drills for building that power endurance to get you through those later rounds.

Sledgehammer Slams

Pure combat conditioning. Get a big old tyre and beat the crap out of it with a sledge hammer. Go for time with this and use it either as part of a circuit or a finisher. In fact, a great conditioner for any fighter to end their workouts with is a combination of Kettlebell swings and Sledgehammer slams, occasionally I set the two stations apart and have the poor bugger sprint (often dragging a sled) between the two. Yeah, they always love me after that one.

Myself on Swings, Dave G (our Muay Thai Coach) on the hammer

Myself on Swings, Dave G (our Muay Thai Coach) on the hammer

This is far from a comprehensive list, but if you do nothing but the exercises listed, then you’ll notice your striking power and endurance will skyrocket.

Here’s a wee power circuit combining a few of the above exercises:

Have fun.

For more on how to arrange these into circuits and power circuits, check out the WMD manual, written specifically for Martial Artists and hard charging folk.

Click Here to begin Training like a Combat Athlete

Click Here to begin Training like a Combat Athlete


Dave Hedges

Workshops for 2013:

Bodyweight Training Wild Geese, Dublin Sun 18th August, 1000 – 1600

Kettlebell Training – The Basics (Levels 1 & 2) Wild Geese, Dublin September 8th, 1000 – 1600 This workshop is a prerequsite for those attending:

Kettlebell Instructor Certification (yes, the inaugral certification!) September/October. Details TBA Exciting!!

One more workshop to be added in November and possibly one in December (I’m thinking a two day self defence course in December due to the seasonal increase in alcohol related violence.)

And that’s it!

If you want me to come to your place to run an event, you can book me for Nov/Dec or it’s a wait till next year.

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