It's not just chest and arm strength that makes for a strong punch. You need to have a powerful base — a stance from which you can allow energy to travel up through your core and out through your fist.
To complement that strong base, you also need to focus on developing speed and coordination. In comes the clap push-up. Train with this advanced variation of the classic upper-body exercise to improve your punching abilities.
Anatomy of a Clap Push-Up
A clap push-up begins like any other push-up — with your body in a rigid plank supported on your palms and toes. Bend your elbows to lower your chest near the floor and press up explosively, so your hands elevate off the floor momentarily as you clap your hands together. Land back down with soft elbows to repeat the move.
Benefits of the Clap Push-Up
The clap push-up enhances core stability, essential to your strong stance in the boxing ring. It also builds shoulder mobility, quick reflexes and upper-body strength.
You know how plyometrics, or jump training, improves your lower body power. As a paper published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy in 2015 notes, plyometric moves — think jump squats, box jumps, jump lunges — increase jump height, reduce sprint time, improve running economy and enhance postural control.
Clap push-ups are plyometrics for your upper body. Fewer clinical studies review upper-body plyometric training, but the little out there does demonstrate improved throwing power and muscle performance, explained the 2015 paper. You may conclude that plyometrics, such as the clap push-up, would then benefit your ability to throw a punch and your muscles ability to exert force in that punch.
Before adding clap push-ups to your routine, ensure that you can do a solid set of 20 or more standard push-ups in quick succession. If you feel shoulder or elbow pain during the launch or landing of the clap push-up, stop immediately. You may need to strengthen these areas or revise your form to ensure that your hands are placed slightly wider than your shoulders and that the angle of your elbow is at 45 degrees with your trunk. Failing to point your fingers forward can also cause pain in your elbows and shoulders.
Don't underestimate the importance of comprehensive strength in your punching power. Complete squats, deadlifts, cleans and rows to create a powerful physique that can throw some serious muscle in the ring. These moves help add strength to your stance and core.
For your upper body, augment clap push-up workouts with alternating single arm dumbbell presses and weighted shadow boxing.