When it comes to comes to boxing, the last man (or woman) standing is usually the one with the most quickness, agility, and above all, SPEED! Yes, power and strength deliver punches that hit harder. Technique is certainly useful for protecting oneself while delivering (or avoiding) punches. And toughness and mental ability are without doubt key parts of the equation. However, with all other things equal, speed is usually the main determinant in executing the above factors.
How does one acquire speed? Can speed be improved? Of course, speed is something with which many athletes are naturally blessed, but it is something that can be improved using the correct type of drills. It won’t come easily, but it will come with time, as you move just a bit faster with your hands and legs as each week passes. Building up the muscles that move your hands and legs, along with the stamina to maintain that speed, is key. Let’s check out the drills for your hands and legs!
Hand Speed Drills
As a boxer, you need fast hands. The use of pushups (with a quick clap as you leave the ground at the top of each pushup repetition) is a great way to build fast explosive strength in your body, along with some added coordination. Keep your elbows at a wide 90 degree angle and maintain identical repetitions through your four sets of 8 to 10 repetitions.
Intervals using the jump rope develops both slow and fast twitch muscle fiber, increases lung capacity, and delivers greater muscle coordination, in addition to added speed. Jump for one minute, then the next half-minute using double unders (two rope rotations for each jump). Repeat to exhaustion, which is usually 2 to 4 rotations.
Dumbbell Shadow Boxing
Resistance training is a solid way to build up muscle and punching power, and to punch faster as well. The moment you set down the dumbbell (following your two minutes of punching with each arms), your hands will become very light and much quicker. Repeat for 3 to 6 sets using both hands.
No gloves needed here. Four rounds of 3 minutes each is all you need to bring your hands to life and build muscle stamina and speed to help make your punches arrive just a little bit quicker each time. Every punch should be identical to the last with no variation in tempo or form.
Finally, nothing beats plain ol’ all-out speed punching drills. Hand speed and overall lung capacity and stamina will benefit from this exercise. You don’t want to punch using full power here. Keep a limit of about 40% of your maximum power per punch. Thirty second of punching should be followed by 30 seconds of rest. Repeat for 4 to 6 sets.
Leg Speed Drills
High Knee Jump Roping
Alternate standard jump roping with the high knee variety, in which you pull your knees up to near-waist level with each repetition. You’ll need added focus just to stay on your feet when using this movement, but you’ll develop new leg speed as a result. Stick with rep ranges of 45 seconds on, 45 seconds rest.
Resistance running in water is an effective way to target your core and leg muscles and, just like with dumbbell punching, teach your limbs to move faster once the resistance is remove. Longer-distance water running is fine, depending up the facilities available to you.
Keep the weight light and your body under control for this highly effective yet potentially dangerous movement. This is a standard set of squats in which you explode or jump from the halfway point of each repetition. Always warm up thoroughly before attempting this movement.
The unique aspect of sprints compared with long distance running is that sprints target the fast-twitch muscle fiber used for explosive, fast movements. This is the kind of power you want when you’re lunging into a punch, or trying to move your legs to avoid one. Run for 40 meters, then walk back and repeat. Run at near-maximum speed, but not so much that you’re out of control and reckless.
All of the speed in the world won’t help all that much if we are able to control it. This introduces a factor known as Agility. Simply put, agility is your ability to quickly change the direction of your legs, hand, arms, or entire body, while keeping control of balance and body. The fastest engine in the world doesn’t matter on a vehicle, if the steering and brakes don’t work! Look at agility as your ability to contain and control the speed you’ve been working to develop. Exercises such as burpees, hurdle jumps, box jumps, agility ladders and running with resistance bands will help you to build up a greater level of agility. Good luck!