You’ve likely seen banded punches if you’ve followed popular amateur and professional fighters on social media. Bands attached to the body or an immovable structure, all to punch harder. But are banded punches effective?
Banded punches do not develop punching power or speed as they disrupt the double peak muscle activation and technical nuances of throwing a punch.
But are there better uses for resistance bands when wanting to develop heavy hands?
Is Punching With Resistance Bands Good?
Punching with resistance bands is not good. One reason is the altering of punching technique when holding bands. If done too often, the issue is it can ingrain poor technical habits when punching without bands.
While this is a significant deterrent, the other reason is it affects intermuscular coordination, which means how the muscles work during the punch. If you’ve read my article “How To Punch Harder,” you’ll understand the double peak muscle activation pattern present in elite-level strikers.
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It’s used to circumvent the force-velocity relationship of muscular contractions. That is, as force increases, velocity decreases, and vice versa. But for a powerful punch, we want to maximize force and velocity resulting in high power outputs.
Double peak muscle activation refers to the muscles of the arm and shoulder activating to initiate the punch, relaxing as the arm extends, then re-activating and stiffening at impact . This is only developed with vast striking experience and allows the punch to be thrown with maximum speed and then to transfer maximum force at impact.
When adding a resistance band, there is no way for a double peak muscle activation to occur. The arm and shoulder muscles must activate throughout the punch to accelerate against the band.
This is why you shouldn’t use banded punches; instead, focus on developing full-body strength and power to complement your skills training.
Can Resistance Bands Build Punching Power?
This depends on how you use resistance bands. If you are punching with them, you won’t build punching power. If you use them for what they are intended for, then they will build punching power. How were they intended to be used?
As a variable or accommodating resistance tool. What does this mean? Each exercise has a strength curve where you are strongest and weakest between specific ranges of motion. For example, when performing the barbell back squat, you are strongest at the top and weakest at the bottom.
This means the top half range of motion is never overloaded as your strength in the hole limits you. Adding resistance bands to the squat increases the load as you ascend, challenging the strongest part of the exercise.
Further, traditional strength training exercises result in a long period of deceleration at the end of the lift. If you didn’t decelerate at the top of the squat, you’d leave the ground by jumping. Using resistance bands reduces deceleration and forces you to accelerate throughout the entire exercise.
Therefore, you generate greater force, velocity, and power than a regular squat. This is how bands can build punching power by enhancing full-body strength and power.
Do Resistance Bands Make You Punch Faster?
An interesting study showed that 6 weeks of jab training with light resistance bands enhanced the maximum velocity of the wrist, elbow, shoulder, and hip of the jab . However, we do not know “how” the boxers improved this speed.
From the data, we see increases in the displacement of the punch, meaning velocity was likely achieved by covering more distance. The research has yet to determine whether that is a good or bad thing, so we don’t know if this negatively affected technique.
This was also a very short training intervention. If 6 weeks is enough to potentially change technique, banded punching is likely not a good idea for developing punching speed.
If you use resistance bands with the method outlined in the previous section, resistance bands can help you punch faster by increasing your overall horsepower. However, more years of accumulated punching will develop speed through double peak muscle activation.
Are Boxbandz Good?
You’ll often see professional fighters doing gimmicky training. Boxbandz is no different. Spending too much time using these could mess up your punching technique. Further, it’s not going to make you punch harder or faster.
Instead, focus on developing force quickly using traditional strength training, jumps, and throws.
Are There Benefits To Shadowboxing With Resistance Bands?
Shadowboxing with resistance bands is another version of shadowboxing with weights. While there may be some minor muscle endurance benefits, there are more efficient ways to train that won’t negatively impact your technique.
Many boxers use shadowboxing with resistance bands or weights to enhance punching power. However, a powerful punch is mainly produced from the legs, not the arms . Further, the purpose of shadowboxing is to reinforce technique, footwork, and get a conditioning stimulus.
Resistance bands take away from these goals of the exercise.
Do Boxing Resistance Bands Work?
Boxing resistance bands don’t work for their intended use. However, resistance bands used as accommodating resistance during strength training do work and are an excellent option for developing full-body strength and power.
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1. Markovic, P., Suzovic, D., Kasum, G., & Jaric, S. (2016). Effects of training against elastic resistance on jab punch performance in elite junior athletes. Kinesiology, 48(1.), 79-86.
2. McGill, S. M., Chaimberg, J. D., Frost, D. M., & Fenwick, C. M. (2010). Evidence of a double peak in muscle activation to enhance strike speed and force: an example with elite mixed martial arts fighters. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 24(2), 348-357.
3. Filimonov VI, K.K., Husyanov ZM, & Nazarov SS., Means of increasing strength of the punch. NSCA Journal, 1985. 7: p. 65-66.