Weighted Punching

Once a week my brother performs weighted punching for about 30 minutes I think. He’s worked his way up to 30lb db’s (he is 6’ ~170). I know this isn’t a very efficient way to train (I’m still trying to convince him to try something other than crunches) but I’m wondering what effect this has on the shoulders. He does no other shoulder work and logic tells me he can be really messing up his shoulders. Any opinions?

I hope he doesn’t do this in the hopes of increasing his punching power or speed. It is actually detrimental to punching. Charles Staley addressed this in his book, The Science of Martial Arts Training.

If that’s his goal, he’s better off with the bench press and other exercises.

As for a shoulder workout, there are more effective things to do. This sounds like what they used to do in those aerobic classes with small pink dumbbells.

Yes, that is pretty much what he is trying to accomplish. He is doing some type of self-taught martial arts training by reading everything he can get his hands on. Problem is he has read nothing about training. I have tried to tell him there are much more effective ways to make him more powerful even without weights. Thanks for the info, now I’ve got some ammo to hopefully convince him to start training more effectively.

i would think that going up to 30lbs and punching as hard as he can may cause some damage to the shoulder and elbow. from what i’ve heard if you want to do that you do it with a few lbs and not heavier, but as nate dogg said, there are much better ways to train this

I’ve never tried 30 pounds, but 10-15 pounds gives you one hell of a workout while still being light enough to not damage your shoulders. Just go for small punches.

I always think about the weighted punching argument pros and cons in my head. Actually I was pondering it just this morning. I ve discussed this issue with quite a few people as well.

The book “Warrior Speed” discourages this type of training. Because you are punching slower with the weights in your hands. And the weights used usually are light, not enough to effectivley strengthen muscles involved. As “Warrior Speed” states you will punch faster afterwords when you put the weights down. But that is only temporary, as this effect wears off quickly.

A very knowledgable friend of mine once told me he used to punch with weights in his hands. One time he was doing this in a boxing gym. An experienced boxer comes over and yells “what the hell are you doing.” THe boxer went on to tell him that it does you no good. Because you are punching slower and your body doesnt know you have weights in your hand all it knows is you are pucnhing and doing it slower.

In a conversation with Steve Maxwell at the Arnold Classic he seemed to say that it is an attempt to be to specific when training. It said however it could be used for conditiong in punching. But he said push ups seem to work just fine for boxers and punchers in that regard. Pavel Tstatsouline told me that holding weights in your hands would likely recruit other muscles not involved in punching. Thus interfering with proper mechanics.

But then you may reason since speed sqauts improve vertical jump and explosiveness in the legs for double legs or whatever else, shouldn’t weighted punches improving punching power?

Here is my theory. Whenever you jump up or extend your knees and hips you have to do so with your body weight. And it is quite a bit of mass you have to accelerate. In addition leaving the ground requires extra power.

When you are punching you only have to accelerate the mass of your arm, with the musucles of your upper body. It is not a signifigant load to accelerate. Therefore punching with heavy weights in your hand shouldnt really make a difference, because moving your arm for a punch does not require much strength in the first place.

I hope that makes sense.

Another point. Whenever you punch only at the very end of the range of motion does the punch meet with mass. You hit the person at the end of the range of your punch if it is a well placed punch. Therefore extra force to move or hit through that extra mass only occurs at the end of the punch. Therefore training with incrased resistance for the first 3/4 of a punch may not be a great idea.

If we contrast that we a double leg however you have a to move a large the other person towards the beggining of the technique. Therefore training with extra resistance bands and what not would be helpful.

In addition in a boxing, kick boxing and MMA context punching should be done with snap. As fast as you punch it should be snapped back as fast. Try to force through the other person or knock them back with a punch especially to the face may just give their body more time to dissipate the force, and it will become more like a shoving punch and do less damage. Less likely to rock the other person. Warrior Speed explains ideas similar to this. In addition Scott Sonnon’s tape on Shock Absorption would help to understand why snapping punches do more damage and pushing and thrusting type punches.


As said in Pavel’s book Beyond Crunches which he sites Soviet Studies only about 30% of a power punch is generated from the upper body. Therefore you have your legs and core making up the difference. So training the whole body would be the best idea.


Wood Chopping or Sledge Hammer hitting. A great method of conditiong for whatever especially punching. In addition it teaches the person to use energy and muscle tension efficently. For instance much of the time great force is generated while keeping the arms loose just like punching should be. The legs and core are used to iniaiate the force then it is carried through to the arms then hands and finally to the hammer or axe. Many boxers incoporate wood chopping into their training.

Well I hope this makes sense.

This was a frickin’ excellent post man! I am now inspired to look over old physics texts to refresh my mind over the kinematics of a punch.

I also really badly want to read those two books you mentioned now.

I’ve been a competitive boxer for years and have won numerous tournaments. I’ve also trained in Muay Thai for the last 5 years. I also have a B.S. in Kinesiology. Now that I’ve given my back ground, here’s what I think.
Most boxers who use weighted punches have ugly punching form. They tend to tense up their shoulders prior to the initiation of the technique, their biceps tighten up and do not allow full extension of punch. The puncher normally fails to retract the punch with enough speed. A punch should be pulled back 2x as fast as it is delivered. It should be felt and not seen. Further more if he is using 30lbs. of resistance he must think that stronger arms are going to contribute to a better punch. This is a fallacy.
You’re brother probablly squares up to his imagenary opponent too much in order to throw such a heavy punch.
BUT THE MOST IMPORTANT thing to remember is the importance of a skilled teacher. Unless You are a godsend, you cant be a master on your own.
Hope this helps

Throwing a punch you’re applying a force that’s going parallel to the ground. The resistance from the weight in your hand, however, is appling a downward force, in the wrong plane. So as was said before, you’ll be slower from the added resistance and the weight directing your arm down will recruit different muscles and change your form, basically making you a shoulder puncher.

John p is correct,
Punching power is developed from the pivoting of the feet, and the rotation of the hips and abdomen.

I believe it was Charles Staley that also made the point that weighted punching works the wrong plane as john p stated. He said that if you were to try to increase punching speed/power/strength endurance, to try it from your back as in a bench press position.

I remember seeing a clip of Ricco Rodriguez doing alternate DB presses with very light weights(5 lbs?), I’m guessing to increase strength endurance.

Awesome stuff guys, thanks. I’ll let you know whether or not I convince him.