- Are you currently looking to dial in your strength and conditioning program to improve your fight skills?
- Are you interested in learning how to increase your punching power for MMA and boxing?
- Are you currently incorporating the bench press into your training to improve your fight skills?
- Are you curious about whether the bench press can be used to improve your punching power?
First of all, bench pressing does increase upper body strength, but can it be used to increase your punching speed and power? This question is a bit more open ended which leaves some options open to examine. I will shed some light on that here!
Increase Punching Power: Open Kinetic Chain vs Closed Kinetic Chain Exercises
To start with this let’s look at what you’re gaining from bench pressing with a free weight versus developing upper body strength with a bodyweight movement such as a push-up.
Bench pressing a free weight such as a dumbbell, or a barbell is what is known as an open kinetic chain exercise where a push-up is a closed kinetic chain exercise.
So what’s the difference between these two strength movements?
An open kinetic chain exercise is defined as a movement where the hand or foot is free to move such as with a dumbbell press. So a bench press movement with a free weight would be an open kinetic chain exercise.
A closed kinetic chain exercise is defined as a movement where the hand, or foot movement is fixed in a space and cannot move. So here a push-up would qualify as a closed kinetic chain exercise due to the fact that you can’t move the ground as it is a fixed space.
An open kinetic chain will give you the benefit of developing joint stabilization due to your muscles’ having to control and maintain the free weight in an open space while moving the weight through a certain plane of motion. This very act will allow for your body to develop stronger stabilizing muscles as a result of you having to create the stability to move the weight through a fixed plane of motion.
At the same time, a closed kinetic chain movement such as the push-up will enhance your ability to develop strength and rigidity through every other part of your body so that you can move your body with control and stability against the fixed surface…which in this case is the ground.
So in essence both of these types of movements could be leveraged for developing strength to enhance your punching power if you understand how to make the movements more athletically specific.
Increase Punching Power: Bench Press Variations For Punching
Keep in mind when you perform a bench press you have a few variations to choose from. Sure you can load up the barbell for more weight, but you can also take advantage of performing the bench press with a pair of dumbbells, or with a single dumbbell in each hand for more single limb training.
However when it comes to punching power I like to examine the specific needs involved with the act of punching. The act of punching is a more athletic movement so in order to improve this movement your strength training needs to aim to improve your athleticism.
When punching you need to develop core stability, hand speed, and power. So if you plan on using the bench press to improve these variables then there are a few ways you can leverage the movement to do so.
The dynamic barbell bench press: This method involves you pressing a sub-maximal weight for maximal speed. The objective is to move the bar fast in order to develop explosiveness.
With specificity of training if you train for speed you will develop speed. With this strategy I would recommend performing 7 to 9 sets at 3 reps per set focusing on maximal speed of the bar.
This will definitely enhance your hand speed which will translate over to greater punching speed and power.
Contrast training or post activation potentiation (PAP): This method involves you utilizing a heavier sub-maximal load for 3 to 7 reps at a challenging weight followed by an athletic movement that stimulates the same group of excited muscles from the heavy lift.
So for example you could perform the barbell bench press for a heavy set of 3 reps followed by a plyometric push-up off the side of a bench for 3 to 6 reps. The plyometric push-up off of the bench would be a sensible follow up exercise movement as it would involve many of the same group of excited muscles used in the heavier bench press.
This PAP strategy will help you to develop some seriously explosive ability for athletic performance. You will definitely notice some significant “pop” in your hands after you implement this strategy!
Single arm dumbbell bench press: This lift is one of my favorites. This just simply involves you performing the bench press with a single dumbbell in your hand.
In reality you only typically throw punches with one hand at a time so the single arm bench press is a great way to simulate that single arm movement and control needed for enhancing your punching ability.
By loading the dumbbell and pressing it in one hand you’re stimulating the same type of core stability muscles involved in punching. When performing this movement you will notice the diagonal line of tension that runs from the loaded hand/shoulder down to your opposite hip. This movement will force you to engage your core and create significant stability.
This sort of core stability is great for helping you to enhance your thoracic rotation which is needed in your ability throw some devastatingly powerful punches.
Increase Punching Power: The takeaway
So to answer the original question…yes, bench pressing can increase your punching power. However you just have to understand how to leverage it in order to do so. It can also be used to potentiate your body to be combined with other movements to enhance your hand speed and punching power even further!
Are you currently using the bench press in your MMA strength and conditioning?
Have you used these bench press variations to increase your punching power?
Post up and share in the comments here below. We’d love to get your feedback!
Also if you want to learn how to progress this even further then make sure you check out my 90 Day MMA Strength And Conditioning Program right here below! I guarantee it’ll get you into the best shape of your life, or I’ll give you your money back no questions asked.
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