Monday, July 19, 2010

Do Knuckle Pushups Help You Punch Harder?

Lots of martial artists and others involved in fighting sports want to get a more powerful punch. And since it stands to reason that wrist, hand, and knuckle strength is an important factor to increase punching power, they start doing knuckle pushups as a combination of upper-body strength training, muscular endurance training, and knuckle conditioning.

But do knuckle pushups really deliver all that they promise? Will your punching power skyrocket just because you've been doing them for a few weeks or a few months?

Let's examine the issues surrounding knuckle pushups for punching power.

Increased range of motion

When you do pushups on your knuckles instead of on your palms, you are using an increased range of motion. In fact, you increase the distance that you have to move your bodyweight by several inches. This is one factor that makes this style of press-up more difficult than the traditional form we're all familiar with.

But all this does is increase the stretch in your pecs and anterior deltoids. It's not really specific to punching training, and it doesn't give you any benefit when it comes to hitting harder or increasing handspeed.

Less flex in the wrist

Knuckle pushups seem to mimic the position of your fist and wrist when you're landing a punch. So, it stands to reason that they'll help condition your wrists and knuckles for punching.

Most people who swear by this style of pushup agree that it does help a bit during punching.

But no matter how well conditioned your hands are, if you punch with improper form (or if you hit something hard) you'll hurt your hands. Knuckle pushups are a good way to get your hands in shape, but they're no real substitute for skill training or working on proper punching technique.

Knuckle pushups for bare knuckle fighters

So you want to condition the knuckles and fight without handwraps, gloves, or other pieces of protective gear? Do you fantasize about being some sort of tough-guy street fighter who is prepared for any situation?

That's all fine, but be realistic.

No matter how well-conditioned your knuckles are, they can't withstand hitting someone in the teeth: they'll get sliced open like a ripe peach.

It's better to spend more time on technique training and less time on knuckle conditioning which is of dubious value, if any.

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