Putting the Snap Back Into Your Punch

Diamond BoxingContributor IJanuary 12, 2009

Well, the New Year is here and we are all getting back to the gym. I am sure one resolution we have all made for the New Year is to put a little more snap in our punches. Wouldn’t we all like to be able to hit a little harder, throw a little faster and decrease our shoulder injuries? I have a few tips to help accomplish just that.


As 2008 wound down I noticed something among amateur boxers, and even pro boxers, like Kelly Pavlik. While, most workouts seem to concentrate on pushups, bench press and dips, something is lacking. We have all forgetting to train our backs. Yes, we spend countless hours training to increase traps, and pecs, but we are totally missing our rhomboids.


This small muscle is one of a few muscles that helps stabilize and hold the shoulder blades to the spine. Weak rhomboids lead to shoulder instability which may cause rotator cuff injuries. Also, weak rhomboids will lead to a sloppy stance. It may even lead to an inability to keep your elbows tucked in while trying to block body shots. And the biggest thing which this weakness may cause, adding to the reason I find this so important, is a decrease in the motion of your punches.


Think of your arm as a whip. If you crack a whip and it’s to short it will not have the ability to hit its target or if it does will have little impact. This is what happens when as boxers we only train our pecs and traps. Stand there and put your arm straight out. Now, using just your shoulder blades, move your arm all the way forward and then all the way back. Like a seated row, but with arms never bending and only the shoulder blades moving closer to each other. Do you see that you have 6 to 12 inches of movement you’re not utilizing when you throw your punches? That’s the difference between a long whip and a short one.


Next, walk up to a mirror and stand relaxed. No cheating now. Look at your arms from fingers to shoulder. Do you see the top or side of your hand? If your shoulders are evenly balanced you should see the side. If you see the top of your hand, once again you have tight pecs and weak rhomboids.


This is going to decrease the rotation in your punches. It’s the rotation that adds a little more power to each punch. Now, go up to the punching bag and throw a few jabs and straight punches. Do it with and without the corrections I just mentioned. Do you see a difference? Great. Now we have to work on and strengthen those rhomboids so you can maximize what you have.


First we can start with a few chest stretches. If the pecs are tight you’re not going to be able to get the most out of your rhomboid training. Find a corner or door way. Put your arms out to your side and bend our elbows so you make a 90 degree angle between your upper and lower arms. Now lean into the wall or into the door way. Remember to keep your shoulders down. You should feel a nice stretch across your chest. Hold it for 15 seconds. Move your arms just a little up the wall, half way between the start position and arms straight up. It should be a 45 degree move.


This helps get the different muscle fibers of the chest. The next stretch is very simple and also similar to the first. Find yourself a weight bench. Lie face up on the bench. Hold your arms straight out to your sides and turn your thumb so it points to the floor and you see your palms. Let your arms just hang in this position for 15 seconds. I’ll warn you that you may feel numbness in your hands with these stretches. That just goes to show you how tight your chest is and that you need to be stretching.


Along with tight pecs we also have tight traps. We can stretch they trap by standing or sitting. Hold a weight that is comfortable yet heavy enough for you to feel a pull in one hand. Then gently grab your head with the free hand and pull away from the weighted hand. Hold for 15-30 seconds and repeat.


Now we can get to strengthen those rhomboids. We all know what a seated row looks like. When you get to the gym find an easy weight so you can get used to doing the exercise properly. Have a seat with your legs slightly bent, and back up straight. Now grab the bar with your arms straight out and begin to row. Concentrate on using only the shoulder blades.


If you have a partner, have them place their finger in the middle of your back. Squeeze your shoulder blades together so you pinch your partner’s finger in place. Remember to keep your shoulder blades down during the exercise. Your partner can help push them down if you find that to be a problem. Do 15-20 reps and three sets with a 15-30 second rest between sets.


The next exercise had you either lying on your belly on a bench, on the floor or on a stability ball. Start out with 2 lb. weight or no weight just so you get used to the movement. The put your arms out to your sides, thumbs straight up, palms towards your head, and your shoulders down towards your feet. And once again squeeze your shoulder blades together. Do 15-20 reps 3 sets and 15-30 seconds rest.


We can finish the rhomboid training in the same position as the last, lying on your belly. This time arms straight out like superman. Thumbs up and palms facing each other. Raise and lower your arms. Remember that the bottom of the movement should be the start position. Don’t expect large movements, because the rhomboid is not a large muscle.


Hope these tips help everyone start out with a knockout year. Let me know how this helps with training. Even better let me know how this helps with your next fight. For anyone who has read and utilized any of my training tips feel free to get in contact with me. Love to know how all of www.diamondboxing.com’s readers are utilizing my training and nutrition tips. Email questions to

Dr. B PBaio_DC@yahoo.com



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Dr. Pietro Baio DC

Performance Edge Chiropractic, P.C.

7315 Ave U

Brooklyn, NY 11234