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How to Improve Hand Speed for Striking

In any type of martial arts, fast hands are gold. In fact, some of the greatest boxers throughout history (and even today) had some of the fastest striking speeds.

To point out the obvious, fast strikes allow you to reach your target quicker and more explosively, while also giving you an element of surprise. Even if your first strike doesn’t hit, the speed can still work in your favor by dazing and confusing your opponent, which provides an opportunity for a full connection.

5 Workouts to Improve Striking Speed

If you have dynamite strength, be sure to use these workouts to help pick up your speed alongside it. The combo is, to put it lightly, deadly in really any sport. These workouts are some that I practice regularly that directly contribute to hand striking speed, coordination, and whole-body agility. Weave them into your repertoire during several training sessions a week.

1. Jump Rope

To gain speed, you have to train, well, fast. Jumping rope does exactly this by encouraging the muscles in your wrists and upper body to fire quickly and in coordination with the rest of your body. This is particularly true when you start to move into more advanced jump rope movements like double-unders and cross-body jumps, since these require extremely quick movements by your arms.

Another awesome thing about training with a rope for speed is that it not only encourages speed, but speed and endurance. After all, you can be fast, but can that speed last for several rounds? Can it take you through a full tournament without flagging?

Here’s a great circuit that will start building your speed and endurance simultaneously, while also integrating body weight movements. Try it for your next cardio session several times a week.

Jump-Rope Speed Workout:

  • 20 seconds double-unders
  • 10 seconds rest
  • 30 seconds shoulder-tap pushups
  • 10 seconds rest
  • 20 seconds cross body jumps (cross rope in front of your body between jumps)
  • 10 seconds rest
  • 30 seconds pushups
  • 10 seconds rest
  • 20 seconds double-unders
  • 10 seconds rest
  • 30 seconds shoulder-tap pushups
  • 10 seconds rest
  • 20 seconds cross body jumps
  • Repeat three times through

2. Weighted Shadowboxing

Courtesy of my little man.

The essence of weighted shadowboxing is similar to that of wearing a weighted vest. When you’re carrying extra weight during activities, your body becomes accustomed to it and grows stronger to support it. When the weight is removed, you suddenly feel extremely “light” and agile – your body can actually move faster and with more strength due to being used to having to compensate with weight.

When you shadowbox with weights, your arms become accustomed to moving fast with weight. When you no longer have to carry the weight, they can now move even faster with their newfound strength.

When you start shadowboxing, be sure to start with a lower weight of around 5 pounds, and move through all types of jabs, crosses, and uppercuts to work every angle. Don’t forget to put power behind the movements, focusing on your striking instead of holding the weight. Do a couple round’s of moves, then set down the weights and go through another round. Can you already feel the difference?

Here’s a simple sample shadowbox drill to get started:

1. Left jab
2. Right cross
3. Left hook
4. Right hook
5. Left uppercut
6. Right uppercut
*reverse if you’re southpaw (left-handed)

3. Speed Bag Drills

Photo courtesy of Fitness Fighters

Of course, no speed training would be complete without utilizing a speed bag. The greatest thing about a speed bag is it trains for optimal speed and coordination; not only of your hands, but also your gaze. It also develops your reaction time and primes you to intuitively react with speed and agility, without having to think too much about it. When you can utilize this in sport, most movements become second nature, which means they will naturally be faster.

Once you get a feel for the rhythm and timing of the bag, start pushing yourself by punching as fast as you can through each round. You can even add the speed bag in as a separate circuit to your weighted shadowboxing sessions.

4. Fast Pushups and Crawls

Fast pushups are a must for developing strength within your fast-twitch muscle fibers. After all, you want to be able to hit fast and hard. Combining these with crawls like a fast bear crawl also enhances total-body coordination, so you basically get a three-way speed, strength, and agility session.

Fast pushups are, in essence, the same as regular pushups, but done faster. Don’t slow on the way down or up, and go as fast as you can without compromising form. You can do the regular and tricep variation for a full blast. Try to get in at least three sets by adding them to a HIIT circuit, or adding a bear crawl between each.

Be sure if you haven’t yet to check out my new Fit and Fight Ready Online Program where I cover MMA related exercises like these and many many more!

5. Core Exercises

True power and speed are mostly going to come from one place: your core.

If your core is weak, you won’t have the necessary foundation to move quickly or with power. As your center of gravity, your core is going to help you maintain your balance and strength as you strike. If your core is weak, you may put a ton of power and speed into a strike, only to have your own momentum toss you too far to one side, which could distract or disorient you long enough to get hit or worse.

Your core isn’t just your abs. It consists of layers of muscles that are wrapped around your entire trunk. Your obliques are included, which help stabilize your side-to-side movements, and lend power to rotational punches like jabs.

To have a truly strong core that supports quick, powerful upper body movements, you need to train the entire trunk. Here are some exercise suggestions you can rope into a circuit, or add between a jump rope session:

• Kettlebell swings. Works the obliques to stabilize your body, while also honing in on your lower back.
• Planks. Engages your entire core and encourages stability and endurance.
• Weighted lunge twists (above image). Strengthens your obliques like crazy.
• Side planks. Specifically targets your obliques and enhances balance.
• Leg lifts. Gives your lower abs a boost to fuel those quick upper cuts.

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