Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Martial Arts - Science of Power Punching

Practicing martial arts is the best way to improve the speed and power of your punch. Weightlifting has very little benefit at all towards punching power. If you want to learn martial arts, you can weight lift as a means of keeping your body strong and prevent injuries, not for increasing the power of your punches.

Powerful punches have a lot to do with muscle memory and correct technique which comes from lots of repetition. The power in a punch comes not from putting more muscle into the movement so to speak, but rather the snap at the end of the punch.

Think of your arm like a whip and the end result you are looking for is the clean “snap” that it makes. That’s where the power and the speed lies. A simple mental image that Bruce Lee told his students was to finish the punch 2 inches beyond the intended striking point to generate the necessary follow-through to get that power. But of course I am speaking from the pure standpoint of kung fu or karate. If you practice grappling or ground fighting as well, then weightlifting is a must.

Many people when they punch actually use their biceps and triceps in opposition, making a slower, generally more rubbish punch. The best way to get martial-arts ability is martial arts training. Do weight training, maintain a healthy and nutritional diet, but also take martial arts on the side. In the gym you are working anaerobically, martial arts will give you the aerobics you need as well as conditioning. Most oriental arts, including kendo, aikido, etc, are more repetitive training, so in the end, you will be increasing your muscle hypertrophy but at the same time burning off fat achieving a more ripped look. Toned muscles actually are 20% more efficient, so through martial arts, you actually learn the science of power punching.

Breaking plateaus between workouts

Since college I haven't really had any issue with plateau, biggest mistake I made back in the day was overtraining. I was in the Gym all the time and I just started to get frustrated. Since building muscle is really not happening when you lift, but when you rest and repair. Don't count out the quality of rest and nutrition. Tossing in a week off every now and again is wise.

Here are a few more things you can do to break plateaus:
I have learned some techniques from a strength trainer friend of mine that keys on your tempo during lifting. Take the bench for instance. Many people will keep the same tempo both up and down. I've been training on pressing up as fast as possible, then 3 count down. This tempo concept has been one of the biggest improvements to my lifting routine.

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A few other things you can do, if you are benching, curling a lot with bar, switch and do a total dumbell week. I usually cycle each week with Dumbell and Barbell workouts.

If you work out 3 times a week, you can switch off working back with chest, and back with biceps. If you look at the exercises, your pressing with bench, tris and your pulling with back and biceps. Do a press/pull (tri/bi), (chest/back) one week, and press/press (chest, tri), pull/pull (back, bi).

There is also the periodization concept for lifting which is a pretty well planned out routine, with each week at growing intensity. Example a typical 4 week cycle could be as follows (example Dumbell Curls):
Week 1 - 15 Reps x 4 Sets @ 30 lbs
Week 2 - 10 Reps x 3 Sets @ 40 lbs
Week 3 - 8 Reps x 3 Sets @ 50 lbs
Week 4 - 5 Reps x 2 Sets @ 65 lbs

There's a variety of ways that I have seen periodization programs laid out and this is just one example.

Another big thing that has already been said is switching exercises. I try not to do the same exact exercise for a muscle group for more than 3 or 4 weeks in a row. This doesn’t let the saturation point to come and when we exercise different muscle groups, the previous muscle groups get time to recover and recuperate saving us from feelings of extreme tiredness or fatigue making it easy for us to break plateaus.