Knockout Facts:

  • Forceful punches rely on the impulse-momentum relationship.
  • Impulse is the amount of force developed in a short space of time.
  • Resistance training, Olympic lifting, ballistic, sprint and plyometric training methods are proven to develop impulse.

Science Behind the Punch

Essentially, Impulse is the amount of force developed in a short space of time. This is often called the rate of force development, important contributor to running, jumping and throwing performance, as well as… yeah you guessed it, PUNCH FORCE.

In boxing, it’s often the one who hits harder at a faster speed is often the winner, wouldn’t you agree? Well, impulse is a major contributor to that!

What Creates Impulse?

Impulse can rely on a number of genetic factors such as muscle fibre type and the nervous system. Manny Pacquaio is blessed with the genetics to be able to produce large amounts of impulse to have really fast hands. Despite how much we could train, the majority of us will find it nearly impossible to achieve this hand speed.

However, impulse and force production are trainable qualities, so we can do our best to train towards Manny’s blistering hand speed.

The impulse during a punch relies on punching technique, nervous system and speed of muscle contractions. A long with a good amount of technical training, there are plenty of strength and conditioning methods that can develop a more forceful punch.

Improving Impulse

There are many ways that we can train impulse, whether it is for upper, lower or whole body movements.

It is not just simple “move weights quicker”, you need to approach it from different angles. First of all, we need to train the ability to produce force through strength training. This should be the priority as this will give you more bang for your buck. The more force we can produce, the more impulse we can develop. Therefore boxers should prioritise maximal strength training to improve impulse.

Check out the video below of Callum Beardow and Nicolie Campbell taking part in a strong Saturday session. These exercises are improving the rate of force development as the boys have to shift big weight loads very quickly.

After an extended period of maximal strength training, the boxer can use various training methods, such as Olympic lifting, speed lifts and kettlebell exercises to develop the ability to produce force quickly. Our strength and conditioning training have both generic and sport-specific approaches. We overload punching patterns to improve the ability to send force generated at the foot all the way through to the fist.

The Next Round

On Friday, we will be sharing a boxing specific strength and conditioning exercise that we use to develop hand speed.

Danny Wilson is a strength and conditioning coach at Sheffield Hallam University and the co-founder of