As a result of conscious and unconscious propaganda from the media, many naive souls believe that a heavy bench press equals knockout power.
Is this true? Are the dudes benching heavy weights in the gym strong punchers?
Big Dudes vs. Small Dudes
The bench press requires solid muscular development.
Have you ever seen a guy with 13 inches arms who can bench press 405lbs or even 315lbs?
It almost never happens. There are genetic marvels like Mike MacDonald, but those guys are an exception to the rule. For the most part, big benchers have very well-developed upper bodies.
When an average person sees a steroid monster in the gym benching 405lbs, an immediate feel of weakness and fear arises. One begins to wonder:
“What would happen to me, if a guy like Eric Spoto or CT Fletcher punches me in the face?”
Obviously, someone who has 100lbs more muscle than you will easily do some serious damage to your face. That’s why there are weight classes in combat sports. Unfortunately, there are no weight classes on the street.
What is power?
Power represents the product of strength and speed of movement expressed in Watts. In simpler terms, power is speed strength or force applied fast.
Powerlifting is not really a power sport, though. It’s a pure strength sport since there is no speed requirement. You can’t lift super heavy weights fast. If you can, the weight is not really heavy.
In a punch, you are not testing your absolute strength. You’re testing your power and technique. Strength alone does not make you a good puncher.
A Punch Begins In The Leg
The path of a punch: Legs > Hips > Torso > Shoulders > Arms > Fist > Target
Real punching power comes from the hips and the legs.
During the 1980s, Russian researcher V.I. Filiminov discovered that the arm accounts for about 24% of the power in a punch. The rest 76% come from the torso (chest, back, abs) and the lower body.
Therefore, the bench press trains about 30-40% of the muscle mass responsible for a power punch. In theory, the squat, the power clean, the snatch, heavy rotation work and other lower body drills do more for punching than the barbell bench press.
At The End Of The Day, Punching Is What Counts
If you want to learn to swim, jump into the water. On dry land, no frame of mind is ever going to help you. – Bruce Lee
A long time ago I was a skateboarder. I trained a lot, especially for someone who wasn’t paid to do it. I can criticize the skateboarding community all day, but we got one thing right – practice is the only way to get better.
You will rarely meet a skateboarder who does joint rotations or runs as a warm-up. All the skaters that I once knew were warming-up with easy tricks or riding for 10-15 minutes.
The only thing that the best skateboarders do is skating. You will never see a skater in the gym lifting weights or jumping. It’s all practice, practice, smoke, practice.
Looking back, squatting and conditioning work on the side would have been helpful, but the difference in the final outcome would have been small. With or without, squats, my level of skateboarding would have been pretty much the same.
Punching is no different.
Back in the day, guys like Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Rocky Marciano and other famous boxers did not focus on weighlifting. To this day, there are boxers who do almost no weightlifting at all.
According to many trainers, the important factors behind solid punching are:
- Genetics, Motivation, Passion, Technique
- Heavy bag, Mitts, Sparring
- Sledgehammer work, Kinetic chain work, Heavy weight throws…
- Bench press