Who doesn’t like hitting harder? The brand new boxing gadget, Hykso, combined with some expert coaching helped RISING pile power and speed onto our strikes – now you can to with our expert guide and workout…
RISING is in the gym with PT Max Cotton to put the new Hykso boxing sensors through their paces. One-to-one boxing coaching is becoming more common mainstream gyms, and it’s no surprise why. ‘Boxing training can get you lean and ripped. When you are doing padwork or light sparring you’re not controlling the pace, you’re not calling the shots, so you can’t give yourself a break,’ Cotton tells RISING. This intensity means you can get fitter faster, while learning a skill.
So, where does the Hkyso come in? It’s a punch tracker with sensors that slip under your boxing tapes on each wrist and sync with a smartphone app, to record average strike speed, total punches in each round and the intensity of the workout. At the end of each round you can review your performance.
The first thing to know about boxing is your arms are just the delivery system
‘It’s really hard to measure your progress in boxing,’ says Cotton. ‘It’s not like weightlifting where you know you’ve lifted 10kg more, so you’re definitely stronger. Hykso allows you to measure progress in a way that isn’t just: “You looked faster this week; you looked like you threw more punches.”’
Cotton has used Hykso, not only to help his clients, but also do develop and test our exclusive RISING Workout For Punch Power, which you can use in your own gym (it’s below if you want to workout now). Back to the here and now, and I’m taping up ready for a pad session to review the device while getting some expert boxing technique tips…
Punching From Your Toes The first thing to know about boxing is your arms are just the delivery system, Cotton tells me. ‘Your legs, glutes and core are the engine – the power isn’t in your biceps and triceps, the arm is just the carrier. When you are torqueing through your glutes, abdominals, quads – everything down to your toes – imagine the power your are putting through there.’ OK, is there anything else I need to know before we start? ‘Yes: relax. When people start boxing they start very rigid but as they get more relaxed they get faster, and as they get faster they get more powerful and can throw more punches in a session. When you’re tense you get gassed really quickly.’
Imagine a pole going through your head into the floor – rotate on that axis for straight punches
The Centered Warrior We start to work with the pads, Cotton calling out the shots and combos while I do my best to land them cleanly. It’s totally absorbing and immensely satisfying when you land a clean, heavy shot that sounds like a sledgehammer going into a side of beef. Unfortunately, these are few are far between. I’m conscious that I’m punching too much from the arms and not getting my full weight behind it. After we finish the warm-up round Cotton steps in with some more advice: ‘The best tip I ever got was to imagine that there’s a pole going through your head and into the floor. That’s the axis you rotate on for your straight punches. So, rather than leaning forwards and putting your face close to theirs you twist on that axis to jab and then the other way to cross.’
Speed Of The Strike You may expect a punch tracker to record impact force. But the Hykso measures your striking speed and gives you an average for different strikes, depending on which and whether it’s a straight punch (cross or jab) or a ‘power’ punch (hook or uppercut). This is actually a superior metric to use because in boxing speed is power. In physics force is the total of mass multiplied by acceleration. ‘The faster your punch and the more weight you can get behind it, the harder it hits,’ say Cotton.
Hykso In Action: Round One We set the app for a 5-minute round and get to work on the pads. I focus on rotating through the punches rather than leaning forwards and my flow is much better. Cotton is calling out the combos and sending strikes for me to slip or roll under. Knowing that my punching speed is being recorded makes me put more into it – it’s a full-body workout and I’m hauling in air by the end. My scores are OK – I get a punch count of 232, an intensity score of 877 and an average punch speed of 11mph. I’m a southpaw and my fastest punch is my right hook at 17.6mph, but there’s room for improvement. Before we hit ‘go’ again, Cotton has another technique hack to show me…
The Mirror Hack One way to instantly improve your punching power is to teach your brain to realise how rotating your shoulders fully can increase your reach. ‘Stand with your back to a mirror, throw a cross and look around over your shoulder to make eye contact with yourself in both eyes,’ says Cotton. ‘Then throw your hook the other way and do the same thing. This shows you how much your shoulders rotate in that motion. Not leaning forwards and not leaning backwards – it’s rotation.’
I try it out for myself. First I extend my fist as far as I can towards Cotton and he moves so his face is almost touching it. Then I do the drill. Looking over my shoulder into the mirror I can see Cotton slipping to the side of my fist because it has now travelled past his face. I had much more reach than I realised. Not only has this extended my striking range, but it’s important for another reason: ‘The trick for building speed for a fast punch is to have the most distance for it to travel, because it picks up speed as it travels,’ Cotton tells me. ‘Your technique needs to be good to rotate and generate the distance.’
The punches that knock people out are the ones they don’t see coming
Hykso In Action: Round Two This time I’m focussing on really rotating my shoulders for more power, while maximising my torque for my hooks. This means rolling back before whipping my torso around again and into the hook. Not only is this making my hits harder and faster but I seem to be getting into better positions for the next jab, cross, hook combo, and for slipping strikes coming my way. As I slip strikes I can then use the rotation to come back up with a fast, powerful hook, partly disguised by the slip. ‘You need to be good at slipping punches and countering,’ Cotton tells me afterwards. ‘As Mike Tyson said: “The punches that knock people out are the ones they don’t see coming.”’
This time the technique hacks have unlocked more energy, but the effort I’m having to put in has increased exponentially. I’m feeling gassed a couple of minutes in and I have to really concentrate on my breathing to maintain my output. Checking my scores at the end of the round I can see it’s all paid off. While my punch count has dipped slightly to 213, my average punch speed has leapt to 15.7mph and the intensity has ramped up to 1300. My right hooks have smashed their previous score by 7.5mph, clocking 24.9mph – it’s literally an instant boost, and as soon as the session is over I’m thinking about the improvements I could make next time – feedback is a powerful motivator, it seems!
WHAT NEXT? PT and boxing coach Max Cotton has designed this exclusive gym workout for RISING with boxing-specific moves for adding power to your punches:
Power Up Your Punches How To Do It: After a 10-15 minute warm up, do these exercises in order, with 60-90 seconds rest in between each set. (If you have not done the exercises before, then ask a PT to monitor your form). You can add this workout into your normal routine, bolt it onto the end of a boxing session, or treat it as a standalone session.
1. Ballistic Med Ball Complex Reps: 5-10 each side Sets: 3-5 – Place one hand on a medicine ball in a press-up position – Complete the press-up, immediately stand up and shot-put the medicine ball into a trampoline or bounce it off a wall, or ask a partner to catch and throw back – Catch the ball, reset but switch the hand on the ball, then repeat.
2. Landmine Cross Reps: 5-10 each side Sets: 3-5 – Load one end of a securely anchored Olympic bar, stand in a boxing stance and hold it in your back hand (the one you cross with) – Rotate through your hips to drive the bar overhead – Press the weight with speed, then lower slowly under control.
3. Landmine Jab Reps: 10 each side Sets: 3-5 – Hold one end of an anchored Olympic bar, stand in a boxing stance and hold it in your front hand (the one you jab with) – Rotate through your hips to drive the bar overhead – Press the weight with speed, then lower slowly under control.
4. High To Low Woodchop Reps: 5-10 each side Sets: 3-5 – Hold a cable handle with both hands, feet shoulder width apart – Keep your arms straight and your shoulders aligned with your core – Use your abs to initiate the move and continue to rotate to draw the cable down.
All images © Matt Ray
Max Cotton is a personal trainer, and boxing and MMA coach. Contact him @maxcottonpt
Thanks to London’s [Jubilee Hall Gym] in Covent Garden (https://www.facebook.com/JubileeHallGym/)
Comments are for information only and should not replace medical care or recommendations. Please check with your Doctor before embarking on exercise or nutrition regimes for the first time.
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