In Part I of this article series on “How to Punch Harder“, I asked you what you thought the specific cue was that I used with my athlete as we were doing the Medicine Ball Scoop Toss exercise.
I was looking for one specific phrase.
When I started reading the answers and re-watched the video, I realized that there were a few things that I said in there.
The majority of answers included “driving from the ground up” and integrating the “hips and core“.
These answers are all CORRECT.
Good work, you get a gold star.
Starting from the ground up and traveling through the hips and core to end with your punch, you’re utilizing a concept called “SUMMATION OF FORCES” [SoF – acronyms are cool].
SoF can also be thought of as momentum.
Although you may not have heard it said like this, all trained martial artists do this if they’ve been taught proper technique.
Basically, SoF occurs when you generate force in an area farthest away from where you want to direct the force (in the case of a punch, from the ground) and as you finish generating the force in one area, you start with the next area up (knee, then hip, then core, then shoulders, ending through your arm).
The Key to Tapping Into SoF is Timing
You start the next link up the chain immediately after the previous link finishes.
If there is too much delay, say, you drive from the ground, wait a second, then turn your hips, you lose this power.
That’s why when training this skill, it’s best to start slow and smooth and consciously think about immediately transitioning from one joint to the next (in this case, from the ground up).
Another area where you can see this in action is in Olympic lifting. [Remember how I told you this was Olympic lifting month :)]
Think about the Clean and Jerk…
There’s no way that world record holder Liao Hui, who weighs 150 lbs, can perform a strict Military Press with 435 pounds (198 kg)!
SUMMATION OF FORCES!
He gets the bar moving upwards from the ground up using his legs and hips and ends with the press, otherwise, the bar would be stapled to his shoulders… Just like the person whose “stomach is too big, which makes me eat 2 bags of chips everyday” gets their stomach stapled.
Another reason why Olympic lifting is awesome for total body neuromuscular development – you either learn this important skill or you don’t make any progress.
Now, while SoF is definitely one of the cues to focus on in the Med Ball Scoop Toss, there’s another one, that only 9 out of 87 people mentioned…
“Load it up as fast as you throw it”
This is the original cue I had in mind when I posted the pop quiz, and here’s why…
When you quickly load the throw up by rotating away with the med ball, you’re stretching the muscles that you’re about to engage when you reverse directions to start the throw.
Whenever you stretch a muscle before contraction, you take advantage of a concept called the STRETCH-SHORTENING CYCLE [SSC – another acronym, yay!].
There are numerous structures that may contribute to this phenomenon, such as the tendons, fascia and muscle fibers themselves. Scientists are still working on it, but it doesn’t matter to us because we know it exists and we know how to take advantage of it to punch harder and be more powerful.
While some people have likened this to a rubber band, it’s more like bouncing a tennis ball.
To get a tennis ball to bounce, you throw it into the ground.
The harder you throw it, the higher it bounces.
This occurs because the ball is being deformed and when it springs back to shape, it bounces up.
However, if you were to press the ball into the ground, deforming it the same amount as when you threw it, it will not bounce back as high, if at all.
This is the same thing that happens with the SSC – it depends on the speed of loading and reversing immediately.
But if you stretch a rubber band, regardless of if you stretch it quickly and let it go right away or hold the stretch for a couple of seconds before letting it go, it will fly the same distance.
You follow me?
If not, read through that again, then continue…
Therefore, to take full advantage of the SSC, the faster you stretch and the quicker you change the stretch to a contraction, the more force you’ll generate.
Hence my cue to “load as fast as you’re going to throw it”.
Wait too long and you lose the extra elastic energy of the SSC.
Taking advantage of the SSC through quick loading and exploding is a skill just like the SoF.
If you’re too tense when you load, the movement is slower, so you’ve got to load but stay relaxed at the same time.
In this exercise, as the ball is loading, keep your core relaxed, then when the ball has reached the end range, you fire up your core to throw the ball and you’ll develop maximum force.
A key concept is that power is just as much about relaxation as it is about contraction – thus the value of this exercise and others like it.
What’s Another Example of an Exercise That Uses the SSC?
If you guessed Olympic Lifting, you get TWO gold stars, smarty pants!!
Using the Clean and Jerk as an example again, the SSC occurs twice – once in the Clean and once in the Jerk.
But I’m not going to tell you where, because we’re going to have another pop quiz.
Can you figure out where they occur?
I talked about where it occurs in the Snatch in the Olympic lifting webinar, so go review that again if you don’t remember.
Once you think you’ve nailed it, leave your answer in the Comments section below.
By the way – I hope you like these little quizzes.
I *think* they help you understand the material I present to you better, but maybe you just want me to spill the beans all the time.
So when you leave your answer, also let me know if you like these little quizzes or not.
If so I’ll keep ’em coming for ya!
——– BONUS MATERIAL ——-
I also promised that if we got 50+ Comments last time, I’d talk a bit about the workout we were doing.
Since we got over 80 Comments (awesome), here goes…
The exercises are performed with a low # of reps (3 per side for the Med Ball toss and 4 for the Inverted TRX row) because we’re training POWER, which you focus on through keeping a low # of reps and the time of the set 10 seconds or less to keep the Alactic system as the primary source of energy.
Keeping the reps low limits fatigue that occurs due to the lactic system, and with the supersets, the workout is primarily alactic/aerobic.
Also, in between each exercise, I’m chasing and throwing jabs to get her moving – this is because she has a tendency to throw 7-8 punch combos then just stand in front of her opponent and absorb a bunch of punches back.
So we’re simply working on getting her to think about exerting then getting the hell out of there.
That’s a little insight into what goes into training my athletes, which hopefully for any of you trainers out there you might get some value from.