SP ARCHIVES: Punching with dumbbells

Gray wrote: I read on your letters page about weight training, that you use 5 pound dumbells to punch with.

I’ve read from a number of sports scientists that this is counter productive to punching speed. This is because your muscles start to deccelerate towards the end of the punch, to stop the weight flying out of your hands. So you end up making your punches slower, because you’v been teaching your muscles to deccelerate towards the end of the movement.

After reading this I’ve stayed away from dumbell punching, and just worked on the heavy bag.

But recently I’ve watched videos of boxers including Floyd Mayweather, Shane Mosley, and Joe Calzaghe punching with dumbells! I figured that they’r either old school and won’t change bad habits, or maybe I’m missing something here? Especialy since Floyd and Joe are seemingly the fastest punchers in their divisions.

Also after reading your website, watching your videos on youtube.com etc the content of information is that of a world class coach. So it seemed odd to me that you would include dumbell punching, when this has been scorned by sports scientists as slowing down your punches. But again, am I missing something here? Should I do them?

Heres Joe doing them briefly near the start of the video. Shane and Floyd did it on the 24/7 HBO show but can’t find it at the moment.


MikeB wrote:

Gray wrote:
your muscles start to deccelerate towards the end of the punch, to stop the weight flying out of your hands

The way Steve uses the dumb-bells, you are actually trying to make them fly out of your hands…. There is no deceleration involved.

It’s hard to tell from the poor-quality BBC video what Calzaghe is doing, but my understanding of the way Steve uses similar light dumb-bells is as follows:

Rather than gripping the dumb-bells tightly, you hold them loosely in your hands. You ‘throw’ your hands (and the dumb-bells) out (using your entire body), in a punching motion, and then retract your hand at the end of the motion. The effect on the dumb-bell is equivalent to whiplash – the dumb-bell is basically shaking in your loose hand, if that makes sense.

It’s an exercise to develop the ‘whip-like’ throwing of your punch through your whole body, and the clawing, cyclical punching motion that Steve advocates, as opposed to building muscles.

I’m sure Steve can elaborate / correct me when he gets the chance.

Jon Law wrote: I believe waht MikeB says is how Steve uses dumbells when punching, ie. to throw them with the whole body.

A similar, viable way to use them would be similar to how sprinters use them to develop explosive power in the arms, ie. plyometric use of them. Sprinters will use light weights and then perform the running motion of the arms. This involves a ‘snatching’ action at the end and start of the motion, which in effect is what Stev advocates.

I think it’s not, necessarily the use of dumbells in the punching action thats the problem, rather its the method of use, which is potentially problematic.

Steve wrote: Well, as someone who by all accounts is getting faster despite being 64, I must be doing something right. But whatever I’m doing, including using dumbbells, it shouldn’t be assumed that the way I use them is the same way as any one else, including those who have undergone scientific analysis.

There is a wisdom of the body that supercedes much of the academic knowledge of it, including that of sports science. And I’m sure Jon Law will support me on this one, in that I’ve got a slightly different take from the sports scientists on what this wisdom of the body might be, and it is this difference based on years of research, testing by trial and error not to mention the occasional accident, that has given me an insight that sports science has yet to catch up with.

Using dumbbells isn’t the only way I achieve explosive power/speed. Here’s an article that refers to Russian athletes throwing objects both heavier than lighter than the weight required of their sport, to enhance explosive power. http://www.brianmac.co.uk/articles/scni3a4.htm
It’s a subject that’s not been investigated very thoroughly, but I hit on throwing paper more than 20 years ago, where I would transfer the momentum of my body into a rolled-up piece of paper and see how explosively I could release it.
Here’s another article that gives you a clue as to what I’ve been doing for many years.

Mikeb and Jon Law have provided you with some insight, but for more I suggest you and anybody else who is curious as to how I’m able to do what I do and most importantly why, you come to Coventry. Whilst I’m prepared to give a lot of information away for nothing on this forum, I’m not prepared to give it all. Not to mention that a picture is worth a thousand words.