How Can I Punch Harder?

Look no further than right behind your back to… your trapezius! Let me say this though, you should train every muscle you can if you are a fighter. Fighting is a tiring task, so you need as much help from your muscles as possible. But, if you want something to focus on to see some quick and effective improvements, then train your trapezius muscles. They are the root of your punching ability.

The trapezius is a postural and active movement muscle used to tilt and turn the neck. They shrug your shoulders and twist your arms. They elevates, detract, and rotate your scapula (shoulder blades). Let’s break them down into two sections: the top (workout ex: weighted shrugs) and middle/lower (workout ex: weighted rows).

Many people who have postural slumps have a lot of tension in the top section of the trapezius, as well as a low sunken chest. There are times when I’m in a yoga class and the teacher will say to bring your shoulders down and back, and sometimes I see people doing the exact opposite! Not properly retracting and depressing your shoulder blades when you’re doing any type of pulling/pushing movement is an easy way to cause injury. So keep your chest high as much as you can to take the strain out of your neck!

Not only is learning how to properly train your entire trapezius going to increase your striking ability, but it will also increase your posture, decrease risk of injury, and improve your overall structural integrity.

My favorite exercise for building the middle/lower trapezius is the upright row:

My favorite exercise for building the upper trapezius is the cable or the dumbbell shrug:

Important: When doing either exercise, make sure you stand up straight with your chest lifted, eyes forward, and shoulders back and down

Please leave a comment or question below if you liked this post!


Karl · September 24, 2017 at 1:14 am

I love working out my traps! I never knew they had anything to do with punching power. I would have thought it would have been triceps and shoulders. Either way, you have inspired me to get off my butt and workout. Nothing like heavy shrugs! Thank you for the great article.

    Jack · September 27, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    Woo! I’m glad I helped. 🙂

Kegan · September 25, 2017 at 1:05 pm

Wow! I would have thought that arm strength, the biceps and forearm would be the most important part of power in packing a punch – I had no idea posture and your traps had so much to do with it. I’ll be sure to try your exercises… even though I’m a pacifist!

    Jack · September 27, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    Haha sounds good!

James Thompson · September 25, 2017 at 2:51 pm

I really enjoyed checking out your site. Excellent layout, very easy to navigate, awesome job. You also had some very useful information for fighters. Nice work! I also really like how you take the time to break down each category. My personal favorite part is “technique”. Not only did you break it down you had a diagram for the people who learn easier through visual.

    Jack · September 27, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    Thank you very much!

Steve & Kris · September 26, 2017 at 7:34 pm

That makes sense, in order to punch harder, it requires the trapezius muscles. The exercises you recommended in the article are simple enough for most anyone to do, but yet are super important for building up the trapezius muscles. I like the practical way that you explain how these muscles are also engaged for good posture. I would imagine these exercises are good for people with desk jobs who tend to slouch much of the day? Thank you for the great reminder, I just straightened up my posture as I read this post. Thanks for sharing.

    Jack · September 27, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    Yes these exercises are great for getting rid of slouches. Not in every case, but in many cases they would help.

Rosa · September 26, 2017 at 7:55 pm


This post is very informative. I’m not a fighter but the learning of the body anatomy of the trapezius is interesting. Learning how the trapezius works is amazing. Whether anyone is in fighting or not, I can see the importance of keeping your chest high to keep from straining your neck. From time to time I find myself reminding myself of bringing my chest up. Good post. Thanks for sharing.

    Jack · September 26, 2017 at 7:55 pm

    Thank you!

Jim · October 2, 2017 at 3:12 pm

I have worked out with weights off and on for decades and I totally support your premise. The traps are the foundation muscles for a strong and effective punching strategy.

Of course, for an overall powerful punch, many other muscles come into play, too. The lower back, glutes, and hamstrings provide a powerful base and the pectorals (chest muscles) give great support as well.

My opinion is that the arm muscles (biceps and triceps) account for only about 10 percent of punching power. What do you think?

Enjoyed your informative article, Jack!


    Jack · October 5, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    Well Jim, I’d have to agree. With bigger muscles (back, chest, and shoulders) driving your punch, biceps and triceps end up being the guiding force for all that power. Kind of like the barrel of a gun.

    I mean if that wasn’t the case, then we’d see boxers only ever doing bicep curls and tricep extensions. Then they’d be walking around with big arms and small bodies!

    It’s important to understand how your muscles all act as one unit. That way, by unifying all your muscles, you’ll be able to put all your weight behind your punches.

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