There's more to a knockout blow than beefy biceps... Shawn Tompkins breaks it down.
If you're looking for some up-close and personal instruction, T&D sessions at the UFC Fan Expo August 27th and 28th will give you the chance to train with stars like Tito, Forrest, Clay and Urijah
Also on the roster to lead a T&D session: heralded striking coach Shawn Tompkins.
"The Coach" trains at Tapout Training Center in Las Vegas, where he
keeps Sam Stout's hands made of stone and Vitor Belfort's fists moving
But even if you can't make it to Vegas, you can still learn from the
best. We got Tompkins to share a few trade secrets about everyone's
favorite move: the knockout punch.
Fact 1: Strong Punches Start at the Bottom
Hamhock-size hands don't hurt, but the real meat of a KO is in the
quads. "When you talk about knockouts, you look first and foremost at
the fighter having a good base: the legs," says Tompkins. "You look at
big punchers in history, Evander Holyfield or Mike Tyson, and look at
the size of their legs." MMA knockout artists tend to have similar
frames -- think Wanderlei, Rampage and Vitor.
Prep your lower body
Tompkins prescribes simple but effective body-weight bearing exercises
-- like running stairs and hills and jump squats -- to his fighters to
tone their legs. He also advises using a medicine ball and workout your
way up to three or four sets of 16. "Jump squats with the medicine
ball, hugging the medicine ball -- the medicine ball requires you to
use your core for balance." A strong core and powerful legs equal a
solid base for some serious haymaking.
Fact 2: KOs Demand the Domino Effect
You can't just bench-press your way to a beatdown body - there are
multiple muscle sets that go off in a chain reaction to create a KO.
"The legs start the punch, but after that, the shoulders throw the
punch and the tricep puts the snap into it," explains Tompkins. "There
are punches that move people and there are punches that sit people
down. The ones you see that snaps the opponent's head back and sits him
down -- that has to do with the shoulders and triceps."
Tone your shoulders and triceps
Tompkins uses body-tonight rubber bands to build more power in his
punchers. "You put them around a post or a pole in the cage or a ring
and have the fighter hold onto them and throw punches in combinations
or just single punches in numerous sets," he says. "It develops the
exact range of motion and the muscle groups that you're going to need."
He also recommends clap push-ups to simultaneously develop strength
and snap speed. A medicine ball exercise that's also helpful: Stand
with your feet shoulder-width apart with the medicine ball in
hand. Lift the ball straight above your head, then slam it to the mat
as hard as you can. Catch it off the mat and repeat that motion 12 to
16 times for three to four sets. "It's great for that core KO
strength," says Tompkins.
Fact 3: Size Matters
Body type plays a role in how you effectively bowl someone over. A
shorter, compact fighter -- think Matt Serra or Joseph Benavidez --
relies on core power and hard, thudding blows. A taller, lankier
fighter like Anderson Silva or Junior Dos Santos can use the snap to
precisely land a punch in that spot behind the ear or the temple. His
punches probably won't hit as hard, but controlling where they land can
make him more devastating. "The bigger and the stronger you are doesn't
mean you are going to knock someone out," says Tompkins. "That's the
misconception that guys that go to the weight room and lift all day
Know your strengths
A successful fighter trains to maximize his body type, says Tompkins.
Compact guys should work to develop leg and core power to throw big
punches; lankier fighters benefit from more agility and precision
Click here to see the full schedule of events for the Boston UFC Fan Expo.