How to Punch: Learn to Throw a Jab and Cross

How to Punch: Learn to Throw a Jab and Cross

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Do you want to learn to work a heavy bag like a pro fighter? Do you want a little more confidence in case some bonehead takes a swing at you during happy hour? Learning to throw a solid punch — the fast, crisp kind that lands on your target with a satisfying thwack — is your first priority. We’ve got you covered.

 

How to Stand When Throwing a Punch

A solid, relaxed fighting stance serves several purposes: It keeps you mobile and balanced, protects your vulnerable areas (face, groin, gut), and spring-loads your entire body to throw powerful strikes.

Foot placement

Find the right stance by stepping the foot of your dominant side back slightly, and rotating its toes slightly outward.

“Stand like your feet are on train tracks,” says stuntwoman and Rough Around The Edges trainer Corinne Degroot. Keeping distance between your feet helps with balance.

Stance

Bend your knees slightly, and balance your weight evenly between both feet so you can move easily in any direction. Whether your shoulders are angled or square, your hips should rotate slightly away from your target.

Upper-body posture

Finally, drop your chin slightly, and place your fists by your face, palms facing each other, with your elbows close to your sides to protect your ribs. That’s your fighting stance.

 

How to Make a Fist

“Always keep your fist tight when you throw a punch,” says Degroot. A loose fist will do more damage to your hand than to your opponent’s face.

Make a proper fist by curling your fingers so that the tips are buried beneath the palm side of your knuckles. Lock the whole thing together by wrapping your thumb across the middle bone of your index finger (and middle finger, if applicable). Voila — a perfect fist.

 

How to Throw a Proper Punch


From your fighting stance, extend your front arm in a straight line toward your target (not flared outward), turning your palm down at the end of the strike. Keep your elbows in and your hands high throughout the motion.

As your arm straightens, pull your back shoulder back and your front shoulder close to your chin for additional penetration, power, reach, and protection. Retract your arm and return to fighting stance. That’s called a jab.

For a cross — that’s a punch with your rear hand — rotate your back heel outward and your back hip forward, extending your arm fully and finishing with your palm facing down. Retract your arm and return to fighting stance.

 

Training Tips for Proper Punching

• “Don’t throw looping punches,” says Degroot. “Throw them straight out from your body, getting to your target quickly so you don’t leave yourself open.”

• Don’t tighten up before or during your punch — stay loose and fluid.

• Practice proper form and accuracy first, adding speed and power later.

• Keep your knees bent and stay low as you throw your punches for maximum power and penetration. “Throw properly and you’ll get an extra three inches on each punch,” says Degroot.

 

Rough Around The Edges is Openfit’s upcoming intense, results-driven training program led by a team of professional stuntwomen. Click here to learn more!

Andrew Heffernan CSCS, GCFP

About

Andrew Heffernan, CSCS, GCFP is a fitness coach, Feldenkrais practitioner, and an award-winning health and fitness writer. His work appears regularly in Men's Health and Experience Life. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children. Learn more at andrewheffernan.com and follow him on Instagram at @andrewheffernanfitness.