Tips for Throwing a Left Hook

The Left Hook

left_hook

The left hook is often a very difficult punch to learn how to throw properly. It’s not as simply as just swinging your arm wildly in front of you. Instead, there are precise mechanical movements that should be followed in order to attain maximum punching power in a way that won’t injure your hand or wrist.

Warm Up

We discussed warm up techniques for boxing in a previous article, but if you are simply planning on shadow boxing for more rounds than usual in order to learn the proper technique of the left hook, then something as simple as skipping with a jump rope followed by light dynamic stretching could be adequate.

Stance and Foot Movement

The stance during a left hook is the same as any other punch. If you are a classic boxer (right hand back, left hand in front), then your left foot will be in front and the right in the back, as usual. Remember to maintain good balance with feet approximately shoulder width apart and on the balls of your feet and knees bent. Then, as you begin throwing the left hook, your left foot will turn in so that your toes are pointing to the right (just the toes on your left foot, don’t twist your right foot).

Arm Motion

When learning a left hook, I always found it useful to maintain a 90 degree angle at the elbow joint at all times, at least when first learning. You will want to bring your left elbow up to the height of your chin so that your fist is now pointing towards the right. Then, on the follow through, it’s often helpful to imagine that if you miss with your fist, then hit your opponent with your elbow. Of course, this is illegal and you don’t want to actually hit them with your elbow, but it helps maintain proper technique especially when first learning.

Return

When bringing your fist back towards you after the actual punch, it’s extremely easy to unknowingly drop your hands. Remember, your opponent is looking for openings, so make sure to keep that fist up and elbow by your side.

Practicing

When you practice this punch at the gym or at home, make sure to start slow and potentially practice different phases of the punch at a time. Go slow at first, because the hardest part of this punch is simply coordinating all the movements into a smooth powerful flow.

Avoiding Inuries

If you are practicing the left hook, try and avoid the heavy bag until you feel comfortable with the proper technique. By getting lazy or purely by accident, many fighters will injure their wrists on this punch. Aside from technique, one way to help reduce the risk of wrist injury is making sure your boxing gloves have appropriate protection. This doesn’t just mean padding up front at the knuckles, but good tight wrist support is also necessary.

Stretching for Boxing

Stretching is Important

stretchingI’m sure you’ve heard this a million times before, but stretching is extremely important for injury prevention as well as performance. However, given that it’s extremely boring, it can be really difficult to do. Additionally, if you go a few training sessions without stretching and feel fine, it could be difficult to believe that it has any effect at all, at least in terms of performance and injury prevention.

Why Stretch Before a Workout?

Stretching before a workout seems a little more logical, so you’re basically “loosening up”. That being said, fitness researchers have found that normal, or “static” stretching can actually decrease peak power output if performed immediately before training or the actual event.

In this case, it’s better to perform some type of dynamic stretching. For example, instead of a boring sit-and-reach stretch that you hold for 30 seconds in an uncomfortable position, it may be better to do something like leg swings where you are still reaching the stretching point, but are still actively moving.

This way, you are still loosening up and are also getting your muscles ready for more coordinated movements. Specific to boxing, instead of doing upper body static stretching before a workout, try some form of dynamic stretching like 50 wide arm circles in each direction. This will also get the blood flowing and act as a segue into your typical warmup.

What About Post-Workout?

Post-workout is a bit different. You are already warm and likely exhausted. As long as you perform a proper active cool down and aren’t just going from 100% to 0%, then static stretching will be ideal. This is when you can do the classic stretches like sit-and-reach that you would hold for about 30 seconds.

Can You Be Too Flexible?

Some think so, but generally speaking, this isn’t usually something to worry about in boxing. In sports like football where you are cutting on a dime and digging cleats into the turf, then having extremely loose knee joints could be a problem and may lead to some injuries. That being said, this is necessarily from stretching too much, because you would really have to be stretching an insane amount, but instead from previous injuries where there may be missing ligaments or other stabilizing structures.

Should I Stretch At Home?

This is always a tough question to answer, because it really depends on your training and how flexible you are that given day. We would recommend some light stretching on your day off, but again, not too close to your workout or boxing match, because you may lose a tiny bit of power. But if you are feeling tight, sore, or simply need to increase your range of motion, then stretching is often the best method.

Take Home Message

Our take home message is that you should never avoid stretching. Yes, it can be boring and takes some time, but if you end up with an injury that could have been prevented or are constantly stiff and sore, you may end up kicking yourself. If you can keep in mind the simple difference between dynamic and static stretching, then you are already ahead of the game!

Boxing Nutrition Advice

Glycemic Index

GIOne thing that many boxers don’t know about, especially recreational boxers, is something called the glycemic index. In short, the glycemix index (GI) is a number that gives you an indication about how a particular food item will affect your blood sugar levels on a scale of 1-100, but most foods fall within 50-100. For example, pure sugar would have a value of 100, whereas something like a carrot has a much lower value around 35-40.

Why Does This Matter?

The GI comes into play primarily when preparing for training. Endurance athletes will typically consume foods that have a low glycemic index as the rise in blood sugar is very gradual and prolonged. So it’s a gradual rise followed by a gradual fall. In something like long distance running, this is beneficial because there is a constant supply of fuel, albeit low levels.

On the other hand, sprint-style athletes often consume food with higher a higher GI. If their event only lasts seconds or minutes, then a spike in blood sugar could be beneficial, as long as they don’t experience the “crash” while in their particular event.

What About Boxing?

There isn’t one particular food product or pattern to follow when boxing. It all depends on what your training will consist of that day. If you are going to be working on technique that will take some time and plan on being in the gym for a while, we would recommend foods with a lower GI. If you’re coming in with the plan to squeeze in a workout at very high intensity, then likely a higher GI food will be good for that.

For a comprehensive list of foods and their associated GI, please click here.

What about recovery?

GI can make a difference during recovery, but it doesn’t have as much of an influence on performance as the preparation phase. The main thing that matters is you are adequately refueling and are taking in a good proportion of carbs and protein. For workouts like boxing training, it is often recommended that a 3:1 carb to protein ratio within 45 minutes of exercise is best.

So what types of food have this ratio? Surprising to many, one of the absolute best foods, or in this case drinks, is chocolate milk! Finally, something that tastes delicious and is beneficial for your fitness! Generally speaking, about 500ml of chocalte milk post-workout should do. If there is lots of resistance training involved, then supplementing with a few more grams of protein could also be beneficial.

This doesn’t mean you should just sit around and drink chocolate milk all day. You still need to work out, and you need to consume it in moderation. Chocolate milk not your thing? A couple peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on whole wheat bread is also a great option. Again, depending on the workout, and how you typically eat on a daily basis (we are all on a budget) then some supplementation may be necessary. This could include vitamins, whey protein, and perhaps green veggie powders.

At the end of the day, the main thing that matters is you are conscious about the food you are eating and how it may affect your performance. If you know about GI, preparation, and recover, then you’re on a good pace towards an effective nutritional plan for boxing!