What would be some good exercises to develop more power in a Wing Chun chain punch? Is it as simple as working on my triceps?

10 Answers 10


When developing any technique, there are pairs of muscles that must work together.

In the case of punching, and this kind of a punch, your recoil from the punch is just as important for absorbing the impact as the actual delivery itself.

To practice the punch, start with the technique in open space and focus on delivering the energy of the punch to the same open space target with accuracy and speed and retracting to the same starting point with the same degree of accuracy and speed.

Be aware of your breathing and how much breath you need on each move so that you become aware of your requirements for oxygen on each delivery and how long it takes to recover from each one.

After your accuracy in delivering the technique improves, then increase the rate at which you can deliver the blows with either hand. For example, develop a routine for punches and breathing that allows you to work up 2 successive punches with right, then left then both hands, then break and then repeat. Work this up to 5, then 10 and then 20 and then 50, etc.

Even without training your muscle groups, a routine such as this will train the various muscle groups without straining them, so that they work together as you hone the technique.

Then apply resistance to your punches by either holding a lightly weighted 'weight' or holding them on your wrists. Make sure they are secure and don't move or rub. I recommend holding a weighted implement with the weight either side of your fist so your technique can remain as true as possible.

Remember to keep both the delivery and the recoil together in your technique. When working with resistance weights, remember to start your routine from the bottom up, such as 1 punch at a time, then 2, then 5 etc, or you risk causing painful damage to muscles, ligaments or tendons that are not trained to handle the load yet.

With most training of your body, start with technique, accuracy, speed and then resistance.

You will always, then, be working with your body and not making your body work with something else.

  • A suggested edit to this answer above was to mention the value of the weights. A light weight, as I mentioned above, will increase resistance and therefore overall speed and force of delivery. If you use progressively heavier weights, your technique should make use of gravity, but I can't recommend a particular safe technique for doing this.
    – MyStream
    Commented Nov 25, 2012 at 9:32
  • Re: The comment about heavier weights, training yourself to punch straight with a significant amount of weight on your arm may hurt your ability to punch straight without the weights. A better method would be to resistance train with a partner who can apply a live resistance.
    – Air
    Commented Sep 18, 2014 at 15:40

While not what most would think of as a "weight lifting" exercise (body weight rather than external weights), push-ups on your fists will help with Wing Chun punches as it promotes strong wrists and forearms (along with the standard push-up muscles). In order to train for the explosiveness of the punch you can practice these push-ups with an explosive movement when pressing upwards. Later on, add more weight via the use of a weight vest. Don't go overboard with developing muscles for this punch as it is more quick and explosive than slow and about the application of brute strength.

Additionally as a Wing Chun punch is vertical and is usually delivered with no recoil before the punch core and hip muscle development will help as power and support for the punch come from low in the body.


Muscle strength improves by resistance to an intended movement. For punches, there's a few tricks that work well.

Light Weights

When I say light, I mean ounces. You might want to take a fishing weight or stones to use. Lay on your back, do your chain punches with the weights in your hands. Laying on your back means gravity is pulling the weight in the opposite direction of your intended movement - so you get the maximum resistance to your action.

If you try doing the punches standing up, the weights will be pulling your arms towards the ground, which will work the muscles keeping your arms upright, but not the muscles that deliver the power to your punches.

Be sure to stretch AFTER doing these exercises. Stretching resets the muscle spindles so they don't take the short contracted position as "normal" which is what ends up slowing down people who do a lot of weight conditioning.

Resistance bands/ropes w/weights

Attach a resistance band to a wall or a rope over a pulley with weight so that you feel resistance when you punch forward. Do your chain punches. This is, basically identical to using weights, just a bit different in logistics and you can play with taking a half step either way and adjusting angles while you go.

Again, stretch afterwards.

Training in water

Go to a pool. Stand in water up to your shoulders. Do your chain punches. The water produces resistance which makes it more work for your muscles. The draw back to this is that you can only move so fast in water and the nature of water resistance will make it tempting to lose your form.


Some people are warning about weightlifting slowing you down. This is only true in a limited sense: High repetitions with moderate weight will build more slow-twitch muscle.

Powerlifting workouts--high weight, with low repetitions and longer breaks between sets--build fast-twitch muscle. You can actually assess your ratio of fast-twitch to slow-twitch muscle using weights.

With that said, building fast-twitch muscle can help, but you will only punch well if you practice punching well. Do it a lot, with someone checking your form.


IMO no; just tris isn't enough–it's basically a press (at a weird angle), which involves shoulders, tris, chest, and core. When I was studying I used isometrics against a wall, at various extensions.

Isometrics give you a chance to check your alignment, posture, and rooting at the same time.

Cable punches, or various "pressing" machines you can stand and use, are the best equipment. I don't like the cables as much since (a) they pull you back, which is different, and (b) there are cables.

  • I have a TotalGym 1000 cable bench, which I bought because I saw Chuck Norris advertising it (many years ago and yes I still blush about buying from an infomercial). One of the advantages of the bench is that depending on your posture, you can have the cable pull back in line with pretty much any strike.
    – Andy Dent
    Commented Apr 29, 2012 at 15:26

Isolating the triceps will not be very effective. The most effective way to train is through functional exercises, in which more than one muscle must work together against resistance in a way that is similar to how the technique will actually be used. Let me list a few exercises we use (some mentioned already).

To increase power:

  1. Resistance bands: we hold both ends, then put the band behind the upper back.

  2. Long stick: there are many ways to use the long stick to work on the push-pull movement. The stick can be held horizontally (with two hands) or vertically (with one hand).

  3. Medicine ball work: horizontal passing-catching with elbows down. Can also be done vertically, ie. lying down with someone standing over you and dropping the ball that you have to catch-rethrow.

  4. Lots of heavy bag and wall bag work.

  5. Partner work: a partner can hold onto your fist and give some resistance.

  6. Push-up work: done on the fists, with elbows in, down is slow, up is explosive (jumping off the ground).

To develop technique:

  1. We emphasize the movement of the pulling hand equally (I think the "chain punch" was originally called push-and-pull-chasing punch). That is, one shoulder pulls slightly backward as the other shoulder pushes slightly forward. This pull-push movement can be practiced with a stick held in front, with the elbows strictly straight, then quickly pull one shoulder back-push the other. This helps in the timing and explosiveness.

This technique is not about power, it's about speed!

You shall try to deliver punches as fast as possible. I think some of the body-building excercises can actually slow your hands down. Also remember that the explosive strength is not what you train in e.g. in bench press - this is a static power.

For chain punch technique, I think it is best to train your hands to be flash fast and "strike-strong" (i.e. explosively), e.g. by practicing with weapons like jo or nunchaku.

Remember that this technique is not for 1 strong KO strike. Also watch this:


  • -1 The bench press increases explosive strength by increasing strength. (Explosive strength is a function of strength.) Commented Sep 27, 2012 at 19:50

Use light weights to build arms, shoulders and back, not huge but just so you build power. Do a lot of core strength exercises as everything is driven from your core. (planking, static stance training, etc)

And then punch the three sectioned wall bags and punching bags as fast as you can, focusing firstly on correct techniques and secondly on speed. You will end up with good solid strikes.

Yes speed is important, but without power a fast strike will be meaningless, so we want to train speed and power.


It is not actually about where the punch ends up or in fact what style, or type of punch you use. When you are talking about a very rapid series of punches, or indeed a constant circular flow of punches (CHAIN), or perhaps just a few effective punches in a row, it may seem wise to maybe look at where the punch comes from (chamber/ or simply anywhere !!!!). I trained once with a traditional Okinowan player, who was very serious, and trained very hard with the Makiwara. Impressive...with the strength and power of his strikes...But he seemed to me to be SO S..L..O..W..!!!! Observation of his technique showed that he was OBSESSIVELY focused on the target (Makiwara)....Ahhh....FOCUS !!!! Upon being invited to "ave a go" he looked at my soft hands and stated that I shouldn't 'whack' the Makiwara too hard in case I damaged my hand !!!! Needless to say I adopted an appropriate delivery stance (stood relaxed in front of the thing), Looked at my starting position and proceeded to 'whack' the crap out of the Makiwara !!!! I didn't look at it once, hit it many times in rapid succession - and BROKE the bloody thing !!!! LOL. After my mate settled down a bit... I explained that it wasn't how big and strong the punches were..it was all about how quick I could get my fist back to the starting point so that I could unleash hell upon it once more. My SOFT hands were not even red, or damaged !!!! The starting and ending point were only in fact momentary 'blips' in a CHAIN of motion that was never ending. Think of the 'MOBIUS STRIP' a constantly flowing, forward moving cycle. In the 'Siniwali' systems you may appear to go backwards at times, but in fact you forward motion never actually stops. Ponder if you will. Straighten the circle and curve the straight. SIMPLE>


Depending on the particular school of Wing Chun, especially those in Hong Kong and southern China, muscle training might have the exact opposite effect of what you want.

If force generation is done internally, or by pivoting, then most of the force will be delivered through your joints and bones. In such a case, additional bulk mass will just slow you down when changing shape, but not contribute to the impact force. Masters of those styles are often skinny and feeble-looking.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.