in: Fitness, Health & Fitness

• Last updated: September 25, 2021

Boxing Basics Part IV: Punching – Jab & Cross

Vintage boxing match of Joe Louis in the ring.

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Chad Howse who is doing a series of posts for AoM on the basics of boxing.

Now that we’ve covered wrapping your hands, stance and footwork, and defense, it’s time to learn how to punch.

We’ll start with the most important punch in boxing, the jab, and then get into another extremely important punch, the cross. I’ll cover the basics on each punch for both orthodox and southpaw stances.

Why is the jab the most important punch in boxing?

  1. Because it’s the most used punch.
  2. It sets up your more damaging punches.
  3. It’s used to gauge distance and create angles.

After the video I’ll lay out a list of tips to keep in mind when performing each punch.



Transferring Weight

Effectively transferring weight is extremely important when throwing a jab. If all of your weight starts on your front foot, there won’t be much power to the punch, and it won’t land effectively. There also won’t be adequate speed on the punch either, and you’ll be too off balance to react to any of your opponent’s counters.

The cross, whether it’s a left or right cross, is one of the most powerful punches in your arsenal. Take a look at Rocky Marciano’s stance as the best example. His weight is almost completely on his back leg.

Rocky Marciano wearing boxing gloves and shorts.

When it comes time to throw his punch, he transfers that weight to his front leg.

Rocky Marciano throwing jab at opponent in boxing.

Rocky’s going for absolute power and isn’t too worried about speed. If you’re just starting out, having a more centered stance is recommended until you figure out your strengths, weaknesses, and style of fighting.

Remember, power doesn’t come from your arms, no matter what punch you’re throwing. You need to be able to use your lower body effectively to land with speed and power.

Opening Up Your Opposite Shoulder

If you fight in an orthodox stance this means bringing back the left shoulder when throwing the cross. If you’re a southpaw, this means bringing back your right shoulder when throwing the cross.


Maybe the most important tip about punching is to just relax. I see it in the gym a lot; we’ll get a newbie in who’s pretty muscular. He’ll think punching is all about using his muscles to push his fist as fast and as hard as possible. But if your muscles are tense when you throw a punch:

  1. It’s not going to be fast in a fighting situation. You may show speed on the bag, but not when someone’s hitting you back. You’ll be too tense to react effectively.
  2. It won’t be as powerful as it should be.
  3. You’re going to run out of gas real quick unless you find a way to relax.

Don’t Admire Your Work

If you land a solid punch, follow it up with another punch, or a few other punches. Don’t just stand there and admire what you have done; that’s one of the best ways to get caught with something damaging.

Either punch or move after you’ve landed something effective.

A Punch Starts from the Ground Up

Power comes from your legs, hips, and core. If you try and “push” a punch and just use your arms, you won’t have the same power and speed as you would if you got your whole body into it.

Loose Hands Until Contact

Don’t spend a whole round clenching your fists as tightly as possible; your hands will fatigue fast, and you’ll be too tense to react quickly and precisely. Keep your hands open while you block, slip, and parry punches, only making a fist when you’re attempting to land something.
Boxing Basics Part I: How to Wrap Your Hands
Boxing Basics Part II: Stance & Footwork
Boxing Basics Part III: Defense
Boxing Basics Part IV: Punching – Jab & Cross
Boxing Basics Part V: Punching – Hook & Uppercut
Boxing Basics Part VI: Punching Combinations


Chad Howse is a amateur boxer and personal trainer who’s passionate about helping clients achieve satisfying results in a short amount of time, so they can get the most out of life. For fitness tips and inspiration check out his blog, Chad Howse Fitness, sign up to get two free ebooks, and subscribe to his RSS feed.

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