average force of a punch

What Is the Average Force of a Punch? [Also in Newtons!]

Humans are not the Earth’s apex predator because of their physical attributes but their intelligence. However, that doesn’t mean we aren’t capable of packing a mighty punch. Have you ever wondered how hard can we actually punch? What is the average force of a human punch?

The average force of a boxer’s punch is around 770 psi (pounds per square inch). However, an untrained, unskilled, average human generates around 150 psi with a punch. It’s not as simple as it seems, though, as many variables play a role in the power of a punch.

Even among professional fighters, there’s a huge power discrepancy between weight categories. Some fighters can punch extremely hard, while others rely on speed and tempo. Let’s get behind the science of a punch and see how you can improve your punching strength.

How Hard Does an Average Man Punch?

If you want to determine the force behind a punch, it’s easy; F =ma, meaning you multiply the person’s mass with the acceleration of the hand during the punch, right? Well, not quite. Let’s break down the elements to show you what I mean.

You can’t take a person’s mass into account alone to determine the force behind a punch. One should put as much bodyweight as possible behind a punch, but it’s never 100%. So, do you take the mass from the arm only? 

That can’t be right either, as you use almost your entire muscle system to throw the perfect punch. Even bone density and fist size play a vital role in the power of a punch, even if you compare two individuals of the same weight.

Also, when it comes to the acceleration of your hand, many variables play a part in generating that acceleration. Hip rotation, technique, precision, fast-twitch fiber count in your muscles, etc., all determine how fast your hand can travel through the air.

With that being said, there are ways to measure how hard a person strikes, and the most common measurement is the psi. Research done on seventy boxers saw them average 776 psi in their punches, ranging from an average of 447 by flyweights and 1066 by heavyweights – a clear indicator of how mass plays a vital role in delivering a hard punch.

As for average humans with no martial arts training, the lack of skill and strength makes their punches a lot weaker. An average falls between 70-150 psi, depending on gender, weight, and skill.

What Is the Average Force of a Punch in Newtons?

It’s hard to determine how hard a punch is in Newtons alone because of all the aspects of a punch’s power. Also, the surface on which the punch is placed (soft tissue, bone, foam, wood, etc.) plays a big role in the force behind the punch, which is why we use psi or n/m2 (Newtons per square meter) to determine the overall force of a punch.

However, there were some studies made that calculated the pure force behind a punch in Newtons. One particular study indicated that amateur boxers generate around 2500 N with their punches.

Of course, amateur boxers are more skilled and stronger than your average person, but not as strong as elite-level fighters like professional boxing world champions. Elite heavyweights can generate up to 5000 N of force with their punches. That’s almost like getting hit with a sledgehammer.

An average person with no martial arts knowledge is somewhere in the 800-1200 N range. Again, it depends on numerous factors such as body shape, weight, skill, gender, etc.

How Many Pounds of Force Is a Punch?

As we already know, the most common way to measure a punch’s power is in psi (pounds per square inch. So, to determine how many pounds of force in total a punch generates, we have to consider how many square inches of the surface area a punch covers.

In boxing gloves, the punching impact area, on average, is around four square inches. We already stated that the average amateur boxer generates around 776 psi. That’s 776 pounds of force in a square inch. 

Multiply that by four (as the impact area is approximately four square inches), and you get 3104 pounds of force behind an average amateur boxer’s punch. That average is lower (around 1800 lbs) in the featherweight and higher (around 4264 lbs) in the heavyweight division.

Now, an average human punch with no equipment (gloves, etc.) is a lot weaker due to the lack of skill, training, and strength. Also, even though a bare-knuckle is harder than a cushioned glove, it has a lower surface area; on average, it is around three square inches.

The average human punch generates around 120-150 psi or 360-450 pounds of force in total.

Keep in mind that these numbers are average, which means some people fall outside that spectrum on both sides; lower and higher. Also, the psi measures how much pressure the punch applies to the impact surface, not the amount of force required to deliver such pressure.

How Many Foot-Pounds Is the Average Punch?

Foot-pounds are a measure of energy, unlike psi, which measures pressure. So, when determining how many foot-pounds is the average punch, we’re determining how much energy goes into one average human punch.

First, let’s look at some numbers that we know and have. In 1955, Rocky Marciano was measured at 925 foot-pounds, which was an astonishing amount of energy behind a punch back then; and still is today. Some assume that guys like Mike Tyson or Francis Ngannou go above 1000 foot-pounds with their hardest punches.

Just to put things in perspective, 1000 foot-pounds is 1355 joules. That’s approximately the same energy that a 197-lbs weight produces when dropped from five feet. If it lands on the right spot, it can literally kill a human.

Of course, average humans can’t generate that kind of force with a punch. An average person generates around 100-110 foot-pounds or 135-150 joules with their average punch. That’s like a basketball being dropped from a 15-story building. It’s still pretty hard, but it doesn’t have knockout power.

Now, if an average human scores their hardest punch, we’d probably go up to 185-220 foot-pounds or 250-300 joules. That’s the same energy as a brick falling from 32 feet. The brick would do more damage because of its density, but the energy is equivalent.

What Is The Average Speed of a Punch?

Determining the average speed of a punch is hard because the types of punches are dramatically different. For instance, a karate jab will certainly be faster than a boxing hook because the karate practitioner focuses on speed and doesn’t put their entire body behind the punch.

However, the boxing hook will be much stronger as it has more mass behind it and will gain incredible momentum to the point of impact because the punch’s trajectory is much longer. Let’s try to find a golden middle here to determine the average speed of a punch.

Welterweight boxing world champion Ricky Hatton tested his punches at the University of Manchester. His average punch traveled at around 25 mph, while his fastest punch clocked 32 mph. The researchers then tested their punches, and only one of them managed to get to 15 mph.

That means an average human probably punches in the 10-15 mph range, but it’s highly individual because too many factors determine how fast your punch travels – your weight, body type, and especially the technique.

Quick karate punches don’t get that much bodyweight in them, making them faster but less powerful. The heavier you are, the more energy you need to move at a higher speed, which is why lighter people usually punch faster.

What Determines How Hard and Fast a Human Can Punch?

Dozens of factors play a role in the power and speed of a punch. Even gender or genetic predispositions can limit one’s ability to develop a harder punch regardless of how much they train. Still, there are a few factors that anybody can work on and improve to have a harder, faster punch.

Bodyweight

We’ve explained some basic physics behind a punch and how the fighter’s weight plays a key role in how hard they can hit. That’s why heavyweights register the strongest measured punches in history.

If you want to maximize your punching power, you need to raise your weight. However, you need effective weight, not fat. Steadily work on building muscle mass instead. 

Knowing that raising your weight means you’ll have to sacrifice some of your quickness, so try to find a weight that suits your physique and body type the best. Try to find the middle ground between mass and speed.

Speed (Momentum)

Quickness is the other crucial component in generating force. The more momentum your punch gains, the higher the force behind it, so developing hand speed is crucial for a powerful striker.

There are many ways to work on your speed but know that more mass will mean less speed no matter how much you train. It’s just simple physics and inertia; the more mass, the higher energy is needed to move at a higher speed.

Muscle strength

Your entire body needs to be behind your punch to maximize its power, so you need muscle strength in your entire body, especially the torso. However, if you want stronger muscles, you need to make them bigger, which will cause less quickness. If you want to maintain your quickness while gaining muscle mass, you need to work on your fast-twitch fiber count.

Fast-twitch fibers are responsible for that explosiveness that enables boxers to punch so hard. You can work on them by doing plyometric exercises, such as clap push-ups, etc. That way, you train for those short bursts of massive energy when throwing the perfect punch.

Technique

Finally, the most important factor of a hard punch is your technique. Different martial arts teach different punching techniques, but it’s safe to say that boxing gives us the hardest punchers. So, how do they do it, apart from gaining muscle and being fast?

If you want a hard, fast punch, your entire body needs to be behind it, from head to toe. Distribute your weight heavily on the lead foot while rotating your hips, core, and shoulders in the punch direction. You should be on your toes with the back leg.

Also, the impact should come just before your arm is completely straight to maximize the momentum. If you do everything correctly, you’ll get as much bodyweight as possible to contribute to the mass. At the same time, muscle strength and hand speed will generate the energy and momentum needed to produce the hardest possible punch.

How Strong Can a Human Punch?

Humans are capable of punching remarkably hard considering our physique because we used our brains to maximize the effectiveness of our bodies. So, how strong can a human punch?

We’ve seen fighters measure over 5000 N of force behind their punches. I believe even more is possible in perfect conditions, but only by an elite fighter with a heavyweight physique.

Again, it’s very hard to say how strong an average human can punch with their hardest shot, as it’s purely individual. For instance, a 200-pound guy can be 6’4’’ and skinny, or 5’8’’ and buff. They have the same weight, but the guy with more muscle will surely punch harder.

So, on your best day, you could get about 1500N of force in a punch. It’s nowhere near what elite martial artists can achieve, but it’s enough to knock somebody out if it lands on the perfect spot.

What Is the Strongest Punch Ever Recorded?

The record for the strongest punch ever recorded belongs to the UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou. In 2018 he measured a strike of a staggering 129 161 units, beating the previous record held by Tyrone Spong with 114 000. For reference, a strong MMA heavyweight punch records around 80 000 units on the machine, called the PowerKube.

According to the UFC’s president Dana White, Ngannou’s punch is equivalent to 96 horsepowers, or “a Ford Escort hitting you at top speed.”

Even the former World’s Strongest Man and the world record-holder in deadlifts, Eddie Hall, tried to break the record but couldn’t pull it off, peaking at 113 999 on the PowerKube.

How Much PSI Was Mike Tyson’s Punch?

Although Mike Tyson never tested the power of his punches on a machine, we all know that he’s one of the hardest hitters in history. So, how hard could Iron Mike punch in psi?

Tyson’s hardest punches are estimated to go north of 1500 psi, which would be like someone dropping a 225-pound weight on your face from five feet. That’s around 1200 foot-pounds or 1600 joules of energy in one strike.

It knocked out elite, professional heavyweight boxers out cold, meaning it would probably kill most people on the spot.

Is A 2000 PSI Punch Possible?

When talking about a potential 2000 psi punch, most people instantly remember Ivan Drago’s lab tests in Rocky IV, where he measured 2105 psi with a punch. Nothing near that has ever been recorded, and I highly doubt it ever will be without tons of steroids.

Some of the heaviest hitters in combat sports’ history have never measured their punching power, including Tyson, George Foreman, and other all-time greats. I believe some folks had what it takes to deliver a near-2000 psi punch. Of course, not with every strike, they throw, but one record-breaking shot.

Still, going over 2000 psi is equivalent to around four tons of force, so I doubt even the record-holder Francis Ngannou could come close to that.

What Is the Fastest Punch Ever Recorded?

The record-breaking punch that’s currently the fastest punch ever recorded traveled at 45 mph. That’s incredible, considering that some of the fastest boxing hitters barely reach 35 mph.

Keith Liddell is the record-holder, throwing the strike in front of a camera. That’s faster than the attack of a cobra. Of course, the strike wasn’t as powerful as a heavyweight’s hook, but it’s still a spectacular accomplishment.