How to Jab Faster: Improve Jab Speed with 15 Tips

In this article, we will talk about how to jab faster—specifically, we will give you 15 tips on how to improve the speed of your jab so you can dominate your opponent in sparring or competition. But before, let’s talk about the basics of a jab.

The jab is a punch used in martial arts, and predominantly in boxing. The etymology of the name ‘jab’ comes from the Scottish variant of the word job, which means to ‘strike’, ‘pierce’, or ‘thrust’.

Although there are numerous variations of a jab, the jab’s main characteristic is that it is a straight punch thrown by fully extending the lead hand. In the orthodox stance, the jab is thrown by the left hand. On the other hand (no pun intended!), the right hand takes over the role of jab in the southpaw stance.

boxer throwing fast jab to another boxer.

There are many reasons for why the majority of boxing greats call the jab the most important punch in boxing.

The jab has many functions—it sets up the pace and tempo of a boxing bout. The jab is a great tool to establish a proper distance between you and your opponent. Also, the jab is the punch that is most likely to land since it is thrown by the lead hand and therefore requires the least distance to get to the opponent.

Many great fighters built their boxing careers around their jab, and when used effectively, it is a lethal weapon. Some examples of boxing greats that fully exploited the jab were: Vladimir Klitschko, Vitali Klitschko, Lennox Lewis, Muhammad Ali, and Manny Pacquiao.

Why You Need a Faster Jab?

Having a fast and solid jab is by far one of the most underestimated weapons in boxing.

Many people, particularly those who are new to boxing, often concentrate on big punches—hooks, uppercuts, or massive overhands. But whenever one carefully looks at great knockouts, the vast majority of them are set up by the jab.

What precedes powerful punches is the jab that sets up further punches or combinations. Hence, jabs are not only key for establishing distance and controlling the tempo, but they are also crucial for dominating your opponents or knocking people out.

Due to the versatility of a jab, being able to throw this punch in a quick and effective manner is an absolute key to success in a boxing ring. In the next part of this article, we will present to you with few methods of increasing the speed of your jab. The first 10 tips will present exercise methods that will allow your jab to be quicker. The last 5 methods will present techniques to increase the speed of your jab.

Boxer Mike training with a reflex ball to train for a faster jab

#1: Reflex Ball

The reflex ball is an equipment that has a soft ball connected to a head band by an elastic string.

The reflex ball is a fun way to increase the speed of your punches, as it trains you to relax your arm muscles and throwing light, but controlled punches. This kind of punch is the one that improves the speed of your punches and NOT the big, stiff jabs thrown by solidifying your arms like a statue.

On top of this, hitting the reflex ball is a challenge and so you can have a lot of fun all while learning how to jab faster.

Our recommendation for a reflex ball is the Tekxyz reflex ball, which we did a thorough review here.

#2: Shadow Boxing with Weights

Believe it or not, Shadow boxing is one of the best exercises of increasing the speed of all of your punches including your jab.

Shadowboxing is a key exercise for conditioning, strengthening your muscles, and learning proper technique. The better your technique, the better quality and speed of your punches.

Doing few rounds of shadowboxing every day can massively help you to increase the speed and quality of your jab.

But you know what? Let’s take it an extra mile.

Boxer Mike doing weighted shadow boxing for faster jab

But you know what? Let’s take it an extra mile.

One way to increase the effectiveness of your shadow boxing is doing it with additional weight.

Classic way of doing it is by grabbing dumbbells weights in your hands (1/2/3 kg ones) and shadowboxing with them. While doing this exercise, we not only do shadow boxing, but also put additional load on our hands. Your hands might feel heavy and fatigued during the exercise, but after you take the weight off, you will feel the speed and looseness.

It is important to not put too much weight while you do your shadowboxing. Carrying, for example, 8 kg dumbbell might make you stronger, but you risk becoming slower and stiffer! Use small weights and do it fast.

#3: ‘Speeding’

Speeding is an old boxing exercises that engages fast-twitching muscles and builds up liquid speed of both hands—an essential ingredient for a faster jab. Below you can see a speeding exercise performed by Mike.

The point of the exercise is to generate as much speed as possible in a short 10-30 second burst of straight punches. This exercise builds liquid speed and most importantly, there is very small chance of getting injured! Heavily recommended.

#4: Exercises with Resistance Band

A great exercise for increasing speed of the jab could be performed by using a resistance band.

To perform this exercise, you simply tie the resistance band on a vertical pole, and while in your boxing stance, throw jabs while grabbing the resistance band with your lead hand.

The main idea is to throw a jab that is resisted by the band. The band forces you to generate more power and speed in order to throw the jab, thus pushes you to work on the fast-twitching muscles of your arms. The moment when you take the resistance band off after the exercise is when you will feel the speed.

#5: Plyometric Pushups

Pushups are one of the core exercises used to train in numerous sports, and unsurprisingly, this also applies to boxing.

Mike performing the superman pushup.

One of the most underrated exercises that increases the strength of all of your punches including your jab are plyometric push-ups. There are many types of plyometric pushups, for example, ‘push-ups with a clap’ or ‘superman push-ups’ (shown above). Yet all of them share one feature: they increase the explosiveness (speed and power) of your punches. Simple, but an effective way to train your body to jab faster.

#6: Explosive Weightlifting

Many of gym exercises increase power, but decrease speed, hence many boxers do not engage with classical weightlifting exercises.

Yet there are types of exercises that can increase speed of your punches—explosive weightlifting.

Explosive weightlifting differs from classic weightlifting in few ways. The biggest difference is that in order to gain explosiveness and speed, one must use small weights and do the exercises very fast or explosively.

Below we will provide few examples of exercises that can increase your jab speed when done in an explosive fashion:

  • Explosive squats: Put small weight on your barbell and slowly go down and explode up, finishing the squat with a thump without losing balance.
  • Explosive deadlifts: Put small weight and explosively perform your exercise
  • Explosive shoulder press: While using small weights, explosively raise both hands but come back slowly when going down.

#7: Burpees

We covered some exercises on how to jab faster, but one particular exercise is simple to do, yet effective for the task: burpees.

The dreaded burpees may bring trauma to all the folks out there, but not only is it a great exercise for improving your gas tanks, but help you with the speed of your punches.

Training your explosiveness will improve your punching speed, as most of your punches’ momentum is not carried out by the arms but actually by your body.

Burpees is in fact one of the best exercises that works out your entire body, especially by adding the jump sequence in the exercise that trains your explosiveness.

Boxer mike performing burpees

Additionally, it is an excellent tool for conditioning. Conditioning is a vital aspect of your craft to ensure you can continue throwing rapid punches without feeling your feet stuck in a muddy swamp after your gas tanks run out.

Our suggestion would be to include two solid burpees session per week, where each session will consist of 5 sets of 20 burpees with a brief break in between.

#8: Jabbing on a Heavy Bag

Another classic way of increasing the speed of your jab is simply to concentrate on the jab while on the heavy bag. One way to do this is to organize a heavy bag training around the jab.

Firstly, you can, unsurprisingly, do few rounds of pure jabs on the heavy bag. Most importantly, you can organize specific combinations which uses the jab a lot to focus on the jab. Examples of such combinations are as follows:

  • Jab, Jab, Cross (1,1,2) 
  • Jab, Jab, Jab, Cross (1,1,1,2)
  • Jab, Left Hook, Jab (1,3,1)
  • Jab, Cross, Jab, Jab (1,2,1,1)

#9: One-arm Angled Barbell Press

This exercise is one of the classical ways to condition your arms and is quite effective at increasing your punching speed.

The one-arm angled barbell press, or also known as the landmine press, is an exercise that uses the angled barbell.

An angled barbell?

Well, it’s one of those surprisingly underused equipment in the gym where one end of the barbell is attached to a pivot protruding out of the ground.

The exercise is surprisingly easy to do, as shown in the video below. While putting a moderate amount of weight (not too much!) on the barbell and maintaining a stance where you have one foot to the front, you push the barbell with one hand to the air.

The important part of the exercise is to push the barbell fast in the air and go back down slowly. You should do at least 12 – 15 reps on each arm per set and if you can’t do that much, then you likely put too much weight on the barbell.

#10: Losing Weight

Surprisingly, one way to increasing speed in general is to lose weight! When you lose weight—even a small amount—you automatically feel lighter and faster.

The skinnier you are the faster you can be.

It is not surprising to see boxers in the lower weight division striking a lot faster than boxers competing in the heavyweight division.

You will feel faster than you will ever be if you successfully cut weight to compete in a boxing match.

#11: Step in with the Jab

A fundamental advice that’s worth mentioning, especially if you just started boxing.

One way to increase the speed of your jab is to add the power of your legs while throwing the punch. This can be done by stepping in with the left leg (the opposite if you’re south paw) while throwing your jab.

It is very important to keep a good balance and coordinate the movement well. In order for your jab to be stronger and faster, you must step in with your leg at the same time as you throw your punch.

Muhammad Ali with his trainer

#12: Relax and Sting like a Bee

As Muhammad Ali said—the jab must be stinging.

The way you can sting with your jab is by relaxing your muscles and to concentrate purely on your jab reaching your opponent as fast as possible.

To do this, your jab must not feel like you’re bashing your opponent with a hammer, but think as if your jab is a whip.

Throw the jab without putting tension at the beginning and only grip your hand the moment your fist hits your opponent. Then, immediately pull back your arm to your guarding position.

#13: Cut the Distance to your Opponent

People who live farther from their workplace will spend more time travelling than people who live right next to their workplace.

The jab in boxing is no different. The shorter the distance, the less time it takes for the punch to travel.

By cutting the distance, you can easily increase the speed of your punch as it will reach your opponent faster. This can be done by adopting a boxing guard that extends farther away from your face than a boxing style such as peek-a-boo.

This of course will lower your defence, but each boxing guard style has trade-offs.

#14: Throw while having a Good Stance and Balance

Balance is equal to power and speed. This rule applies everywhere.

To prove this, try throwing a strong and fast jab while you’re standing on one leg—impossible to do.

A strong and fast jab comes from the entire body and not just your arms. Specifically, the more balance you have, the more speed and power your jab will have. Balance does not mean you can’t dance with your feet like Muhammad Ali or Prince Naseem Hamed, but only do so if you’ve mastered your balance.

For beginners and intermediates, stick to basics and keep your balance by firmly standing on your feet without doing crazy footwork.

#15: Put the Body Weight on your Back Foot

One of the classic mistakes many people make while throwing the jab is placing the body weight on the front foot.

Misplacing your body weight by putting weight on the front foot will make you lean forward and lose your balance; the result is that you lose your balance and hence the speed of your jab.

In order for your jab to be smooth and fast, you should stand on the back foot and twist only your hands and hips.

Avoid leaning forward. You’ll immediately notice that you’re able to throw your jab in a steady platform and achieve better jabbing speed.

Enjoyed Our Article?

We hope that you have learned how to jab faster and put it to good use in your sparring and/or competition. Please feel free to comment below your thoughts and extra tips you feel can improve the speed of your jab!

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