Conditioning: Increasing Hand Speed

Many of our perceived limitations can be overcome. This is not a controversial idea; it is, after all, why we train. We can change our strength and endurance, we can work to improve our overall health to increase our capacity to build muscle, or to recover from exercise or injury. We can work on conditioning our responses to certain stimuli to increase our chances of, to put it bluntly, not getting hit.

But no amount of training will allow us to ignore physics: we can’t drop faster than gravity, we can’t be in two places at once, and we can’t slow the passage of time. There are limits beyond which our bodies simply cannot operate, so to improve, we must get as close to those physical limits as possible. Each person has a maximum power they can generate based off the physical facts of their body, and we can train to approach that limit.

Power is calculated from the mass of the object travelling, how long it’s travelling, and how far it’s travelling. When striking, we can’t really change the mass of our arm or leg (without picking up a rock or putting on a boot), so that leaves trying to manage distance to ensure we strike at peak acceleration (i.e. work on our technique and our timing), or decreasing the time it takes to hit peak acceleration (and preferably both!). That means we need to train plyometrics. We can’t shrink the distance we have to travel, but we can travel it in less time.

Below are some plyometric exercises for increasing hand speed. These should assist both weapon and empty hand striking, blocking, grabs, and most importantly: catching your snack before it hits the sidewalk.

(Taken from Reproduced under Fair Use and with credit.)

Alternating Plate Taps Drill

  • Assume push-up position with hands directly under shoulders and 45-pound plate one to two inches in front of hands
  • Tap plate with hands in alternating fashion as fast as possible
  • Repeat for specified time

Lateral Plate Taps Drill

  • Assume push-up position one to two inches to right of 45-pound plate
  • Tap plate with left hand, then right hand
  • Touch hands to ground on opposite side of plate to return to start position; immediately perform in opposite direction
  • Repeat for specified time

In and Out Plate Taps Drill

  • Assume push-up position with 45-pound plate between hands
  • Simultaneously tap plate with both hands
  • Touch hands to ground and repeat as fast as possible
  • Repeat for specified time

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