How To Condition Your Knuckles For Fighting (SAFELY!)

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Everyone knows that having a strong body is integral if you want to fight. People train for years, study martial arts, and do everything they can to make their bodies stronger.

If you researched hard enough, there are probably methods to train almost any part of the body, no matter how ridiculous. Even the neck can be trained for boxing.

All in the pursuit of becoming a stronger fighter: and conditioning your knuckles is no different. 

In this article, I’ll give you some methods on how to condition your knuckles without causing serious permanent damage.

I wouldn’t want to walk into the ring with weak knuckles, and neither should you.

Let’s review the most important parts of knuckle conditioning, how to do it right, what works best, and why you would want to do it.

Do you need to condition your knuckles?

Hand wrapped fist punching the camera

If you’re interested in fighting, conditioning your knuckles is arguably almost necessary. The hands and fists of the average person with an untrained body can be damaged by just normal fighting or some regular hard hits. 

It doesn’t even take amazing punching power to seriously damage your hands while fighting.

So conditioning your knuckles is extremely important, if only for the defensive purposes of doing so. 

You don’t want to set yourself up to get damaged by punching your opponent: that’s supposed to be the part where you’re hurting them.

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What other benefits of conditioning your knuckles are there, however?

Benefits of conditioning your knuckles

We also need to review the benefits of conditioning your knuckles and how it works. When you train bones in your body, microfractures and minor damage build up. 

That damage heals and fixes itself in the body’s process, and you get stronger as a result.

Take it from me: you definitely won’t get anywhere without some effort. That much is obvious.

The benefits of conditioning your knuckles can be substantial, like being able to perform the perfect punch.

There are many different methods for conditioning your knuckles (more on that below), and many have tangential health benefits. 

One obvious example is the rice bucket method for knuckle training, which is very well-known in many parts of the world.

Punching and digging your hands in rice will condition your skin and make it stronger. 

It’s also thought to improve grip strength. However, this is hardly the only benefit of knuckle conditioning.

Some easy examples include improved grip strength, endurance, and, of course, stronger bones. 

There may be other related health benefits, depending on what activities you perform to train and condition your knuckles.

Recovery needs for knuckle conditioning

Fighters hand with bruised and damaged knuckles

Before we get into the details of a bunch of knuckle conditioning methods, one important part has to be discussed: recovery. Recovery is key to knuckle conditioning. 

You ensure you’re doing it right by allowing your body time to recover.

You won’t build up the stress and damage on your knuckles and accumulate real damage; instead, it will slowly heal and improve your body’s strength.

I advise patience when it comes to training in general, but conditioning your knuckles can often be a tedious, time-consuming process. 

It’s much more important to be consistent rather than fast. You can’t condition your knuckles quickly; it isn’t possible.

The bones need literal years of strengthening and conditioning before they’ll be truly hardened and harder to break.

The biggest tip for recovery that I can give is, once again, patience. Realistically, your body will need to rest for two to three days after a knuckle conditioning session.

If you do that, there’s a good chance that you’re leaving enough time for your hands to recover.

If it hurts too much or you develop pain, stop. Don’t do permanent damage to yourself. 

Common knuckle conditioning methods

Now that we’ve covered all the necessary need-to-knows, we can review several different knuckle conditioning methods.

Each has its upsides and downsides, depending on what you’re trying to do.

Warning: It should go without saying, but you should only consider these methods with the support of a professional coach who knows what they are doing!

Rice bucket digging method

One of the best (and most ancient) methods of training your knuckles is digging your hands and fists in rice.

It makes your knuckles stronger because it toughens your skin and builds all kinds of callouses. 

It makes your hands and fists more durable, which helps when trying to have more durable hands for punching. 

It may not directly boost your bone strength, but you’ll still have stronger hands when you’re done.

Knuckle pushup method

This method is much more straightforward and difficult, in some ways, compared to others on this list. Doing pushups on your knuckles is a great way to make them stronger.

Just be careful of how much you push yourself, especially early.

You can use a mat, towel, or another soft object to prevent additional discomfort and damage from how hard the ground is.

Avoid injuries and focus on progress, not speed. Rushing while training is never a good idea.

Hitting the bag bare-knuckle

Punching a punching bag, as you might imagine, is another way to train your knuckles.

It’s better to do it with thinner gloves (called ‘old bag gloves’ by some) or bare-knuckle, though the latter has to be done carefully.

By repeatedly striking your bones against a firm surface, you’re stressing and forcing your bones to become stronger. Over time, you’ll notice a big difference. 

Make sure, if you hit the bag without gloves, that you do it carefully. Pace yourself and don’t push for too much: it can result in serious pain and complications.

Hand grip exercises

Finally, the last important thing you should do to improve the strength of your hands is general grip exercises. 

Focus on improving your hand strength overall is helpful for fighting, not just conditioning your knuckles.

Hand grip exercises have many benefits, including fighting off issues with muscle wastage or helping with other muscle conditions like arthritis.

It also doesn’t just improve knuckles: it makes you more dextrous and makes your hands stronger overall.

You can use specially made hand grip tools, or even just softballs with different firmness to challenge your hand grip.

Wrapping up conditioning for your knuckles

Conditioning your body is important for fighting in a variety of ways.

As long as you keep training (safely) and avoid injury, you can give yourself extremely strong knuckles by using some of the methods I’ve discussed.

Be sure to practice them slowly and with the support of someone who is experienced. The bones in the hands are very small and can be fractured very easily.

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