If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you know all about the benefits of a punching bag workout. And you probably know how to design a good heavybag workout plan. So let’s get right to the advice about how to get the most out of your heavy bag.
Ceiling-mounted or free-standing
There are two considerations:
- The height of your heavybag
- The space around the bag
What you should know about heavybag height
The problem with many heavybag stands is that you can’t mount the bag high enough. Unless you’re short, you’ll be jabbing right near the top of the punching bag. This means you’ll miss the bag’s “sweet spot”, which isn’t very satisfying. Read how high should you hang a heavybag for more details.
So, if possible, mount the punching bag from a ceiling, tree branch, or other high place. This way, your bag will swing when you punch it. However, don’t mount it in your house (or any other structure you care about). Your punching bag will literally destroy your house bit by bit; it will shake your house apart and give everyone a headache. If you can’t use a garage or outbuilding, either get a heavybag stand or use a free-standing bag. Read Don’t let your heavybag shake your house apart for information and options on how to avoid excessive heavybag vibration.
The bag’s movement is a big part of why heavybag training is such a good workout. Bags that are rooted to one spot (like free-standing punching bags) won’t give you as intense a workout. When you don’t want a free-swinging bag to swing or move excessively, just connect a cord from the bottom of the bag to a weight or tie-down point. Most good heavybags have a D-ring at the bottom for this purpose.
Space around your punching bag: What you should know
The more room around your punching bag, the better. This is especially true for free-swinging heavybags.
You want a minimum of 5 feet (1.6 meters) all around your bag so you have enough room to work the bag. If you plan to kick the bag, you’ll need more room because kicks are longer-range attacks than punches.
It’s OK to mount the bag so you have less than 5 feet around one or two quadrants, but obviously it’s best to avoid that if at all possible.
How heavy should my punching bag be?
A good rule of thumb is to get a heavy bag that weighs approximately 50% of your body weight. So, a 100-pound bag should be OK if you weight 200 (or less).
If your bag doesn’t swing free on a long chain, the weight is not as important. It’s only when the bag is free-swinging that the weight has a real effect on the quality of your workout.
Other equipment needed for a heavybag workout
Don’t hit the heavy bag without hand wraps. Yes, I know that many of you want to practice punching for self-defense, and you think punching bare-handed is more realistic and useful than punching with wraps and/or gloves. But this has been proven incorrect.
Without wraps, you won’t be able to work out anywhere near as hard as you can with proper safety equipment. And more importantly, you’ll set yourself up for wrist injuries.
Repeatedly hitting the heavy bag without hand-wraps (especially as a beginner) will almost certainly result in sore wrists or an acute injury.
Again, don’t fool yourself. You won’t be able to train with good intensity unless you wear padded gloves while hitting the bag.
Wear padded gloves and avoid sore knuckles and abrasions on your knuckles and fingers.
Read don’t punch the heavybag bare-handed for more information.
Boxing shoes or boots are not just for the boxing ring.
Anyone who practices punching regularly will benefit from wearing good boxing shoes.
Boxers and other strikers do a lot of pivoting. This pivot gets the body weight behind a punch and increases the effective range of motion. But it has a drawback: if your footwear “grips” the ground, friction during the pivot stresses the ankle and knee joints. Protect your joints during boxing workouts by wearing good shoes that were designed for boxers. Over the long term, this will contribute to your continued good joint health.
Knuckle guards (optional)
Just like padded gloves, knuckle guards keep you from bruising and scraping your knuckles.
Some people stick some sponge in their handwraps to cushion the knuckles, but knuckle guards are better because there’s no chance they’ll shift around during a workout, and because they don’t take up as much room in the gloves.
Round timer (optional)
Heavybag workouts lend themselves very well to interval training. An interval timer is a great addition to your workouts because you can use it for all sorts of things, not just striking training.
Increase your cardio training intensity while decreasing the amount of time needed for your workouts by using intervals.
Shin/foot guards for kicking (optional)
Kicking the heavy bag is practical for self-defense. And, it’s fun. But don’t do it without wearing protective equipment.
Although there are kicking bags designed for muay thai or kickboxing training, you probably have a bag that was designed for boxers. Boxer’s punching bags are hard and you don’t want to kick them without protective gear. Trust me, you can work out harder if you’re properly protected.
Simply put, this is any sort of fitness equipment that you want to use in conjunction with your bag work. Examples include: a jump rope, medicine ball, or exercise mat. You’ll get in much better shape by mixing it up and combining several types of exercise than you will by sticking only to punching training.
Not having any success learning to fight from the internet?Check out my review of the best boxing training DVD.