Most boxers at some point or another have utilized a heavy bag aka a punching bag when training. Whether it be for speed, power, or just to sweat, the heavy bag is a great tool for any workout. Today we will cover how to use a heavy bag, such as what to do and what not do to, and tips to help improve all aspects of your fight game.
A heavy bag can usually be purchased from any sports retailer or bought from one of the known names such as Everlast or title boxing. These bags usually hang from a chain and weigh anywhere from 80-100 pounds (36 - 45kg). Most are made of a type of leather and reinforced with webbing to increase durability and function. The top will have less sand due to it standing up, but it will accustom the person training to head shots and then body shots, which will be more durable due to more sand at the bottom of the bag.
Let’s first look at the most common uses for a heavy bag. Most importantly before any training is done, make sure to wrap your hands with hand wraps and wear gloves in the 12–16-ounce range. Many use heavier gloves to train on a bag, due to increased protection, but you could also use the lighter glove to practice speed.
Workouts can range from freestyle to classes strictly relating to the heavy bag. Options are almost unlimited when looking for training workouts and many are available for free over the internet. Many fighters simulate rounds when training on the heavy bag and then in between those rounds recovering with some sort of light cardio or simply hydrating. Either way make sure to warm up before and cool down after a heavy workout. Building up your heavy bag workout is the preferable option.
Although there are numerous what to do and what not to dos with a heavy bag, there are two big things to consider when using a heavy bag for the first time. One is to avoid having the heavy bag swing excessively and letting it get out of control, and secondly, find your range before starting a workout. If you don’t have your heavy bag weight down the excessive swinging could cause the object to tip. Along with this, if you don’t find your range before the workout you could overextend your arms while still missing your target and I can attest that’s never fun.
Make sure not to aggressively push the bag and overly lean on it, because an object in motion can sometimes be uncontrollable and you may be in for a rude awakening when it hits you back or you fall.
Another subtle tip is to keep a tight fist and strong control of the wrist when punching, failing to do so could significantly hurt your hands during training. Finally, maintain your discipline as you complete your workout. Make the entire round worth your while and don’t just go crazy throwing punches during the first 30 seconds causing you to stop punching the rest of the round to recover.
Next, lets go over some tips when using a heavy bag and things that could help improve your next workout. First, a fighter should always be paying attention when using the heavy bag and do not stare at one spot on the bag. Know your surroundings and be aware of the entire heavy bag. Make sure to keep your balance, have your left foot forward if you are boxing orthodox and have your right foot back. You should be able to bounce back and forth in place and throw punches without falling over or into the heavy bag.
If you are looking for a full body workout move your feet when punching and turn them into your punches when throwing them. Along with that, if you are not punching work on moving backwards, sideways, ducking, and slipping to practice defense. Every punch doesn’t have to be a power punch. Get the technique and breathing down first and then work on the power shots.
Lastly, keep your hands up while practicing all punches and defense moves. Too many times fighters let their guard down because the bag does not punch back, but in the ring, your opponent will.
There are plenty of drills to try but three common ones are a four round straight box, an eight round straight box, and a 45 minute full body workout.
For the four round straight box each round is 3 minutes such as in a boxing match. With one minute in between each round. Start each round with a simple jab or less complex punch and build up to a variety of punches such as hooks, uppercuts, ducks, crosses, and rolls. The one minute between each round can be used for rest or two 30 second cardio drills such as jumping jacks and squats.
The 4 round will take about 15 minutes, while the 8 round will take about 30 minutes. The 8 is no different than the four with the exception of you can add more freestyle rounds, speed rounds, power rounds, combination rounds and a mixture of al the above.
Finally, the 45 minute full body involves much more cardio, squats, lunges, and various other strength training in between rounds. The boxing however is the same.
As you become more familiar with yourself and the heavy bag, then the better your workouts will be. Make sure to cover multiple types of drills, ranging from starting the round with a simple jab to finishing with a complex combination. Freestyle and learn your favourite punch or train on different days to target different aspects, such as, speed or power.
The possibilities are truly endless with heavy bag workouts if you train and train correctly to avoid injury. Remember to protect your hands with wraps and gloves and make the next workout your best workout on the heavy bag.