Punching is a cathartic form of exercise, but there are many things to consider when it comes to using a punching bag. First, you need to understand the punching bag you have, how to hit a punching bag, the pros and cons, and more.
We’re going to break down all you need to know on how to use a punching bag for you and even give you some tips and tricks to improve your workout using a punching bag.
Table of Contents
Types of Punching Bags
There are a few types of punching bags that you might encounter when deciding on which one is right for you. It’s essential to consider the following things when looking for a punching bag.
For starters, find a punching bag that is half your body weight as well as what is inside it to get the right amount of resistance to the punches you’re going to deliver. Here are the different types of bags to consider;
Straight or Heavy
Your standard punching bag is straight or heavy. These bags are straight and bulky and need to be attached to the ceiling using a chain, or they’re attached to a bracket. A straight or heavy bag can be used for boxing, MMA, kickboxing, and more.
A freestanding bag doesn’t need to be hung up in order to use one. They’re heavy at the base and are great for a freestanding workout with a fighting style that requires more high kicks, such as kickboxing or MMA.
Larger at the top angled bags angle down to a thin base. The angled punching bag allows for upward resistance and is perfect for uppercuts and high head kicks.
A Guide to Hitting Your Punching Bag
Get into the right stance by having your front foot facing the bag while both feet are shoulder-width apart.
Firmly plant your feet, and don’t hold back punch the bag with vigor. When you’re not punching, move around. Also, don’t forget to experiment with some new moves and combos that may you’re not familiar with while mixing in ones you are familiar with.
Consistency matters. Don’t stop giving the punches everything you have after a few minutes. Keep the pace and conserve energy where possible to keep your endurance up.
With time and technique refining, you’ll be able to ensure you’re improving your combinations, moves, and other aspects of the skill.
The Pros and Cons of a Punching Bag Workout
As with everything, there are some pros and cons you should know about when working out with a punching bag.
Here are some of the pros of working out with a punching bag.
Boxing pushes you to your limits, and every day, that limit is widened. Over time you gain endurance because of the limitations you’re meeting and exceeding. This endurance spills out into all aspects of your life, be it in other exercises, or just everyday activities.
Boxing regularly means that over time you’re improving all aspects of your performance. This includes your performance, technique, and overall body movement. In addition, you’ll find that you’re conditioning your body to do things you’re learning in training which can positively be carried over to outside the gym/ring life.
There is something truly cathartic about repeatedly punching a bag. Had a bad day at work? Hit the punching bag. Boxing can reduce anger, and substancially enhance your mood.
Improved Strength Overall
This should be a given, you’re working out and that’s going to affect your entire body, not just one aspect of it. Through boxing you’ll build muscle in your arms, shoulders, chest, back, core and legs.
Here are some of the cons of working out with a punching bag.
All resistance workouts will likely result in muscle pains, so take this con with a pinch of salt. However, it’s essential to take note of the sharper pains that might occur in your muscles after working out with a hard punching bag. The reason why sharp pains shouldn’t be ignored is due to the fact that they might be indicating a strain or a pull in the muscle.
In the event of a pulled muscle or strain, just apply some ice and give yourself a few days to heal before going back to the punching bag.
Wrist, Finger, and Hand Pain
Suppose you’re punching primarily with your forearm and a straight wrist. In that case, you’re allowing the impact force to travel up your arm, elbow, shoulder, and into your torse. On the other hand, a bent write can result in a break or sprain, putting you out of commission for a while.
With the entire force of your body going into a strike, it reverberates back through the small bones of your fingers, hands, and beyond. To avoid damaging your fingers or hands overall, you need to work on your technique to handle the pressure and not hurt yourself.
Headaches have become a common complaint of relatively new boxers using heavy bags. It could be the result of two mistakes newbies make;
- They are holding their breath the entire time they’re punching.
- They are clenching their jaws.
To solve the first problem, make sure you’re exhaling as you punch and inhaling between punches. For clenched jaws, use a mouthpiece or focus on loosening your mouth. A mouthpiece is more effortless as it absorbs the pressure and doesn’t require much thought during boxing.
How to Improve Your Workout Using a Punching Bag
Here are a few things you can do to ensure you’re making the most of your workout with a punching bag.
- Aim to not move the bag and to only make contact with the punching bag. Strike first, defend second.
- Keep your knees constantly bent and stay low to create and retain a vital center of gravity. This, with the addition of a rotating with your wrists, will allow you to gain more power for your successive punches.
- If you’re not throwing a punch, then you’re guarding your face.
- Keep moving. Keep up your heart rate and consider your opponent will move to attack. While you’re working with a punching bag and not an actual person, you can still incorporate the tricks to prepare you.
- Short combos with high intensity and rest in between combos will work better in the long run than extended combos will. Long combos can tire you out, derail, or be ineffective, as your future opponent might know what’s coming next.
Combo’s To Add To Your Training
There are various moves that you can adopt into your workouts, and these are some of the techniques you can choose from based on what suits your workout needs;
When you’re fighting up close, the uppercut is the most used move to strike an opponent. Usually, the opponent doesn’t see it coming, and when their guard is down, you go for it.
See an example of how to perform an uppercut here;
Mainly used in kickboxing and MMA, a front kick is thrown with the stronger foot while aiming for the opponent’s celiac plexus. This move is effective in stunning your opponent and stoping an incoming attack before it happens.
See an example of how to perform a front kick here;
In most punching combinations, a jab is the first punch thrown. Using the weaker hand and utilizing distance, you throw jabs and do so as repeatedly as possible in the beginning. Another use for a jab is to open the guard of your opponent.
See an example of how to perform jabs here;
In using the weaker hand, like the jab, a hook tries to circumvent the opponent’s guard and collide with the jaw or temple, whichever is more accessible. Make sure to keep your arms slightly bent when you’re throwing a hook, this will help you adjust your range as needed.
See an example of how to perform a hook here;
A cross requires the stronger hand and shouldn’t be used liberally. In addition, a cross requires a great deal of energy, considering how much of your body it uses to perform the move. Due to the high amount of energy it requires, it’s best to only perform a cross when you know it will end the way you believe it will.
See an example of how to perform the cross maneuver here;
Now you are closer than ever to being fully equipped to take on the art of punching bags and training with them. However, be sure to keep in mind the adverse effects and monitor them closely to avoid what are truly avoidable mistakes!
Know a friend who’s thinking of getting into training with a punching bag? Share this article with them and help them on their journey to a better workout! Let us know in the comments how you train with punching bags and how it’s worked for you!