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June 12, 2022 7 min read

Sure, throwing a few jabs at a punching bag is a great way to get your anger out, release stress, and feel like you are in a Rocky movie without needing to run up hundreds of steps, but can this fun and objectively satisfying activity also be a great way to get in shape? It can!

With just 20 minutes to spare and a punching bag, you can engage in a high-intensity full-body workout that not only grows and tones your muscles, helps you burn fat and lose weight but also gets your heart rate pumping and has great benefits for your cardiovascular health. 

Approaching a punching bag (also called a “heavy bag”) for boxing training can certainly be intimidating, especially if you have no previous experience with boxing, ultimate fighting, or any other type of martial arts, but below are all the steps for beginning a punching bag workout routine, including safety measures and the correct method of throwing punches and kicks. 

Once you get started with this boxing workout and begin to feel comfortable throwing punch combos and landing earth-shattering kicks (and even the occasional knock-out elbow or knee jab), you will see that heavy-bag workouts can feel liberating, satisfying, and even downright cathartic (all while getting you in top-notch shape!)

Punching with bare hands or punching with boxing gloves

It's highly recommended that if you are a beginner to heavy-bag workouts that you use hand wraps and boxing gloves. This will protect your wrists and knuckles from getting injured and will allow you to throw stronger punches.

Even once your form has improved, keep using your boxing gloves or use hand and wrist wraps.

Punching the heavy bag with bare hands is not ideal, especially if your goal is fitness and you want to avoid injury (even most UFC fighters use hand wraps!)

Here is a video, showing you how to properly utilize hand wraps:

The 20-minute punching bag workout:

Before jumping into any high-intensity workout (HIIT workout), and especially a high-intensity boxing workout, it is important that you warm up your body's various muscle groups with some light exercises for five to ten minutes.

This will help you prevent injury and will also make your heavy bag training experience more enjoyable since boxing with limber muscles feels a lot better than boxing with stiff muscles.

To increase your muscular energy and ensure that you get the most out of your workout, you can use a pre-workout likePRE. It comes in plenty of delicious flavors and is sure to help you bring the intensity to this high-intensity workout.

The warm-up (6 minutes):

  1. Jog in place for (30 seconds).
  2. Jumping jacks (30 seconds).
  3. Air squats (1 minute)

 

  • Keep your feet at shoulder width and pointed straight ahead.
  •  Extend your arms out, making sure that they are parallel to the floor. 
  • Begin to squat slowly, with your hips moving down and back. 
  • Keep your lumbar curved and your heels flat on the floor. 
  • Continue until your hips are slightly lower than your knees, then exhilarate upwards. 
  1. Arm circles (1 minute).

 

  • Stand up straight with your feet at shoulder width. 
  • Extend your arms out sideways, keeping them parallel to the floor. 
  • Circle your arms forward, using small controlled motions, gradually making your circles bigger until you feel a stretch in your triceps. 
  • Reverse direction every 15-20 seconds.
  1. High-knees (1 minute)

 

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart. 
  • Raise your right knee up to your chest. 
  • Switch to lift your left knee up to your chest. 
  • Continue this movement at a running or sprinting pace. 
  1. Shadowbox (2 minutes) 

 

  • Throw punches into the air with light punching power, alternating hands at regular intervals while bouncing or shifting your bodyweight from one leg to the other.
  • If you have ever seen a boxer warming up for a fight, whether in a movie or on prime time, this activity should be familiar to you, and yes, shadowboxing does more than make you look cool.
  • It really does help warm your body up for a boxing match or, in your case, a great workout.

The heavy bag boxing workout (14 minutes):

  1. Jab, cross punch, squat (2 minutes 30 seconds workout, 30 seconds rest)

  • Stand facing the heavy-bag in a boxing stance. 
  • Jab with your left hand.
  • Quickly follow with a cross punch from your right hand.
  • Squat like you did in the warm-up exercise.
  • Repeat

How to jab: 

  1. Assume your boxing stance: 
  • Stand facing the punching bag with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place your left foot in front of your right, with your feet angled in slightly, but still pointing toward your opponent. Put your hands up to protect your chin, tuck your elbows down, keep your chin down, and make sure your hips are above your feet.
  • It's important that you keep your body and hands relaxed. Have a slight bend at your knees and bring up your back heel just a bit. Bounce around, getting comfortable in the stance. Make sure your feet are around shoulder-width apart and your front foot is pointing mostly forward and your back foot is pointing mostly out.
  • Remember, the hand on the side of whatever foot is forward is the hand you are jabbing with.
  1. Transfer your weight forward and jab:
  • Lean forward with your elbows in and your right hand a little higher than your left. Your right is protecting your chin, playing defense, while your left is up, waiting to strike.
  • Simultaneously shift off your back (right) foot (but don't let it come off the ground) and put your weight onto your left, while throwing your left arm into a quick, powerful jab. Imagine your fist as tracing a straight line, parallel to the ground, from your shoulder outward.
  • As you jab, twitch your entire left side forward while ever so slightly lifting the heel of your left foot. As your hand comes forward, your body's weight should come forward at the same time.
  • Additionally, be sure to rotate your palm down. When your hands are held at your chin, your thumbs are facing you. But when you go to jab, rotate your hands so that your palms are facing down, thumbs slightly lower than perfectly horizontal. 
  • Remember, drive the punch with your hips and shoulders. The power of the jab should come from your core, not your biceps or triceps.
  1. Quickly bring your arm back from the jab to its protective position near your chin and rebalance your body in the boxing stance.

How to cross punch: 

  1. Start in a boxing stance. Since you have just done a jab, you should be in the boxing stance for less than a second before you cross-punch with the opposite hand from the jab. 
  2. Rotate right hip forward and pivot on right foot until heel comes off the ground, shifting weight forward and extending right arm forward to punch, rotating palm to face down. Unlike the jab which is a punch like a straight like coming out of your shoulder, the cross punch is diagonal, crossing your body. 
  3. Rebalance yourself in your boxing position. 
  1. Plank punches (3 minutes workout, 60 seconds rest)

 

  • Assume a high plank position in front of the bag. 
  • Balance on your left wrist and lift your right arm at the shoulder.
  • Deliver a quick jab to the bag with your right fist (Focus on maintaining a straight line from your right arm down your back as you extend your arm).
  • Lower your right arm and repeat with the left, aiming for the same point on the bag.
  • Remember, plank punches are less about the power of the punch and more about balance and boxing technique.
  1. cross punches - dominant side (1 minute workout, 15 seconds rest)

  • Assume a boxing stance. If you are right handed, you want to make sure that your left foot is forward and you right foot is back. If you are left handed, then do the reverse. 
  • Repeatedly cross punch with your dominant hand, making sure that your bring your hand back in front of your face and that you assume the proper boxing stance before landing another powerful cross punch.
  • You want to make sure that you are punching as hard or nearly as hard as you can, while keeping your core tight and your feet tethered to the floor. 
  1. cross punches - non-dominant side (1 minute workout, 45 seconds rest)

  • Assume a boxing stance. This time, if you are right handed, make sure your right foot is out front and your left foot is behind. If you are left handed then do the opposite.
  • Repeatedly cross punch with your non- dominant hand.
  • You want to max out your punching power. For this exercise in particular, you really want to focus on tightening your core, since when you throw powerful punches with your non-dominant hand, you are more liable to become unbalanced. A tight core will help to stabilize you. 
  1. side kick straight punch combos (4 minute workout)

  • 15 reps of right side-kicks
  • 30 reps of left-hand straight punches 
  • 15 reps of left side-kicks
  • 30 reps of right hand straight punches

How to throw a straight punch: 

  1. Start in boxing stance. Start with shoulders relaxed, elbows tucked in, fist clenched, and the tips of your thumbs facing the punching bag.
  2. Rotate your hip on the side of the hand you are punching with forward until it is fully rotated.
  3. Pay close attention to your footwork. Spin rear foot so that your heel comes off of the ground (as if you were screwing your toe into the ground).
  4. Once fully rotated, allow your punching arm to extend from torso, rotate arm at the elbow, and turn palm towards the ground at the moment of impact.
  5. Only extend hand away from torso as necessary to reach target without learning forward.
  6. Snatch the punch back into starting position faster than you throw it. 

How to side-kick: 

  1. From the starting position, you will rotate your body until your side is facing the punching bag. To do this, you will pivot on your front leg with your front foot pivoting 180 degrees.
  2. As you rotate, you will bring your rear leg forward until your knee is up near your waist and your foot is facing the punching bag. Your knee will be almost 270 degrees from its starting position. This is the “chamber” portion of the side kick (as you are bringing their leg into position in order to launch the side kick).
  3. You will thrust your foot forward and strike the punching bag with the sole of your foot.
  4. In a controlled motion, you will bring your leg back as you rotate back to the starting position.

Time to throw some punches

This punching bag workout is an incredible high intensity workout that improve your cardio, help you burn body fat fast, and build muscles in both your upper body and lower body, just about guaranteeing real tangible results from your training session. If you are looking to get your entire body in tip top shape, there is really no better way to do so than heavy bag training.

Other benefits are that it will increase your self defense skills and prepare you for sparring matches. Plus, doing the workout is fun! Just don’t blame us if you find yourself telling everyone “you should see the other guy.”