January 12, 2021 9 min read
Every good workout incorporates building muscle, endurance, and sprinkles in a little cardio. The thing is cardio sucks. Often it’s boring and agonizing. Maybe your routine calls for a run, or some monotonous jump rope.
What if it didn’t have to be like that?
Heavy bag workouts are full-body exercises that are bound to get your heart rate up. You’re bouncing around on your toes, and throwing punches, you need to memorize the combos you’re practicing and improvise. Your mind is engaged, and punching a big bag is just plain fun.
Where do you start, and what does a heavy bag workout even look like? Let’s break it down. By the time we’re done with you, you’ll be punishing the heavy bag in your gym with the best of them.
Let’s start by figuring out what makes a heavy bag.
Heavy bags are cylinder-shaped bags, usually suspended in front of the boxer. They’re very heavy, you usually want to train with a bag that’s more or less half your weight. That’s not a hard and fast rule, you can just round up to the nearest available weight. It’s not going to be the end of the world if you get a bag that’s heavier than you.
The heavy bag is completely unlike speed bags. Speed bags are filled with air and designed to test your reflexes and accuracy. They move around a great deal with every strike.
They’re usually four to five feet in length, and they’re built to take a beating. Heavy bags are for building your resilience, most of your time practicing your boxing technique is going to be spent hitting something. If your hands are too tender for that, then you’re not going to get very far. So you’re using these bags to build up your tolerance to that kind of impact as much as you’re using them to build your physical endurance.
There are different variants of heavy bags, like the Muay Thai banana bags. Those are just longer and more narrow, so you can practice your low kicks more effectively. There are also uppercut bags. These are shaped like a wrecking ball or a teardrop, and they’re for exactly what you’d think they’re for. You can also find freestanding bags that are placed on a weighted base. These are just as good as a suspended bag if that’s all you have available for your workout.
Why use a heavy bag for your exercise routine?
They’re one of the best tools for a full-body workout. You want to be bobbing and weaving as well as throwing heavy and quick punches. There’s not a part of your body that escapes the full-body punishment you throw at it when you’re practicing your punches. It’s a much better option for getting your heart rate up than running. You’re really getting in there and working out your entire body.
You’re also not adding any weight to your workout when you’re doing the heavy bags, so you’re getting in a high number of reps. It’s amazing calisthenic exercise.
Calisthenics is all about exercising several muscle groups at the same time and covering your entire range of motion. These bodyweight exercises burn through fat. Your body wants to be as efficient as possible.
As you get stronger doing calisthenic exercises, you burn up more of the extra energy you have stored in your fat cells. As your muscles develop, you’re able to do more work, which burns more energy, which burns more fat.
Hitting the heavy bags effectively will up your dexterity as you learn your combos, it’ll sharpen your mind as you memorize your movements and visualize your opponents while practicing your shadowboxing, and you’ll tone your muscles as you burn fat.
If you’re truly just starting out on the heavy bags, you’re going to need to know the basics.
Stance: The most important thing when you’re starting any new exercise is your form. So when you’re squaring up against your immortal foe, the punching bag, here are some things to review about your stance.
Once you’ve gotten your stance down, be sure to reexamine it each time you step up to the plate until it feels like second nature.
Now that you’ve got that down, we’re going to learn the different punches and movements you’ll need for these beginner exercises.
Hook: Hooks are usually thrown with your lead hand, but you can also throw a rear hook. We’re going to focus on the lead hook
Uppercut: The uppercut is another punch you can throw with either hand. For our purposes, we’re going to focus on using your rear hand. This is another close-range punch
Cover Blocking: Boxing isn’t all about punching. You’ll get the daylights knocked out of your if all you’re doing is throwing punches. For heavy punching bag training, you want to employ as many of your boxing techniques as possible to keep your heart rate up and your skills sharp.
Slides: This is the only footwork we’re going to start you with. It’s an effective way to cover distance without dropping your guard or moving your guard position around.
You don’t want to just start whacking away at a heavy bag without the right equipment. Your hands are full of delicate bones, and you’re going to be throwing a lot of weight into your punches. To best protect yourself, at the very least get yourself some and hand wraps.
Boxing gloves are mostly to keep boxers from breaking their hands on each other’s bodies. The wraps help protect your tendons and muscles by setting your joints and they also absorb some of the impacts on your wrists.
You can combine these rounds into one twenty-minute workout, or you can work on one specifically each day, taking breaks in between each set. You’re going to alternate through all of the punches, blocks, and slide that you’ve learned up above.
Always start your workout with a warmup. You can get your blood pumping and start ramping up your heart rate with some shadowboxing.
This is the ground floor. This basic workout is where you’re going to practice your combos and your footwork. This is the foundation you’re going to be building all of your boxing skills on, and you’re never going to leave it behind. Take the time to really focus on your skills, and this will be indisposable.
This is a HIIT version of a heavy bag workout. You’re going to do exactly what’s on the label. Hit the bag fast and hard. Don’t let up until the interval is over, reward yourself with a short breather, and get back in there.
This is the closest your heavy bag training is going to get to the cursed monotony of the treadmill. You’re still an active participant here, though, because that bag isn’t going to get moving on its own. Pick some combos you want to work on, and use them to get your bag moving.
This accuracy training is designed to hone the precision of your punches. If you’re going to start sparring with a partner, this is non-negotiable. You need to learn to work an area or pick out openings. If you’re missing your opportunities to get a hit in on an opponent, then you’re never going to win a match.
As you start your heavy bag journey, there are a couple of things you should always keep in mind. If you start with good habits, you won’t have to worry about fixing them later.
Heavy bag training is an amazing addition to any workout routine. It’s a high-intensity routine that will burn fat and add to your endurance immensely. You’re getting in excellent cardio and high rep exercise that opens the door to a whole new world of activity.
The heavy bags are a great way to learn the basics you need for boxing, and they’ll open the door to sparring with partners. Heavy punching bags are excellent for getting your general fitness level up, and everything you do will supplement your punching. The dumbbells and every single time you build muscle helps you throw your weight more effectively. The stronger your upper body is, the more time you’ll be able to spend in the boxing gyms, learning this beautiful martial art.