Little compares to the pure, unadulterated fun of punching inanimate objects. You’ve got all this pent up energy and you get to punch it out. No mess. No one gets hurt.
To top that off, you get an incredibly intense workout. That’s because boxing and kicking uses every major muscle in your body, everything moving in sync. Imagine yourself in constant motion, circling your leather opponent with fists and feet and knees, breathing heavy through every strike. In short, it’s a stellar full-body workout great for building muscle and burning calories while also improving balance, reaction time and even focus.
Let’s explore the variety of bags from which to choose.
TYPES OF PUNCHING BAGS
When you imagined yourself in constant motion, you probably pictured a heavy bag. It’s a cylindrical bag that hangs from the ceiling and stars in most movies. It works great for strength training because it resists your strikes.
These bags can weigh between 70 and 150 pounds and are usually cloth filled. They are most useful for kicking and punching. Keep in mind, though, that they have less mobility than other bags. That means you won’t have to reposition it between hits, but obviously that also makes heavy bags more stationary and less convenient. It’s important that you also check to make sure your ceiling can handle the bag’s weight before installing.
To make sure that your heavy bag is the right size for your needs and provides enough resistance for proper training, take your personal body weight and divide by two. For example, if you weight 160 lb., your heavy bag should weigh roughly 80 lb. You can round up to the nearest available bag weight if you are in-between sizes.
A fun variation, teardrop bags hang from the ceiling and have a similar weight range, but they have a less even shape.
This teardrop shape approximates a human body better and allows you to practice kneeing, elbowing and uppercutting. In the interest of fitness, these added moves increase your range of motion, contributing variability to your workout.
FREE STANDING BAGS
While they look like heavy bags, free standing bags have a couple of differences. For one, they don’t hang, they stand (of course). They are usually shorter and on a sturdy base made of plastic composite that the user would fill with either water or sand.
Because of their height, standing bags prove easier to kick but harder to uppercut. Free standing bags are also a convenient option because of how easy it is to move them.
Like heavy bags, they provide excellent resistance for building muscle tone.
For anyone seriously interested in MMA or grappling, we recommend a body bag. This “bag” stands on the ground and takes the shape of an actual person, complete with arms, torso, and face. It will habituate you to striking or throwing something vaguely human in shape, an important step for anyone hoping go toe to toe with another person.
Like the name implies, speed bags move fast.
They’re built to snap back, ricochet off their stand and come back. To get this speed, they are smaller, lighter and air filled. The main point of all this speed is to increase your timing, rhythm and hand-eye coordination.
If your ultimate goal is fitness, this is still a great option. Even though this bag offers less resistance, you will still get an amazing aerobic exercise out of it. Even punching this lighter bag, you’re using muscles in your arms, back, core and legs.
New to speed bags? Choose a larger bag, which will be slower and easier to hit, and work your way smaller.
Double End Bags
If you want to get a little more hit back from your speed bag, check out a double-end bag. This option is immobile because it’s attached to both the floor and the ceiling, but because it has a freer range of motion than a typical speed bag, it can strike back, helping develop reflexes. In essence, this bag attempts to train you to respond to the parries of actual opponents. Double end bags also allow users to move around their target.
Fitness and training decisions can be tough. What’s best for your body? For your workout? For your enjoyment? Use this handy guide to decide what will give you the best results, punch for punch.