Best Heavy Bag Workouts

The heavy bag, also known as a punching bag, is a classic and effective training tool for boxers. This tried and tested piece of equipment has shaped many champions in the ring and continues to be an important piece of any boxing studio.

While the most obvious benefit of the heavy bag is a chance to practice punches and kicks, it carries a variety of other benefits that you may be unaware of. Heavy bag workouts improve technique, increase power and strength, build better balance and coordination, and reduce stress. For these reasons, heavy bag workouts are great not just for the pros, but for anyone looking to improve their physical fitness.

Let’s learn more about the benefits of heavy bag workouts and which types of exercises are best.

Benefits of a Heavy Bag Workout

1. Improves Boxing Technique

One of the most apparent benefits of hitting the punching bag is that it improves your boxing technique. Boxing is not just about throwing punches; it’s about executing each movement with proper form and precision. Hitting the bag while practicing good form will improve your punches, body movement, and overall performance.

Unlike shadowboxing-- another popular drill to help with technique-- a punching bag workout allows you to experience the force of impact when you punch. This way you can practice as if you are actually in contact with an opponent.

2. Improves Strength & Power

Your heavy bag workout will focus on building as many muscles as possible, which makes it a great exercise for building strength and enhancing power. The muscles in the arms, shoulders, chest, back, legs, and core are all engaged during a heavy bag training session, making it an effective full-body workout.

With a heavy bag, you can practice punching the bag with the greatest possible force which, over time, improves your upper body strength and power.

3. Builds Your Endurance

Giving it your all in a heavy bag workout is no easy feat. This extra challenge will push you beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone, which will build your endurance over time. The more you push past your limits, the more you'll be able to endure.

The impacts on your endurance will be noticeable both when you do punching bag workouts as well as when you practice other forms of fitness and daily activities. Whether you're in the ring for some rounds of sparring or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, training with a boxing heavy bag will help you keep going.

4. Improves Coordination, Balance & Stability

Generally, during heavy bag workouts, you’re not just standing still and punching the bag. You're moving around the bag and incorporating footwork into the workout.

Circling the bag and throwing punching combinations will improve your balance and coordination. Staying on your toes and transferring your weight from one foot to the other while moving around is a great way to build balance and stability.

Also, it’s not just your body that is working. While throwing off punches, the bag comes back suddenly and unexpectedly. For this reason, you have to remain alert and attentive. This improves sensory-motor coordination and your reaction time.

5. Reduces Stress

Punching bag workouts can improve your mood, decrease anger, and relieve stress. It is both a form of physiological and mental stress relief.

Physically, exercise promotes the production of neurohormones like norepinephrine, which is associated with heightened cognitive function and improved mood. Mentally, hitting the heavy bag acts as a symbolic release of stress when you imagine the bag as a representative of your burdens.

The effect of stress on your health is well documented. During times of stress, high amounts of the hormone cortisol are released in the body. Cortisol increases appetite and drives those dreaded cravings. It affects your sleep, cognition, and energy levels. Further, stress increases visceral fat, which is linked to metabolic disturbances such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

In today’s world full of high-stress responsibilities, it’s imperative that we have healthy methods of relieving our worries.

Best Heavy Bag Workouts

Here are five of Gloveworx Coach Omar Villanueva’s Heavy Bag drills demonstrated by Coach Carlos Perez.

1. Poor Boy

During this exercise, each person participating will punch the bag as hard as they can, as fast as they can, for as long as they as you can, then step out allowing the next participant to step in and do the same thing. At a basic fitness level, you would do this drill for approximately five minutes with 3-4 people on a bag, whereas at a competitive level you might punch for as long as 15 minutes.

2. Rapid Fire

Freestyle for the first 15 seconds and then you will go “rapid fire” and fully extend your punches and pump it fast; it’s like sprinting but with your hands. You’ll do this for 15 seconds on and 15 seconds off for three minutes.

3. Power Punching

You will freestyle for 15 seconds then, throw punches going as fast and as hard as you can while you scream. That’s right, get loud!

4. Satellite

Touch the bag at a slow pace as you move around it, never standing still. When the coach yells “Go” - at whatever point he chooses - throw 4-6 body shots to the bag.

5. Touch and Go

Touch the bag at a nice, slow pace and when the coach tells you to “Go,” you unleash fast and hard punches. The point is to keep going and keep your hands up, even when your arms feel too tired. You’ll do this for 15 seconds on and 15 seconds off for three minutes.

Heavy Bag Training Tips

1. Warm Up First

It’s important to warm up before you begin any training program. Start off with a 2-3 minute round of light punching while circling the bag. This will not only get your muscles ready for those punches, but it will help you hone in on your form as well.

2. Wrap Your Hands

While it's important to properly wrap and glove your hands whenever you practice your boxing skills, it becomes more important when you're doing a heavy bag workout. Give yourself adequate time before you start training to put on your hand wraps and secure your gloves. Use this extra time to focus on what boxing skills you hope to improve during your training session.

3. Train with Proper Technique

While many heavy bag workouts are focused on power and speed, it’s important to always put technique first. Power and speed will improve with time and practice, but technique is something that needs to be the focal point from the beginning. Otherwise, everything else will be off and you risk getting injured.

4. Incorporate it into Interval Training

Hitting the boxing heavy bag is tough work. Don't hesitate to start by incorporating it into your other training modalities, such as high-intensity interval training. With interval training, you can get in a powerful cross-functional workout. Create a circuit with a few rounds of heavy bag workouts (practicing your jab, combos, footwork drills, etc.) and break it up with intervals of jump rope, strength training, and sparring with a partner.

5. Breathe Correctly

It’s easy to be so focused on your workout that you forget about your breath. However, it’s imperative to engage in proper breathing throughout your training. Inhaling during a resting motion and exhaling during exertion will allow oxygen to feed the working muscles.

6. Practice Defense

Just because the bag doesn’t hit back doesn’t mean you have a free pass on defense. These heavy bag workouts are meant to improve your performance in the ring. Thus, you should practice as if you were fighting an opponent. Maintain a fighter's stance and keep those hands up, throwing in a slip or roll every once in a while.

Train Heavy

Heavy bag workouts are a boxing classic, and they are a huge part of training at Gloveworx, but they aren't the only thing. Your coach can help you improve your boxing skills and get an intense cardio session by helping you put together workout routines that will take you to your goals. Let your stress out and improve your overall fitness. If you have any questions, chat with the Gloveworx coaches!