Some telling facts about punching bags – things you need to know!
Whether you’re training at the striking and kicking martial arts, boxing, kickboxing, MMA or Muay Thai, the chances are you’ll find yourself working out agai...
Some telling facts about punching bags – things you need to know!
Whether you’re training at the striking and kicking martial arts, boxing, kickboxing, MMA or Muay Thai, the chances are you’ll find yourself working out against punching bags.
And you’ll probably want to have one or more of these at home so that you can continue your conditioning and power exercises.
Diversify and conquer!
Don’t forget that power isn’t the only training consideration. You should also invest in speed bags, and, if necessary, in bag stands & accessories. There are also a lot of speciality bags available these days to train special skills, such as knee kicks and close-quarters combat.
Now here’s some important information on how to choose power bags…
Training for Power – how much should a heavy power bag weigh?
The primary consideration when you’re buying heavy punching bags is weight, because this represents the amount of resistance the bag offers to your punches or kicks. This is especially true with heavy bags or freestanding bags. The weight of your bag should be based upon your own body size, as you can injure the bones of your hands and feet if you strike an overly heavy bag that is in motion.
However, as your striking technique and power improve, you’ll probably want to increase the weight of your bag proportionally. So my advice when selecting a bag is to choose a weight that is fairly average, and to increase that weight over time. One easy rule is to select a bag that weighs half as much as yourself. It’s that simple. As your skills improve, you can go on to much heavier bags.
What should you fill your bag with?
I recommend waste cloth strips and rags. I believe that this provides a very realistic filling that is also less likely to result in injury. If you fill your bag with sand, it will eventually settle into the bottom of the bag, and then your bag will not be a reliable and satisfactory target for your blows.
And then it goes without saying that if a bag full of sand is swinging back at you and you hit it at the wrong angle, you can severely damage the joints of your hand or foot. Nevertheless, there are hardcore groups who train at sand-filled bags, and my advice to you if this is your intention, is to wrap up your hands and ankles well in the initial stages to avoid injury until your body adapts.
But really, the cloth-filled bag is best – it simulates an opponent’s body very well, and is very unlikely to injure you.
The water bag
Bags specialize to MMA fighters are often filled with water, and I very much recommend this, not only for MMA fighters, but for any discipline that uses striking with the hands or feet. The water filled bag feels very like a human body – after all, humans are mostly water. The only downside is that water bags tend to wear out over time, and unlike other sorts of bags, water bags can’t really be patched very effectively.
What should your bag be made of?
Cheap bags are made of vinyl, but I don’t recommend this. Leather or canvas are much better alternatives – sure they might be more expensive, but that really does even out in terms of durability.
Canvas and leather can take the wear and tear of repeated heavy blows, and canvas bags have the additional advantage of being patchable in case they start to wear out – just cover the worn area with a large patch of heavy canvas, sewn on with strong thread, and this will considerably extend the life of your bag.
Finally, consider what you’ll be using your bag for and see whether what you’re buying will allow you to accomplish your purpose. Boxers can go for a simple bag that simulates the area of the head and the upper torso, but kickboxers wanting to practice rising kicks might want to go in for special bags that allow the right angles for these attacks, and so on. If you feel a bag is ‘right’ for you, go for it.
Blitz and Top King make good bag, so you might want to check them out. Any good boxing shop or MMA shop will let you examine your options.
Keyword – Heavy Bags
How to use heavy bags to improve your striking power
Heavy bags are crucial to improving your striking skills in any martial art or combat sport. But you need to choose just the right one, because the wrong kind of heavy bag can ruin your training. Let’s first consider the differences between the two main sorts of heavy, power bags out there – the freestanding bag, and the hanging bag.
The benefits – and negatives – of the hanging bag
One thing that’s very good about a hanging bag is that it provides the training fighter with a very natural experience when striking – hitting hanging heavy bags feels very like hitting standing opponents, and once you fall into a rhythm of striking, there is little chance of injury. Better still, the hanging bag can move around – a lot, sometimes, depending on just how much (or how little) it weighs.
Best of all, they often even cost a lot less when compared with free-standing punching bags. On the negative side, they do need a strong ceiling, or you can’t set them up at all – and to be honest, they need a strong superstructure to the house or gym as well. Worse, once you’ve set them up in one place, you can’t easily move them around or put them elsewhere.
Advantages and disadvantages of a free-standing bag
That’s just where free-standing bags come in – you can set them up wherever you please, train, and then, if you wish, store it elsewhere. You don’t need a ceiling attachment, and you won’t have to arrange for a strong hook to be be attached to your ceiling. It’s effortless to set up – and dismantle.
The negatives? It doesn’t move around at all, which can be a little disheartening, and is definitely not natural. It can affect your training as well, since the hanging bag moving around is more better simulates a living attacker. Free-standing bags also tend to cost more than hanging ones.
On the plus side, if you don’t have the kind of training space where you can put up a hanging bag, then this is really the next best thing – it provides good heavy bag training with utter convenience when it comes to setting it up.
So how do you decide how much your bag should weigh?
Well, to start with, you can begin with trying out a bag that’s about half the weight of your own body. If it’s a hanging bag, see how it moves around. It should move around a good bit, to simulate a dodging opponent.
At the same time, it should be heavy enough to offer real resistance to your strikes, to improve your striking power. These are rules for hanging bags, as the free-standing ones operate on different lines. Experienced fighters with more striking power should train on heavier bags.
Bags should be filled with rags or fiber, which provides reasonable resistance to all sorts of blows. There are also heavy foam bags out there – this is a little more sophisticated than the fiber or rag filling, because it doesn’t have the traditional problem of settling to the bottom.
Sand is, of course, an option, but rarely recommended these days because of the potential for injury, and the tendency of sand to settle to the bottom of the bag. Then there are the new water-based bags which also work very well.
Keyword – Freestanding Bags
Are freestanding bags really a viable alternative to the hanging bag?
If you’re studying a traditional martial art like Kung-Fu, Karate or Taekwondo, then freestanding bags are perfect for you. These bags are reasonably tough, very convenient to set up and use, and will give you good service.
I tend to recommend them less for those engaged in combat sports like boxing or kickboxing, as freestanding bags don’t move around too much, which can be a problem for those who are training to deal with a moving opponent.
However, there are advantages to the free-standing bag even for the combat sportsman.
For example, if a boxer or kickboxer doesn’t have a place in the house where he or she can hang a heavy punching bag – why then, this is where free standing bags come in. A hanging bag needs a really solid ceiling, and enough space around it that it doesn’t smash into a wall (if it does this regularly, it can bring down the wall).
Not every home has the space and superstructure for a hanging bag, so in this case, a free-standing bag is an excellent solution for the martial artist or even the contact sportsman who wants to train at home.
Best of all, the free-standing bag can be easily stored when you’re done with it.
They do not require to be secured to the wall, or even to the floor – most of them are usually held in place by the weight of filler material that goes into the base. There are one or two versions of free-standing bags out there that are actually in the shape of a human body, which is excellent for practicing specialized blows to vulnerable areas of the body.
So, how do free-standing bags actually work?
The free-standing bag is positioned on a central pole, which is built to replicate the movement of a hanging bag to a considerable extent. This means that a free-standing bag does react to impacts, and will even rebound. It has a reasonable resistance to strikes and kicks, and the bag will swing and sway in place, mimicking an opponent.
Heavier force will actually move the bag round the room, allowing you to practice your footwork.
What covering material should you choose for your free-standing bag?
The cheapest free-standing bags are made of vinyl. This has the advantage of being very cheap, but it can damage your gloves, and of course, it is hardly as resilient as leather or canvas. Leather and canvas are better options, and are therefore the most popular.
What sort of filling should you use?
That depends on your level of training. For beginners, I recommend soft fiber filling, which has a cushioning effect, and is softer on the hands, while for more advanced fighters, I recommend hard fiber, which provides additional conditioning. Finally, there are water-filled bags, which many fighters find the most realistic of all.
What you choose depends on your personal preferences. Whether you choose hard fiber bags or water filled bags depends on whether you want to condition your hands (in which case you choose hard fiber), or whether you want a realistic striking subject (in which case you’ll opt for the water-filled bag).
Keyword – Speed Bags
The best way to choose and use speed bags…
It is highly recommended that you work out with speed bags, as they offer many advantages, not only to the boxer, but also to the fitness enthusiast.
The basic purpose of a speed bag is obvious – it assists one with one’s hand speed. If you’re using a speed bag for the first time, you’d be well advised to start out slowly, and then increase speed as you gain a sense of the rhythm of the speed bag’s movements – once you gain this sense of rhythm, the movement of your hands will become so fast as to be almost invisible.
Once you’re at this level, you can try variations – using only one arm, or striking in combinations.
Conditioning for guard
Another benefit that speed bags confer is in conditioning a fighter to hold the guard position, with the arms up – every fighter knows just how crucial this is. In full-contact bouts, in boxing, MMA, kick boxing, or any other full-contact sport, dropping your guard for an instant can result in your being knocked out.
The speed bag also brings your rapid punching endurance up to par. It also helps you to avoid the flinch effect, and to keep your eyes on your opponent. As you can see, there are lots of benefits to training against a speed bag.
It all comes down to the old cheap synthetic leather vs. more expensive real leather. You’ve heard it all before – synthetic leather bags are cheap, but tend to wear out faster. Real leather is more expensive, but lasts longer.
Both perform equally well, so it’s a question of buying more synthetic bags versus buying one more expensive real leather bag that will last longer. In terms of cash, in the long run, it comes to the same thing, so I would go for the real leather bags if I were you – buying a leather one when you first need it beats the nuisance factor buying replacements for your synthetic bags again and again.
How do you know you’re buying a good bag?
There are some things to look for. Does the bag have a well balanced look. Does it have triple stitching at the seams? Does the swivel look really heavy duty? Does the swivel look well designed to allow the bag to move about well?
These are crucial factors. Above all, does the bag look like it’s been put together well? There’s a lot of competition among manufacturers, so most good bags will have all these features.
What size do you buy?
Bags are usually available in three sizes. A beginner should buy a large speed bag, as these tend to be slower. Experts should go in for small bags. It’s best to go to a gym and try out different bags yourself before you make a purchase.
Eventually, you might need to buy a pump for your bag, or even an extra bladder or two. Incidentally, should your bag lose air all the time, you might consider repairing it with a patch kit – this is definitely possible to do, and it beats buying a new bag.
Keyword – Specialty Bags
Refine your combat skills with specialty bags
There are all sorts of specialty bags out there, each designed for a specific purpose, and all of which can augment your training routine in one way or another. Even if you’re from a different discipline, it’s still worthwhile to examine different special-use bags and see if they can be adapted or used as part of your own training program.
The special MMA bag
I like the dedicated MMA bag very much – it weighs just about a hundred pounds, and that weight comes from water. There’s a hollow core that is padded, and this core is filled with water. This bag has a very different feel from the norm – it feels like a human body, and it is much harder to injure the wrists and hands on an MMA bag.
As a matter of fact, a good many MMA fighters train on these specialty bags using lighter MMA gloves, and in training at least, many fighters do not wear hand wraps. A visit to a local or online MMA shop should show you what bags are on offer.
The Knee Bag
This bag is shaped rather like a teardrop, and it’s unique shape allows you to attack it from angles, and using blows, that would be quite difficult to use against a normal bag. This bag is often called a knee bag because it is much easier to use knee kicks on this than on a conventional bag. It is possible to grip the narrow top of the bag and knee the bag, giving one the feeling of actually holding an opponent.
The tear shape of the Knee Bag is also convenient for uppercuts, allowing you to power in with your uppercuts from almost any angle. Hooks are another attack that can be perfected against this sort of bag.
This sort of bag doesn’t swing very much, due to the low center of gravity. However, this is actually just perfect for practicing the close-quarter strikes and kicks that this bag was designed for. However, the lack of swing means that this bag is not very suited to the full range of strikes and kicks – it is truly a specialty bag, and is best used solely to perfect your close quarter attacks.
The Angled Heavy Bag
If you can’t afford more than one bag, or don’t have the room to set up two bags, but would still like the benefits of a Knee Bag, then you can get yourself an angled heavy bag. These bags have a unique shape – the bottom half of the bag is shaped like a conventional heavy bag, but then the upper half slopes outwards before stabilizing in a broad, rounded top.
Angled heavy bags can be used for virtually every sort of kick and strike, including low kicks, uppercuts, roundhouse blows, snap kicks – these bags are suited to just about any move from just about any martial art and combat sport out there.
What size angled heavy bag should you buy?
These bags are from between four to six feet long. I recommend the larger ones, as I’ve found that they allow for a greater range of techniques. However, there’s one negative to these bags, and that is that they very much out-mass a conventional heavy bag, which means that there’s not much give in them – you can hit them hard, but they don’t move… much.
This is great for conditioning, but bad for footwork. While you can purchase them as your main training heavy bag, it is better to – like the Knee Bag, have them as a secondary bag to train upon.
These bags are very much recommended for those practicing Muay Thai and western kickboxing.
Keyword – Bag Stands & Accessories
Everything you need to know about Bag Stands & Accessories
It’s not often that you’ll need to invest in bag stands & accessories if you can set up a hanging bag. However, if you don’t have the kind of training area that could hold a hanging bag, you might have to use a bag mounted on a stand.
These stands are usually designed for private use, and are a very good solution for those who have a space problem, or problems with where to put a bag.
Best of all, many bag stands can hold more than one bag, increasing your training options. The most common of these are dual-support bag stands that can hold a heavy bag as well as a speed bag.
Of course there are a few drawbacks to using frame-supported bag stands & accessories.
One of these is height – these bag frames are sometimes just not tall enough to give you the feel of working out against a heavy bag. This is especially true if you happen to be a tall person. Also, the frame can shift under the effects of heavy blows, and this is true even if you use weights to stabilize the frame. This can be quite inconvenient for people training on the frame, because then they have to interrupt their session to put the frame back in position.
Perhaps the greatest drawback, however, is that the frame gets in the way of your moving around the bag, unlike with a hanging bag, where you can move around the swinging bag and attack it from any angle.
It’s still a great solution for home use
Nevertheless, this is a very good solution to those homeowners who either cannot set up a hanging bag, or who would prefer not to, for various reasons. I also really do like the frames that support two or more bags – they do allow a lot of variation in your training that a single bag might not allow.
There are two basic types of bag stands out there.
One type is not meant to be attached to the ground – these, obviously, are the most convenient to the homeowner. They can be further stabilized with heavy weights, but they can and do move around with heavy use.
On the upside, the fact that they can move around, means that you can change the position of your bag-and-frame as you need to. The other variety of bag frames on the market are meant to be attached to bolts that go into the floor, and in this they are rather similar to bags that mount on brackets on the wall. It goes without saying that you’ll need a strong floor to support one of these.
They have the advantage of not moving around under heavy use, but you need to think carefully before placing them, because of course they can’t be easily shifted once they are installed.