The heavy bag is the single most important piece of training tool in any boxer’s life. It’s invaluable for building power and endurance in your punches while also improving the technique. Some form of a punching bag has been used for military and martial training, both armed and unarmed for centuries.
Today heavy bags are widely used not only by fighters but by many regular gymgoers that recognized the immense benefits they can get by training on a heavy bag.
Specifically, in boxing, hanging heavy bags have been the norm for at least 2 centuries, but now there is another option that targets the same type of work in the form of a free-standing bag.
Both options come with their own advantages and shortcomings and in this post, I will try and clarify what those are, so you can make an informed choice if you are looking for a punching bag.
What is a hanging heavy bag?
The hanging heavy bag is the traditional bag used in boxing as well as many other martial arts like Muay Thai, kickboxing, and MMA. As the name suggests the bag is hanging from the ceiling, from a beam attached to the ceiling on another high enough point.
Hanging heavy bags come in different shapes, but are generally cylindrical. Boxing bags are usually shorter and stockier and bags used for arts that involve kicking are usually longer and thinner. There are classic uppercut bags that have a teardrop shape and others that have a concave in the middle to still facilitate uppercuts, but also allow for kicks.
Heavy bags are made of leather, artificial leather, canvas, or most commonly some kind of vinyl. On the inside of a bag commonly you can find sand, cloth or rubber. The goal is for the bag to be able to endure years of hard punishment. Another thing the name clearly implies is that these bags are heavy. A typical boxing bag weight is around 70 lbs but can go all the way up to 200 lbs. Thai-style bags that are around 6 feet usually weigh more than 100 lbs.
Let’s look at the key pros and cons of the hanging bag.
Builds power – The initial purpose of the heavy bag was to allow fighters to blast something with full force without breaking their hands or the object they hit. The hanging heavy bag does that perfectly.
Swinging – the hanging bag will swing with each shot you land and this simulates more realistically an opponent who moves. You will have to adjust your range constantly according to the swinging of the bag. An interesting point is that you may find the swing as a negative aspect of the hanging bag in some similar articles and for beginners this may be true.
Durability – heavy bags are made to last years’ worth of punishment. If you are reading this post, you are likely looking for a bag in your home gym. If you buy a decent quality one, chances are you won’t ever need to buy another one for a long time, unless you want a different shape.
Versatility – The hanging bag allows for many different exercises, but the free space below it means you will be able to work better on your footwork angles or infighting. Combine that with the swing and you can practice pretty much everything that doesn’t require a partner.
Cost – Hanging bags are generally cheaper than free-standing ones. And when you add durability, you have a bargain.
Hard to install: The hanging bag has to be mounted to the ceiling on a beam. Not every space has a ceiling from a suitable material that can withstand 100 lbs of weight being pushed around all the time, which multiplies the force generated by the support.
The installation itself is also not an easy task and you may need to bring someone suitable for the job. On top of that, you will have to buy separately a base to hang the bag on.
Space: You will need more free space for a hanging bag. Not only that but it usually stays hung the whole time. If you need the space for something else and have to mount and unmount a 100+lbs bag every time, better think about buying a free-standing bag.
What is a freestanding bag?
The standing bag is sitting on a wide and heavy base that is usually filled with sand or water, which keeps the bag from toppling when struck. The bag attached to the base is cylindrical and looks pretty much the same as the hanging version, but it’s much lighter.
Some models have a “neck” like part, that is not for hitting, but it’s connecting the base and the hitting part of the bag.
Another quite popular model is the Bob standing bag. “Bob” is a human-shaped bag, that is actually great for accuracy training because it mimics a person in real size. So you don’t need to visualize the liver or chin on a banana shape, Bob has that covered for you.
Easy installation: Unlike the hanging bag, the free-standing one needs no other equipment. You just roll it over to where you want to train. The base usually comes hollow, so you will have to fill it with sand or water, but that’s all you need to do as installation.
Easy to store: When you are done training you can move the bag to a spot where it’s not in the way.
Good portability– A standing bag can be easily transported and used to another place. Empty the base, transport the light bag to the new place and just fill the base again.
Too light: The major drawback of the free-standing bag it’s that it’s much lighter than a hanging one. This means you won’t be able to hit as hard as you like, or the bag will fall over. Higher-end models are much more stable, but cost 3 to 4 times more than the same quality hanging bag. And if you are heavier, with a lot of weight behind your strikes, the standing bag will be suitable for skills training, but not for proper power and endurance building.
Less durable: These types of bags have more parts that can break. Especially the models with “neck” usually have a spring that will surely not last a lifetime.
Less versatility: There is less space for footwork. The bag does not swing and gives you fewer opportunities to treat it like a substitute for a real opponent.
More expensive: Standing bags are much more expensive than hanging ones. Nothing more needs to be said about this point.
Which should you choose?
There is no right answer to this question. It all depends on your circumstances. The hanging bag is clearly superior as it allows for more versatile training and is indispensable as both an anaerobic, aerobic work as well as a power-building tool.
But when you equip a home gym many aspects have to be considered. The free-standing bag takes up less space and can be stored easily. There is the chance that you don’t have a ceiling or beam strong enough to hang a bag in the first place, so that answer is also clear. The humanoid Century Bob version of the standing bag is also an interesting choice. You won’t be able to hit it with full power if you are even averagely powered, but it provides a unique angle to add precision and accuracy to your development.
To summarise the whole post in a single sentence. If you have a dedicated space that can accommodate a hanging bag, always go for that. If not, a free-standing bag is also a good training piece of equipment that can bring a lot of value to your home gym.
Here are some tables below of highly recommend bag products you can check out. I also recommend you visit the following articles below the tables which will give you some more useful options!
Hanging Heavy Bag recommendations:
|Best Overall||Boxing Life’s Pick||Best Value|
|Bag||Title Boxing Heavy Bag||Outslayer Punching Bag||Ringside Leather Heavy Bag|
|Price||Check price on Amazon||Check Price on Amazon||Check Price on Amazon|
- Top 10 Best Hanging Heavy Bags Review
- Top 10 Best Uppercut Punching Bags Review
- Aqua Training Bag Review | The Perfect Water Punch Bag
Freestanding Punch Bag Recommendations
|Best Overall||Boxing Life’s Choice||Best Value|
|Bag||Century Original Wavemaster Punch Bag||Ringside Freestanding Punch Bag||Dripex Freestanding Punch Bag|
|Height||Adjustable 4ft – 5.6ft||6.4ft||Approx 6ft|
|Price||Check price on Amazon or Century||Check Price on Amazon||Check price on Amazon or Dripex|
- Top 16 Best Free Standing Punch Bags Review
- Century BOB Punch Bag Review | Features And Set Up
- Best Century Free Standing Punching Bags | Review
Hopefully, this article has helped you out in some way! If you are looking to also add other boxing equipment to your home gym. Check out some of the following articles:
- Cobra ‘Reflex’ Bag vs Double End Bag
- Amazing Home Gym Boxing Equipment And Ideas
- Types Of Punch Bags For Boxing Training
- Top 10 Cobra Reflex Bags
- Top 10 Everlast Punch Bags To Improve Your Boxing and Fitness
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