The punching bag is an inseparable part of boxing training. Regardless if you are looking to get in the ring or simply get in shape, the bag will be a part of your routine. However, not all punching bags are the same, and you should familiarize yourself with the various options and match them to your specific training goals. This article will help you do just that.
What types of punching bags are there?
There are two main types of punching bags: Hanging heavy bags and free-standing heavy bags. They generally serve the same purpose but are not equal. Let’s quickly get through the key characteristics of each.
Hanging heavy bag
The classic. A heavy cylindrical bag that hangs from the ceiling or a metal beam.
+ Develops power and endurance
+ It’s extremely durable
+ Very versatile
– Takes up more space
– Harder to install
Check out my top 10 hanging heavy bag options here.
Freestanding punching bag
As the name suggests standing bags also consist of a cylindrical bag, but instead of hanging it is placed on a heavy enough base on the floor.
+ Simple to set up and use
+ Easy to dismantle and store away
+ Can be easily moved and used in another place
– More expensive
– It’s too light and cannot be hit with the same power
Check out my top 16 freestanding bag options here.
There are other types of punching bags, like the speed bag and the double-end bag. They also have their merits but are much more specialized training tools.
The double end bag
This is relatively easy to install at home and doesn’t take up much space. It’s a small round ball connected at both ends to the floor and ceiling.
It’s amazing for building accuracy and timing. There are other qualities to it, but in general, only more serious boxers use it.
Check out my top 12 double-end options here.
The speed bag
This is even more restricted in its scope. It improves arm and shoulder endurance, speed, and, most importantly, timing and coordination. Despite this, it is very stationary and is far less important, especially in a beginner’s training regimen.
If you want to dive deeper into even more punching bag options you can do so here: https://myboxinglife.com/types-of-punch-bags-for-boxing-training/
What type of training are you planning to do?
A key benefit of punching bags is that they don’t take up much space and can be available at any time. No need to follow a gym schedule to do a workout, no need to wait for training partners. Just you and the bag. But to better choose what type of bag you need, you must first determine what you want to get out of it.
To give a simple answer, if you have the space, it’s always best to opt for a hanging heavy bag. It’s unparalleled at building power and endurance while also training boxing-specific techniques. The hanging bag is extremely durable and can be used in various ways to train different aspects of your boxing game. If you train for a boxing performance, definitely get a hanging bag.
Standing bags are also useful, but they are typically much lighter and cannot be hit with the same force. Good quality ones are also significantly more expensive than hanging bags. The main advantage here, however, is portability. The freestanding bag is easily mounted, used, and then stored. If you intend to use the bag for a general workout rather than for boxing-specific goals, the free-standing bag may be a better option.
Learn more about how hanging and free-standing heavy bags stack up against each other here.
What shape and size should my bag be?
The other consideration you should make is the bag size and shape. This concerns mainly hanging bags, because free-standing ones have less variety.
Heavy bags come in various shapes that serve different purposes. If you train boxing, the standard cylindrical shape is the usual choice. These bags have a length of around 100–120 cm.
The so-called banana bag has the same shape, but it is almost double the length. The extra length is there to imitate a whole person and is used for low kicks. Most MMA and Muay Thai gyms use this kind of bag predominantly. If you plan on kicking, go for a longer (approx. 180 cm.) heavy bag. Check these out on Amazon here or my review link further above.
Another popular variant is the uppercut bag. The pear-shaped short one is a staple of boxing gyms and is amazing for power punches and uppercuts. A longer version also exists, that allows both kicks and uppercuts to be thrown more realistically.
Choosing the right weight of the punching bag
The main consideration when choosing the weight of the bag is your own weight. The heavier you are, the more power you can generate and the heavier bag you need. But the shape also plays a role in the weight. If you want to low kick, the longer bag inevitably weighs more. A good all-around boxing heavy bag weighs around 100-120lbs.
There are, of course, lighter bags more suitable for smaller people and much heavier bags for enthusiasts with more sting in their hands.
What are heavy bags made from?
In general, punching bags are made from leather or synthetic materials. The gold standard is the leather bag because of its unrivaled visuals, durability, and overall quality. But they are also much more expensive. So most manufacturers use synthetic materials like vinyl and nylon, which provide good durability at a fraction of the cost.
Vinyl and nylon bags are cheaper, but can still endure years. There is also the mid-priced option of synthetic leather, which provides a feel similar to that of real leather while maintaining a reasonable price. You may even come across canvas-covered bags, which are the cheapest option.
Punching bag fill materials
The last thing you must consider when choosing a punching bag is the insides of your new punching friend. Most of the time when buying a bag, you won’t need to bother with the exact contents, because the bag will be filled and sealed, but you can also buy an empty one and fill it yourself.
Sand – Sand provides the maximum weight for a heavy bag. It’s easy to find and easy to fill in the bag. But a big drawback is that in time the sand will gather and thicken on the bottom, essentially becoming like a swinging concrete block.
Water – water-filled bags are not as popular, although it’s convenient as anyone has water at their disposable. Water-filled bags are specifically produced for this purpose, as opposed to a regular bag that can be filled with either sand or textile. Find out about the water-filled Aqua bag in my review here or check out on Amazon.
Textile – A very common filler for bags is small cut textile pieces. These “rags” can make the bag very comfortable if used in the right quantity.
Rubber – Small rubber pieces are also quite popular. Many times manufacturers blend rubber pieces with textile ones, for optimal weight and hardness.
All punch bags have their pros and cons, but if you are starting out it’s probably best to use either a heavy bag or a free-standing bag depending on your living space and situation.
Once you have started your training, and are familiar with the basic punches, you can then move on to bags that require reflexes, speed and timing.
I highly recommend you check out some of the following articles to help you out further on different bags options and home gym setups.
- Amazing Home Gym Boxing Equipment And Ideas
- Types Of Punch Bags For Boxing Training
- Most Useful Boxing Equipment For Home Gym
- Top 12 Best Punching Bags For Apartments Or Small Spaces
- Top 10 Everlast Punch Bags To Improve Your Boxing and Fitness
- Top 10 Cobra Reflex Bags
- Cobra ‘Reflex’ Bag vs Double End Bag
- Best Century Free Standing Punching Bags | Review
- Century BOB Punch Bag Review | Features And Set Up
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