I don’t know about you, but my attention span doesn’t last long. I often get bored with workouts fast. I’ve been researching new exercise equipment and routines for awhile now, and I came across punching bag-based workouts. I decided to look into it more and see if these workouts are worthwhile.
Is a punching bag a good workout? A punching bag workout is a great workout for cardio, stamina, strength, and mental health. Workouts with a punching bag combine many elements to give you an effective physical activity session. If you’re looking for something to help you train your body and mind, bag work could be for you.
Lets explore the different ways you can use a punching bag for your health and wellness and while looking into them we will discuss gloves and making the proper bag choice to get started successfully.
How to Use a Punching Bag for Exercise
You can use a punching bag for multiple purposes, many are typically thinking about cardio and how fast they can deliver punches but there is far more at play when you use a bag if you approach it in the right mindset.
Cardio with a Punching Bag
When people think of cardio, the first things that come to mind are running or spin class. That doesn’t have to be the case.The punching bag often gets left out.
But workouts with a punching bag are very cardio heavy. Instead of using your legs to get your heart rate up, you’re using your core and upper body.
If you are already a runner or cyclist, bag work may be a good incorporation into your existing routine for some balance.
Strength Training with a Punching Bag
When you think of famous fighters, the image is usually a strong, toned person. Workouts with a punching bag definitely help to build that body.
By punching the bag when it is still or swinging toward you and with your feet planted, you create resistance your muscles must fight against.
This builds strength. It’s important to punch as hard as you can. Speed is more important for the cardio piece of the workout.
Stamina Building with a Punching Bag
Anyone can benefit from a punching bag. They’re not just for boxers. If you are looking to increase your everyday endurance, find the punching bag in your gym or buy one. Your stamina will increase as you build your skills with the bag.
Mental Health Benefits
Need to blow off some steam? Grab some gloves and take it out on a punching bag. Leave all the stress of your day in the bag before heading home.
The mental focus required to keep this workout going is not insignificant. Focusing on punching for 90 seconds may seem easy, but it requires a lot of mental effort. Work out your mind and body with a punching bad.
What parts of the body does boxing workout?
Depending on what you are training for, a boxing workout can target your core, upper body, or lower body. The cross-body motion or punching specifically works all the muscles in your core. The force and resistance required when punching help you train your arms, shoulders and chest.
Kick boxing develops the lower body more, but even a regular boxing workout can support lower body goals. A punch starts in the legs and works its way up. An intense boxing workout really hits every major muscle group.
Workouts with a Punching Bag
There are many different types of workouts you can do with a punching bag. Check a few examples out below.
Remember, before your workout always do a warm up. Some warm-up activities are jumping jacks, sit-ups, shadow boxing, planking or light jogging. When you warm up your muscles, you greatly decrease the risk of injury. It helps you get loose and will improve your overall workout.
Form is more important than speed. Practice your form before trying to do these exercises quickly to prevent injury.
Quick Punch Crossover Squat Combo
Face the bag in a boxing position with your shoulders square to the punching bag. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Place one foot slightly in front of the other.
The foot in front should be far enough forward that your heel is even with your back foot’s toes. It’s important to remember to keep a forty-five-degree angle in your toes when facing the punching bag.
Get into a punching position. Keep one hand up like you’re going to protect your face. Punch twice, quickly—once with your left arm and then cross with right. Do a squat right after. Stand and repeat. Do this for 45 seconds and rest for 15 seconds.
Dominant Side Cross Punch
To make this effective, tense your core and out your full strength behind each punch. The only reason a cross body punch is so powerful is movement.
When you pull back your arm and foot and then swing through while taking a step forward, you create momentum that propels the punch.
For right-handed people, put your left foot in front. Keep your weight on you back. You want your center of gravity to be a little off center.
Do the opposite if you are left-handed. When you punch, fully utilize the motion created by swinging across your body and through your leg. As the punch resolves, pull it back up to protect your face.
Don’t be lazy and let it swing downward. Quickly get reset with your feet back at the starting position and repeat. Do this for 45 seconds and rest for 15 seconds.
Non-Dominant Side Cross Punch
This is the same as the last exercise but reverse your punching arm. Be sure to also reverse your stance. It may be harder on this side but keep pushing. The only person you cheat, when you cheat, is yourself. Do this for 45 seconds and rest for 15 seconds.
Punch Side Kick Combo
Set up the length of your leg away from the punching bag. Stand in boxing position with your arms up ready to punch and protecting your face, one foot slightly back and feet shoulder width apart.
Pivot according to your dominant side, opening your body up way from the punching bag. Then swing your leg back towards the bag with your knee slightly bent.
Hit the bag, extending your leg so it’s almost straight. Focus on hitting the bag with your heel to protect your foot. This is easier if you keep your foot flexed as you swing it.
Swinging with a limp foot will only cause injury. Quickly bring your foot back down, solidly planting it back on the ground. Do this 10 times as fast as you can.
After you have completed 10 reps of kicks, punch the bag 30 times with the same side of your body. Then switch sides and repeat.
Do this for 90 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds in between.
Trio: Lunge, Quick Punch, Kick, Cross
Position yourself in front of the punching bag so you measure one leg’s length away. The first step is a reverse lunge. At the end of the lunge, burst up with controlled energy.
This burst should propel you through a kick. Don’t lose momentum as you push your leg up and slam your heel into the bag. After the quick, immediately get into your boxing position and deliver four quick punches across your body. Be sure to do two reps on each arm.
After completing the first set, switch legs and repeat. Do this for 45 seconds. Rest for 15 seconds in between.
Dominant Side Hook
This punching bag workout targets the obliques. A hook punch is more intense than a quick punch. It requires more power from the shoulders and chest.
Get into boxing position. Arms up, hands to face and one foot back, depending on your dominant side. Keep your heel off the ground on your dominant side.
Turn your back hip forward and hook the punch with the entire force of your body. End with your forearm parallel to the ground up by your face. Set back up in starting position and do it again.
Do this for 45 seconds. Rest for 15 seconds in between.
Non-Dominant Side Hook
This is the same as the last exercise but reverse your punching arm. Be sure to also reverse your stance. It may be harder on this side but keep pushing. The only person you cheat, when you cheat, is yourself.
Do this for 45 seconds and rest for 15 seconds in between.
Get set in a boxing position close an arm’s length away from the punching bag. Keep your feet shoulder width apart and arms up to protect your face. Step back with your dominant side and open your side body.
Forcefully bring your knee up, slamming it into the bag. As soon as your foot hits the ground, come back up with 10 alternating quick punches, five on each side.
Do this for 45 seconds and rest for 15 seconds in between.
What Boxing Gloves Should a Beginner Buy?
Now that you have some great workout options, it’s time to get the right equipment. The first thing you need to purchase is a pair of boxing gloves. But which kind are the best?
After researching, I know that the sea of information can be overwhelming. Here is some advice on what to consider when buying your first pair of gloves.
Types of Boxing Gloves
There is more variety to boxing gloves then you would think at first glance and each can help or hinder your performance. Below we explain what each type is that will hopefully allow you to make your choice.
When purchasing your first set of gloves, bag gloves are probably the type to go with. They are beginner friendly and will help you ease into this style of exercise.
Before you start sparring or fighting in the ring, you’ll want to train on a bag; these are the gloves you’ll need for that. They are typically lighter than sparring or fighting gloves.
They have more padding than other types of gloves to protect you from the heavy bag.
A training glove should be bought after you have some experience with bag work. They come in many shapes, colors, and sizes.
The emphasis with this type of glove is developing muscle. Depending on your fitness goals, you can purchase heavier training gloves to gain hand strength.
Sparring gloves are purchased when you are ready to fight an opponent in the ring for practice. A good sparring glove is lighter than your training glove.
This will make it easier to swing when you are actually in the ring. These gloves also have a lot of padding to protect you and your opponent.
Once you’ve made it to serious competition these are the gloves for you. They have a balance of padding and light weight that makes them attractive for fighters in the ring.
Typically, there are two types of mechanisms for securing them—lace up and general. A lace up glove is more customizable to the wearer’s wrist but requires someone’s help to put on.
A general glove slips on like a sparring glove. A person just looking to exercise on a punching bag has no need for these gloves.
Your preferred use, gender and weight plays a role in what type of glove you should get.
Glove Weights For Men
Choosing gloves for men between 51 kilograms to 65 kilograms wanting to do bag work, the best gloves are 8 ounces to 10 ounces. If you would like to spar, pick up a pair of 16 ounce gloves.
For men between 63 kilograms to 76 kilograms wanting to do bag work, get 12 ounce gloves. If you would like to spar, pick up a pair of 16 ounce gloves.
For men between 74 kilograms to 90 kilograms, the same weights apply as for 63 to 76 kilograms.
For a man weighing more than 88 kilograms, the difference is in sparring, for which you will need 18 ounce gloves.
Glove Weights For Women
Choosing boxing gloves if you are a woman below 45 kilograms, it is generally suggested that for bag work you use a 6 ounce glove. This smaller glove will provide you with the best fit.
For women between 45 kilograms to 50 kilograms, bag work is done with 8 ounce gloves while sparring is done with 16 ounce gloves.
If you are between 50 kilograms to 60 kilograms, bump up your bag work weight to 10 ounces.
Lastly, for women over 60 kilograms the recommended specifications are 12 ounces for bag work and 16 ounces for sparring.
A lot more information can be found about this online if you are outside these weight ranges.
Your gloves should fit snugly but not too tight. There should be no issue making a fist inside the glove. This can cause damage to your fingers when you punch.
The tops of your fingertips should just touch the top of the glove. When you try them on in the store, be sure to do so with hand wraps on. Hand wraps will influence the fit of the glove.
The straps on the wrists should also be a secure fit but not too tight. The goal is a feeling of snugness not cutting off the circulation.
What Type of Punching Bag is Best for Beginners?
There are many different types of punching bags. They can influence your workout in different ways. Here are some tips on picking the best one.
This is the classic bag that is suspended from the ceiling, just like in the movies. They weigh in at between 70 and 150 pounds and are stuffed with cloth material.
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This is the right punching bag for you if you mainly want something to kick and punch. One downside is, this bag is hard to move. Once it’s been hung, it’s not coming down.
This maybe isn’t the best fit for a home gym. Consider your ceiling durability before hanging this bag.
This bag is very similar to a heavy bag, except for the shape. It also hangs from the ceiling. A teardrop bag better emulates a real human.
It’s easier to jab and knee with a defense mindset. This shape adds a new challenge to your workout, and it increases the mobility needed to perform traditional boxing moves.
Again, these are not easy to move and require a durable ceiling.
The biggest difference here is that a freestanding bag is not hung from the ceiling. It is more easily moved around whatever space you might need.
It moves differently than a heavy bag since it is anchored from the bottom, but you’ll still get a great workout in.
A body bag is for those interested in mixed martial arts. You might be fooled by this bag.
It looks like an actual person with limbs and a face. It will help you get used to hitting something with a human shape.
It is anchored from the ground. This bag is for someone seeking a hyper realistic experience.
Built for speed, these bags will train you to move swiftly. After you hit them, they will bounce back quickly. They forfeit heaviness for speed and reaction.
If you are looking to hit something heavy and dense, this isn’t for you. They are lightweight and air filled. A speed bag is a great addition if you want to improve your reflexes and timing.
Cardio can be greatly enhanced with this bag.
Final Thoughts About Punching Bags Being a Good Workout
There is a lot to consider when adding a punching bag workout to your routine, but one thing is for sure—it’s a great workout for anyone. I love a good session on a punching bag, more so when I am frustrated, as a source to vent.
I have never been able to master a speed bag but a nice heavy bag that I hung on this was nice plus it gave me a chin up bar in addition as I found door hangers irritating. It has received a lot of attention, especially recently with the lock downs from the pandemic.