Did you purchase a heavy bag and are now looking for efficient workouts? Or maybe your gym added this type of bag and you’re wondering what to do with it?
Heavy bag workouts might be one of the most effective exercises out there. While you get to work on your striking technique, you improve strength, endurance, posture, and even brain function in the process. Because of their popularity, you generally find one in most gyms.
Whether you’re a beginner or experienced jabber, there’s adequate training for everyone. In this article, we start with the prerequisites — everything you need before starting any heavy bag routine. We then explain, step by step, the best routines for beginner, intermediate and advanced levels.
With all types of strength exercises, the workout starts before hitting the bag. To avoid injuries, ensure that you have the proper tools and that your muscles and joints are ready for the challenge.
If you’re planning on striking regularly, we recommend investing in your own equipment. If you’re starting out and are unsure if this is for you, most gyms will have gloves available.
Before we go into detail on each, here’s a short list:
- Heavy bag.
- Gloves and wraps.
- Boxing shoes.
Of course, the most necessary piece of equipment is a bag. If you’re looking to purchase one for home, these are the different types:
- Hanging heavy bag.
- Free-standing bags
Hanging Heavy Bag
The most common one is the hanging heavy bag. It’s usually attached to the ceiling with sturdy chains. The best bags have a high-quality outer layer made of leather and are typically longer in shape than others.
Vinyl bags are more economical but often less durable. Other models, still attached through the ceiling, are much shorter and therefore ideal for speed boxing.
If hooking chains to your ceiling isn’t an option, free-standing bags might be a good alternative. They may take more ground space, but no mounting is required, and they’re movable.
Gloves and Wraps
Gloves are the second most important piece of equipment you’ll need. Make sure they’re adapted to your hand size, rather than buying any gloves so you can start as soon as possible. The wrong size will cause discomfort.
Hand wraps are usually underestimated, sometimes even omitted by beginners. However, they’re critical to tighten your hand, stabilize your wrists and protect your knuckles.
You’ll still be able to complete your heavy bag workout with regular shoes. Investing in a boxing pair, however, should take your workout to a new level.
They’re lighter and, generally, more comfortable than running shoes. They allow better power, mobility and speed.
You’ll soon realize that all punching bag workouts work in rounds of set timings. Whether by using a watch, your phone or a timer device, you need to clock your workouts.
Now that you have your equipment ready, don’t forget to warm up. Although it may feel unnecessary, taking a few minutes to get into condition is essential to avoid hurting yourself.
Here’s a basic routine to get you started:
- With your arms extend on the sides, make four large circles, in each direction.
- Repeat until the joins feel warm and stretched.
- Using the same movements, make smaller arm rotations.
- Fold each arm behind your back. One from the top, and the other from your lower back. Try to touch hands, and alternate the arms.
- To get your heartbeat up, repeat all movements while jumping.
Is it your first time working out with heavy bags? To help you acquire the proper form, we recommend placing duct tape on the bag.
Generally speaking, head, chest, lower stomach or sides are your primary targets. This is to help you know the area to strike the bag, as if you were striking a real-life opponent.
If this is your first time using a heavy bag, make sure you’re punching and controlling it properly. This beginner heavy bag drill will help you learn the right form while providing great cardiovascular exercise.
- Rounds: 5
- Repetitions: 100
- Rest between each round: 30 seconds
In a slow and steady pace, proceed with single jabs using one hand only. Keep the other hand close to your face for defense and your elbows tucked in. Your shoulders should remain high, protecting your jaw. After 100 repetitions, swap hands.
Now double the jabs. You should soon start feeling the burn. After 100 double jabs, switch to the other arm.
We’re now onto straight jabs. They may seem similar to our round one exercise, however, they’re done with a greater range of movement.
Your punching arm’s shoulder should be slightly back to give your strike more amplitude. Use your hips to give your punch more power.
Do 100 on each side.
This round consists of 100 side hooks on each side. With your tape on the bag, aim for the body area.
Keep your elbows bent at all times. Again, use your hips and core to generate power.
Once you’ve completed a side, switch to the other.
Continue with side hooks, but this time, your hand will reach higher on the heavy bag. Aim for the tape by the head area. Again, repeat 100 times for both sides.
Once you’ve mastered the beginner level technique, it’s time to advance to the intermediate workout. This exercise takes your heavy bag workout a step further by using combinations. It’s heavy on endurance and introduces speed and new strike techniques.
This routine is composed of six three-minute rounds, with no more than a minute rest between each routine. Hydrate well before getting started!
- Rounds: 6
- Time per round: 3 minutes.
- Rest between each round: 30 seconds.
Remember our straight jabs from the beginner workout — round three? This is where we’ll start. Alternating hands, proceed as fast as you can. A proper breathing technique should help you reach the end of this round.
Alternating your arms in a sprint version, apply uppercut movements. Aim to punch the bag towards your chest’s height. Here, speed is more important than power.
Add some hooks to these sprint uppercuts. Remember to use your shoulders, core and hips to bounce back from one side to another.
Our round four takes the same punches higher. Instead of aiming for the height of your chest, punch towards your head. As before, aim for the tape in the head area. Don’t compromise speed and keep up the pace.
It’s time to slow down just a little. We’re back to straight jabs. Alternate each hand: one single jab with one, one double jab with the other. Remember to keep both hands towards your chin.
For your last round, start combining various strikes.
Begin with a double jab followed by a straight punch. Continue with a single jab then go back to a straight punch.
Start slowly while getting comfortable with the combination. As you get the rhythm, increase your speed. Your shoulders should now be on fire, but don’t forget, your mind gives up way before your body does!
Once you’re comfortable with the beginner and intermediate routine, you’re ready for a more advanced heavy bag drill.
If time allows — and if you feel ready for the challenge — proceed with this 30-minute workout starting with your right arm. Then, repeat with the left one. If you’re short on time, split each round in two and switch arm after one and a half minutes.
This workout follows the same concept as a boxing match. It introduces footwork and lower body exercise. Your body should become a fat-burning machine after this!
- Rounds: 10
- Time per round: 3 minutes.
- Rest between each round: 60 seconds.
Start with single jabs at a moderate speed. When your body is warmed up, keep jabbing while moving around the bag.
It’s not time to rest yet. In continuity, change your technique from a jab to a straight punch. Don’t stop rotating; keep your footwork going.
During the second round, combine a jab with a straight punch. Remember, the straight punch should come from your back shoulder, and use your hips to give your punch more strength.
Alternate a double jab with a single straight punch. After a minute, start circling the bag. To avoid feeling dizzy, change directions frequently.
Round four is a combination between one jab and one side-hook punch. The hook should be holding the most power. Use both of your hips and shoulders, and strike the bag in front of your head.
Continue the same strikes as round four, but double the jab. Try to increase your speed.
Now combine three punches: jab, straight and a hook. For 1.5 minutes, reach all punches across your core. For the last half of the round, aim for your opponent’s head area on the bag.
This round mixes one jab and a body punch with each arm. A body shot should aim for your opponent’s core, so try to reach the bag across your stomach.
Exchange the jab for a straight punch, and alternate again with two body punches.
Almost there, let’s now get our lower body working. Start with a jab, continue with a straight punch and finish with a drop. A drop is similar to a squat, with different leg positions.
During this round, the jabs and straights should strike the bag at your head’s height. Focus on form rather than speed.
Continuing our leg workout, drop after making two side hooks.
For the last minute of our ultimate round, go wild. Use every bit of energy you have left. Mix any of the previous combinations — the key is to keep going. This is your grand finale!
I’ve seen many beginners joining heavy bag workout classes hoping to have lots of fun and a bit of exercise. In reality, this workout is more intense that it looks. It’s also a full-body drill engaging your core, legs, arms and shoulders.
The routines can be adapted for all levels. It’s important to work your way up progressively to acquire the right form and avoid injuries.