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How To Use A Heavy Bag: Top Tips

A heavy bag is one of the best pieces of equipment a fighter can have in their arsenal. 

They provide a ton of different benefits and allow you to train a wide variety of different fighting aspects, such as footwork, timing and power. 

But, for those new to working the heavy bag, it can be incredibly easy to make mistakes that can have a direct effect on the quality of your work out. 

Today we're going to be taking a look at some top heavy bag tips that you can take with you and hopefully eradicate any bad habits that you may have picked up along the way.

But first....

What is a Heavy Bag?

A heavy bag is probably the most used piece of equipment for fighters. They usually weigh between 80-120lb and come in two different variations.

The most common is the traditional hanging heavy bag, which is attached to either a ceiling, beam or a specialised heavy bag stand. These tend to be the preferred type of heavy bag as their swinging motion allows you to practice timing as well as gaging the distance.

The other type of heavy bag is a free standing bag, which feature a large weighted base at the bottom. This base is then filled with either water or sand and is designed to prevent the bag from toppling over when it is hit. 

If you're interested in finding yourself a free standing bag, I'd recommend you check out our article on the best free standing heavy bags, where we discuss some of the top models currently available.

Before you start using a heavy bag, it's important that you get yourself a decent pair of heavy bag gloves. If you don't use padded gloves, you stand a fairly solid chance of injuring your hand or wrist, as the outer material of heavy bags tend to be rough, and the bag itself can be pretty hard.

Not lets' take a look at...

The Benefits of Using a Heavy Bag

As I mentioned earlier, working out on a heavy bag provides a ton of benefits, such as:

  • Intense cardiovascular work out
  • Develop muscular endurance
  • Improve punch power
  • Work on your timing
  • Work on your foot work
  • Help you lose weight

Using a Heavy Bag: Top Tips

Keep Your Eyes Forward

When using a heavy bag, it's important to mentally visualise you're striking against a real opponent. This is includes keeping your eyes on the bag, not letting them wander, nor staring at the spot you're about to strike. 

When you're sparring, the easiest way to telegraph your next strike is by looking at where you're going to throw the punch. Keep this in mind when you're working the heavy bag, as you don't want to pick up any bad habits that can translate into your sparring, or even worse, when you're competing.

Remember Combinations

Whether you're into boxing, MMA or Muay Thai, fights are rarely fought with single strikes. The majority of a match is fought by throwing different combinations and it's important to remember this when heavy bag training. 

Of course, don't go to the extreme of this and solidly throw strikes for 4-minutes straight. As I've mentioned before, try and visualise the bag as an opponent, throw a combination, circle the bag, throw another combination etc... 

Control Your Breathing

Depending on your level of fitness, working the heavy bag for 10-20 minutes isn't going to be an easy task. In order to make sure you don't 'gas out' extremely quickly, it's important to regulate your breathing. 

Breath out when you're throwing a strike and make sure you're not huffing and puffing uncontrollably. If you're struggling to consistently throw strikes for 10-minutes on a heavy bag, you should probably hold off sparring until you've got that nailed.

Work on Your Foot Work

When you throw a punch, make sure that you ground your feet. When you're not throwing a punch, make sure your feet are moving. If your a still target when sparring, you're going to get hit a fair amount, therefore it's good to practice your movement when your working the bag. 

Make sure you circle the bag as well, trying not to stand in the same spot for the entirety of the work out. A still target is easy to hit, so make sure you're not standing still at any point throughout your heavy bag work out. ABM - Always be moving, I just made that up, but it does have some merit.

Keep Your Hands Up

It's easy to let technique go out of the window when working the heavy bag, and I always see guys down the gym dropping their hands during their work outs. 

This is especially true when they're throwing a punch, allowing their other hand to drop, instead of keeping it raised, blocking their head. If you throw a punch with your other hand down in a fight, you're opening yourself up for a devastating counter. 

As with most of these tips, just try and recreate a fight in your mind. Imagine what would happen if you allowed your hands to drop, and maintain that thought through out your work out. 

Snap Your Punches

Make sure that you're actually punching the bag, not just pushing through it. You should have a snap to your punches, throw the strike and quickly get your hand back to it's guard position

If you're unsure if you're snapping your punches effectively, just observe the bag after you've hit it. If the back jolts and swings, you're probably hitting it right. If it just lightly sways, then you're not snapping your punches enough.

Example Heavy Bag Work Out

Check out the example heavy bag work out below for some inspiration.

Here's a break down of the different rounds covered in the video:

  • Round 1. Movement 2 mins
  • Round 2. Work the jab 2 mins
  • Round 3. Work 1-2's ( straight punches) 2 mins
  • Round 4. Work Speed. 2 and 3 punch combinations. 2 mins
  • Round 5. Around the world Intervals. 10 seconds on 10 seconds off. 2 Mins
  • Round 6. Freestyle 2 Mins.
  • Round 7. Work Speed. 2 and 3 punch combinations. 2 mins
  • Round 8. Freestyle 1 Min
  • Round 9. Around the world Intervals. 10 seconds on 10 seconds off. 2 Mins
  • Round 10. Freestyle 1 Min´╗┐

Final Thoughts

I just want to finish of this article with one final reminder: to treat your heavy bag work outs as if they're a real fight. 

While they have a wide variety of benefits and are one of the most valuable pieces of equipment you can use, if used incorrectly can instil some bad habits that no fighter wants to pick up. 

Thanks for stopping by and having a read, drop any questions you may have in the comment section below.

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James Davis

Hi there! I'm James, chief editor at MMA Station.com. I've been fascinated by martial arts for years and have spent the majority of my life training a number of different disciplines. I and a panel of specialists have made it our mission to bring our followers the best, most accurate information surrounding MMA.

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