Working with a boxing bag can be a real challenge, but they are also a lot of fun. Hitting a bag is much different than hitting mitts or pads or shadow boxing, so it's important that a boxer has a firm handle on the basics before moving to the bag, or they could get seriously hurt.
Types Of Bags
There are several different types of bags, but they usually fall into two categories: heavy bags and speed bags.
There are a number of different types of heavy bags. They come in weights between 25 pounds and 150 pounds. They also come in a hard fill or a soft fill.
- Hanging, heavy bags are the type that perhaps most people are familiar with. They are hung by a special piece of hardware that allows the bag to swivel in all directions. The bags are made with D-rings and chains for hanging and some models come with a D-ring on the bottom so that a chain or rubber cord can be added for stabilization.
- Free-standing heavy bags are the same shape as hanging heavy bags, but instead of hanging, they have a large hollow base which is filled with sand or water for stability. The height of the bag can be adjusted to fit fighters of different sizes.
- Water filled heavy bags work just like hanging heavy bags, but instead of being filled with the fiber fill that regular heavy bags are filled with, they are filled with water. Water bags respond a bit more like a human body would since the human body is mostly water.
- Specialty bags are hanging heavy bags of different shapes that are designed to work on specific skills and angles.
The fill of the bag makes a difference as to how it will respond. A hard fill bag is filled with shredded fiber and has a one inch foam covering. A soft fill bag also has the same shredded fiber fill core, but has a two inch foam covering, making them gentler on the bones and joints.
Speed bags are designed to enhance coordination and speed. They have a lower potential for injury when compared to a heavy bag, but unlike a heavy bag they aren't designed to be hit with a fighter's full force. Like heavy bags, speed bags also come in a few different styles.
- A traditional speed bag is hung from a swivel on a platform so that it can move as the boxer hits it.
- Also like heavy bags, speed bags are available free-standing. The base is filled with water or sand and there is a spring at the top of the pole where the bag is, so that the bag moves more and springs back and forth.
- A double end bag is a type of speed bag that is hung between two heavy duty rubber cords, like to ones used to secure cargo in vehicles. This bag doesn't move in the same way as a traditional bag, but it is also used to develop speed and eye-hand coordination.
"Which bag should I use?" is a question that new boxers often ask. The answer is somewhat simple. The type of bag used depends upon what skill a fighter is working on. If I fighter is looking for overall practice with footwork, punching, kicking if that's part of their training, and slipping a punch, then a heavy bag is the way to go.
If a fighter is looking to increase speed and coordination, then a speed bag is the way to go. With a speed bag, the fighter is stationary, so footwork is not used and because the bag is small, the fighter doesn't typically work on slipping a blow, although this is possible with a double end bag. A free standing speed bag can be used for kicking as well if that is part of the training.
Working Out With A Boxing Bag
Working out with a bag is not much different in technique than working out with mitts or pads. The only difference is that it is a much harder surface to hit. The advantage is that it is much more like hitting a human opponent, without actually hitting another person.
The workout will be different depending upon the type of bag being used. A hanging bag will swing back and forth that a fighter will have to dodge and that a fighter can steer, just as in a real fight. But a speed bag will provide a significant upper body workout, without the footwork.
When working out with a boxing bag, it's important to warm up and stretch muscles to avoid injury. After a brief warm up of about 15 minutes, a boxer can start working with the bag. A fighter can also warm up doing light drills on the bag.
When starting out, brief drills are recommended. Try perfecting techniques by throwing 20-25 punches followed by a short rest.
As a fighter advances they can try circuit drills or timed rounds if they are training for an event.
Working out with a boxing bag, particularly a heavy bag, there are some unique safety precautions that need to be taken.
- Be sure to use proper wraps and gloves to protect hands and wrists
- Always use proper techniques to avoid injuries.
- Start slow. Perfect technique before working on speed.
- Stay hydrated
- Keep rounds with the bag short, and rest briefly in between. Overdoing it will lead to sloppy form and injuries.
Working out with a boxing bag is a lot of fun, but it does take some skill, so it isn't for beginners. So if a fighter wants to start hitting the bag, he has a great fitness goal to work up to. Safety is vital, but if done properly boxing is a great workout.