A big step for any aspiring boxer is to get a punching bag hung up in the garage or spare room so that you can get some rounds in at home. This is a highly practical way to train for those who work odd hours and can't always make it to classes.
Before grabbing the first bag you come across you'll want to keep in mind a few things so that you get the best out of your purchase. Will you be using the bag solely for western boxing which will be using only your hands? Or would you like to eventually practice kickboxing, Muay Thai, or MMA that involve using your legs and knees to strike?
Finding the right punching bag for you
You should choose a punching bag based on the kind of boxing you do and how often you train. There are two criteria to consider: size and material.
What size should my punching bag be?
The type of boxing you do will determine the size of your punch bag (from 80cm to 120cm).
- For punching only, choose a punching bag measuring 80 to 110cm.
- For punching and kicking, choose a bag that is longer than 120cm.
What the best punch bag material for my style?
- If you are a novice boxer and train only occasionally, choose a fabric boxing bag that will be supple when struck.
- If you are an advanced boxer and train more regularly (think twice weekly), opt for a bag with a synthetic outer, such as polyurethane because it’s stiff and very durable.
- If you are an expert boxer or compete and train intensively (we’re talking three or more times weekly), choose a sturdy leather boxing bag that will withstand abrasion and punching.
Types of Punching Bag
Also known as a Jumbo Bag, this is the ‘Hollywood’ bag that everyone thinks of when they imagine getting into boxing. Weighing between 23 and 68 kg, and made up with a cloth filling, Heavy bags stay stationary and work well for both kicking and punching, which also means they do not need to be repositioned after every movement.
When picking out which heavy bag to bring home, it’s good to pick a weight that is suitable for how much you weigh and the type of resistance training you are getting involved with. The rule is to take your body weight and divide it by two. Then look for a bag size closest to this weight.
Due to the size and heft of this hanging punching bag, it’s important for your workout, wallet, and home that you make sure your ceiling can handle the weight of the bag before you look to make a purchase.
Another version, seen to be the more ‘fun’ edition of the Heavy Bag is the Teardrop Bag. It’s also a hanging punching bag with a similar weight range, but its shape resembles a human body, which allows you to practice moves such as elbowing, uppercutting, and kneeing, which is also great for fitness and developing your flexibility.
Free Standing Punching Bags
Although similar in aesthetic to the Heavy bag, there a few differences. Made clear by its name, the free-standing bag does not hang from the ceiling, which makes it slightly more home-friendly, and much easier to move. They are instead stabilised by a sturdy plastic base that can be filled with either water or sand. They’re also shorter, which means that while they are easier to kick, free- standing punching bags are much harder to uppercut.
Similar to free-standing bags, and ideal for anyone keen on getting with MMA or a grappling based activity, is the Body Bag. It resembles the shape of a human body, and includes a shaped torso, arms, and legs, and is great for recreating the motion of throwing a human body, which is a useful step for those that have intentions of doing the real thing in the future.
The Speed Bag
These are the most nimble out of the three in our selection, moving quickly and snapping back when punched. Smaller lighter and filled with air, speed bags are perfect for improving your rhythm, timing, and hand-eye coordination. They’re also great for fitness as although they lack resilience, it’s still an excellent aerobic exercise workout. With the speed at which the bag moves, it’s great for working your arms, core, legs, and back.
When just starting out, it’s a better idea to pick a speed bag of larger size. It moves slower and will be easier to hit, meaning you could build your training up as you go along.
Once you feel like you’ve mastered the speed bag, it’s time to move onto the Double End Bag. This has a more expansive range of motion than the aforementioned version and can bounce in any direction, meaning the puncher has to move around the target, which can help with the development of your reflexes. If you’re looking to get into sparring, this will be a useful preparation tool.
An Uppercut Bag
On the smaller side of the punchbag family, and are used to develop your combination work, bringing together hooks with uppercuts. As this is vital for anyone looking to further their discipline and training, putting in the long hours with an uppercut bag will help both perfect your technique and increase your speed as you’re doing it.
Maize Balls and Bags
Although similar in contents, these are different in both size and how they are used. Each is filled with either fake granules or fabric and fake granules, although the Maize Bag is heavier and used for endurance punching. A Maize Ball is a smaller, lighter punching ball and ideal if you’re looking to develop your head movements, how you hold yourself during defence, and how to track an opponent’s movement.
Our suggestion for the best punching bag for beginners….
If it is just straight-up western boxing then you will be better off with something like a PB 850 Punching Bag or PB 1000 Punch Bag, bags with a bit of weight that represent the upper torso of an opponent. If you want to eventually start using your legs, then a longer bag like the PB 1500 Leather Bag or a Tilting Bag will keep you right. Like this, you can practice your punches, along with knees in both the low and high range.