Coaches Corner: All You Need to Know About Working the Heavy Bag

In this “Coaches Corner”, Maral Papazian brings you all you need to know about working the heavy bag. Here is a quick intro to Maral before jumping into how to work the heavy bag:

I am a fitness addict who is always ready to help others learn through my experiences and encourage them to get on the right path and never give up! I share my thoughts and knowledge on various sports blogs. Remember that putting in the time and energy will always lead to results.

The heavy bag is considered the most important piece of equipment in any boxing studio. Working the bag helps you develop a stronger physique, perfect boxing movements, and deliver powerful punches.

In this guide, learn everything about the heavy bag, why it matters, and how to properly train to get the most out of your heavy bag workouts.

What Is a Heavy Bag?

A punching bag is a staple in any boxer’s training regiment. The very first heavy bag was released in 1872, and since then, it became one of the most used tools for boxing training.

Today, heavy bags come in different sizes and shapes. However, the oldest and still the most popular is the cylindrical type which is filled with various materials, ranging from sand to sawdust, fabric, foam, or mixed synthetic fills.

A heavy bag is usually suspended by chains or ropes, although newer models feature a free-standing design. The “standard” bag that is hung on the ceiling remains the most ideal tool for boxing training and is suitable for light to heavy users.

Benefits of Heavy Bag Training

While the heavy bag is mainly used for perfecting your jabs, straights, and hooks, this boxing equipment does a lot more.

Develop Power

First and foremost, the main purpose of a heavy bag is to develop your punching power. A heavy bag mimics a fighter’s opponent without you worrying about someone hitting you back.

It also absorbs impact well, so you’re less likely to get injured. Using a punching bag, you can practice throwing powerful strikes minus the risk of getting your hands damaged.

As you work on the heavy bag, you are working out the muscle groups critical for delivering powerful blows. These include the muscles in your shoulders, chest, arms, and back.

Improve Boxing Techniques

In boxing, power isn’t everything. Even if you are naturally strong, without techniques, you can still lose in a match.

Heavy bag training is a great way to improve your boxing techniques. It helps you execute each movement with proper form and precision.

Unlike shadowboxing, heavy bag training allows you to experience the force of impact when throwing punches. As a result, your boxing technique greatly improves over time.

Build Strength and Endurance

Working on a heavy bag is great for building strength. Since you are gradually developing leaner and stronger muscles, you also get stronger over time.

Aside from the muscles in your upper body, you also strengthen the muscles in your core and lower body. If you have a longer bag, you can practice MMA techniques like knees and kicks as well.

Heavy bag workouts are also designed to test and improve your endurance. Boxing heavy bags typically weigh between 50 and 150 pounds. If you ever punch a bag with all your might, you know how exhausting it is. This extra challenge encourages you to push yourself to your limits, so you get stronger and more resilient over time.

Develop Eye-Hand Coordination

Hand-eye coordination refers to the synchronization of the eye and hand movements. To develop it, you must see the target and react to it while moving or changing positions.

A punching bag serves as your dummy opponent. As you strike the bag, you work on your movements to ensure that you hit your target each time. It’s not easy, but with practice, you can improve your hand-eye coordination.

Improve Balance, Stability, Timing & Rhythm

All these four are essential to overcoming your opponent inside the ring. Rhythm and timing, in particular, are part of a great offense.

You should always remember that the ebb and flow of a real boxing match is erratic yet well-calculated at the same time. You have to sharpen your timing and develop a rhythm to make sure your punches land on your opponent.

How To Train Properly on the Heavy Bag

To maximize the benefits of the boxing heavy bag, here are some tips to keep in mind while training:

Punch, don’t push.

Pushing the bag will tire your arms. What’s more, it wouldn’t be as powerful. Aim for a fast and sharp snap instead. A “smack” sound is an indication that you’re punching the bag properly.

Keep punching.

Don’t wait for the bag to become “still” before you land your next punch. You don’t always have to strike hard, but you have to keep throwing punches. Aim for three to six punches at a time.

Take note that inside the ring, when you stop, your opponents start punching. When training, move around the bag. Follow it when it swings.

Step in and fire away. Yet, maintain your distance. Don’t let the bag get too far or too close. Moving around helps improve your footwork too.

Keep moving.

The habits you develop while training with the bag will become your habits when you start sparring or fighting. Stay active in between rests by moving around the bag, throwing light punches, or jumping in place.

Maintain proper form.

It all starts with executing the right fighting stance. Make sure you execute the correct form whenever you train on the bag.

Also, remember to keep your hands up at all times. When you’re not punching, your hands should be protecting your head. When throwing a right hook, don’t drop your left hand. Keep your elbows down to cover your body as well.

Pay attention to the bag.

One major problem when training on the bag is it builds bad eye habits. Most often, fighters stare too much or don’t look at the bag at all.

The correct way to look at the bag is to look forward. Look at your targets. Watch your punches. Stay focused and pay attention to the bag. This will significantly increase your accuracy and helps you catch counter-punches early.


The heavy bag is the most essential piece of equipment that every boxer or aspiring boxer should have. There are many heavy bag workouts or exercises that can tremendously enhance your fighting skills and techniques.

However, to get the most out of your punching bag training, proper stance and form are very important.

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