Heavy bag workouts are some of the most popular workouts for both boxers and MMA fighters alike. In this article, we’ll be introducing beginners to various punching bag drills performed by both boxers and MMA fighters.
Before we talk about the kinds of bag workouts that you can do, let’s first understand how you can benefit from heavy bag workouts.
Here are some benefits that you will encourage you to buy a good punching bag for your home:
Imagine going home after your boss has just shouted at you for something you didn’t do. That would make you angry, right? How are you going to let out your anger? Shout at someone? Get in a bar fight? Smash some plates? Why not do some rounds with your punching bag?
With a punching bag, you can vent out all your anger and tension on the bag, and you won’t be hurting anyone or breaking anything.
A punching bag is a really good tool for anger management and will help you let go of tension.
If you constantly move, your aerobic skills will improve. Aside from that, your muscle memory will store the movements in your brain, making you able to perform the movement without thinking about it.
Train every day and your dexterity will also improve.
Since heavy bags are hard, they won’t go easy on your hands, especially if you don’t use gloves.
In boxing or MMA, having a tough set of knuckles is really important so that you can smash your opponent in just one go.
With enough training, your hands will toughen up and become deadly weapons.
In order to harden your knuckles with a punching bag, don’t wear boxing gloves. Wear hand wraps instead because they don’t have thick padding to protect your muscles.
Hand wraps can prevent you from getting cuts and wounds, but they won’t stop your knuckles from feeling the weight of the bag.
Heavy bag training won’t really make you have bigger and bulkier muscles like that of a bodybuilder.
However, it will tone your muscles and make them much stronger.
By whipping your arms on the punching bag all day, you’re putting pressure on your arm muscles, making them harder and stronger.
If you’re an MMA fighter, you won’t just be punching -- you’ll be kicking, too.
Just like with the arms, your legs will also get stronger and will develop more wired muscles from constant use. They won’t get bigger, but they’ll get very toned.
Do you want to test your strength? Use a punching bag to do it. One of the purposes of a punching bag is to show how strong you’ve become in a span of time.
There are usually two ways to see if you have become stronger or not: how far you can hit the bag and how big the impression you can make.
Surely, these methods of measuring punch force may not be that accurate, but they can give you an idea.
If you’re a power hitter, you’ll want to be able to hit the bag far and make it swing away from you.
If you’re more of a speed stinging hitter, then you’ll want to create more impressions or marks on the bag with your punches.
Understanding the different boxing weight classes also helps you asses your desired strength.
It’s no surprise that punching bag exercises can really help improve your stamina as a whole.
With punching bag workouts, you’ll really push your cardio to the limit, making you have more stamina.
You’ll also be pushing your muscles to the edge, making them stronger and last longer for fights.
Lastly, heavy bag punching improves your technique. When you punch a bag, you will feel if your technique is off or not based on the efficiency of your punch.
Coupled with a full body mirror, you’ll be able to see which part of your form is off.
Punching bags are not only meant for practicing your moves but also for checking if you’re doing them right.
With that, at least you can make the necessary adjustments and improvements.
Check out: 17 Best Punching Bags
Heavy bag workouts can be a strenuous activity. If you’re still a beginner, you must start with the basics before taking on the complex exercises.
This way, you will not be putting too much stress on your body and shock it with the expert-level workouts.
When you do a beginner heavy bag workout, you’ll be practicing each punch with both hands.
Start off with a proper fighting stance and do the four punches in this order: 10 jabs per hand, 10 crosses per hand, 10 hooks per hand, and 10 uppercuts per hand.
Focus more on your form rather than power. You want your body to retain the form of each punch when you practice.
After doing the basic beginner workout, let’s switch and mix things up a bit with some combos.
The whole point of combos is to barrage your opponent with different punches before he has any time to react.
By constantly practicing combos on the bag, your muscle memory will retain them and let you use them whenever you want. We’ll mention 3 beginner combos here.
The first combo is the 1-2 punch which is just a jab and a cross. This is the most basic combo that you can do. The jab sets up and spooks the opponent while the cross finishes him or her off.
The key here is to move as fast as possible so that the opponent has little to no time to react. Practice this punch using a bag and put heavy emphasis on speed and form.
Another variation of the 1-2 punch is a 1-1-2 punch, also known as the jab jab cross.
This punch combo pushes the opponent back with 2 jabs just to set up a devastating cross punch to finish it.
What if your opponent was able to dodge or block that right cross? Well, there is always the 1-2-3 combo to back that up.
The 1-2-3 combo consists of a jab, a cross, and a left hook. The left hook is thrown right after the cross and can catch your opponent off guard with a haymaker.
These are some of the beginner boxing bag workouts. As you advance, you’ll learn more boxing bag drills and even harder combos. We’ll mention a few later in the article.
Check out this really good video on punching bag workouts for beginners:
We mentioned earlier that punching bag drills can help improve your stamina. Well, if you want to improve your stamina, you need to focus on heavy bag cardio workouts.
Here is a circuit workout that can give you a real run for your money.
The cardio workout consists of:
Start off with a heavy bag workout of 15 seconds of any combo punch you like. If you do MMA, add some kicks, elbows, and knees.
Increase the number of seconds as you go along.
Once you’re done, go straight to jump ropes and jump rope for 15 seconds. After that, throw the jump rope away and do some jumping jacks of 10 reps.
Next, do 10 reps of squats followed by 10 reps of mountain climbers.
When you’re finished, go back to the bag and perform another 10 seconds of bag workouts. For starters, you can try 1 to 2 sets and increase along the way.
That’s the most basic bag cardio workout that you can do. If you want something a bit harder, you can try this one instead. It’s called a beginner boxing interval workout.
It consists of a warmup and three rounds of exercise.
The warmup consists of 20 seconds of burpees, 20 seconds of switch kicks, 20 seconds of jumping jacks, and 20 seconds of jump ropes. Do all of those continuously for 4 minutes.
Round 1 of the boxing consists of body shots of 30 per arm followed by 30 hooks per arm. The round ends up 30 uppercuts per arm. Follow that by 2 minutes of mild stationary jogging.
Round 2 consists of 40 body shots per arm followed by 40 hooks per arm and 40 uppercuts per arm. End with a 2-minute mild stationary jogging.
In the last round, do 50 body shots, 50 hooks, and 50 uppercuts per arm, and end up 2 minutes of light stationary jogging.
You can also try out the Tabata Style boxing workout. Here’s how it’s done:
Start with 20 seconds of fast jabs with your right hand followed by 10 seconds of jump ropes. After that, do 20 seconds of fast jabs with your left and do 10 seconds of jump rope exercise.
In the second round, do 20-second alternate hand uppercuts followed by 10 seconds of speed bag punching. After that, do another 20-second alternate hand uppercuts followed by another 10 seconds of speed bag punches.
In round 3, do 20 seconds of continuous right hooks followed by 10 seconds of jumping jacks. After that, do 20 seconds of continuous left hooks followed by another 10 seconds of jumping jacks.
In the last round, do 20 seconds of right crosses followed by 10 seconds of fast feet. After that, do 20 seconds of left crosses followed by another 10 seconds of fast feet.
Check out this video by Brandon Carter on boxing cardio workout:
Just now, we went through some of the basic heavy bag drills by going through some boxing combos.
If you’re a boxer, then you’ll be learning some more combos and practicing them on your heavy bag. Here are a few more boxing combos to know about:
An intermediate level combo is the 1-2-3-2 punch which consists of a jab, a right cross, a left hook, and another right cross.
This is to ensure that you get another chance to hit your opponent if he or she dodges all the punches of your 1-2-3 combo.
It’s essentially the same as a 1-2-3 combo but with an added right cross at the end. If ever you do land all four punches solidly, you can definitely score a knockout.
This is essentially like the 1-2-3-2 but with a left uppercut instead of a hook. The left uppercut is a punch that comes from the bottom going to the top.
This punch either hits the solar plexus or the chin. It’s a very unassuming punch that usually surprises opponents.
This combo is a bit complicated to do, but it’s really useful once you get the hang of it. First, you start with a jab and then do a right uppercut followed by a left hook. You finish this with a right cross.
It’s a bit tricky at first, but keep on practicing and make sure to retain your form while doing this.
This last combo is a pretty easy combo to do, but it’s really effective. It consists of a right cross, a left hook, and then another right cross.
Most opponents won’t expect you to make a right cross right away without making a jab first.
So if you make a right cross your first hit, a left hook, and then another right cross, you’ll definitely spook your opponent.
The bag drills mentioned above are specially designed to help boxers improve their strength, mobility, and technique.
If you’re an MMA fighter, you’ll be exposed to a whole new type of bag workout since you’ll be using different techniques.
Aside from punches, you’ll be using kicks, takedowns, sprawls, elbows, and knees. Here are a few cool ones that you can do:
Let’s start off with striking. In Muay Thai, there are four ways to hit your opponent. Punches, kicks, elbows, and knees are all allowed in Muay Thai and MMA rules.
So if you’re an MMA fighter, you have to brush up on all of these.
In round one, you’ll be doing punches and elbows. Start with a left jab and do a right elbow.
After that, do a left elbow followed by a right cross. Do these moves continuously for 5 minutes following that sequence.
In the next round, you’ll be performing Muay Thai kicks and knees. Begin with your right foot at the back.
From your regular fighting stance, start with a roundhouse kick. After the kick, bring your foot back to your stance and perform a knee.
Do the same with the left leg. Alternate your legs as you continuously perform these two moves for 5 minutes.
The bag drill above is a basic drill that will get you in the groove. However, if you do those moves in that sequence when you fight, your opponent can easily predict your attacks.
You have to mix it up with combos a bit so that you won’t become predictable. The most basic combo is a jab-cross-roundhouse.
Start off by throwing a boxing jab followed by a cross.
When you bring your hand back to your chin, set up your leg, and throw a hard Muay Thai roundhouse to the gut.
A combo that can surprise your opponent and even make him lose balance is the cross-hook-front kick.
To do this move, throw a cross with your right followed by a left hook. After you get back into your stance, perform a front kick on the bag to push it.
The great thing about this combo is that you can get in close enough to hit with an elbow. To perform this, first hit the bag with a left uppercut.
In an actual fight, your opponent should crouch a bit to guard. From there, smash a right elbow to knock him or her out.
This combo is used for weakening the legs of your opponent. You can practice this combo on a big punching bag.
To do this, perform a Muay Thai kick with your left leg. Make sure to aim it at the lower part of the bag.
After you bring your leg back, throw a kick with your right leg at the same place.
This is a classic Muay Thai combo that can easily knock out an opponent with a devastating knee.
To do this move, perform a 1-2 punch consisting of a jab and a cross. If your cross successfully lands, grab your opponent’s head and give him or her a knee.
The knee should do the trick. If your opponent isn’t knocked out yet, you can give three or four more knees.
It is a bit difficult to perform a knee on a bag, so you’ll have to do it a bit differently. To perform a knee on a bag, grab the side of the bag opposite to your kicking leg.
When you lift up your knee, don’t just bring your knee straight up.
Pivot your knee in a circular motion toward the bag. This will generate more power when you make your move.
As an MMA fighter, you have to practice your ground game as well as your striking game.
If you happen to have no partner to practice with, you can practice Jiu-Jitsu with a heavy bag.
To do this, unhook your bag and let it lie down on the floor. After that, you can try out these Jiu-jitsu bag drills.
One of the most basic drills in Jiu-Jitsu is the knee on bag drill. In this drill, hold the top of the bag and put your right knee on the bag.
Your left leg is extended toward the left side. From there, jump and bring your left knee on top of the bag and extend your right leg to the right. Do this drill for 5 minutes.
This drill will help you get into the mount position more fluidly. To do this, put your hands on the bag and place both feet on the right side.
From there, use your hands to support your body as you jump slightly and bring your feet to the left side.
After that, jump into the mount position where you are kneeling on top of the bag.
Do this drill in that particular sequence for 5 minutes. If you’re confident, start picking up the pace and increasing the number of minutes.
This will get you used to getting into the mount.
This is an easy Jiu-Jitsu move that lets you practice how to do an armbar. First, you mount the heavy bag and then face your body to the right.
Pretend that you’re holding an arm and swing your left foot to the right side. Put your feet together and fall on your back like you’re performing an actual armbar.
After you do that, go back to the mount position and do the same thing on the other side.
The point of this drill is to visualize that you’re performing an armbar by emulating the movements. With constant repetitions, your body will memorize how the steps are done.
Those are some Jiu-jitsu solo drills that you can do with your heavy bag. For those who are practicing MMA, you don’t necessarily need to have a partner to do Jiu-jitsu drills.
You can bring your bag down and start practicing. These are just some of the basic drills that you can do at home. You’ll learn more drills as you progress with your lessons.
Check out: Best Punching bags for kids
Heavy bags are probably the most common boxing or MMA workout equipment available. Not only are they good for boxers, but they are also great for MMA fighters, Muay Thai practitioners, and Jiu-jitsu fighters.
The best part is that you can do drills with a bag right at home. All you have to do is prepare the necessary workout equipment, and you’re all set to do some heavy bag workouts.
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