Why a punching bag you might ask? Well, for the following reasons.
1. Get fit, fatty
A bit mean, I know, but you’re probably trying to find a good reason (or 3) to start heavy bag training. Your one good reason? It will get you really, and I mean really, fit.
Because throwing just a few punches counts as a micro workout.
Picture this. You walk past the bag that hangs near your kitchen entrance and hit it once. The bag swings back and you dug down or step aside. Almost automatically you take another swing at it. Then, you proceed to the kitchen to get your drinks and snacks. You just added a mini workout to your Netflix binge watch session!
A few swings here, a few minutes there and your total workout time adds up quickly. This helps you burn fat like a mofo as a 180 lb. person will burn nearly 500 calories by 60 minutes working out on the punching bag.
Before you know it you’ve done a HIIT workout.
By changing your routine you can favor either an aerobic or anaerobic workout, with high intensity sessions lasting around two to three minutes.
Tl;dr: A punching bag at the home or office offers a quick and easy workout without need for large equipment or going to gym. Key is to hang it somewhere you encounter it a lot.
2. De-stress and get high, naturally
Exercise causes the body to release endorphins – which act as painkillers and help elevate your mood – counteracting feelings of stress, depression and easing any aches and pains you have.
This dopamine release is sometimes referred to as the “runners high”, “lifter’s high”. It causes that sense of smug self-satisfaction you have after training.
A study in the Irish Journal of Medical Science (2011) found that endorphins have the same positive effect on mental health as a course of antidepressants.
It’s like that quote:
Exercise is nature’s Prozac, meditation is nature’s Ritalin.
3. Let off steam – don’t flee or freeze, fight!
In our modern society were under constant stress. Our brains are busier than ever before. We’re bombarded with news, ads, gossip, facts, factoids, gibberish and more info. Our era of email, Whatsapp, Facebook and Instagram requires us to constantly multitask.
Not only do we suck at it, recent studies show that “the cognitive losses from multitasking are even greater than the cognitive losses from pot‑smoking”.
Frenzied days of traffic jams, deadlines, and other frustrations trigger our fight or flight response. This chronic stress we collectively suffer from causes a flood of internal processes influencing your neurotransmitters, hormones, polluting our body with toxic byproducts of stress.
Hitting a punching bag is an excellent way of de-stressing because it satisfies the fight or flight urge.
What’s more, it cleanses the toxins out of your system before it undermines your immune system and health.
So when it’s that sort of day, you woke up in a bad mood, you went out in a bad mood, you came home in a bad mood, nothing has gone right, at all, don’t bother snapping at your significant other, it will just make everything worse – take it out on the heavy bag instead.
Stop running, fight!
4. Be prepared, work on your self defense abilities
You may disagree, but many experts claim that everyone should take self-defense classes. If you had to, could you defend yourself? Bro, can you even throw a punch? (you’d be surprised how many people can’t).
Besides learning to simply punch or kick there’s also the psychological aspect.
You’re not only training your body but your mind as well. Knowing you’re able to throw a mean punch may give you that mental ability to fight off an attacker when push comes to shove.
Especially if you make yourself go on when you feel the urge to give up. When you feel so tired that you want to lie down and say to yourself, come on, 10 more!
This is called blitz training in which you’re training mental self-defense tenacity. Something that plays a huge part in krav maga and related self defense systems that teach you to keep going no matter what.
A blitz is an intense, rapid-fire session that mimics the aggression, fortitude and stamina required for a fight.
5. It builds confidence
Not only will you be healthier and feel fitter, the knowledge that you could smack someone in the face* in a dangerous situation from which you couldn’t run away, will boost your self-confidence.
*Actually, there are more effective locations to land your punch than the face but you’ll get the idea.
6. Get stronger – sting like a bee
The heavy bag doesn’t hit back, unlike your training partner, so it provides the perfect place to really go at it. Focus on throwing every single punch, kick, elbow and knee as hard, and as perfectly, as possible.
Whilst the heavy bag doesn’t provide as much resistance as weights or resistance bands, it will still provide a great workout for most of the major muscle groups in your body.
You’ll notice particular strength and endurance gains in your shoulders, back, chest and core.
From your shoulders to your legs, you utilize the majority of the muscle groups in your body when striking and kicking repeatedly. Prepare for a real deep burn.
7. Get that perfect beach body
Remember that deep burn? The sweat stinging your eyes? The urge to vomit after a tough session? It’s all been worth it, you’ve never looked so cut; so muscular; so tough.
True, you may not be as “big” as a body builder or be able to lift as many metal plates as them.
But who cares. You can out-run them, you can can out-fight them – you can completely out-do them. And you’ll be getting the most glances (of admiration) at the beach too.
Also, a regular heavy bag workout will melt off fat and yield you with more back, shoulder, and biceps muscle detail.
8. It’s a killer cardio workout
You can do all kinds of cardio workouts on a heavy bag. Feel like a heavy bag kickboxing cardio blast? Or just want to practice kneeing?
They all improve your body’s cardiovascular function. That high pulse contributes to a healthy hypertrophy.
As a result vascularization of your muscles and heart is enhanced, which is thought to combat high blood pressure.
Besides (kick-)boxing there’s a lot more you can do such as these insane punching bag crunches.
9. Polish up your technique
“What technique? I’ve never hit a heavy bag.” Whilst drills are great for teaching you form, they can also hold you back as you won’t experience impact when striking. A punching bag allows you to practice your form, whilst also getting used to making contact in a good, ok or poor fashion.
Obviously there’s the basic requirement that you have some sort of technique to polish in the first place. So before you do yourself some damage, go and get the basics down by having some lessons.
It’s always nice to learn something new and who doesn’t benefit from learning how to punch someone ….. You know, just in case.
Keep tight, remain relaxed and be ready to react. By following these principles, your strikes will be harder, sharper and more powerful.
10. Improve your balance & coordination – Float like a butterfly
You may have noticed that experienced boxers and martial artists move with a certain grace. By incorporating movement into your heavy bag routine, keeping on your toes and transferring your weight from one foot to another, you too can have the poise, balance and body of an Enter-the-Dragon-Bruce Lee. And that’s including the abs.
On a more realistic note;
Better coordination brings you better balance in day to day life. This means less risk of falling, injuring your wrists, hips, or head. A perk that becomes more valuable as you get older.
To improve your balance, coordination and core stability you’ll want to incorporate movement into your heavy bag routine. Keep on your toes, transfer your weight and circle and strike the bag.
11. It’s a quick ‘n easy workout
Don’t feel like putting on your tracking suit, pedaling on your bike to the gym only having to start? Throw a few quick punches at your heavy bag and before you know it you’ll be dripping with sweat.
12. Low cost
It’s cheap. If you’re part of a gym, the only gear you need are some wraps, a good pair of gloves and some shoes. If you’re not part of a gym, you’ll also need a heavy bag (duh.), somewhere strong to hang it and around three feet of space around the bag – you’ll want more space if you’re kicking too. Headbutts can be performed even in a closet.
13. Increase work productivity
Do you have colleagues who occasionally stand up from their cubicle to do some squats or lunches during work hours?
This may be frowned upon by the uninformed but insiders know that such a simple habit has a truckload of benefits.
Besides mitigating the detrimental health effects of prolonged inactivity (sitting glued behind a screen for hours on end) there’s more.
You’ll boost mental alertness, concentration, and thus productivity. So next time you’re in a work rut, take minute or 3 to hit the bag.
14. It’s fun (the most important reason)
There’s no point in choosing an activity that bores you – so luckily you’ve chosen one that is sometimes painful, often hard-work and always good fun.
Turn on your power tune, play “Gonna Fly Now” (the Rocky theme song), imagine it’s your worst enemy, your boss or your mother-in-law in a fat suit and ‘av at it.
What to consider when buying a heavy bag for your home or office
Since I didn’t have much space, the first punching bag I bought was a relatively small one. Approximately 2 feet in length, weighing about 35 pounds (guesstimating here) I hung it in my kitchen’s doorless doorway. Now the generally recommended weight of the bag is about half your body weight and you bet that even though I’m more of a welterweight, no way did I weigh 70 pounds.
Yet, despite its modest size and my limited mobility it was a lot of fun and really helped me evolve my punching. It was always fun to see friends with no experience pushing the bag more than actually punching it, careful not to hurt their wrists.
This bag swung a lot, which was fun in its own way as it caused me to throw one or two quick punches then duck and weave in order to hit it again, either with an elbow or headbutt, whatever made the most sense.
If you can accommodate it in your living space I would recommend getting a larger bag though.
Most large heavy bags you buy in (online) sports stores are about 3 feet long. If you need larger and heavier you’ll have to look for professional bags they have in gyms. For the average home use purpose the 3 feet bags available up to 100 pounds will more than suffice. Unless you are a kickboxer who will want to practice combinations with low kicks, which requires a larger striking area, thus, a larger bag.
Another option is an aqua punching bag. They are great for if you’re concerned about your wrists and joints as well as for the more experienced bag worker who doesn’t want to hold back. Since these bags are water filled they absorb part of the force you’re throwing at them. Thus they improve punching power.
Attach your bag either by screwing a hook or L-shaped bracket in a strong door frame or wall stud or get an optional stand. If you can hang it from the ceiling though, as you’ll be making the most efficient use of your space. A stand or wall mount will limit your mobility. Take into consideration that the centrifugal force, even as a beginner, you will be exercising demands a very sturdy installation.
Why boxing and bag work is gaining popularity
Humanity is gradually moving back to primal values. Some of us practice yoga, others eat paleo or primal, we increasingly meditate, we are more open to traditional medicine and ancient wisdom in general, and as such more and more folks embrace boxing. Once, the noble sport of kings, now a fun workout with a plethora of benefits.
Pretty convincing benefits huh?
So, what are you waiting for?
Go knock yourself out, get your ultimately rewarding workout.