Why Are Heavy Bags Useful for Boxing, MMA, Muay Thai and other combat sports?

Why Are Heavy Bags Useful for Boxing, MMA, Muay Thai and other combat sports?

If you’ve ever found yourself in a Boxing, Kickboxing, MMA or Muay Thai gym, then there’s a strong chance you’ll have seen the imposing line of heavy bags hanging along the edge of the room. Often worn on the outside, but still standing up to the regular punishment, waiting for you to give it your hardest shot.

Heavy bags are possibly one of the most important pieces of equipment when training alone.

What is a heavy bag?

The term heavy bag, often called a punching bag, or boxing bag is used to describe a typically leather bag filled with padding, which makes a good target for striking. The resistance of the bag depends on the weight of the filled bag, as well as the density (and type) of padding. Many people choose to use smaller weights of boxing gloves on a bag to improve hand speed, or slightly more densely padded boxing gloves to stop the padding from breaking down. It’s usually better to own a separate pair of gloves for heavy bag work than the ones you use for sparring to avoid breaking down the padding in the sparring gloves too quickly.

While typical heavy bags tend to all have a similar shape, there are huge variations in width and length, resulting in bags that are more dedicated for Boxing or Muay Thai/kickboxing. To make it even more confusing, there are also other shapes, often optimised for other strikes such as uppercuts, such as Teardrop Bags or Angled Heavy Bags. At the end of the day though they all have the same overall purpose, to give you a way to train for both power and technique, without the need for a sparring partner or pad man.

Benefits of heavy bags

  • They allow you to practice at full power without worrying about injuring anyone
  • You can experiment with your own combinations and aren’t limited by a pad holder
  • You can find your own natural timing and rhythm, and aren’t limited by your pad-holder’s speed
  • They’re a great way to train alone and get some practice in at the gym or at home without the need for a partner or coach
  • Heavy bags allow you to repeat a technique hundreds, or even thousands, of times
  • There are a range of Heavy bag Partner Drills which could be used to enhance training

The downsides

  • A heavy bag doesn’t hit back, so it’s easy to forget to train defensive moves
  • Training on a heavy bag is constant offence, with no opportunities to react to or read an opponent
  • Heavy bags don’t move like people, they swing back and forth with each strike in a way which is nothing like a real opponent
  • It’s harder to know if you’re practising a bad technique unless someone is watching over the training

Any other questions? Let us know in the comments.

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