Punching Bag Workout (Strategies and Programs)

A close look at a boxer hitting a punching bag.

Using a punching bag to work out doesn’t mean you are training to become the next world champion boxer. A punching bag workout is a great way to get in a cardio workout while building muscle.

Those who use a punching bag for working out highly recommend them because of their versatility, effectiveness, and simplicity. You can perform many different workout routines by using this one piece of equipment, and here we have included strategies and programs to help you along the way.

Punching Bag Workout Strategies

These strategies, tips, and tricks will help you get the most out of your punching bag workout while keeping you safe and free from injury.

1. Use Proper Protection and Equipment

A woman wrapping up her fists before a work-out.

Punching bags are made of leather, vinyl, or canvas, all of which can be abrasive on the knuckles of the hands when punching. To keep your hands from lacerations, you will need to protect your knuckles from the heavy bag. This can be done by a wrap or wearing gloves.

The inside of the punching bag is filled with a heavy material that is pliable but firm. This is often sand, water, or other grains. This allows the punching bag to remain firm enough to withstand impacts but flexible enough not to break the hand when hit.

Protecting hands with wraps or gloves will prevent the small bones in the hands from breaking when it impacts the firm punching bag. This helps protect the bones and also helps protect the tendons and muscles from injury.

2. Learn the Form

Like most workouts, you will need to follow proper form. Using the proper form will prevent injuries from forming while giving you the full range of motion. Full range of motion is important because it increases the results of your workout by pushing your muscles to their maximum extension before retracting to the position you started in, repeating for a specific number of times the set allows.

Learning the form will cause you to go slow, so don’t push yourself. The punching speed and quickness will come the more you get comfortable with the form and executing the strikes properly.

Using a punching bag to work out means you will be punching and kicking the bag, so there are proper forms you need to learn. Learning these forms will keep you safe and free from injury while learning the best techniques to get the most out of your punching bag workout.

3. Don’t Forget to Breathe

A man doing breathing exercises at the gym.

Like any workout, breathing is so important. Breathing correctly during a workout will ensure your body receives as much oxygen as possible.

When you work out, your muscles lose oxygen, and when your muscles lose oxygen, they cannot function properly. They do not have the energy to endure the workout, and it causes you to fatigue quickly.

Breathing properly helps prevent this from happening. Breathing properly means that you inhale deeply at the right time so that your body gets the most oxygen possible each time you inhale. The oxygen will be distributed to the many muscles and organs throughout your body. This will keep you energized and healthy throughout the entire workout.

Punching Bag Workout Programs Styles

Having a punching bag means you can train for different combat sports, but you can also use it for cardio, high-intensity interval training, and weight training workouts.

1. Endurance and Conditioning Training Programs

Use your punching bag for conditioning and endurance training by incorporating various punching bag exercises into your program. Punching and kicking are both high-intensity and workouts that will help increase cardio and help you practice using bursts of energy after rest times.

2. Timed Practice Programs

Most combat sports have timed rounds, and the time of each round will vary. To last the duration of the round, you will have to practice timed sessions. The style of combat sport you choose will determine how long each round will be.

If you are training for boxing, you will need to practice anywhere from 4 to 12 total rounds, with each round being at least 3 minutes long. There will be 1 minute of rest between rounds. A boxing match will typically not last any longer than 47 total minutes of actual boxing.

If you are training for MMA, you will practice 5 total rounds at 5 minutes per round. There will be a 1 minute period of rest between rounds. The total fight time is typically anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes.

Whether you are training for boxing or MMA, you will need to be able to last the duration of the match and performing timed practice programs will help you prepare for that.

3. Technique Programs and Routines

As we mentioned earlier, practicing form and technique is imperative to keep you safe from injury when using a punching bag, so you will need to take time to work on your technique and form with your punching bag.

Technique and form consist of standing in the right position so that you are not too close or too far away from the punching bag. Standing too close will cause injury to your hand and arm while you punch while standing too far away will keep you from delivering a maximum punch; therefore, you will need to practice standing the right distance from the punching bag so that you perfect your technique and form.

Important Things to Know

There are some terms you will need to know before beginning your punching bag workout program.

  • Cardio: this is an activity you will do that increases your heart rate and keeps it elevated for a certain period of time.
  • Joint rotations: this is when you will make circular motions or twists at various joints in the body (shoulders, hips, legs, knees)
  • Cross punches: punching with your dominant hand at the opponent’s head or face
  • Jab punches: punching with the dominant hand at the opponent’s body (lower than a cross punch)
  • Uppercut punches: a vertical punch directed upwards at the opponent’s chin
  • Hook punches: throwing a punch with your dominant hand at the opponent’s head or face while also twisting your torso to follow through.

Knowing these exercises and moves will help you maximize your heavy bag work and workout routine.

Punching Bag Weekly Workout Programs

To maximize the effectiveness of using a punching bag, you should follow a weekly workout routine. The program you choose will depend on your current fitness level, endurance, and strength.

Program #1: Beginner/Intermediate Program

This program is tailored to those who are beginning to use a punching bag to work out and can continue to be used to build muscle and improve cardiovascular fitness. This program should be done 2 or 3 days a week with at least one day of rest in between.

Warm-Up (12 Minutes)

5 minutes of cardio (bike, jogging, elliptical)

5 minutes of joint rotations

1 to 2 minutes of stretching

Punching Sets (25 Punches Each)

Square off with your punching bag and remain in the same position as you complete the following sets:

5 cross punches

5 jabs

5 right uppercuts

5 left uppercuts

5 right hooks

5 left hooks

Repeat 5 times for a total of 25 punches each.

Combination Sets

Square off with your punching bag and remain in the same position as you complete the following sets:

1 x right cross, right uppercut, left hook

1 x left cross, right hook, left cross

1 x right jab, left cross, right jab

1 x right jab, left cross, right jab, left cross, right uppercut

Repeat 3 times.

Boxing Sets

This is when you will put it all together and simulate a boxing match. You can set a timer for 3 minutes to simulate a timed round of a match. This time, you will circle the bag instead of staying planted in one position.

Perform the same combination sets while circling the bag. Once the timer stops, take 60 to 90 seconds to rest before starting another timed 3-minute round.

Repeat this 5 times.

Cool Down

Walk, jog, or bike for 5 minutes lightly; this will keep your muscles moving while bringing your heart rate down.

Stretch muscles to avoid cramps or stiffness.

Program #2: Advanced

This program is designed for those who have been training with a punching bag and need to take it to the next level or those who are already in great physical shape.

Warm-Up

5 minutes of cardio (bike, jogging, elliptical)

5 minutes of joint rotations

1 to 2 minutes of stretching

Punching Sets (40 Punches Each)

Square off with your punching bag and remain in the same position as you complete the following sets:

10 cross punches

10 jabs

10 right uppercuts

10 left uppercuts

10 right hooks

10 left hooks

Repeat each set 4 times for a total of 40 punches each.

Combination Sets

Square off with your punching bag and remain in the same position as you complete the following sets:

1 x right cross, right uppercut, left hook

1 x left cross, right hook, left cross

1 x right jab, left cross, right jab

1 x right jab, left cross, right jab, left cross, right uppercut

Repeat 5 times.

Boxing Sets

In this advanced program, you will do 10 total rounds of boxing sets at 3 minutes each. Once the first round is over, rest for 1 minute and then start the new set.

Cool Down

5 minutes of light cardio (walking, jogging, or biking)

Stretch muscles to prevent cramping and stiffness.

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