Owning a good quality punching bag if not the best one on the market, is an equipment must have for anyone who is serious about their chosen combat sport and the training that goes with it.
Purchasing the right bag however can be a tricky task. There are a few things you should always consider first before making any decisions, as purchasing the wrong one can lead to two things, either you sustaining an injury or been out of pocket.
In this guide I will be explaining the different kinds of punch bags and how to choose the correct one for your needs.
Different Types Of Punching Bags
As you may or may not already know there are various styles of punching bags. Each different type is designed specifically to aid you in different areas of your training.
Knowing which type of punch bag is best for you depends on what you wasn’t to do in your training. Consequently below is a list of the different types of punch bags and what they are used for in training.
The heavy bag or hanging bag is the most popular Punch Bag in terms of sales, this is mainly because of its versatility as a training aid.
The fact that the bag moves when hit and to a certain extent mimics the movements of an opponent, means that you also have to use good footwork and positioning at times to place a good clean punch. Unlike free standing bags that don’t move much and take less skill to land a clean punch or kick.
The best heavy bags are made from leather and these tend to be the most durable lasting many years if taken care of properly.
One thing to consider before purchasing a hanging bag is do you have somewhere to hang it from. There are various ways to hang a heavy bag but all of them still require you to have plenty of room to move around your bag
- A good training aid
- Helps improve footwork and movement
- An average model is fairly cheap
- Takes up a lot of room
Maize bags funnily enough get there name from the fact that they are filled with maize. They are a teardrop shape and although they are a useful piece of equipment they are not a must have piece of kit.
If you already have a heavy bag then there is no reason why you shouldn’t buy a maize bag. However if you have no punch bag at all then I would advise getting yourself a heavy bag first as they are a more versatile and functional piece of equipment when compared to maize bags.
The advantages of this type of punch bag are that it helps improve footwork, as bobbing and weaving are required.
Consequently maize bags are a useful aid but by no means the best punching bag.
- Helps improve footwork and movement
- Can help with hand eye coordination
- Limited functionality
- A bit expensive when compared to heavy bags
Free Standing Heavy Bag
Free standing bags come attached to a base and unlike heavy bags they don’t have to be hung from a ceiling or stand. In ways free standing bags and heavy bags are comparable, although the heavy bag is more popular the free-standing bag has advantages that a heavy bag doesn’t.
In addition this is also beneficial if you have a small training area as you can move your standing bag to make room for other training activities.
An alternative way to use a free standing bag is for groundwork. Simply place your bag on your floor or training mat and use it to practice ground fighting. Due to this many MMA fighters find free standing bags to be a very useful training aid.
Setting up a free standing bag is a fairly straightforward procedure. As mentioned earlier this type of bag comes with a base which needs to be filled with something to weigh it down. The most common material used to weigh down a free standing bag is either sand or water.
There are different styles of free standing bags with many fighters preferring the ones that imitate the human body. The reason been is due to the more realistic experience of training on a piece of equipment that looks like a real opponent rather than just a plain Boxing Bag.
Purchasing a a good free standing punch bag will drastically help you improve your fighting skill. From practising punches and kicks to technique and groundwork the best free standing punch bags are highly versatile and durable pieces of equipment.
- Versatile piece of kit
- Can be used for groundwork
- Needs to be filled with sand or water (once only)
Wall Mounted Pad System
This is a very simple piece of equipment and for the price it doesn’t provide great value for money. Wall-mounted pad systems are expensive and for what you get in terms of training uses, you are very limited with your options.
The main feature of these is the big block of padding, this is used for throwing punches at mainly jabs and hooks etc.
The padding is attached to a backboard which in turn is bolted to the wall.
One thing I will say about these is that they make a good wall feature but beyond that there is not much to them. In addition to been expensive they also require some DIY which involves drilling holes in your walls. If you rent your property this may not be the right piece of kit for you.
Consequently you would probably be better off buying a heavy bag or free standing bag than a wall system.
- Looks Good
- Needs to be mounted to a wall
- Limited functionality
Similar to maize bags this piece of kit is not really a must have, as many of the training practice’s carried out on angle bags can also be done on a heavy bag.
The main feature that makes an angle bag different from a heavy bag is that it protrudes from the top. This addition is used as the focus point for practising uppercuts.
Overall there is nothing essentially wrong with angle bags, apart from many of them been overpriced and not quite as good as a heavy or free standing bag.
Related Guide: Top 5 Best Uppercut Punch Bags
Benefits Of Owning A Punch Bag
There is no question that owning a punch bag in any shape or form will improve your boxing ability, provided you use it that is.
The benefits of having a punch bag at home are that you can train more often and refine your skills.
Below are a few of the boxing attributes that owning a punch bag can help you improve.
How To Choose A Punching Bag – Things To Consider
The bag fill refers to the contents of the bag. There are four main fillers used for punch bags these are foam, fiber, sand and water.
The bag fill refers to the contents of the bag. There are four main fillers used for punch bags these are foam, fiber, sand and water. Some punch bag brands use a combination of these fillers in their punching bags, these are mainly sand and foam.
A good bag filler gives just enough resistance to punches and kicks without been to hard as this can lead to injury. However some fighters do prefer a firm punch bag that has little give in it. Generally speaking it is usually your more seasoned fighters that are conditioned more for this type of bag.
Fiber is very common as a bag filler and has good attributes. First of all the fibers used give a consistent feel throughout the punching bag. Furthermore the resistance offered from a fiber filled bag is just right for newcomers to Boxing MMA or Muay Thai.
Foam is a very good bag filler with a lot of advantages. First of all the materials in foam bags won’t shift to the bottom and will stay in place for the life of your bag. Consequently this leads to foam bags having a consistent feeling throughout the whole bag. Many Boxing Brands prize foam highly as a filler for punching bags and invest a lot of resources into creating the best Foam technology with Everlast been a main contributor. Some foam bags come with a foam/sand mix. The idea been that they provide the benefits of a foam and sand bag. However the sand will eventually shift and make its way to the bottom.
Sand bags are well known to give a lot of resistance and are considered more of a seasoned fighters bag than a beginners. Although sand bags are great for power training they do have a minor problem which makes them a bit of a nuisance. Sand is notorious for air pockets and clumping up, this means that every now and again you will have to upturn your punch bag to redistribute the sand. So not so much of a big problem just a pain in the backside.
Punch bags filled with water have one main advantage over other bag filler materials, this been that they are very portable. A water punch bag can be emptied and folded up fairly easy and refilled elsewhere. Aside from that there isn’t much more to say about these bags excerpt from some reviews say the feeling of connecting with a water filled bag is more realistic than when compared to other bag fills.
How Heavy Of A Punching Bag Should I Get ?
When deciding on the best punch bag to buy getting the correct weight is a significant factor in choosing the right bag. It goes without saying that if your bag is too light and doesn’t give any feedback then you are going to find it almost useless. On the other hand if a punch bag is too heavy and doesn’t give when you punch it then you will more than likely receive a hand or wrist injury at some point.
As a guideline when purchasing a new bag you should choose one that is roughly half of your body weight.
So if you are 150 lbs you should choose a bag in the 75 lbs area. If you can’t find a 75 lbs bag just round it off as a few pound either way won’t make too much of a difference.
Consequently following this guideline will help ensure an injury free training session when doing bag work.
Outer Bag Materials
Punch bags outer material are constructed from either one of three materials, these are leather, canvas or a synthetic material.
Canvas punching bags are fairly durable and can nlast a long time. The amount of time they last though can be affected by the conditions they are kept in. Canvas bags are highly prone to mould in a high moisture environment.
Leather punch bags are considered to be the best punch bags available this is mainly due to their durability and longevity.
Punch bags made from synthetic materials are not really the best. Although synthetic punch bags are easy to clean the durability of the material is not up to standard.
Free Standing Vs. Hanging Bag
In this match up we have the two different and both very popular types of punch bag.
Both of these styles of punch bags have many benefits and advantages the task is to determine which is the best from a buyers perspective.
First of all the free standing bag. In terms of versatility you get a lot from this type of bag. In addition to been used as a traditional punch bag they can also be placed on the floor and used for groundwork.
Also free standing bags can be moved around and easily stored away. Another advantage is that there is no need for any wall bracket or stand to hold the bag as the base support does all of that. Overall the is a very good piece of training gear and it’s hard to find any faults.
The hanging bag is another very good piece of training equipment that is highly versatile coming in many different shapes and sizes. From small 50lbs bags up to the 100lbs+ bags there are a lot of fight training options with this type of punch bag.
Many people say that hanging bags are a nuisance because they need to be hung from somewhere and that they take up a lot of room. If you find this to be true then you would probably be better off with a free standing bag. However hanging bags are an essential training aid for any fighter and are used in almost every fighting gym in the world.
And the winner is……its a draw
Both of these punch bags have many advantages and deciding which one is the best is a matter of opinion and dependant on your needs. Personally i prefer hanging bags but when restricted to limited space that en free standing are just as good.
How To Choose A Heavy Bag
In this instructional video from Rival Boxing there are many tips on how to choose the right Punch Bag. First of all the weight of punch bags are explained and then the correct bag for different weight fighters.
What’s The Best Way To Hang A Punching Bag ?
There are numerous ways to hang a punch bag, the best way depends on factors such as space and money. Ideally we would all have one of the best heavy bag stands with all the attachments that come with owning one of the best boxing stands. In reality its not affordable for most people to spend £1000 plus on a heavy bag stand, luckily there are a few cheaper options below is a list of all of the different ways of how to hang a punching bag.
Different Ways To Hang A Heavy Bag
Once you have got yourself a heavy bag you are going to need to hang it somewhere. There are various ways to hang your bag the method that you use will more than likely depend on the property you are living in and the options it allows you.
Below you can find the most popular ways to hang a heavy bag and the pros and cons that are associated with them.
Wall Bracket – A wall bracket is attached by screws and allows the bag to hang anything from 40cm to 5ocm away from the wall depending on the brand.
- Provides sturdy support for your heavy bag
- Fairly cheap to buy
- Requires DIY (using a drill)
- Stays in a fixed position (not portable)
Related Guide: The Best Speed Bag Platform
- Some models have additional attachments
- Easy to setup
- Quite expensive
- Requires a lot of space
Continue reading this: Top 8 Best Boxing Bag Stands
- Allows full 360° movement around the bag
- Can be easily removed if needed
- Requires DIY (using a drill)
Universal Punch Bag Hanger – This is the most portable option and allows you to hang your bag anywhere, as long as you can find something suitable to hang it from.
- Easy to use
- Limited to where it can be hung from
How To Hang A Heavy Bag
Kids Punching Bags
There are two kinds of kids punch bags. First there are the cute plastic blow up ones which are not exactly future heavyweight champion of the world training equipment.
These punching bags tend to come with a pair of gloves and overall for a child they provide adequate wrist support and protection. Unless of course you do have a future champion on your hands, in that case you are going to have to splash out on some Cleto Reyes or Winning gloves.
If you are serious about getting your child into combat sport training then a bag like the one pictured is a good starting point without spending too much.
When choosing the best punch bag there is a lot to consider, especially if you are out to get what you are looking and paying for. In this how to guide we have covered all that you need to know for when you are choosing a punch bag. For the heavy punch bags and the best stand alone punch bags visit our equipment page.
References and further reading:
- Harvard Health Publishing – Punch up your exercise routine with fitness boxing
- Century Martial Arts – Training Bag Size Guide
- ResearchGate, July 2022, The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research – The Role of Strength on Punch Impact Force in Boxing
- Sports Engineering volume 25, Article number: 5 (2022) – Validity and reliability of impact forces from a commercially instrumented water-filled punching bag