If you practice MMA, Boxing or any style of martial art, you surely know that the choice of the heavy bag for a workout is essential!
The question is:
How to choose the right heavy bag for a workout?
The Heavy bag is an essence of any martial art training which allows you to work on various aspects of your technique.
Depending on your punching bag choice you can develop a wide range of abilities: powerful punching, fast speed or even better footwork.
To choose your best heavy bag for a workout, you need to keep in mind several factors:
Heavy bag for a workout. The Type.
First of all, you need to understand the differences between the different types of heavy bags and what each bag is good for.
I planned to write a general article on everything about heavy bags, but because of a lot of material, I split the article into two parts.
If you are interested in a detailed description of the different types of heavy bags YOU MAY READ THIS ARTICLE pointed exclusively on the types of heavy bags. There i`ve described as much as possible about the different types of bags.
Choosing the type of heavy bag depends on the style of martial art you train and the tasks you have set yourself to achieve.
For example, if you are beginner one standard heavy bag will be perfect for you.
If you are regular boxer, one short heavy bag or teardrop bag will be great for your style.
On the other hand, if you want to develop more specific abilities like high kicks and low kicks, it would be good to choose a Muyai Thai banana heavy bag. However, if you want to work for speed, the speed bag would be your natural choice.
If you plan to train at home and if you have more free space, the better option is to buy two or even three punching bags that have to be selected according to your goals.
Classic heavy bag, for general training, uppercut bag for bettering the uppercut punches, double-ended speed bag for speed and so on.
Once you have chosen the heavy bag type, you must consider the materials used.
The outer materials.
There are several options for covering the heavy bags.
The most durable and lasting material is a genuine leather. Natural leather is considered to be a longer-lasting material compared to other coatings used and provides a comfortable and natural feeling when hit.
The only downside is the high price.
Synthetic Leather (PU)
Synthetic leather is one level below the natural skin in terms of quality.
It is usually made of cotton or polyester and is covered with a flexible polymer on top. Typically it remains soft and elastic in time and rarely cracks.
Synthetic leather is cheaper than natural leather but is more expensive than vinyl.
Vinyl (PVC )
The most commonly used material when making heavy bags is Vinyl. It looks similar to synthetic leather, the impact feeling is the same, but the material is less durable than the PU. In rooms with direct sunlight, heavy bags made by Vinyl may become badly heated and deformed or even cracked.
The advantage of Vinyl is that it is easy to clean and maintain and in terms of price-quality, You`ll get a good heavy bag at an affordable price.
Some of the cheapest models of heavy bags use canvas as a cover. Usually, there is also a layer of plastic coating that makes these bags solid.
Their durability is not as long-lasting as other materials and can hurt the skin of the knuckles if you try to hit without using proper bag boxing gloves.
If you use heavy bags with this type of coating, sometimes they accumulate moisture so you should pay attention to the humidity of the room.
Rarely used material! Typically, it is used to shell a rubber-coated container with water inside. It is used in specialized heavy water-filled bags.
One of the most important features you need to watch out for is how the heavy bag is filled.
Some bags come without filling, so you’ll have to take care of it yourself.
Most heavy bags are pre-filled, while others have a hole with zipper on top so you can remove or add a fill according to your needs.
If the heavy bag is low quality, the inside material will sink to the bottom and will leave non-padded areas.
High-quality bags remain consistent with no differences in the punching areas.
An ideal heavy bag must be dense enough to provide resistance and not as stiff as to cause pain when you hit it.
There is a wide range of materials to be used for filling. Each material has its pros and cons and I will cover below these that I know.
This is the most commonly used material in high-quality heavy bags. The fibrous material is specially processed and compressed to obtain a constant density that is not affected by the intensity and impact of the hits.
Many of the top heavy bags are made of high-density foam. Foam is especially used for free-standing bags because it does not settle and does not fall but retains its shape.
Sand is one of the main materials filling the cheaper models of heavy bags. The problem with the sand filler is that it sometimes settles to the bottom and remain pockets in the bag. In that case, the lower part of the bag becomes hard as stone and causes many injuries. Careful with sand filling. Don’t allow moisture into the bag.
The advantage of heavy water-filled bags is that they feel like you’re hitting a real man. Moreover, because of the soft water consistency, the damage to the wrists and arms when hitting is less. They are ideal for training after trauma or when you have wrist problems.
The disadvantage is that sometimes water runs out of the screw cap and condensation occurs in cold weather.
In case you planning to fill the heavy bag on your own, there are different homemade fillings that you may use. If you don’t have that you want, you can buy it cheap or prepare it by yourself.
The most used fillings are:
- Rubble Sacks
- Old Clothes
- Torn Pieces of Clothes
- A mixture of sawdust, rubble sacks, and clothes
- A mixture of sand and clothes
- Shredded Tyres
- Newspaper and plastic
The advantage is that the total cost of your new bag will be cheaper than those with pre-packed fillings.
The downside is that you may not perform it well, which will not be good when the time for a heavy workout comes.
After selecting the type of heavy bag and the material from which it is made, it is up to you to choose the next vital feature – the weight and size of the heavy bag.
It is very important to choose the proper weight for your heavy bag workout.
If you choose a bag which is too light, you will not be able to provide the best heavy bag workout for you.
On the other side, if your choice is to work out with a bag which is too heavy for you, the chance to damage your fingers and knuckles is very high.
Generally, heavier bags develop more strength and power when workout and the lighter punching bag gave you more speed, reflex, and coordination.
There is one rule that works in most cases:
The heavy bag should be approximately 50% of your body weight.
For example, if your weight is 80 kg (app.180 pounds), the heavy bag weight must be around 40-60 kg (app. 90-140 pounds).
This rule, in my opinion, applies to novice martial arts practitioners and boxers.
The fact is that when you became an experienced fighter, you will need a heavier bag, so look for a model where the filling can be adjusted.
When it comes to choosing the size you must keep in mind your martial arts style. The standard heavy bag size is about 120-150 sm. (4-5 feet).
This height is almost perfect for all MMA styles including boxing. You may use your high and low kicks, knees elbows and everything that you have.
But if you are „flying in the air” martial artist, you may prefer some Muay Thai style punching bag which is much longer.
Once you have chosen the type and size of the heavy bag, you should also consider the type of hanging. There are three types of mounting:
The benefits of this type are that you do not need extra equipment and preparation to begin your workout. You also do not need so much space compared to the classic suspension version.
Their weight is similar to traditional heavy bags but they are less stable. An experienced fighter may easily knock it down. The free standing bag material may not outlast the traditional bag as far as time and use.
The wall-mounted heavy bags are hybrid of a heavy bag, kicking pad, and training dummy. They allows for most basic and common techniques to be thrown such as hook punches, front kicks, knees etc.
But this mounting does completely restrict certain techniques like low kicks, and normal round-kicks (kicks that make impact with the shin) from certain angles.
I personally prefer this type of hanging!
You may adjust the chain depending on your needs. A longer chain will make your bag swing more; a shorter chain will make it swing less.
This allows you to do almost everything, to step around it, close the distance and counter the bag’s movements.
These types of Heavy bags are built to withstand a lot of abuse and punishment, allowing them to last for years to come. And they are more affordable when it comes to price.
The disadvantage of this type of suspension is that you need a lot more space for a quality heavy bag workout.
There is a wide variety of price options depending on weight, size, materials and filling inside. The cheaper bags are made of vinyl or canvas. The most expensive are these made by synthetic leather or genuine leather.
Below I have tried to introduce the price range in most cases but there may be variations depending on the filling and the brand that you looking for.
Punching bag price range by type
|Regular heavy bag||$50 up to $200|
|Muay Thai bag||$150 up to $300|
|Uppercut bag||$50 up to $200|
|Water bag||$80 up to $150|
|Double end bag||Up to $50|
|Speed bag||$20 up to $200|
|Free Standing bag||$150 up to $300|
The brand does not really matter. As I always say, quality is not a name but workmanship. So choose the brand you prefer depending on the tips listed above.
Choosing the right heavy bag for a workout is always difficult. The right choice varies depending on your weight, your style, and your general goals.
If you still have doubts. Just buy one traditional heavy bag hanging with chain (always is better to take a bag with adjustable option). This choice is right in most cases.