No question, traditional heavy bags are the preferred equipment for boxing and MMA training. Heavy bags are great for developing power, speed, and footwork. They work great in a gym environment, where the heavy duty mounting requirements can easily be met.
What if someone wants to bring their training home or your gym has limited space to properly hang those massive heavy bags? The answer is free standing punching bags. A free standing bag is a punching bag mounted onto a round base, which is filled with a ballast material like sand, gravel, or water.
The advantage to this design is that it is far easier to move around whenever needed. They are ideal for small gyms, home gyms, and for use outdoors. Continue reading for a complete roundup of the top free standing punching bags.
No Mounting Required – This is perhaps the biggest reason to buy a free standing punching bag. Brackets, bracing, and big bolts are required to safely mount a hanging heavy bag into a ceiling. A heavy bag stand still requires you put together a big metal support system. A free standing bag only requires the user to fill the base with ballast like sand for stability.
Portability & Convenience – Because there is no mounting needed, a free standing bag can be moved almost anywhere you want it to be on that day. You can roll it into a corner or a closet when you are done, or you can roll it outside the garage to get an outdoor workout in.
Filling the base with water makes it easier to drain and move up and down flights of stairs. Sand is much heavier and harder to completely get out of the base. Keep this in mind when initially filling your punching bag base.
Best Free Standing Punching Bags
Here are the Top 10 Free Standing Punching Bags. There are a few different styles and sizes in this list, so take some time to review their differences. All of these are good bags, and will make a good punching bag.
Punch/Kick – A full length punching bag suitable for punching and kicking.
Punch/Grapple – A punching bag design to tip over and lead into ground work.
Fitness – A punching bag designed for cardio fitness, not necessarily heavy striking.
The Ringside Elite is one of the most stable free standing punching bags made. It’s designed with a big 32″x10″ base, with a low center of gravity that can weight up to 270 pounds when filled with water or sand. Other bags have similar capacities; it’s the way the bag connects to the base that is different.
The Elite bag has a spring loaded core that allows the bag to absorb the blows rather than have the base slide. This also means there is more sway on the bag when hit. This may or may not be an issue for you depending on the type of training you like to do.Some people feel the sway helps them to work on their footwork.
One issue with this punching bag is the screws that attach the base to the spring collar tend to vibrate loose over time. Some non permanent Loctite on those screws will fix that. The other thing you might see is a squeaky spring. Just spray some WD40 or some Teflon lubricant spray to silence it.
At 6 foot 4 inches tall, the Ringside Elite is very tall for a stand up punching bag. It makes a great bag for practicing a full range of Muay Thai moves as well as punches. If you want a tall punching bag that doesn’t slide on the floor, then seriously consider the Ringside Elite.
The Wavemaster XXL is a solid free standing bag. Like the Ringside Elite, the base will weight up to 270 pounds filled with water or sand. The XXL isn’t spring loaded, but it does have a shock collar of sorts that sits in between the bag core and the base. This creates a more stationary boxing experience compared to the Ringside, which some people find to be more satisfying to hit.
The base sliding issue can be fixed with sand instead of water, and using rubber matting instead of carpet or cement. There are some good assembly instructions on YouTube to show you how to properly seat the screw core into the base. The Wavemaster XXL is such a popular standing punching bag that we wrote a full review here.
Bottom Line – When comparing the Wavemaster 2XL Pro and the Ringside Elite, it’s a tough call as to which is ‘best’. Both are excellent stand up punching bags, but they have totally different action when punched or kicked. After you read the reviews, watch the video below and the difference will be clear.
The Century “Body Opponent Bag” is awesome for martial artists. The BOB XL is an ultra-realistic torso shaped punching bag. That makes it great for training and learning to strike different areas of an opponent. For that reason many martial arts studios practice with BOB and BOB XL punching bags.
Like the other two top bags, the base is large enough for 270 pounds of water and sand. The base is similar to the Wavemaster bags. The design is easy to slide or roll the entire bag around the room for storage or for specific drills.
The BOB takes a punch like a champ. It doesn’t sway, slide, or give in to the impacts of repeated strikes. The plastisol body is firm so it’s important to wear good gloves while using it. The regular BOB is an all upper torso bag, while the BOB XL has a torso and upper legs for complete training options.
Century Wavemaster 2XL Pro – The 2XL Pro is an upgraded version of the popular Wavemaster XXL. Yes, the names are easily confused. The 2XL Pro has a locknut on top of the bag to prevent unscrewing from the base. It is also only available from Century. The other differences are cosmetic. The 2XL Pro has the bright white vertical lettering, and a tapered base that makes low kicks possible.
Century Original Wavemaster – The original Wavemaster is a half sized bag that can be adjusted in height. It is affordable, and has the performance you would expect from a Century bag.
Century Versys – The Versys is the kind of punching bag that is designed to be knocked over. It’s meant for practicing punch and kick combos leading into groundwork. This is the best punching bag for MMA. See the full review here.
This bag looks nearly identical to the Ringside Elite bag. The main difference is the smaller base, smaller striking surface, and it’s shorter by 10 inches. It is not designed for power punching, but for cardio training and aerobic fitness.
The base will weigh close to 140 pounds once filled with water or sand. The fill hole is smaller because of the smaller base. Take your time, use a funnel, and shake it around until you fill it right. The shell is a durable vinyl, covering a thick foam core.
Remember, the Ringside bags have some sway to them, so use that as part of your workout routines. Mix up punches with kicks and footwork. As far as fitness punching bags go, the Ringside is a very smart choice.
The Cardio (or Aerobic) Wavemaster has all the features of the bigger versions, but in a smaller package. The base is smaller, the bag is smaller and shorter. For that reason it’s a fitness bag, but is still OK for mixed workouts with kickboxing and boxing moves, especially for beginners.
Since the base is smaller, it can only store up to 170 pounds of sand or water. Sand will require your patience to fill because you need to shake the base and let it settle into all the corners or the container. Water won’t have tha tissue, but it will be lighter and prone to sliding
Like the regular Wavemaster, it doesn’t sway much, so you may want this one if you like the resistance it provides compared to the Ringside.
Everlast Omniflex – Despite base screws that want to loosen up (lock washers fix it), the Omniflex is a decent lightweight punching bag. Strong punchers should skip this one.
Everlast PowerCore – Don’t buy this one. Just don’t. It has some serious quality issues. Too many people have cracked the plastic core right in half in just a few months of use. Maybe if you’re a light puncher would I try it.
All standing punching bags have the same basic components. There is the plastic base that sits on the floor, a core with all the padding around it, and a neck or joint piece that connects the two together. The precise way they assemble varies by manufacturer, but their basic elements are the same.
What is the Best Base Fill Material? – People always wonder about the difference between sand vs water vs rock fill. If this is your first bag, fill it with water. If you will need to move it frequently, fill it with water.
If the bag tends to move and slide a bunch because you are too damn strong, then fill it with sand. Sand is heavier than water, but it is more difficult to empty if you have to move the punching bag up or down a flight of stairs.
Which Should you Buy?
When asked their preference, free standing vs heavy bag, nearly every experienced puncher will tell you the hanging heavy bag is superior to even the best free standing heavy bags. Heavy bags are simply more substantial and can take harder kicks and punches without sliding around the floor. However, they are not always the right choice for everyone.
If space and the ability to properly hang a bag on a structurally sound wall or ceiling beam are not options, which they aren’t for many people, then there is no reason a good free standing model can’t work for you. The simplicity, portability, and versatility of a free standing punching bag can easily make it the right choice.
Main Photo Credit: centurymartialarts.com, Product photos courtesy their respective manufacturer.