6 Killer Heavy Bag Workouts for Boxing & Fitness

The heavy bag was designed with power punching in mind. Speed was only a small part of boxing before fighters like Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Robinson. So the point of heavy bag workouts is not only learning to punch harder, and gaining strength to punch harder, but it can also be used for building speed and developing good footwork.

Sometimes trying new things in the gym can really make a difference, both in becoming more fit and becoming a better boxer. This applies to most equipment in the gym, but right now we will discuss seven killer heavy bag workouts for boxing that provides good variety for your heavy bag workouts regimen.

Equipment Needed

  • Boxing Shoes – You need shoes to help you with your footwork, and to give you traction to deliver punches with power and speed.
  • Boxing Gloves and Hand Wraps. You can’t punch hard without gloves, so wrap up and lace on your gloves. MMA fighters can use their sparring and training gloves or regular boxing gloves.
  • Heavy Bag – A free hanging heavy bag is best, but all of these heavy bag workouts can be adapted to a standing heavy bag.
  • Watch or Timer – To track your rounds.

1. The 10 Round Workout

This heavy bag workout is an awesome way to get 20 minutes of practice on your boxing basics. The primary goal of this workout is to focus on your skills in short focused rounds. You will go hard for 2 minute rounds with 20 seconds of rest in between rounds. Nate Bower demonstrates in the video below.

  • Round 1 – This is your all-important warmup round. Get the heavy bag swinging, then start moving around it, but don’t throw any punches. Step towards and away from the bag as it moves, as well as left and right as the bag swings to the side. Visualize the bag as your opponent.
  • Round 2 – Work on your jabs, both singles and doubles, while making sure to continue moving your feet around the bag.
  • Round 3 – This round is all about throwing 1-2 jab combinations while gauging and practicing your punch range.
  • Round 4 – Practice your 2 and 3 punch combos with your main focus being delivering the punches with speed.
  • Round 5 – This round you will throw consecutive 1-2 punch combos in 10 second intervals, followed by 10 seconds of rest. Keep moving on the balls of your feet during the rest interval.
  • Round 6 – This is a “Freestyle” round, so just move and punch using combinations, and varying your punch levels, while maintaining good hand speed.
  • Round 7 – 2-3 punch combinations for speed (Repeat of Round 4).
  • Round 8 – Freestyle Round (Repeat of Round 6).
  • Round 9 – 1-2 punch combination intervals (Repeat of Round 5).
  • Round 10 – All Out Freestyle. Put everything together in the last round. Give it all you’ve got and work as hard as you can. Throw 1-2 and 2-3 combinations, varying your punch levels, and delivering with good footwork and speed.

2. The Power Workout

The idea here is to hit as hard as you can with the least effort possible. Boxing requires endurance so even when you are throwing a knockout punch, you want to do it efficiently so that you have enough power left to finish the job later in the bout. In short, this workout is designed to make you hit harder with more efficiency. Here are the workout steps for the Power Workout.

  • Warm up by punching the heavy bag for one to three rounds at 50 percent of your maximum power.
  • Throw combinations of jabs, hooks, uppercuts etc. during the first round to stretch out ligaments and joints for a safe workout.
  • Dance around the heavy bag, making sure your form and footwork is correct during warm up.
  • Rest for 60 seconds and repeat as needed until you are warmed up.
  • Have a trainer hold the bag for you or a workout partner. If no one is available, find a way to secure the bag from moving too much so that you don’t waste time chasing the bag.
  • Let it go. Unleash a barrage of punches as hard as you can.
  • Throw every kind of punch at full power without stopping. Jabs, uppercuts, crosses and hooks will work your shoulders, back, arms, and chest.
  • Keep going from 30 to 60 second intervals.
  • Take breaks in between that are the same amounts of time as your punching intervals.
  • Repeat for five rounds.

Tips: It is tempting to go straight in punching as hard as you can. Please do not do this as it can cause injury. If you are a beginner you may just want to do a one-round warm up, but many people will take up to three rounds to ensure they are fully warmed up.

It is so important to always watch your footwork. The vast majority of your power comes from your legs, so if you are not on proper footing you are not going to hit as hard as you could be. Remember to keep your hands up at all times when punching during warm ups and the actual work outs. Keeping your hands up should become habit and second nature to you.

3. The Speed Workout

People generally associate speed workouts with the speed bag, but the heavy bag can be just as useful. This workout will increase your reaction time and help you throw faster combinations. In this workout, you’ll do 6x 3 minute rounds, with 30 seconds of rest in between.  Check out Johnny Nguyen explaining this heavy bag workout in the video below.

  • Warm Up: As directed above.
  • Round 1 – This is an easy round in order to get your joints and muscles moving and snapping, with crisp, light punches as you move around the heavy bag.
  • Rounds 2 & 3 – These are hard punch rounds. You want to throw hard, powerful punches, while flowing through combinations and utilizing your speed and power.
  • Rounds 3 & 4 – These rounds are tabata interval rounds. Deliver non-stop fast punches for 15 seconds, then rest for 15 seconds. Repeat until the 3 minute round is complete.
  • Round 6 – Go fast, non-stop for the final 3 minutes. Give it everything you have left. You should be pretty much gassed by the end of this round if you gave it all your effort.

Tips: Your footwork is once again your foundation for this workout. If it isn’t right your workout is not going to help you as much as it should. One of boxers’ favorite combinations is jab, cross, hook and uppercut, but feel free to switch things up.

If you are just starting out you may not have enough endurance to go the entire 6 rounds. Slow down a little and just do 4 rounds to start and work your way up to the full 6 rounds over time.

4. Endurance Workout (HIIT)

Endurance is one of the most important parts of boxing. Until you have stepped into a ring with an opponent you don’t realize how every muscle in your body is being used. It is more taxing than full-court basketball even without factoring in the part where your face is getting punched.

Using the HIIT technique (High Intensity Interval Training) is a great way to develop your endurance. In this workout, you want to go 8x 30 second sets with your highest intensity level.  You’ll jump in for 20 seconds of fierce punching, followed by 10 seconds of rest, as shown in the video below.

  • Warm Up: As directed above.
  • 20 Seconds: Throw full speed combinations at the heavy bag. Destroy it! Let the bag swing and dictate your punches. Move around the bag and keep punching.
  • 10 Seconds: Rest while maintaining foot movement.
  • Repeat: 8 sets total
  • For a longer HIIT workout, take a 3 minute breather and start another round of 8 sets.

Tips: To build endurance, it’s important to never be still, even during the rest period. Keep your hands up and treat the bag as your opponent. As it swings toward you, you could slip to the side and land a hook. Dance around the bag just like you would an opponent and keep your footwork steady.

5. Footwork Drills

The idea with footwork heavy bag workouts is to solidify your footwork. Just as your feet are the foundation of your body, footwork is the foundation of all the boxing basics.

  • Warm up as directed above.
  • Let the bag swing and dictate your punches.
  • Move around the bag and keep punching.
  • Keep moving for three minutes.
  • Rest for 60 seconds.
  • Repeat the entire workout for three rounds.

Tips: We realize that the footwork drill is just like the endurance drill. The only difference is focus on your footwork. Some boxers throw just enough combos to get the bag moving. Let the bag dictate where you move.

6. Punching Accuracy Workout

So now that we have covered Power, Speed, and Endurance heavy bag workouts, we want to mix it up with an Accuracy routine. You have to make sure the punches are landing where you intend them to as much as possible.

  • Apply some duct tape or paint targets on your heavy bag.
  • Get the heavy bag moving and swinging.
  • Let the bag dictate your punches.
  • Focus on landing punches only on the targets.
  • Repeat for three rounds with 60 second rests in between.

Tips: As always, watch your footwork and keep your hands up throughout the entire workout. Have fun with this, and really challenge yourself to hit those targets no matter how the bag moves.

Final Thoughts

Whether you are a seasoned boxer or a person just trying to get in shape, heavy bag workouts are fun and can be a great workout for boxers, or simply for weight loss and fitness. Remember to keep each heavy bag workout focused on one thing, and then vary your workouts to keep things interesting and fun.

Further Reading

Image Credit: Flickr, Herald Post

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