Speed bags are a great way to work on your hand speed and coordination. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes, weights, and materials. The size and weight you choose will depend on what you are using the bag for.
Not only do the best speed bag boxers rely on it as a great training aide, but there is a whole subculture of “speed baggers” that practice the skill for daily exercise. It’s not uncommon for speed bag junkies to have a bag platform or two mounted in their garage for their daily sessions. Intrigued? Read on for more speedy goodness.
Why Use a Speed Bag?
- Keeping Your Eyes Up: One of the best benefits of a speed bag for boxing is to get you to keep your eyes up. Oftentimes, beginner boxers will properly keep their chin down but point their eyes down as well. This leaves them exposed to over hand punches and hooks.
- Improving Endurance: Bag work keeps your hands busy, making you use a lot of energy when punching. The longer you can do this, the better your endurance can be. One of the hardest things to do in a real fight is keeping your hands up, so having more arm endurance allows you to keep your hands up and punch effectively for more rounds.
- Footwork: Speed bag work requires good footwork as well as good hand movement. Keeping your feet moving and in the correct position will give you a more comfortable stance that allows you to effortlessly shift their weight and move around the ring.
- Hand-eye Coordination: Of course, the biggest benefit of them all is hand-eye coordination. Being an effective puncher means being able to direct punches exactly where they want. Speed bags allow boxers to throw punches faster and faster, making aiming much easier.
- Don’t Blink: Every new boxer has the natural inclination to close their eyes and blink when a punch is coming for their face. This is a mistake and a bad habit. The speed bag will slowly eliminate this habit, especially when working really close to it. As you mature as a boxer, that split second of blinking can mean the difference between avoiding the shot, blocking it, or getting knocked out.
- Develop Muscles: Though lifting weights and heavy bag work are both designed to increase your musculature, speed bag work can help you develop your shoulder muscles. Usually, bags are placed at eye level or higher, meaning you the boxer has to punch higher. This means additional shoulder muscles are getting used.
Despite having a generic title of “speed bag”, this is a category of bag that comes in a variety of sizes and shapes. Speed bags can be used for general speed work or can be designed for specialized training. Here are 3 things to look for when deciding on a bag:
- Sizes: Bags come in a variety of sizes, from 13 by 10 inch all the way down to 6 by 4 inch. The smaller the bag, the faster it moves. A larger bag is designed for increasing endurance and strength. What is considered small or medium or large by one manufacturer might be different than another, so make sure you are looking for the actual measurements when trying to find a particular bag size.
- Shapes: Bags come in all different shapes, depending on the manufacturer. The traditional bag is shaped like a tear drop, with an extremely bulbous middle. Other bags are shaped like a banana, which is also known as the “Mexican Style” These are usually much narrower than the traditional bag.
- Materials: The best speed bag will be made out of polyurethane, leather, or synthetic materials. A bladder goes inside the bag shell, which is made out of various materials such as plastic or rubber.
- Boards: Most bags are designed to be hung from the ceiling vertically from a wooden board. Also known as a drum, these platforms can be placed directly into the ceiling, or hung from a rigging that is hooked into the wall. Either way, the speed bag will hang vertically. However, there are some bags that come with a stand that can sit on the ground and even others that are designed to hang horizontally off of a wall.
- Swivels: When hung from the ceiling, a speed bag is hooked onto a swivel. The swivel is what gives the bag its free movement and rebound. Some people use what is called a ball hook, which is a noisy, but fast reaction swivel. Another type is the Deville swivel, which uses a type of ball bearing to give the bag a little more rebound and give. There even more types, but when purchasing a speed bag the manufacturer will usually recommend what type to get.
Top 5 Speed Bag Reviews
No matter what your goal is for using a speed bag, it is important not to skimp on a low quality one. Some bags are made out of cheap materials that are way too easily destroyed by prolonged use. Some bags are not resistant to moisture. A high quality bag is durable, flexible, and long lasting. A good bag should be able to stand up any level of fighter. Here are some of our favorite bags on the market.
This speed bag is one of the fastest bags you’ll find. It is designed using a latex bladder and welded leather seams. The panels are stitched with high quality nylon threading. This bag comes in two sizes: extra small (XS), and the extra extra small (XXS). Both are designed purely for hand speed and coordination training, but most people seem to prefer the XS size. It has a satisfying snappy rebound that should be easy on your hands and knuckles. Be aware that the Platinum Atomic is considered more of an intermediate to advanced speed bag.
The Pro Impact is made out of 100% leather with a latex bladder, with triple reinforced seams. It comes in a 6″ by 9″ size, with a pear shape, making it perfect for hand speed work. The Pro Impact brand isn’t the most well known on the list, but it makes up for that by providing a quality product for the price. Most users have commented about the excellent quality of the leather. The one complaint with this bag is it tends to not hold the inflation very long. If you have an air pump, just pump it up every few days as needed and you’re good to go.
This bag from TITLE is made to have only the best rebounds, making it perfect for coordination work. It comes in Small, Medium, and Large sizes, and is made from 100% leather. Like the Atomic bag, it has a butyl rubber bladder, but unique to this bag is its patented balancing mechanism that is supposed to give it a more precise rebound. There is some debate as to whether the “Gyro” feature actually helps or is just a marketing phrase. Either way, this bag should be a durable and responsive every day speed bag.
One of the more expensive bags on this list, the Cleto Reyes bag is very high quality. Each bag is hand made in Mexico, using high quality head leather with a nylon lining. It comes in 3 sizes, and is great for endurance work. The only kicker is that you need to get the U-shaped swivel that is sold separately to get this bag to have the right response. This bag holds air for a long time and can take the punch of both amateurs and pros alike. If you’ve been frustrated with cheaper bags before, it may be time to invest in a premium bag like the Cleto Reyes.
This is definitely a case where the name of the product fits. This is a no-frills bag that is truly inspired by the classic designs. It is light weight, made out of leather, and has been balanced for solid rebounds. The bladder is made out of rubber, and the seams have been triple stitched and welted. This is the cheapest bag on the list, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a quality product. This is one to get if you are looking for a great value or just getting started with speed bagging.
Venum is a very popular Muay Thai kick boxing brand, so it should be no surprise that they make an excellent speed bag. The Venum is built from a synthetic leather material called Skintex, and is actually hand stitched in Thailand. This bag costs more than your average basic bag, but it is still one of the best speed bag you can buy. I love the black on white snake graphics on this bag. It truly looks above and apart from the rest.
Some Speed Bag Tips
Before you go bagging you should read some quick tips to make your workouts with your new speed bag go smoothly.
- If you don’t already have a speed bag platform and swivel, don’t forget to buy them. Most speed bags only come with the bag and a bladder. The platform drum is what provides the rebound on your punches, so don’t cheap out on it.
- Adjust the height of your speed bag so that the bottom of the bag is just above your chin. Another way to set the height is to set the striking point just above your eye level.
- It’s a great idea to wrap your hands when you’re doing extended speed bag drills. Even with a soft, quality bag material, your hands will take a beating from the constant blows you’ll be delivering.
For some workout ideas, check out this article for some awesome speed bag workouts.
Photo Credit: Venum