Gym with different types of punching bags on the wall

15 Different Types of Punching Bags & How to Use Them

This page may contain affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we'll earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you.

Punching bags come in an array of different shapes and styles, but their main purpose is the same: to develop your punching technique, speed, power, and endurance.

Punching bags are the bread and butter of boxing and mixed martial arts training, but how do you know what style of punching bag is best for your needs? The rest of this guide breaks down the top 15 types of punching bags to help you choose the right piece of equipment for your gym.

Types of Heavy Bags

Heavy bags are larger punching bags that typically hang from the ceiling or wall from chains, and are used for developing all manner of punching skill. Every boxing gym should have several of these heavy bags in multiple styles.

1. Traditional Heavy Bag

Black Heavy Bag

Featured: Century Traditional Heavy Bag

The traditional heavy bag is what most people tend to think of when the subject of punching bags is mentioned in everyday conversation. Heavy bags are fixtures in nearly all kinds of gyms and health clubs for their pure fitness benefits.

These punching bags can weigh from 70 to 150 lbs, and typically measure 13 inches around and 40 or more inches long. Being so heavy, the bags must hang from the ceiling from chains, or specially designed heavy bag stands that maintain stability while being punched. A heavy bag stand is most commonly used in home gyms.

This type of bag used alone or with a partner who can hold the bag as the boxer punches it, providing extra support and coaching the boxer. Heavy bags are not just for competition boxers, many people use 70lb bags strictly for fitness and cardio!

Best Used For:

  • Developing punching power, combos, and movement for boxers.
  • Developing upper body strength and speed.
  • Strengthen hands and wrists.
  • Heavy bag workouts are fun alternatives to weight training
  • Build cardiovascular and muscular endurance.

2. Muay Thai Heavy Bag (Banana Style)

Muay Thai Heavy Bag for Kickboxing

Featured: Century 100lb Muay Thai Bag

The Muay Thai Heavy Bag, aka “banana bag” is similar to the regular heavy bag but is much longer to allow for kickboxing training in which kicks are leveled at different heights. The bag is heavier and won’t move around or swing as much as a traditional bag, which allows the kickboxer to work on their fight style rhythm and various combinations of punches and kicks. The length further allows the bag to more closely resemble an actual opponent, making it a bit more suitable for actual fight training.

Banana punching bags weigh from 100 to 130 lbs when filled and should be hung from the ceiling or a good heavy bag stand with chains. The typical sizes are 13 inches in diameter and 72 inches long. The bags are made of either genuine leather, synthetic leather, or durable vinyl material.

Best Used For:

  • Kickboxing and Muay Thai training
  • Low kicks and combinations
  • Simulate fights without needing a partner

3. Free Standing Punching Bag

Blue Free Standing Punching Bag

Featured: Century Wavemaster 2XL Pro

A free standing punching bag solves the problem of trying to decide which of the heavy punching bag types is best, as it is the most versatile and has become quite popular both for gym use or in the private home. The bag itself is a heavy punching bag, but it’s mounted to a sand or water-filled base. Since they aren’t permanently mounted, the free standing bag can be moved out of the way when not in use, which means at home it can be pulled out of a closet for an exercise and safely stored out of the way when not in use. At the gym, a series of freestanding bags can be moved onto the floor for boxing classes, then moved out of the way if other classes are to be conducted later.

Best Used For:

  • Practicing kicks as well as punch combinations.
  • Great for cardio and overall fitness workouts.
  • Great for home gyms where hanging a punching bag is not allowed.

4. Pole Bag

Red Pole Style Punching Bag

Featured: Fairtex Pole Bag

The pole bag is often mistaken for a banana bag as they essentially serve the same general purpose, except the pole bag is much thicker and heavier. The significance of the bag’s increased weight is that it isn’t appropriate to be used as a hanging bag, but needs to be mounted on a pole for support. It’s important to remember the bag weighs too much to move around easily, so once set up it’s going to always take up a certain amount of room in the gym or private exercise space.

Best Used For:

  • Heavier training with powerful punches and kicks
  • Kicking at different heights, from calves to head levels

5. Angled Heavy Bag

Black and Red Angled style Punching Bag

Featured: RDX Angled Punching Bag

The angled heavy bag provides a wider top than bottom, which allows for introducing uppercut punches into a punching combination and allows for more realistic short rights and left hook punches. The bag further provides the user to introduce more complicated footwork as they prepare punches and kicks against the differently proportioned top and bottom segments of the bag.

Best Used For:

  • Developing intricate punching and kicking combinations
  • Developing footwork
  • Preparing distance attacks for maximum efficiency by practicing nuances in position

6. Teardrop Heavy Bag

Black Teardrop style Punching Bag

Featured: Century Creed Teardrop Punching Bag

The teardrop bag is also angled, but with a more subtle difference in width as the top is thinner than the bottom. The purpose is to lighten the bag, which causes it to swing more than a traditional bag with each punch or kick thrown. The swinging synthesizes an opponent’s movements, as they don’t stand still in a real boxing match. As the bag swings, it requires the boxer to utilize timing and develop a planned series of punches, or punches and kicks, to coincide with the movement of the bag. This type of bag further allows for training with elbows and knee kicks, as the boxer can utilize the shorter ranged attacks as the bag swings back in closer to them.

Best Used For:

  • Footwork and timing while punching a bag with extra movement
  • Practicing elbow shots and kicks with the knees instead of feet
  • Can be used similar to a traditional bag for regular punching

7. Wrecking Ball Heavy Bag

Red and Black Wrecking Ball Punching Bag

Featured: RDX Wrecking Ball Heavy Bag

The wrecking ball bag allows for a variety of punches including uppercuts, short jabs, and hooks, as it is shorter and bigger around than a standard sized regular punching bag. It tends to be more useful for straight boxing training than for kickboxing or other more versatile styles of martial arts, as it doesn’t provide room to practice full body attacks or kicks at different levels such as aiming for thighs or lower legs. It does, however, provide for a great upper body workout of quick jabs and hard cross body punches.

Best Used For:

  • Power punches and direct, single level aimed kicks
  • Small enough to be easily stored yet large and heavy enough to provide a great workout

8. Bowling Pin Heavy Bag

Black Bowling Pin shaped Punching Bag

Featured: Fairtex Bowling Pin Bag

The bowling pin bag is designed specifically for people training in Muay Thai kickboxing, as the bowling pin shape also resembles an opponent’s body, neck, and head. A really great aspect is how this style of bag allows the use of going into a clench and throwing knee kicks, one of the most defining aspect of Muay Thai. Although the bag can be used as a more general style of punching practice, it’s generally considered a secondary bag for the enthusiast who has a direct need to train in some of the specific forms used in kickboxing.

Best Used For:

  • Kickbox and Muay Thai training
  • Learning how to use the clench and throw knees into an opponent’s chest or body
  • Realistic training against a torso and head

9. Uppercut/Wall Bag

Wall Mounted Punching Pad

Featured: RDX Wall Mount Punching Bag

Another specialty bag is the wall mounted uppercut style. It is designed specifically for use of light punches and swift uppercut combinations. Being wall mounted, it doesn’t take up much space, nor does it swing when hit. Because it doesn’t move, it’s definitely not meant for a quick or casual workout. It’s important to properly tape the fists and wear appropriate gloves with any bag, but especially so with a wall mounted bag which doesn’t swing, as it will result in a wrist injury if the fists aren’t properly supported against the lack of give the bag offers.

Best Used For:

  • Learning how to incorporate uppercut punches into the standard hook, jab, and cross routine

10. Slip Bag/Maize Ball

Maize or Slip Style Punching Bag

Featured: RDX Maize Bag

The slip bag is an interesting and fun workout, although it can and will hit the person training in the head if they’re not used to such a routine. It hangs from a longer section of rope than the traditional speed bag, and swings back at the person using it. The upside of this is how it trains head movement and forces the boxer to keep their hands up, and dodge the bag itself between throwing practice blows against it to keep it moving.

Best Used For:

  • Understanding what it means for the bag to strike back
  • Footwork training and understanding how to move out of the way
  • Practicing angles of approach to develop more efficient punches

Specialty Types of Punching Bags

These punching bags have special applications, not as much for developing punches and power, but improving hand speed, hand-eye coordination, reflexes, and timing.

11. Speed Bag

Speed Bag punching bag

Featured: Century Leather Speed Bag

The speed bag is a style nearly everyone has seen, it’s the small round ball used in every movie ever made about boxing and fight training. The small ball is designed to hang from the ceiling or a stand on a swivel and swing back and forth with every punch, requiring the boxer to use an absolute rhythmic style of punches developing muscle memory and speed. Speed bag workouts also develop hand-eye coordination, as it isn’t as easy to keep going as it might seem when watching someone trained at using it and experienced how it bounces around. It’s a similar workout with the arms as jumping rope provides to the legs, as the boxer can’t just stop when they begin to tire without having to stop the entire routine and start over again.

Best Used For:

  • Hand-eye coordination and dexterity
  • Learning quick, speedy punching techniques
  • Incorporating rhythmic punches with perfect timing

12. Double End Bag (Mexican Style)

Double End Bag

Featured: RDX Double End Bag

The double end bag looks similar to the speed bag but attaches with a second strap to the floor which prevents it from bouncing around as much. Such a feature allows the boxer to incorporate more realistic punching combinations and footwork, as they can move around the bag to utilize different angles as it swings around in a more controlled manner. The Mexican style double end bag actually uses two balls, forming the outline of a figure eight, to provide even more points of contact so the boxing trainer can strike at different heights for a more versatile workout.

Best Used For:

  • Learning quick and rhythmic punching techniques
  • Incorporating footwork and movement into fast punches
  • Developing an ability to strike at multiple levels

13. Reflex Bag/Ball

Reflex Bag on a flexible pole.

The reflex ball bag is much the same as a typical speed bag, except it is mounted to a flexible pole on a floor stand. The movement is therefore a little different, but provides the same basic function of training hand-eye coordination and quick rhythmic punches. A big advantage is the piece is easily movable, whether in a gym where it might be needed in different places or at home where it can be stored out of the way and brought out for use when needed. The reflex ball is a lot of fun to use, and develops lightning fast punches to counter each movement it makes after the last punch.

Best Used For:

  • Fast punches perfectly timed as the ball bounces back and forth
  • Dexterity and hand-eye coordination
  • Learning to punch with speed rather than always using sheer power

14. Aqua Bag

Water filled punching bag

Aqua bags provide a different feel than the traditional foam and padding bags covered with stitched leather. The aqua bag is a rubbery synthetic bag filled with water, which absorbs blows much differently than traditional punching bags. The bag has a more realistic feeling of actually punching another person, as it moves less yet takes the punches into itself. Because of the way in which the bag accepts blows it’s easier on the wrist and elbow joints, even the shoulders, as the punch goes into the bag rather than coming to a direct stop like it does against a secured traditional bag.

Best Used For:

  • Great for people with joint problems or pain
  • Realistic sensations with each punch

15. Body Opponent Bag (BOB)

Featured: Century BOB

The body opponent bag or “B.O.B.” as most people call it, is the most realistic of all training bags, as it literally simulates an opponent’s head, chest, and torso. It provides actual aiming points, whether the ribs, jaw, chin, or temples to help the true boxing aficionado develop their style and form according to what they would want to do against an actual live opponent. The bag can also be knocked over, making it appropriate for grappling techniques in combination with punching. As such, the body opponent bag can be a lot of fun to use and provide a versatile workout routine, especially for someone learning MMA or self-defense fight styles.

Best Used For:

  • Actual professional level fight training
  • MMA moves which use a mix of boxing, kickboxing, and grappling skills
  • Realistic fight training against a bag which closely resembles an actual person

Choosing the Right Punching Bag

Conclusion. Close with a short summary, and a few bullet points to distill guidance on choosing the right punching bag.

  • For All Purpose Punching/Striking – Traditional Heavy Bags are the way to go, but if space or hanging one is an issue, the Free Standing Punching Bag is a great alternative.
  • For Kickboxing – The longer banana style Muay Thai Heavy Bags are perfect for practicing kicks, but a stand-up punching bag can work as well since it stands low to the ground.
  • For Hand-Eye Coordination and – The Speed Bag, Double End Bag, and Reflex Bag all do great at training your coordination and hand speed. Serious boxers should have one of each.

*Last updated 2020-09-26 at 07:50 / Product Links & Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

MMA Revolution
MMA Revolution