There’s more to a heavy bag workout than just throwing punches until you get tired.
There are many heavy bag drills you can use and many possible ways to organize your rounds to develop different kinds of punches. If you’re smart, you’ll use different rounds to focus on different things instead of doing the same thing over and over.
Here’s an easy 6-round heavy bag workout to help you develop different boxing skills.
Round 1 – WARM UP
Walk around the bag and test long shots, mainly jabs and 1-2’s. Pay attention to your stance and your defense. Keep your eyes on the whole bag. Aim well without having to focus in on one tiny spot. You should feel like you can see any attack from any angle if the bag had arms. Keep the power down at 50% and move around a lot while you establish your range.
- maintain your boxing stance
- establish punching range
- use your eyes
Round 2 & 3 – POWER AND MOVEMENT
Attack the bag with combinations as if it was a live opponent. Start putting in some power; increase your power output up to 80%. Every and now and then put in some really hard shots. If you’re going in and out of range, move in quick with sharp hooks and uppercuts and then move out quickly. Remember to use good power (technique/breathing) and good footwork (slick movements/pivots, not jumping).
Round 2 & 3:
- good technique
- sharp breathing
- slick movement
Round 4 & 5 – SPEED
Tabata drills are useful here. Start doing intervals where you’re hitting the bag as fast as you can for 15-seconds, then break for 15-seconds, then repeat till the end of the round. All out speed, no power, no technique. Work speed and try to use as much of your body as possible to develop a fast coordinated contraction of arm and leg muscles.
Round 4 & 5:
- fast breathing
- fast contractions
- no technique
Round 6 – ENDURANCE
The final round is all about conditioning. Get up to the bag and throw endless shots until the bell rings. Unload EVERYTHING you have. It’s best to focus on smaller shorter punches instead of wild swinging shots. It may feel like you’re throwing silly tiny punches but this is what develops muscle memory and increases your rate of muscle contractions. Throwing wild punches allows you to relax after the initial release where as small punches force you to keep activating your muscles. Resist the urge to get lazy and lose your balance or forget about breathing.
- maximize number of contractions
- maintain your balance
- avoid going for power
Heavy Bag Workout Tips
Customize your workout
There’s no rule saying you have to copy my workout. You can do whatever you want. Do 3 rounds if you don’t have 6 rounds of time. Skip the power part if you only want to work speed and endurance or do different rounds on different days. Customize it to fit your needs. “Too much” or “Too little” depends on how you feel! I usually do 3-6 rounds on the heavy bag 5 days a week. Some weeks more, some weeks less.
The heavy bag is only one tool
The heavy bag can’t substitute for a real boxing workout. If you’re serious about learning how to fight, make sure you do all the other workouts (shadowboxing, sparring, speed bag, etc). Real power comes from skills, not muscle effort. So being able to hit a bag well doesn’t necessarily guarantee you can hit an opponent like that. The best boxers probably spend only 10% of their time in the gym on a heavy bag.
Real power comes from skills,
not muscle effort.
Want to more tips for the heavy bag?
John Taylor york
Johnny when I hit the heavy bag, I am very stiff. My punches have good technique but its like I’m too upright. Do you have any recommendations on core flexibility or how to be more fluent and flexible and agile while punches. I’m just like an upright klitchko lol
More shadowboxing for you. If the heavy bag makes you stiff, try something else. You should probably read my guide on boxing footwork tips.
Great article & good point about not becoming too heavy bag happy.. The real skills cine from double end bags, mitts with the trainer, shadowboxing & sparring. I used to punch the heavy bag for 8-10 rds full force (wound up tearing a ligament in my right wrist). Now I’m more confidant & comfortable using tje heavy bag & speed bags as more of a warmup then I get into my real training & learning.
Hey, ive read a most of your articles and i remember one saying that longer fighters actually have an advantage over shorter fighters when fighting inside. i told my boxing coach about this and he was confused. I cant remember which article i read this in but would you mind explaining why or even just directing me back to that article? thank you.
It’s probably my guide called “how to beat a shorter fighter”.
can you please post an article for how to train physically
Check out my guide called “The EASY Boxing Workout”.
im following your website for a long time and its so usefull for me. thanks at first.
and i have a question:
i love boxing and i want to do it. but i work in a music band (im playing guitars and piano) and i need soft and light motions in my fingers.
now im in doubt that can i do hard workouts or not.and if i punch bag for a long time it will make damages on my hand?
(sry for my problems in English it is in not my main language)
Exactly, doing a lot of punching the heavy bag will give you some hand damage. Having better gloves and wraps can only help so much until your punching power naturally increases. Stay off the heavy bag if you want your fingers working.
ill use better gloves and wraps.
I’m a musician (guitarist) and I train regularly. Good handwraps and gloves are really important to prevent injuries, but you have to learn proper technique first and then increase gradually the amount of time spent hitting the heavybag and the intensity of the work itself. Start slowly and softly and focus on technique, so your hands and forearms get use to that kind of work. Week after week, you’ll feel your arms more conditioned and so you will be able to throw some power punches too. In this period I’m working the bag three times a week (2 or 3 rounds) and obviously playing guitar everyday. I just take a few hours after my workout to let my arms rest a bit and play mainly in the evening. I hope this helps, let me know.
im working the bag 4 days a week and i feel it slow down my fingers.
but with extra practice in guitar i kept my fingers speed.
thank for your help.
First I love your site man!
I watched your video on how to throw a jab and based from that….it looks like you throw it on a heavy bag differently….you do more like slapping motion…although it has a nice snap! =)
So I’m confused why do you jab this way on a heavy bag?
First off, beginners are usually forced to practice their punching technique on the heavy bag because this reinforces the basics for them.
I’m not a beginner, so my bagwork might be different from my punching technique. To be clear, I still use good technique but I worry more about the motion and the flow rather than the form itself (which is what you’re looking at). There are times when I fight the heavy bag like in a real fight and my hands are up and my punches are using “perfect” form. And then there are times when I’m just focused on the workout and trying to get a good burn on my muscles.
So can you talk more about that jab…I see you kinda land at 45 degree angle, right?
I always try to land with the palm down. I turn my fist at the very end (which can be hard to see in fast motion) and also I’m sometimes busy working on flow and so my fist lands at less than optimum angle. The goal is still to rotate all the way.
what does working on the heavy bag increase ? can it increase punching power? punching speed?…etc
It depends on your workout. If you’re working power, it builds power. If you’re working speed, it builds speed.
Hello Johnny, I was wondering how you have an insane amount of boxing knowledge. Are you self-taught or did you have G-zus as your coach?
Been through a lot of gyms, trained under many different coaches. Sparred with a lot of people. Learned as much as I could over the years.
Being purely self-taught is probably among the worst ways to learn something.
And here I thought that there was just punching in heavy bag training. How shallow can I be…
Really appreciate the help keep doing good things man!
Johnny – it’s been many years since I’ve worked out on heavy bag or in general for that matter. I am 57 I have my bag up and ready to go, but I’m unsure how to begin the process. Should I start with working up in time, i.e. 15 mins everyday for a week, 20 the next and so on? My knees are bad which concerns me about jumping rope, which I know will be good for the cardio, but not sure how to start. Any suggessions on how to get this ‘old fart’ going again is greatly appreciated!
Hi Johnny, great information and demos on your site. Briefly, I’m 65 and a former competitor in Karate and Judo. While I’ve never been in a boxing ring per-se, I’ve had the opportunity to work with the manager of a former world heavyweight champ, and therefore met, interacted, and got some pointers from some of his former fighters. My questions are: I work out 5-7 days a week at a gym doing push-ups, dips, weights (free and machine), along with hitting the heavy bag with well-wrapped hands and good bag gloves. I’m looking to develop good conditioning along with punching power. Because I have an arthritic left knee, I’m not able to use the jump rope (therefore I do lots of elliptical and bike, plus I move around the bag when throwing shots. My workouts usually consist of five to six rounds (two to three minutes each) wherein I work on combinations, both light and hard punching. Does this sound like a good approach? Other than in shadow boxing, is it good to try uppercuts on the heavy bag. Any other suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!
Your approach is fine. Stop or adjust your technique if something hurts. Use plain common sense which I’m sure you have plenty of by now.
Hi Johnny. First of all great site and loving the video uploads atm they explain things very clearly. I am trying to turn my home space into a small training area.. Things I am not sure on is a mirror for shadowboxing and a heavybag. I have heard some say a mirror can be detrimental to shadowboxing whilst others say it is very important for checking technique.. if I get a mirror specifically for shadowboxing its probably gonna be a 4×4 foot acrylic mirror for safety reasons.. or there is a 2×4 foot option but I imagine this might be too narrow.. would you say a mirror in the begining is very important when shadowboxing at home? I dont want to skimp on shadowboxing just because im worried I might not be perfecting my technique when doing it because I cant see what im doing when i need to (hope that kinda makes sense). Now in regards to heavy bag.. I am in a position I can have a hanging bag but im basically a guy doing mma who wants to focus more attention to the hands as I do feel this is lacking in mma. I was gonna go with a 5 foot heavy bag so I can practise low kicks but am not sure if a 4 foot would be superior because of the swing I realise a lot of people arent using a heavy bag correctly as it is and I know you have preached to not put too much emphasis on it. Also I am considering an angle bag but am not sure of the disadvantages if any… the way I see it I would have one bag and would be able to practise uppercuts and hooks much better than on an ordinary bag and still be able to practise long range punches.. not sure if an angle bag can be kicked (if your suposed to) either. Also I know these are usually only 60ibs in weight.. maybe I can find a 100ib angle bag, or whether to have a standard 100ibs heavybag and purchase a miaze bag later on… Just to reiterate im currently practising mma but I want to work on boxing and the hands more when im doing home training as I feel it would compliment the mma training. Thanks.
I can’t coach you on what bag to buy for kicking but I do see long heavy bags in the gym are great for kicks. And yes, I absolutely recommend a mirror for shadowboxing.
Johnny, could you recommend a heavy bag brand/weight? Speed bag brand?
Title, Ringside, Everlast are fine.
Johnny, wonderful stuff. I am 46 and have secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. Bmxed and skated most of my life. Now my best friend is my cane. Finally my bodily roommate is making herself noticed. Love hitting on my bag. Do various routines. Do a program of punching as quick as i can for one minute, and taking a minute off. Usually for the equivalent of five to ten minutes. Also have a standard routing of the three minutes, and one minute rest from anywhere between 4 to 8 rounds. No experience in boxing, but my punches are proper. Mobility is an issue of course when one walks with a cane. No my cane is not part of the workout. :). Fatigue is a major major issue with MS. Do you have any insightful training tips for folks like myself dealing with issues way beyond proper stance, technique, etc. Looking at improving v02/max as well as keeping fit. Thanks a bunch for your time….
I’m sorry if I didn’t understand you competely, Jason. You want training tips for general conditioning or technical tips?
johnny, i want to ask you, and by the way, that workout you made was fantastic. My Question is..how long should you train for boxing
As long as you want. There’s no rule saying you need to train X number of hours. Now if you have specific goals in mind, it’s a different story.
Just wanted to say thank you for your honesty.
Most of what is out there is infomercials to push product.
As always, great post! I would agree with the statement that the heavy bag is the most beneficial bag of all. I dont mean a stationary bag that is either tie to the ground or even held by someone. I am talking about a 360 degree heavy bag, that allows you to completely circle the bag as it randomly swings its weight towards, side to side, backwards, etc. Now days, bags are designed to take away creativity and imagination. For example, a reflex bag may be helpful for reaction at first. But after working it enough to know exactly what it is going to do, it makes you react the same way to everything you do, and thus, makes your skills somewhat lazy. It may look good, but like an easy video game, you can get to the point to where you can do it blindfolded. But a 360° heavy bag works your footwork, balance, timing, how to gauge the different levels of power to use within a combo. Yes, of course, you must get creative and use your imagination and experience for defense (bc the bag doesn’t punch back, although it does mimic an opponent’s movement). If you hit the bag a certain way, with a specific amount of power, it will move around as an opponent would, which makes you have to use a myriad of skills to make sure you know how, when, where, etc. to throw following punches (bc like a person, if you hit it with a hard left hook, it will move!). Also, as the bag swings randomly, if it swings directly toward you, you obviously need to use footwork to fire your next punch from an angle that would put you out of harm’s way (& put the bag/opponent in danger).
I guess my point is that there are so many advantages to working a heavy bag, esp. if you know what the goal is.
Have really enjoyed the time and effort the young man incorporated in Basic Big Bag Work Outs. His Motivation & clarity to detail made it really smooth to grasp the concept. I know this was done back in 2012. He still deserves respect for his roll.
Thanks So Much,
From this Old Man 50 yrs
RANGER, MILITARY POLICE, Civilian BASIC & ADANCE SWAT, CAPTAIN/ADMIN JUVENILE FELONY BOOTCAMP/JJAEP. JUVENILE PROBATION/ Retired ….