Are you working the punching bag? Or is the bag working you?
There’s more to a heavy bag workout than throwing punches as hard as you can until the bell rings or you pass out (whichever one happens first). Believe it or not, the heavy bag is not all about power.
For those who STILL don’t know how to hit the heavy bag correctly, this is for you.
How to Work the Heavy Bag
1. Good Punching
First and foremost, the heavy bag is all about developing proper punching skills. And good punching means snapping and flowing.
You may have heard trainers say to “hit the bag, don’t push it”. Pushing punches means trying to shove your hand all the way through the target. A snapping punch means letting the fist snap back to you after impact. It snaps back not because you pull it back but because you let the impact rebound your hand back to you.
Snap punches are generally far better than pushing punches! Snapping punches is what all the experienced fighters use. It takes time to learn how to do properly but incredibly critical if you ever want to punch properly. It allows you to punch harder and faster while using less energy. I wrote a guide on snapping punches a long time ago here: How to Throw a Snapping Punch (Youtube video)
Flowing punches means to throw flowing combinations that connect to one another. It’s not about the punches you throw but HOW you throw them. Flowing punches means to move around the bag in a relaxed manner while throwing non-stop combinations. NOT FLOWING means is like setting your feet and then throwing your hardest shots every time.
Flowing punches is about being relaxed and just letting your hands go in repeated rat-ta-tat combinations with SMALL breaks in between combos for you to slip or move around. There is NEVER more than 3 seconds pause from punching and even then that’s a bit much. The goal is to let the punches be natural. Some shots are hard, but most punches will be around 50-70% power with a good emphasis on speed and snap. You’re calm and eyeing the bag as you’re moving around it. You’re not throwing yourself at it like a maniac.
Good punching means snapping and flowing,
NOT pushing and waiting.
2. Good Footwork
Good footwork should be a minimum but unfortunately, many beginners develop terrible footwork because of too much time on the heavy bag. Here are some things you should consider to avoid developing bad footwork habits.
Keep your feet on the ground and hold yourself up. Don’t lean on the bag or shoulder it or try to push it around as if you’re fighting on the inside. Shouldering the bag (especially for beginners) will lead to poor balance later in the ring. An opponent can easily move out of the way to let you fall off balance and then attack you with counters. Beginner fighters must absolutely learn how to maintain their balance in order to attack and defend as needed.
By walking, I don’t mean to put your hands down and go for a walk around the bag but to keep your feet on the ground as you move around the bag. Don’t cross your legs but try to visualize your footwork as more of a walking feeling than a jumping feeling. The common mistake for beginners is to jump all over the place. This habit leads to poor range awareness, wasted energy, and a less grounded stance which limits punching power and body movement.
Good footwork means standing and walking,
NOT leaning and jumping.
Explanation of how to hit a heavy bag.
Quick video of me hitting the heavy bag!
The #1 Problem: Focusing on Power
Proper bagwork is nothing more than good punching with good body movement. It’s so simple and yet done incorrectly so often. The cause is the natural tendency to want to punch as hard as possible. Throwing hard looks good and feels great. A loud *crack* sound rewards you for every powerful shot. And the harder your punch, the better you feel.
The problem is: real opponents are nothing like the heavy bag. They don’t wait there for you. They move and they counter. The more reckless you get with your punches, the harder the counter you. The harder you hit them, the harder they hit you in return.
Ultimately, you realize that fighting live opponents has more to do with skills and speed than simply power alone. You may even realize that other punching bags like the speed bag or double-end bag are better suited to develop your higher level boxing skills. Let go of your greed for power and new doors will open for you.
Punching power comes from technique, accuracy, and timing,
moreso than muscle strength.
Read my other guides on heavy bag training: