Updated: Apr 30
HOW TO TREAT THE HEAVY BAG
Back in the gym but no idea what to do? Tempted to hit the heavy bag but not quite sure how to use it? In this video I explain the basics of how you should be treating a boxing bag in order to get the most out of your training. We’re not talking conditioning this time, although there are loads of drills you can perform on the bag for that purpose, too (I’ll share more of those in my future posts). Today we focus on the basic principles of using the bag and I’ll share with you a workout focused on changing your distance and working different ranges.
Before you jump on the bag, there’s a couple of things you’re gonna need:
1. A bag (obviously). There are tons of different types of bags. Sometimes you can choose between various types, sometimes you’re stuck with the one that’s available. Don’t stress too much about it, if you’re creative enough, you can make any of them work for you.
2. Hand wraps. Aim for thin, elastic and long ones (4-5 m). Do not be lazy to wrap your hands properly, they are not simply for decoration and to make you look badass. Your wraps are supposed to protect your wrist, your knuckles and your thumb. So if you want to avoid injury (especially when hitting a very heavy bag or working on power drills), make sure you wrap your hands correctly. If you’re not sure how to do it, check out this video.
3. Boxing gloves. These can be any size, depending on what you want to work on: smaller ones (2.5-8 oz) are great for working on your hand speed, heavier ones (14-16 oz) are mainly used for sparring, but you can just as well use them on the heavy bag – you might lose some speed, but will definitely strengthen your guard. I prefer 8-10 oz gloves for bag workouts, but if you only have 12 or 16 oz, those will work just as well. You’re good to go.
The number one rule when using the boxing bag
Treat the bag as it was your opponent. What does this mean? Think about it:
-would you be standing in front of your opponent in one place, throwing your punches, or would you be moving around him?
-would you only be punching or would he punch back, too? If so, shouldn’t you practice your defence, your head movement, blocks and parries?
-would you simply stop your opponent from moving around by placing your hands on him?
-would you let down your guard in the middle of the round?
-would you put your head on his shoulder?
I don’t think so.. Not if you wanted to win, anyway. You can only fight the way you practice. So make sure you practice the right way. Yes, sometimes we just want to go berserk on the bag and work on our conditioning. But most of the time, you should train on the bag as you would want to behave in a fight. No matter what specific drill you’re working on, the basic rules always apply:
-keep your guard up until the end of the round
-use your footwork: move around whenever you’re not punching
-imagine your opponent is hitting back: practice your defence – slip, roll, parry, block, counter…
-stop the bag with your punch, not by placing your hands on it and asking him nicely to stop swinging
-do not put your head on the bag: keep your gloves in between you and the bag to protect you when you’re close
-be focused, have a plan, know what you want to work on, rather than just throwing random punches
-have fun: hitting stuff is great!
In the workout below I give you some drills to practice working on different ranges on the bag. There is a big difference in how you need to behave when you’re on a longer distance from your opponent and when you’re close range. If you’re far away, you can be more relaxed, your guard doesn’t need to be too tight, you can move around and showcase your footwork and you will be using your long range weapons: straight punches, screw shots, long hooks and so on. However, when you’re close (imagine you’re in the corner and your opponent is coming at you or your opponent is in the corner and you want to keep him there), things have to change. You don’t have space to move around, you can’t use your long range weapons, you have to keep your guard real tight in order to protect yourself, so you need to rely on your hips even more to generate power. You’re in the danger zone. The moment you open yourself too much, you get knocked out. You’re getting attacked all the time. You’re being pushed. This is stressful. And it’s much more tiring than shuffling around on a distance. So you gotta make sure every punch you throw, you make it count. Load your hips, get some power and cover up straight away.
In this video we do 3 x 3 minute rounds. In Round 1 we focus on footwork and long range weapons. In Round 2 we get on the inside and work on some close range power drills. Finally in Round 3 we alternate between distance and close range every 30 seconds. You can watch all the explanations for the different drills by following the link below.
I hope you enjoy the workout. Keep practising and these things will come more and more naturally with time.
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