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Get in Shape With a Heavy-Bag Workout

April 9, 2013 | Ryan Hoover

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The heavy bag, a mainstay in boxing and MMA circles, is a tremendous piece of training equipment. Formerly reserved for boxers or MMA fighters, they have crept into some "mainstream" fitness centers. Make sure to utilize this piece of equipment to your best advantage. (Learn how Rampage Jackson gets in shape.)

Why should you use a heavy-bag workout in your training? It's a fun and different way to build muscle endurance, conditioning, explosive hips and legs, a stronger core and much more.

I have used the heavy bag to train NFL players, strength coaches, pro golfers, long-drive champs, rugby players, soccer moms, doctors and just about anyone else who has stepped foot into one of my centers. (Watch Scott Stallings train with a heavy bag.)

Even if you are not looking to get in the ring or cage anytime soon, you can benefit from a heavy bag workout. All you need is a bag and a decent pair of boxing gloves. Hand wraps are also a good investment, especially for hard-punching routines. (Also try this heavy-rope workout.)

Before we get to the heavy-bag workout, remember to warm up properly. Jumping rope, jogging, jumping jacks and/or knee skips are a great total body warm-up. Do three 3-minute rounds. Also, make sure to do mobility exercises to further prepare the joints and increase range of motion.

Heavy-Bag Finishers

The first two examples are great "finishers" to workouts, but can also be expanded and used as complete workouts.

Heavy-Bag Blast: Box-Bike-Bang

Box: mixed straight punches, hooks, level changes and footwork (knees and kicks are also an option) x 30 seconds

Bike: fast straight punches while "biking" the feet in place x 30 seconds

Bang: hard, heavy shots x 30 seconds

Rest for 30 seconds and repeat for desired rounds

Heavy-Bag Blast: Fast and Furious

Fast: fast straight punches - 3x60 seconds with 30 seconds of rest

Furious: hard, heavy hooks - 3x30 seconds with 15 seconds of rest

Heavy-Bag Workouts

The next two examples are true heavy-bag workouts, which replicate the physical demands of rounds experienced by fighters. Each workout is around 25 minutes to keep a high level of intensity throughout the rounds.

ChampFit: Boxing

Round 1: Warm up for three minutes

Rounds 2-6:

  • Punching x 60 seconds
  • Squats x 60 seconds
  • Power Wheel Rollouts x 60 seconds

Take 60 seconds of rest between rounds (no rest between exercises) to simulate boxing. Complete as many reps of each exercise as possible, as long as the technique is sound.

ChampFit: MMA

Round 1: Warm up for five minutes

Rounds 2-5:

  • Skip Knees (punching optional) x 60 seconds
  • Sprawls x 60 seconds
  • Sit-Outs x 60 seconds
  • Kicks x 60 seconds
  • Med Ball Slams x 60 seconds

Again, take 60 seconds of rest between rounds (no rest between exercises) to simulate an MMA fight. Complete as many reps of each exercise as possible, as long as the technique is sound.

Heavy-Bag Exercises

If you want to incorporate the heavy bag periodically into your workouts, then try these exercises:

  • Push and Punch: Perform a Push-Up. At the top of the movement, punch the heavy bag with one arm. Continue in an alternating fashion for time or reps.
  • Six Up: Perform a deep Squat. While slowly rising, punch the bag six times. Repeat for time or reps.
  • Swinging Singles: Stand on one leg while punching for time. Take faster, smaller punches if you are a beginner, or harder, bigger punches if you are advanced. Switch legs and repeat.

NOTE: variables that are easiest to control are time, repetitions and intensity. In general, intensity builds strength and power, while volume improves endurance.

These examples are more than enough to start you on your journey to heavy bag bliss, but the possibilities are virtually infinite. Like any new training, slowly incorporate the movements, paying particular attention to form. Start smart before going hard...and have fun.

Topics: MMA
Ryan Hoover
- Ryan Hoover is the co-founder of the We Are Fit to Fight program and a trainer of instructors in eight different countries. Over the past...
Ryan Hoover
- Ryan Hoover is the co-founder of the We Are Fit to Fight program and a trainer of instructors in eight different countries. Over the past...
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