At first thought it might seem rather simple to finalize your punching bag purchase – once you have made the decision to improve your martial arts or get in shape with a punching bag. However, your quest will get all little more challenging when you realize there are actually quite a few options on the market. So let’s review what is available so you can decide what is best for you and your goals.
Heavy Punching Bag
For the most part a heavy punching bag is something you might see in a boxing gym. It hangs from a beam or a bar designed to hold the bag. It is very firm to the punch and usually made of leather or similar material. These bags are heavy to move, but usually one person can still move them about.
If you are looking for something that can really take a lot of beating and can be fixed with a strip of duct tape – this might be your choice. It is the most popular option.
Usually a typical heavy bag will hang above the ground with the bottom somewhere near your waist. Though they come in various sizes, what you need will depend on what you plan to use it for. Also, what you fill the bag with will determine how tough it is to punch. Most bags are filled with cloth and torn up rags. When you buy your bag you will need to decide if you buy a bag that is filled or unfilled. Filled will be heavier and cost more to ship. Unfilled will be cheaper to ship, but you will need to find something to fill your bag with (old unwanted clothes cut into strips work great). If you want a very forgiving bag, you can fill it with foam or even use foam throughout the bag to adjust the firmness. Sand is not usually a good option as it can feel like cement when you punch it.
Another popular heavy bag is the Muay Thai style bag. Essentially, it is similar to other heavy bags except that it is usually very long. The bottom often swings just above the ground. These bags are great because you can kick and punch at any height. These bags are designed to take a lot of round kicks and are often skinnier than the traditional heavy bag.
Freestanding Punching Bag
These bags are great if you have kids that want to train or you do not have a place to hang a punching bag. The only challenge with free standing bags is that they are usually not as firm as a heavy bag and those looking to do full contact fighting will want something closer to a heavy bag or muay thai bag.
Free standing bags have a base that can be filled with sand or water. Then you slide the bag part over the base. This way you can move the bag to any location you want and it is easy to keep changing locations. These are great in gyms and martial art schools because they can be tilted and rolled on the base to the center of the room for a training session and then rolled back to the corner and out of the way when the session is over.
Mannequin like Punching Bags
These bags come in two types – one is shaped like a human with a head, two arms, a torso and two legs. You can hang it the same way you hang a heavy bag. Another comes with only the legs or upper body portion and is on the base like the freestyle bags. There is a head, but no arms.
The bag version works the same as a heavy punching bag only you can target your strikes and kicks. For, example, you can throw a rising kick to the groin area or a round kick to the thigh. The freestyle version is usually made out of a rubbery type of material and doesn’t offer the same kicking and striking ability as a heavy bag. Nevertheless, they can still take a good beating. These types of bags also offer features to target on the face and body. For example, since you can see the nose and eyes you can target accordingly. The body section usually has visible chest area and abs so you can target the solar plexus. These type of bags are great for developing timing and targeting of your martial art strikes and kicks.
There are numerous other bags on the market too, but every home gym or training center should have at least one of the above bags for a serious workout.
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