The heavy bag is a long, cylinder shaped bag that is usually suspended from ceiling by a chain. Sometimes heavy bags are mounted on the floor, and held in place by a base weighted with either sand or water. Normally, a boxer would prefer the ceiling suspended bags because the swaying of the bag forces him to react by moving out of the way or towards the bag, thus emulating an opponent. Heavy bags are normally made of leather and are filled with fibrous material or water. Bags typically weigh from 50 to 150 pounds, but some heavyweights are known to use much heavier bags. (It was rumored that Mike Tyson hit bags up to 300 pounds.) You should be careful when hitting brand new bags as they have not yet been softened by constant pounding.
The heavy bag is where boxer’s work on power. It was rumored that Cus D’mato had Tyson start with a very light bag when he was still young and constantly increased the heavy bag poundage in order to build power. This is similar to the concept of increasing the poundage on a lifting exercise as it becomes too easy. As the heavy bag started to swing too much as a result of Tyson landing a blow, D’mato would increase the bag weight and start the process over. I personally have an Everlast heavy bag in my home gym.
While using the heavy bag, you should drill different types of combinations until they become second nature. Practice moving away right after finishing a combination. After you hit an opponent, his first reaction will be to hit you back. For this reason, the concept of side-stepping or pivoting away after landing a combination on the bag should be ingrained deeply in your mind. Actually visualize your opponent firing back and move out of the way. When the bag travels towards you, pivot and let it swing by. Unleash your combination as it swings by. Most trainers will advise you never to touch or hold the bag for the sole purpose of stopping its movement. Let it swing and just react to it. Stop it in its tracks by punching it, never by holding or just touching it.
As the most basic boxing training piece of equipment, a heavy bag should probably be one of your first purchases for a home gym. Below is a list of quality, ceiling suspended heavy bags.
If you prefer the floor mounted type (maybe you don’t have much room in your starter apartment), you can try the one below.
There are also heavy bag stands for those who don’t want to attach anything to their ceiling, yet want to have the typical heavy bag mobility:
- Frazier, Joe. Box Like the Pros. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2005.