Heavy Bag Workout – Great Cardio And Stress Relief Workout
Here is my favorite cardio exercise outside of playing tennis – a complete heavy bag workout. And guess what, it’s not only fun but also really good for your entire body. It’s even great for your mind because a heavy bag workout is great stress relief. Another super cool thing is – you never get hit back during a heavy bag workout! You can beat the hell out of it and never have the fear of being knocked on your ass by a sneaky left hook! We can all look like Ali or Holyfield! Several things to cover here. Don’t run out and start your heavy bag workout without reading the rest of this article. Chances are good if you do, you’ll end up with a broken wrist! First of all, most gyms have heavy bags. You may want to go out and buy your own. If you have a tree in your yard, all you’ll need is a heavy bag and a chain to hang it from. Next, you’ll need bag gloves. You have a couple of options here. The newer gloves don’t require wraps, but they are more expensive. If you go old school, make sure you buy wraps! I can’t stress enough the importance of wrapping your hands before hitting the heavy bag (I’ll cover hand wrapping later). Wraps help protect your wrist, hand, and knuckles from injury. The bag’s up, hands are wrapped, and you’re ready to start banging away. Here are some basics –
- Stance – I am assuming you are right-handed. Stand in front of the bag, a little further than arm’s length away, feet shoulder-width apart. Take an oversized step forward with your left foot. Slightly turn your left foot inwards and your right foot outwards so that your lead shoulder is pointed at the target. You should be able to draw an imaginary straight line from the back of your right heel to the big toe of your left foot. Now bend your knees, drop your butt a little, and relax.
- Hands – Tuck and keep your elbows in as close to your sides as possible and raise your forearms. Relax your arms. Bring your chin down so that you’re looking at the bag through your eyebrows. Your hands should now be at chin level.
- Moving – men got no rhythm? What a myth! At least for those of you that are undertaking this exercise routine. Legwork is a huge part of boxing; in fact, it’s more dancing than you’d think. Whenever moving forward, always lead with your front foot. Backward, back foot. Side, side foot first. Always take small steps and get back in your boxer’s stance quickly, keeping your balance at all times. Never cross-step or overstep. Never stand still in front of the bag. Move around it, bob and weave when in one place. Imagine the bag is an actual person and you do not want to get hit. Moving will increase the workout intensity.
- Punches – Make a fist with your thumb tucked below your curled fingers, not tucked inside. Always start from the proper stance. Keep your fists relaxed when punching, especially your thumb. Here are basic punches:
- Jab (1) – the most important and most used punch. With your fists in a relaxed, palms-in, ready position, throw your lead hand straight from the chin in a direct line into the bag. As your fist approaches the bag, clench your fist and rotate it a quarter to a half notch. After contact, immediately think “snap” and withdraw your fist back to the guard position. On contact, the bag should barely move and should never spin.
- Straight right (2) – this is your power punch and you will get great pleasure throwing it! It’s fun! And since the bag can’t hit back, you can throw it as often as you want! Little off balance? You always are briefly with power punches. In the ready position, do not wind up or drop your shoulder. Throw the right in a straight line to the bag. This punch is naturally powered by your hips and torso. The right heel will pivot slightly and your foot swings outward. As you approach the bag, rotate your hand a quarter to a half notch and clench your fist. After impact, immediately return your fist to the guard. The bag should swing but not spin!
- Left hook (3) – Signature punch for two of the greatest, Oscar De La Hoya and Evander Holyfield. While this is a difficult punch to learn, it sure feels good to throw it! This is not a sweeping or roundhouse punch! It is an inside power punch that draws from the legs, hips, back, and shoulder. Throw it when you’re close to the bag, not at jab length. Begin by transferring weight to your left side, hands in the relaxed, ready position. Bring your left elbow up to form a hook (ah, that’s where the name comes from!) while rotating the fist palm down. Now, in one powerful torqueing move, deliver the punch by pivoting your left foot (make sure you are on the ball of your foot), left leg, and torso sharply to the right. As the punch accelerates to the bag, remember to clench the fist before contact and quickly return to the guard position. Two last thoughts to help with this punch. Think of crushing a walnut with the ball of your left foot. Now, without lifting the foot, grind the walnut into bits. Second, imagine walking up to a friend and hugging him around the neck.
These three punches are all you need for a good heavy bag workout. I suggest you shadow box in front of a mirror for a week or two. This will help you become familiar with everything discussed above. I suggest you do a heavy bag workout of five three-minute rounds with a one-minute rest in-between rounds. Round one, work strictly on footwork. Round two, throw all left jabs. Round three, throw all straight rights. Round four, throw all left hooks. Round five, throw 1-2’s for half, throw 1-2-3’s for the second half. Now you’re comfortable enough to work out on a bag. But first! Hand wrapping. While this is definitely not rocket science, it is crucial to your well-being if using regular bag gloves.
I can’t stress this enough – do not do your heavy bag workout without wrapping your hands! Put your thumb through the loop at the end of the wrap. Start with 3 turns on the wrist, fairly tight. Spread fingers apart and wrap around knuckles, fairly loose, five times. Bring around and wrap thumb one turn. Now take the wrap around the opposite side and make an X with several not-too snugs. When you reach the wrap’s end, turn it around the wrist and tie it off with a Velcro end.
Drills for the heavy bag workout: (Note – footwork should always be solid, bobbing and weaving)
- Start out throwing 100 left jabs, then 50 right hands, and finish with 25 hooks. Do not throw any of these with power, just nice and easy to warm up.
- Hopefully, you noticed the number punches because that’s what I’ll be using. 1-1, 5 times; 1-1-1, 5 times; 1-2, 10 times; 1-1, 3 times; 1-2-3, 4 times; 2-3-2, 4 times; 3-2-3, 4 times; 1, 20 times; 1-2, 5 times; rest 1 minute.
- 100 crisp Jabs, 50 straight rights, 25 hooks. Warm-up time is over—these punches are thrown with the intention of hurting the bag. Really work on snapping your punches out and getting right back to the ready position. Keep a good balance. Say to yourself with each punch “snap,” out and back as fast as possible. That’s right, you bad, cut loose! Finish with 1-2 for 1 minute as fast as you can. Rest one minute before continuing your heavy bag workout.
- Go three 3-minute rounds, a 1-minute break in-between. Freelance here; work on Crisp combos and finish the last 30 seconds of each round with flurries of punches.
Here is a good combo I like to finish my heavy bag workout. You can do it as many times as you want; eventually, it will become second nature. Throw a phantom left to the midsection. This punch should barely make contact with the bag. You’re not throwing it for damage, you’re throwing it to get your opponent to lower his hands. Do not bring your left back to the ready position. Instead, bring it back halfway and then hit the bag where you would imagine someone’s nose. Make sure you are on the balls of your feet and slightly coming forward. Snap this punch back and immediately throw a straight right at the same position. Snap that punch back and throw a solid hook, stepping in close enough to the bag to fully unleash the power. Snap the hook back, slightly crouch, and throw a straight right to the midsection, followed by a 1-2 to the nose area and, finally, for good measure, one last hook. Do this at least 10 times at the end of each heavy bag workout; eventually, it will flow so smoothly that you’ll amaze yourself!
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