Heavy Bag Conditioning

By on March 11, 2010

Ever used a heavy bag or punch bag for conditioning? Unless you have a martial arts or boxing background I doubt many people would have. However you don’t need to be a fighter to use one, they are an excellent conditioning tool and a great alternative should you wish to add another dimension to your conditioning arsenal.


For Everyone

As long as you have access to a heavy bag, then this tool really is for anyone. I get people saying to me that they cannot punch. How else to learn but to do it? you are not trying to be a boxer here and for a lot of conditioning drills, two straight punches are my favoured techniques for simplicity. don’t forget you bag gloves!


Keep it interesting

I never get bored using a heavy bag, I can play around with one for ages. There are endless ways to keep this activity interesting. You can keep the training session light and fluid or you can dig in and go for big power shots. You can mix it up, drill for speed or power. You can even add other exercises into the mix such as skipping or burpees or squats in between rounds. One thing is for sure, if it is used right this training tool will wipe you out.


Plan your session

If you are going to do a conditioning session on a heavy bag then decide before you start what your goal is. Is it muscle endurance? speed? power?

Work it in rounds and decide how many you are going to do, how long each round is going to be and what you are going to do in each round. A perfect tool for timing your session is a gymboss interval timer. I recommend you get one for all your conditioning work so you don’t have to worry about watching a clock or counting rounds.

Many people think of Three minute rounds when you think of boxing, but it doesn’t have to be on a heavy bag. It would be practically impossible to go all out for 3 minutes, even 2 minutes. If you ever watch boxers in a ring, there is a lot of inactivity interspersed with short periods of activity, even elite boxers cannot sustain long bursts of exertion, your body cannot sustain energy release that quickly for long periods.


Push through Fatigue

mayweatherThis type of exercise is anaerobic, the body relies on energy stored in your muscles (ATP) as this can be broken down the fastest. This however is short lived as there is only a finite amount stored there. This type of energy is designed for short bursts, Ideal for this type of exercise.  Training in this way can teach you how to push through fatigue, get your body used to the discomfort so that over time you will be able to go for longer periods and reap the rewards.

I always recommend a thorough warm up of the muscles and joints before commencing this as they will take a lot of stick. As I said before, this doesn’t have to be fancy if you are new to it, stick to straight punching, always keep your hands up (which places extra stress on the shoulders) and elbows down before and after executing a punch.

Here are some examples for you:

Example 1

Round 1 – nice and easy warm up round.

Round 2 – Hands at a faster pace

Round 3 – heavy power shots

Round 4 – Hands at a faster pace

Round 5 – Heavy power shots

Round 6 – all out, mix it up fast and powerful shots.

Each round lasts 1 minute with 30 seconds of rest in between. Don’t pace the round, give it everything!

Example 2

  1. light fast
  2. power shots
  3. speed drill

Use the above as a template. Pick a number of rounds, for example 12 and do the exercise in rounds of three

Example 3

One Minute on the bag, followed by one minute skipping rope. Go straight from one exercise to the other without stopping. This really hits the shoulders, upper back and arms and builds good muscle stamina. This doesn’t have to be skipping rope, it could be squats, push ups, pull ups, burpees etc, use your imagination!

Example 4

For those of you that understand the different punching techniques, you can use the following on a bag to keep it interesting. Aim for 12 rounds of 1 minute, each round with a different combo.

NOTE: Because this is only for one minute, it should be all out, no slacking or resting in the minute, keep your work rate up. Give yourself no more than 30 seconds between rounds, challenge yourself to have minimal rest!

  1. jab/Cross
  2. hooks, 2 body, 2 head
  3. jab, cross, hook, cross
  4. hook, hook (same hand), cross
  5. jab/cross, jab/Cross
  6. rapid 16 straight punches is fours
  7. Double Jab/Cross
  8. 2 hooks body, 2 straight to the head
  9. Jab/Cross/Hook
  10. 2 hooks to the body
  11. Jab/cross. Jab/Hook
  12. All out, anything goes!

Please feel free to add to this post with your comments and ideas. I want this to be a good flow of information for everyone to voice opinion or follow.


to your strength and health




About Dean Coulson

• International Best Selling Author of the Fit Formula • Feature writer on Nutrition for the Uk’s biggest selling Martial arts magazine – Martial Arts Illustrated • Presenter & speaker - Tour the UK with Bafta Award Winning writer Geoff Thompson. (www.geofthompsoninspired.com ) • Owner and Performance coach at Assert Fitness Ltd. Taking our clients Dreams and makes them a reality, through the realms of coaching all aspects of health and fitness to busy professionals. • www.assert-fitness.co.uk , www.deancoulson.co.uk


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