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Health & Fitness Tested: 12 of the Best Boxing Bags for Your Home Gym

20:00  27 may  2021
20:00  27 may  2021 Source:   menshealth.co.uk

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In a world increasingly filled with heart rate monitoring t-shirts and GPS-tracking ‘smart’ sunglasses, the boxing bag stands alone. It's a simple piece of kit that has stood the test of time, accessible to athletes and average Joes alike. Weighing anywhere between 40 and 80 pounds, a heavy bag tests your stamina, hones lean muscle and builds power to get you ring ready.

a person posing for the camera: Kit out that spare corner in the garage with our pick of knockout bags for every budget © Provided by Men's Health UK Kit out that spare corner in the garage with our pick of knockout bags for every budget

There’s scientific heft to it, too. We all know that boxing gives your cardio engine a sixth gear, but the benefits of bag work – throwing punches at a deadweight – extend far beyond aerobic endurance. One of the most demanding workouts that you can get stuck into, it’ll boost your stamina, strength and power. It’ll also help you improve your reaction times, while developing your balance and coordination. Your arms, shoulders, chest, back, legs and core – nothing escapes the full-body flurry of working the bag

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“Bag work is an essential part of any boxer’s training routine to help build muscular strength as well as cardiovascular endurance,” says Richard ‘The Secret’ Williams, former Commonwealth and World IBO Boxing Champion, and instructor and co-founder of The Secret Boxing Gym.

Health Benefits

“Boxing bags are heavy so inevitably take a lot of strength to hit well repeatedly,” he continues. “Punches are generated firstly from the legs, through the abdomen and shoulders and lastly the arms. This means full body strength is required and your whole body should be engaged on impact with the bag... Bags are a great way to practice technique and coordination, so you are fully prepped for the ring. ”

Whether you’re looking for a conditioning workout, keen to build strength and mass, or simply sharpen your self defence tekkers, a boxing bag has it all. Plus, it gives your brain a workout, too. Boxing requires a huge amount of precision, which improves your cognitive function and memory, says Williams, and it's a great way to release stress and anxiety.

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“The strength and cardio combination gets your heart rate up and stimulates endorphin production, which sends ‘feel-good’ transmitters throughout the body and brain,” he explains. “Boxing takes a lot of concentration, practice and perseverance which helps to develop a stronger physical and mental resilience and ultimately that confident ‘fighting spirit’ that enables you to take on everyday challenges.”

The Best Boxing Bag For You

If you’re looking for versatile equipment that’ll go the distance, a boxing bag should be your first port of call. You don’t need a huge home gym or even a great deal of space – opt for a free standing boxing bag so you can store it on rest day (and move it outside in the summer). Question is, what should you look for from a high quality bag?

“Boxing bags move and respond in different ways depending on their size and weight,” Williams explains. “For developing speed and accuracy, opt for a lighter bag around 24 to 40 pounds. For building strength and power, a heavy bag is the best option.”

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While leather is the more expensive option, “it’s by far the best material, as it’s durable and feels more natural to punch,” Williams explains. And don't forget the rest of your kit – “it’s essential you invest in a good pair of boxing gloves and wraps as these will protect your hands, wrists and knuckles.”

What it ultimately comes down to is how you use the bag, he says. “This will really determine the benefits... Even a fairly light bag can give you a good workout if used correctly.”

a large room: Boxing Bags | The Best Heavy Bags for Your Home Gym © Yana Vorobeva / EyeEm - Getty Images Boxing Bags | The Best Heavy Bags for Your Home Gym

Effective DIY Boxing Workouts

If your goal is… strength and endurance

Try hitting the bag continuously for as long as possible, says Williams. “Think about approaching endurance training on the bag in the same way as you would a steady state run – steadily,” he says. To up the intensity, take a step towards the bag but maintain the same distance – so you’re hitting the bag at an angle, “thus effectively increasing the weight. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to maintain this level of intensity for a full round, but build both the duration and angle each time.”

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If your goal is… power

Hit the bag as hard and fast as you can – with correct technique – for a short period and repeat over a short round, Williams suggests. This should be similar to a HIIT circuit – for example, every 10 seconds throw the fastest, most powerful 5/6 punch combination you can, interspersed with rest or moving around the bag as active recovery.

“Power rounds will be short; you might start for just a minute,” he continues. “Be careful to recover sufficiently between bursts – this is critical to ensure you continue to work in the power zone, rather than moving into strength or endurance. Think about this type of work in the same way you would think of sprint sessions – short, explosive and if done correctly, you’ll be exhausted.”

8 Best Home Gym Boxing Bags

Whichever training route you go down, boxing bag work is an opportunity to take shadow boxing to another level. “Imagination is key to boxing training,” says Williams. “Think about what punches are likely to come back at you when you throw a particular combination or move in a particular direction.”

Just like when sparring, remember to constantly adjust your feet as the bag is moving, he adds. “This is an excellent way to learn how to judge and adjust distance so you can create the punches you wish to throw. Bag work should never be random.”

Before you throw your first punch, however, you need to choose your opponent wisely. Speed bags build lightning reactions and coordination; speed bars, with their swinging arms, keep you bobbing and weaving to work your core. Heavy bags, meanwhile, are ideal for fat-burning HIIT drills that pack on lean muscle.

Here, the Men’s Health experts laced up their mitts to find the best home-friendly boxing bags. Let’s get ready to rumble.

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