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Remember when Rocky punched a side of beef in order to prepare for a big fight?
You don’t have to visit your local meat market to find what you need in a punching bag.
While the product space has certainly become specialized, all punching bags serve the same basic purpose: they provide a safe target on which users can practice punches, kicks, chops, and all other sorts of MMA fighter-type mayhem.
Whatever your budget, age range, and size, there are plenty of suitable options to choose from.
To narrow the field, we at BestReviews delved into the world of punching bags, conducting consumer surveys and poring over research.
We came up with a shortlist of five of the best punching bags on today’s market, and we’re proud to present them in this shopping guide.
Denise has a background in healthcare and physical therapy. She also has the unique experience of raising three boys. Through the years, she has coached her sons and many of their friends through their share of childhood health problems and accidents. When not helping others recover from their injuries, you may find Denise working in her garden or reading.
At BestReviews, we pride ourselves on our honesty and impartiality. To that end, we never accept free products from manufacturers. If you’re ready to buy a punching bag, please see the matrix above for our top recommendations.
If you’d like to learn more about punching bags in general, please continue reading this shopping guide.
Punching bags are not just for boxers anymore. Martial arts and kickboxing students, soccer players, and even those just looking for a high-impact exercise routine find value in punching bags.
Imagine a 5’2”, 110-pound warrior and a 250-pound heavyweight fighter. Logically, this pair would not choose the same punching bag for their training or exercise. Here are some tips to finding the one that best suits your needs:
A muay Thai bag is shaped like a banana and used specifically to train kickboxers.
Looking to spice up your home gym’s color scheme? The Century Wavemaster is available in red, blue, and black.
Users should take precautions in order to use a their punching bag safely, including the following:
In order to avoid the ER and minimize your odds of spending weeks in a cast, the right boxing gloves are essential. You have many choices, but whatever you select, there should be many layers of cushioning to absorb the shock of hitting the bag.
We recommend you opt for boxing gloves with an outer layer of leather and some kind of foam or neoprene inside. These components help absorb the weight of the bag as you punch. Because fingers and knuckles are especially vulnerable, the gloves should sport extra padding in these areas.
Hand wraps offer an added layer of protection under boxing gloves. They can also be used on the feet in kickboxing. Hand wraps increase your punching power and further protect your hands. Hand wraps are inexpensive, and come in flexible fabric and more rigid fabric varieties. There are lots of online video tutorials on how to wrap your hands correctly for boxing.
Those who practice martial arts and MMA fighting without gloves may still wish to wear hand wraps on their bare hands and feet.
Although punching involves your arms and hands, your stability and strength originate lower down on the body. Keep your feet securely planted, and be mindful of your supportive leg muscles and rotating core as you practice.
Some people inadvertently clench their teeth and hold their breath when they practice. This can tighten the muscles in your face and scalp, leading to a bad headache later on.
In honor of his girlfriend who died of cancer, Kaveh Fatemian of the UK hit a punching bag for 52 consecutive hours (July 3-5, 2014).
There are some good bags in this price range. We particularly like the Last Punch Heavy Duty Punching Bag, but buyers should know that it arrives empty; you must fill it yourself in order to create weight. Often made of canvas, these cheaper punching bags tend to be a bit smaller than more expensive ones, but they can still be very durable.
This is the price point where you start to see lots of high-quality heavy bags. Cost varies depending on the size and weight of the bag, as well as the outer material. For example, the 40-pound version of the Everlast bag on our matrix (suitable for kids) costs a bit less than the 70-pound version.
The outer material of a bag affects its price, too. Canvas tends to wear out faster than some other materials. At such, canvas bags can run $10-$15 less than those made of denser materials.
The Last Punch Heavy Duty bag is four feet long with chains and a little less than three feet without them. In addition to boxing, some people use a bag of this size to practice their soccer kicks.
For serious training, especially in martial arts where a variety of kicks and punches are practiced, a life-sized dummy/mannequin is ideal. The Century Bob XL, at a cost of $369, is made of polystyrene plastic with strong bolts in the back. Bob comes on a stand which can be raised up and down depending on the user’s height or to practice on targets of varied heights.
You also will find the heaviest punching bags in this lofty price range. These bags are made for experienced fighters who are likely to practice several times a day.
Q: What are the pros and cons of a water-filled punching bag?
A: Because of their weight, users must give careful consideration to where they hang a water-filled bag. Furthermore, the fill process can be troublesome when it comes time to seal the bag; too much pressure on the fill cap can result in a tear.
On the other hand, some owners claim that a water-filled bag absorbs the blows of a punch better than other bags, resulting in less impact on the bones and joints.
Q: What are some tips on how to properly use a punching bag?
A: When punching the bag, keep your balance by avoiding leaning into the bag. Do not take long breaks between punches; the most you should wait is two seconds per set. Each set should consist of between three and six punches.
Q: I’m interested in the Bob Century XL, but I can’t decide whether to fill the base with water or sand. Which is better?
A: Both filler types have their pros and cons. If you choose to fill Bob’s base with water, there’s always the potential for a leak. However, water may be easier to physically manipulate than sand. If you go the sand route, keep in mind that it will weigh a lot more than water and may cause a mess when you’re filling and emptying the base.
Q: I want to buy the fillable Last Punch Heavy Duty bag, but neither water nor sand appeal to me. Do I have other options?
A: Yes. The Last Punch manufacturer tells us that you can fill the bag with whatever you choose. This includes plastic bags from the grocery store and old clothes.
Q: I want to buy a punching bag, but I don’t want to set it up myself. How can I get help?
A: There may be a local professional in your area who could set up your punching bag. Some of the bags on our list, when ordered through Amazon, can be purchased with a “Professional Assembly” benefit.