How to Get a Good Workout With a Punching Bag


With just a punching bag and a pair of boxing gloves, you can develop your cardiovascular endurance, improve your muscle endurance, strengthen your core, burn calories and build power in your shoulder and hip muscles. Boxers and MMA fighters regularly train with punching bags, as do those interested in improving their physical fitness. Plan out a comprehensive workout ahead of time to ensure that you work all your major muscle groups and keep your heart rate elevated.

Warm-Up and Cool Down

  • Begin every punching-bag training session with a 10 to 15-minute dynamic warm-up. The warm-up increases blood flow, body temperature and breathing rate and wakes up your nervous system. It increases your workout performance and reduces your risk of injury. Start with five minutes of jogging or jumping rope, followed by five to 10 minutes of shadowboxing. Add in a cool down period at the end of every workout to improve recovery time. A cool down allows your heart and breathing rates to safely lower back to resting levels. Do five to 10 minutes of riding a stationary bike or jumping rope.

Workout Structure

  • Organize your punching bag workout into rounds. Each workout should be made up of six to eight rounds -- with each round lasting two to three minutes -- and one minute of rest. Figure out ahead of time what you’ll be working on in each round. For example, your round could focus on solely punches, jabs and crosses; punch combinations; or kicks. One round could feature non-traditional punching-bag drills, like push and punches, which involve performing a pushup and then at the top of the movement, punching the bag with one hand. Use a timer that alerts you when time is up so that you don’t have to constantly watch the clock.

Choosing Drills

  • Select three drills to include in each round. Choose from power, speed, footwork and accuracy drills. Power drills involve striking the bag as hard as possible. They could involve a single strike, such as a punch, or a combination, like a jab followed by a punch. Speed drills involve performing a particular strike as quickly as possible. Footwork drills improve your lower-body coordination. The move-with-the-bag drill, for example, involves moving around a bag that has been pushed and is swinging freely, imagining that it’s an opponent. Accuracy drills involve performing deliberate reps of a strike, focusing on mastering technique.

    Non-traditional punching bag drills, such as the push and punch drill, can also be used. The six-up drill forces you to do a deep squat and then punch the bag six times while slowly rising up out of the squat. Jump rope, burpees, squats, jumping jacks, high knees and medicine ball slams can be interwoven into rounds.

Determining Sets and Reps

  • Once you’ve figured out the focus of each round and the exercises that make up each round, figure out how many reps you’ll do of each exercise. Do 10 reps of each power drill, because they take longer and you need to set yourself between each rep. Do 20 reps of each accuracy and footwork drill, as these drills are quicker, but you’re also focusing on technique. Do 30 to 50 reps of each speed drill so that you build endurance. A round focused on punches, for example, could include 20 reps of straight punches, 10 reps of punches after having ducked to avoid an imaginary punch from an opponent and 50 reps of punching as fast as you can. Repeat these drills until the round is finished.


  • Photo Credit Antonio_Diaz/iStock/Getty Images
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