If you are new to martial arts, you probably want to consider getting a heavy bag (also known as a punching bag) for training. Heavy bags are great training tools that will let you practice your speed, timing and power without having to spar with a real person. There are many different heavy bags available and finding a good one for your training needs can be challenging. In this article we'll cover 3 important tips for selecting a good heavy bag.
Choosing the Right Weight
Heavy bags range in weight from around 70 to 150 pounds. Many people are confused about which weight is the right one for them. The good news is there is actually a pretty simple way to choose a good bag weight. Simply divide your weight by half and then go with a bag that is around that amount. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds then a 70 or 80 pound bag will probably be perfect for what you need. The one exception to this rule is if you have significant striking power. If you have powerful kicks (or punches) then you canvas duffle bag probably want to consider a heavier bag, which will be less likely to move around when hit hard.
Choosing a Good Cover Material
In general, bags are made with three kinds of cover materials, including leather, vinyl, and canvas. Leather is definitely the most premium cover material. It is usually used on more expensive and higher quality heavy bags, but occasionally it is also found on some mid-range products. Leather feels great when you strike it either with a punch or with a kick. It also doesn't tend to hurt your knuckles as much as other materials.
Vinyl can also be a very good cover material, although it depends on the bag. Most mid-range punching bags are made with a vinyl cover. It doesn't have the same premium feel that a leather bag has, but it still feels pretty good to hit. Canvas covers are reserved for very cheap and usually low-quality bags. We don't recommend them unless you can't afford a slightly more expensive leather or vinyl bag.
Choosing Between a Hanging Heavy Bag and a Freestanding Heavy Bag
There are two kinds of heavy bags that most people have to choose from - hanging bags and freestanding bags. Hanging bags are the traditional kind of heavy bag that hangs from the ceiling usually by a chain. Freestanding bags, on the other hand, have a base and don't need to be hung. There are benefits and negatives to both kinds of bags.
Hanging bags tend to move around a little bit when hit. This is good for working on speed, timing and accuracy. In addition, since the bag is hanging it provides a center of gravity that is similar to a real person. If you are training for a martial arts competition, a hanging bag is good to use for simulating a real person. However, there are two negatives for hanging punching bags. First, they are harder to install and you need to have a very secure ceiling that can hold a 70-150 pound bag. Second, once you set up the bag it is very hard to move, so you need to have a reserved space that you are committed to keeping your bag in.
Freestanding punching bags are much easier to move around. This means you can roll it out and then train with the bag. Once you are done you can simply roll it back out of the way. In addition, freestanding bags are usually easier to fill than the hanging kind. The major downside to freestanding bags is they don't move around the same way hanging bags do. This means they aren't as good to work on your speed and timing. Also, the center of gravity is different than a hanging bag and doesn't simulate a real person as well.