Repeating the same exercise routine week in, week out is a surefire way to get to fall out of love with your fitness regime. While consistency is key to improving your overall fitness levels and reaching your targets, it can always be a good idea to implement new and different elements into your work out.
This way, you’ll keep things fresh and exciting, whilst still taking those essential steps to self-improvement. One way a lot of fitness fanatics have been doing this is by introducing a heavy bag into their work out.
A heavy bag is both fun and easy to use, as well as provides a ton of different benefits, which we’re going to be taking a closer look at in this article.
What is a Heavy Bag?
A heavy bag is one of the larger types of punching bags, usually weighing between 80-120lbs and is designed to develop the explosive power, muscular endurance and cardio of the user.
There are two different types of heavy bags, each having their own benefits and drawbacks. The more traditional type of heavy bag hangs down from the ceiling or a specialized heavy bag stand. This allows the bag to swing backward and forwards when it’s been struck, somewhat simulating a moving opponent.
The second type is a free standing heavy bag, which features a large base that is filled with either water, sand or rocks. This weighted base helps to prevent the bag from being knocked over when struck, however, even the best free standing heavy bags tend to topple when hit with enough force.
Both of these bags are incredibly easy to use and are a fantastic way to spice up your work out, and maybe even pick up a new hobby along the way.
Benefit 1: Fantastic Cardio Routine
If you’ve never worked out on a heavy bag before, you’ll be surprised at how demanding it is on your cardiovascular endurance. Typically, a heavy bag work out consists of 3-4 2-minute rounds of explosive striking, which could include both punching and kicking depending on the bag being used.
Cardiovascular endurance is probably the most crucial area of fitness due to the fact that the heart controls how quickly fresh oxygen is delivered to your muscles, which in turn has a direct correlation on your performance. If your muscles are unable to receive the oxygen required to maintain a certain level of output, you’ll ‘gas out’ and be unable to continue at that intensity.
By working out on a heavy bag, you’ll be able to further develop your cardiovascular endurance, allowing you to perform harder, for longer.
Benefit 2: Improve Muscular Strength & Power
Incorporating a heavy bag work out into your exercise routine will allow you to develop your muscular strength. Whether you’re striking the bag with punches or kicks, the muscles involved with those motions are getting a workout.
Over time, they will get stronger and stronger and you will notice that you are throwing more powerful strikes. Instead of budging a few inches, you will be rocking the bag so it sways. Just make sure you are working on your technique so you don’t get hurt.
Benefit 3: Blow off Steam
Day to day life can really catch up to us sometimes, so much so that blowing off a bit of steam is a must. Fortunately, heavy bags provide the ultimate stress reliever and after a few minutes of furiously striking the bag, you’re bound to feel better.
With that in mind though, be sure to research proper striking form, as hitting a heavy bag with improper technique can cause injury. Also, at this point, it’s probably worth mentioning you’ll want to get yourself a pair of heavy bag gloves to use with the bag, as the material can be pretty tough and the bag itself fairly solid.
Benefit 4: Practice Self Defense
There’s no better skill in the world than knowing how to effectively defend yourself. While the best way to protect yourself is to avoid confrontation, this, unfortunately, isn’t always possible.
By learning basic striking technique and regular practice on a heavy bag, you’ll be armed with the knowledge required to defend yourself, should that situation ever arise.
This is also why hanging heavy bags are the preferred option, as it’s very unlikely you’ll be striking against a stationary target. The swinging motion of the bag will allow you to practice your timing, as well as know how far away you need to be in order to effectively land a strike.
Benefit 5: Great for Weight Loss & Muscle Toning
One of the most effective ways of losing weight is by utilizing what is known as a HIIT work out (high-intensity interval training). The idea is to perform an exercise at maximum intensity for quick bursts, followed by a short recovery period that can either be a complete rest or dramatically lowering the intensity.
Heavy bags provide the perfect platform to participate in a HIIT work out as they’re typically used in quick rounds at a high intensity.
An example HIIT work out using a heavy bag could consist of 30-seconds of maximum intensity, followed by a 15-second recovery period of either lowering the intensity or stopping altogether. This can then be repeated to match the required amount of times, depending on your level of fitness.
What’s more, the muscular endurance required to perform the HIIT work out is a great way to tone the muscles in both your arms and shoulders.
Heavy bag workouts aren’t just for professional fighters, they provide a ton of benefits that any fitness enthusiast can receive, even by incorporating them once or twice a week.
They key to improving your fitness levels is consistency, which can be hard to achieve by repeating the same monotonous work out every week. Next time you’re down the gym, give the heavy bag a go, you won’t regret it.