Punching is the most common technique in MMA nowadays.
Good boxers usually reach the top of the division, while good strikers are always ahead of their opponents in long-range and toe-to-toe exchanges.
If you want to reach the top of the division, you must learn to strike properly.
Fifty years ago, there were only 3-4 types of punching bags, and coaches had to be wizards. But today, there are many different training tools in the market.
For example, you can buy a special bag and boost your knee skills or you can buy a bag to focus on your movement. The advances in training equipment are amazing, aren’t they?
This article will focus on various types of punching bags on the market, and describe the best use of every single bag.
Read carefully so you don’t make the wrong investment!
Punching bags – types and best uses
Before we start, just a few basic facts. The first four bags are heavier and longer than others, and you’ll need a high-quality heavy bag hanger.
Bags number five and six can be put on the floor, while training tools seven to twelve are designed “for special purposes”. The last two bags serve for maximum speed.
You might be confused right now but we’ll explain every bag, step by step.
Now let’s take a deep dive into the world of punching bags and their best uses!
Standard heavy bag
Typically, this bag is 4 to 5 feet tall, and you can recognize it by the consistent width from top to bottom. The bottom of the standard heavy bag hangs at the level of your thighs.
You can use it for all types of strikes and martial arts, and it is especially good for beginners and intermediate strikers.
All kinds of punches, kicks, and elbows will work. You can train straight, diagonal, and flying knees too, but if you’re looking for an excessive clinch training session, this isn’t the bag for you.
It is great for a general workout and heavy hits, maybe some combos. But when you try to, for example, counter a big right hook with a stunning left uppercut, you can forget about this training tool.
Banana heavy bag
The banana-shaped heavy bag is thinner than the regular one and it hangs a few inches above the height of the floor.
It is widely used in Muay Thai and MMA, as it lets you work on Jon Jones’ oblique kicks, calf kicks, Andy Hug’s tornado kicks, violent elbows and fists from all kinds of positions and a lot more.
Yet, it bounces a lot which is a significant downside. You can master your combinations and change levels nicely, but when you try to add some power to your hits, you’ll have to move and follow the bag.
Yes, it is good to boost your footwork and create a realistic feel of the fight, but you’ll probably miss a lot of combos.
Angled heavy bag
The angled heavy bag usually weighs between 60 and 100 lbs, and it is designed for technical strikes.
In MMA, you’ll meet many opponents who keep their hands wide. It is excellent for kicks under the guard to the ribs, as its top is wider than its bottom.
You can work on your uppercuts, short hooks, weaving overhands, straight punches, and slashing elbows on the top of the bag.
If you’d like to boost your body punches, the bottom of the angled heavy bag is a top-notch choice.
It is good for both beginners and advanced fighters, as you’ll find that your technique will improve very quickly. But it might not be the greatest pick for one-punch KO artists.
Bowling pin heavy bag
Bowling pin heavy bag is designed for Muay Thai fighters, but it can work for MMA too.
You don’t see many downward roundhouse (slashing) low kicks in the world of martial arts, as they are way harder to block, compared to kickboxing low kicks.
This training tool is wonderful for rabbit knees and all other kinds of clinch strikes. The upper area of the bag mimics the foe’s head and shoulders.
It is based on the height of your hips. If you’re a beginner, stay away from this bag, it is designed for specific combinations and paths, it helps you to find a way around great blocks.
When you meet an opponent who checks low kicks well, he’ll be surprised because you’ll destroy his calves – Muay Thai low kicks are way harder to defend.
It is also excellent for front and teep kicks. You can try a punch or two before clinching up, but if you plan to land brutal boxing fists to the head, this bag is not the best choice.
Freestanding heavy bag
Freestanding bag is mounted on a stand, you don’t need a heavy bag hanger. It is one of the best training tools for light combinations. You can improve your low kicks, middle kicks, and all kinds of body strikes.
Yet, when you try to add some power, the freestanding bag will end up on the floor. In MMA, this is useful because it simulates an opponent going down, and you can follow up with Hendo’s Superman punch or Ngannou’s hammer-fists. But it is not designed for heavy hits, keep that in mind.
Body opponent bag
Many people consider the body opponent bag a sub-group of the freestanding heavy bag. To some point, it is true, but there are differences.
First, BOB looks like a real person and creates a realistic feeling of the hit. Furthermore, it is loaded with water and you can set the height, so it looks like you’re hitting a real person.
Your punch can slide if you miss, your kicks are not going to create a significant amount of damage when you miss the sweet spot.
You can aim straight to the chin, ribs, or oblique muscles, and you don’t have to guess the height of your foe. Unfortunately, the bag is static and a hard hitter can easily knock it down.
It is mostly great for Taekwondo and Karate, but it can help many martial artists. It works for “point fighters” (the style of American kickboxing) like Michael “Venom” Page or Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson.
You could call this a heavy bag on steroids. Yeah, we know you’re laughing your asses off right now, but the pole bag is designed to absorb the most powerful kicks in the world.
You must mount it around the vertical pole and no matter how hard you hit, it’s not going to fall.
When filled, it weighs around 300 lbs, which means it can eat Alistair Overeem’s kicks all day!
It is good for very strong strikes, and it lets you add maximum power to your combinations. Feel free to low kick as hard as you can.
There is only one problem – it doesn’t move. You’ll never fight a sitting duck in a real life.
Add some footwork and movement, circle and land hard, it will help you to grow as a martial artist.
Teardrop bags belong to the newer generation of training tools. It might vary in the terms of width, but it is mostly the shape of an egg or teardrop.
It swings a lot, which makes it a perfect choice for ducking, head movement, and punch counters.
A heavier bag is better for harder strikes. Different angles allow slashing elbows, overhand punches, uppercuts, even Brazilian kicks.
The wrecking ball is very popular in the world of boxing, it is thicker and heavier than a teardrop, which means you can connect powerful punches to the head.
Muay Thai fighters like to throw deadly elbows, and you can hit hard because it doesn’t swing too much.
It is one of the best choices for close-range combat and movement training sessions. MMA fighters use it for dirty boxing in the clinch, too.
Aqua bags became popular during the last few years. They are loaded with water and mostly made of synthetic material.
An aqua bag’s greatest advantage is a different feel when you hit. Your fist sinks in a bit more, which prevents joint injuries and lets you throw hard bombs.
You’ll feel like you’re hitting a real opponent. It degrades slower than a normal bag. You can use it for all kinds of boxing strikes and elbows, Brazilian kicks, and some knees. But it’s not good for level changes as it simulates the foe’s head.
The wall bag is mostly used for accuracy, it is a small piece of training equipment mounted on the wall.
Depending on the design, you can use it for flying knees, uppercuts, even front kicks, and sidekicks.
Yet, the bag won’t move, so you can forget about having the realistic feel of a bout.
Uppercut bag is usually mounted on the wall or a heavy bag hanger, depending on the design.
The name says it – it’s wonderful for all kinds of uppercuts, but there are many more positive sides to this training tool.
For example, you can try uppercut elbows and knees off the clinch too. Oh, please, don’t forget about great teep and front kicks to the head.
This piece of training equipment is designed for the quickest strikes in the world.
Are you looking for fast-punch counters, or maybe lightning-quick elbows? Check our top 5 speed bag training routines.
Double end bag
A double-end bag (popular floor-to-ceiling bag) works well for boxers, but other martial artists use it too. It rebounds extremely quickly, so you must move your head quickly.
The rebound happens in a split second. Many elite-level athletes use it to maximize hand speed. It is very light and it can simulate the fastest fighters in the division.
The tension of the rope determines how fast the bag swings. The size of the ball matters, as a smaller target demands more precise strikes.
You can move around and hit, this is an awesome tool to master your footwork.
We hope we helped you to understand the different types of punching bags on the market.
You should determine your goals before you decide which training tool are you going to buy.
Are you a kicker, a Muay Thai fighter, a boxer, or sprawl and brawl Octagon warrior?
Are you a beginner, intermediate or advanced striker? What aspect of the game do you plan to improve?