With the advent of sophisticated training devices, and methods to achieve amazing results in minimal time, the fitness industry is increasingly veering away from many tried and tested ways to improve health and fitness. Dont be one of them over complicating your fitness.
One piece of equipment that has become almost legendary in its shaping of champions, and the results in physical fitness it has achieved for many an average person, is the heavy bag.
The heavy bag is a stuffed bag made of leather or vinyl, which weighs between 40 and 100 pounds, and is used primarily among boxers for building punching power and improving boxing technique. Hitting the heavy bag is physically demanding and a true test of strength and stamina.
For a relatively simple piece of equipment, it delivers many amazing benefits. Whether it be a full-body workout, sharpened self defense skills, or a defined, muscular body, the heavy bag is a valuable addition to any home, or commercial gym setting. My preference is to combine heavy high intensity weight training with boxing training for my cardio.
How does one use the heavy bag and what are its benefits? Why might the heavy bag be a useful addition to your training plan? Read on to find out.
1. Improve Aerobic Fitness.
Training on the heavy bag at the right intensity, will greatly tax the cardio respiratory system.
2. Improve Power.
The heavy bag was actually designed for boxers to enhance their punching power. It allows for the perfect opportunity to focus on using as many muscles as possible, to ensure a punch is thrown with perfect technique, and with the greatest possible force. Main muscles worked on the heavy bag include the shoulders, arms, back, chest intercostals & obliques. Legs are also used in the process of punching the bag, to generate power through the upper body. Straight punches, such as the right cross and jab, will help to develop power through the shoulders and chest, while uppercuts and hooks will utilize the back and arms to a greater extent.
3. Improve Coordination, & Core Stability.
Circling the heavy bag and throwing off combinations of punches will help with coordination. I like to keep the bag moving to force me to do the same when delivering combination's. Stick n move baby!
4. Improve Boxing Technique.
Obviously, hitting the heavy bag will improve boxing technique, provided all punches, and body-movements, are performed correctly. The idea is to keep everything tight, while remaining relaxed and ready to react. Elbows in and hands up, while continually moving, is the basic approach to hitting the heavy bag. Of course, the punches will be all the more sharper and powerful if you are relaxed, and in the correct stance.
5. Improve Body Shape.
I have personally witnessed an improvement in terms of shoulder, biceps and back detail, as a result of heavy bag training. Although hitting the heavy bag does not equate to a pure intense weight workout- it does provide an excellent way in which to add detail and strip body-fat. Adding detail in the form of greater cuts and a certain hardness, and stripping body-fat to reveal the underlying muscles, will enhance anyone's physique.
For the amount of work many boxers do - particularly in the pro ranks - many of these athletes do seem to hold an impressive degree of muscle size. ( see attached picture of Sergio Martinez. 5'9 160 LBS ) For those wanting to improve general health, while preserving their muscle gains, I would suggest a heavy bag workout along with your weight training.