PUNCHING BAG BUYER'S GUIDE: HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT BAG AND SET IT UP

man punching boxing bag at gym learn how to choose the right punching bag

As a former boxer, boxing coach and boxing equipment designer or enhancer, I have spent a lot of time using and being involved with punching bags. Punching bags are the one piece of boxing equipment that has not changed much during all the years I have been involved with boxing and Muay Thai.

They do, however, come in many different shapes, sizes, materials and fillings. More than they used to in the past. The most major change is the introduction of water filled punching bags.

No matter what combat sport or fitness training that you are participating in, many of you will use a punching bag at the gym or at your home, especially with Coronavirus keeping many people training at home and all gyms in Australia closed. 

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT BAG & SET IT UP PROPERLY 

From how to hang a punching bag to the best sizes for you and your style of fighting, this punching bag buying guide gives you all the information you need to choose the perfect bag for your needs.

We also share our most popular and best punching bags for sale at Ringsport Australia.

Benefits Of Hitting Punching Bags

  • Develop timing for punches and kicks
  • Help to improve punching power
  • Helps to improve punching speed
  • Improve your distancing, moving in and out range of your opponent
  • Improve punching and kicking coordination
  • Improve your strength and conditioning
  • Improve your punching combinations

Things To Look For In A Boxing Bag

  • Size and Weight
  • Outside Material
  • Inside Material
  • Shape
  • Hanging Straps

BEST PUNCHING BAG SIZE

Punching bag size is probably the first decision you will need to make, before you buy a punching bag that will depend partly on which sport you are into; Boxing, Muay Thai or MMA.

As a guide, boxing bag size will dictate the weight.

I will give you a list of the most common sizes that adult men and gyms purchase from our boxing gear store, Ringsport, in Perth. As well as the percentage of bag sizes they buy. 

MOST COMMON SIZES For Boxing Gyms

  • 120cm x 38cm weight 34-36kgs 60% 
  • 150cm x 38cm weight 40- 43kgs 30%
  • 180cm x 38cm weight 48-50kg 10%

MOST COMMON SIZES for Muay Thai Gyms

  • 120cm x 38cm weight 34-36kgs 10% 
  • 150cm x 38cm weight 34- 43kgs 30%
  • 180cm x 38cm weight 48-50kg 60%

The bags above would be classed as heavy bags and they are the most popular, with what I would call lighter bags which are popular with kids, teenagers, and get fitters. The price is quite a bit cheaper for the narrower punching bags.

  • 90cm x 32cm weight 25kgs
  • 120cm x 32cm weight 30kgs
  • 150cm x 32cm weight 35kgs
  • 180cm x 32cm weight 40kg

If you are after a punching bag that will be used only for punching then a fair  indicator for weight of the bag you will need should be about 40 to 50% of your body weight, so if your right was 85kg then a bag around 35 to 40kgs would be about right for single bag at home. It is not a big issue as all boxers can us heavy and lighter bags for general training in fact it is a good practice to get into. Lighter bags for working on speed and accuracy and the heavier bags working on power and conditioning.

If you were going to use the bag for punching and kicking with an emphasis on kicking (including low kicks), a longer and heavier bag would be needed. Such as our 150cm x 38cm or 180cm x 38cm 45-50kg Ringsport Elite Heavy Bags.


PUNCHING BAG SPECIFICATIONS

OUTER MATERIALS USED

Punching bags come in many different materials, you have many different synthetic materials that your punching bag can be made of, some are very good some are not very good at all. Price can be a good indication of quality but not always, especially if it is a brand name selling at a sport store.

The best indication of quality is the warrantee the manufacturer is willing to give you.

3 to 5 years in a commercial setting (Gym use) or up to 8-years (home use) is a good warrantee. That is similar to our Australian Made Ringsport Elite Punching Bags. If the manufacture is only offering 1 or 2 years then it should be a cheap bag and not to be used in a gym only home use.

LEATHER

Punching Bags that are made from genuine leather are always the most expensive. Leather is an expensive material. It puts the price up considerably. A high-quality un-split leather punching bag will cost you up to $500.

Leather is one of the most durable materials for boxing bags. It is not seen very often these days because of the cost, and you can buy split leather punching bags quite cheap, but they are not recommended for commercial gyms.

By "split leather" I mean leather that is split into slices which makes it more thin and weak at certain places.

RIP STOP VINYL

The most popular material you see used on the outer shell of a punching bag is rip stop vinyl.

There are different levels of quality of rip stop vinyl material. Some of it is very high quality and may last in commercial boxing clubs for many years.

I say this because in my boxing club, Premier boxing club in Perth, Western Australia, I have one bag that's 14 years old and still going strong. It is one of our Australian Made Ringsport Elite punching bags.

CANVAS

Canvas bags are the cheapest option you will find because canvas is a cheap material. Cheap canvas will not stand up to a serious boxer or kick boxer pounding it.

Saying that, you can get good quality canvas boxing bags, but they start to become more expensive such as the rip stop vinyl and are not that nice to hit.

High quality canvas is quite stiff and can be harsh on your legs and gloves when it is new. It's probably best to avoid canvas unless you are buying a cheap boxing bag for kids to play with.

WHAT IS INSIDE A BOXING BAG?

All a punching bag should be filled with is cloth or rags. The majority of imported punching bags are made in Pakistan or India and are filled with shredded rags which means the rags are put into a machine and shredded into basically fluffy cloth and then packed with the help of a machine to compact the material. This shredded material is very lite and must be compacted to get the bag's density nice and firm to hit, but not hard.

These bags usually have some small sandbags added to increase the weight, as the shredded rags are very light. The sandbags are about 15cm x 15cm and 5cm thick and are placed in the centre line of the bag; one low and one high, inside the bag.

This works well if the sandbags are placed and packed well so they do not move over time. If they do move and end up close to the edge of the bag, this creates dangerous hard spots that can injure your hands.

I know of some punching bags that are filled with shredded rubber or saw dust straight, or mixed with cloth.

No matter how you mix these products in a punching bag, it always ends up at the bottom of the bag creating a very hard bag which is not something you should be hitting with your fists.

FILLED OR UNFILLED BOXING BAGS?

Most punching bags you buy will come filled, however due to the cost of shipping in Australia people may opt to buy it unfilled, which will save a lot in shipping on heavier bags. The only issue with that it takes a lot of rag to fill a 1.8m x 38cm punching bag and rag while you may think it is just rags, if you think it is cheap think again, you can pay $5 a kg if you have to buy it and a 1.8m bag will weigh about 50 kgs, times that by $5 and it will cost more than the bag.

You may be able to get some rag at Good Sammy’s or other used clothing resellers that throw away donations they cannot sell. It may not be easy to find. In the perfect world the rags should be cut up into small pieces to give an even consistence to the filling and a smooth look to the bag and that is a big job. If you just throw in tee shirts, shorts and jumpers you will get dense and softer spots in your bag.


CUSTOM MADE PUNCHING BAGS

If it is extra weight or density you need and cannot get it in an off the shelf punching bag, one way the achieve this is to have heavier materials like denim added to the bag. You will need to have the bag custom filled or made. Custom made Australian punching bags are not easy to find. Ringsport can customise size, colours and fill punching bags.

Custom punching bags can be ready within a week!


DIFFERENT TYPES OF PUNCHING BAGS

Below are the various different bag styles and what they're best used for. As well as best punching bag recommendations.

TYPES OF PUNCHING BAGS

  • STANDARD PUNCHING BAG
  • HEAVY BAG
  • UPPER CUT AND WRECKING BALL
  • FREE STANDING BAG
  • WATER PUNCHING BAG

STANDARD BAGS

Standard punching bags or bags that range from 28 to 32cm wide which in is an average size of a punching bag you would pick up at a sports store. Depending on what they are filled with will be quite light and if hit hard they will move around a lot. Still they are good for home use and for lite weight teenagers and some women.

Heavy punching bag

HEAVY BAG

The heavy bag is the most common punching bag that is used in most boxing and Muay Thai gyms, they range from 38cm to 40cm in diameter and make for a heavier and a denser bag to hit. It can take a much heavy person punching the bag without swinging to much

You can expect to see the heavy bag at all Muay Thai, or Boxing gym you train in, the heavy bag will allow you to work on your technique, power, and conditioning. It is the bag that can be used for everything.

WRECKING BALL PUNCHING BAG & UPPER CUT BAGS

Wrecking ball punching ball

Wrecking ball punching bags are a great addition to a boxing gym Boxing as they are very versatile great for working on all punches especially upper cuts and hooks. Upper cut and wrecking balls especially good for moving around and moving in with lead body shots and angled movements into body shots which all boxers need to work on. Upper cut bags are a small lighter bag and the wrecking ball is quite a heavy bag both can be used for the same style boxing incorporating lots of body punches and upper cuts.

WALL MOUNTED BAGS

The wall mounted bag was originally designed to be mounted on a pole or railway sleeper that was placed into the ground with the top of the pole above the bag at head height for Thai fighters to hold onto to while practice kneeing.

These days the wall bag is set up for hooks and upper cuts. Wall mount bags are ideal for people who want to work on boxing combinations that involve uppercuts.

If you are looking to create a home boxing gym, the wall mounted bag would be considered an “Extra” they are typically used as additional pieces of equipment and should not be the main bag you have in your home.

FREE STANDING PUNCHING BAGS

Free standing punching bag | Ringsport

The other option for people who don’t have much space is to get a free-standing punching bag, these bags have a built-in water fillable base and can be placed almost anywhere. The movement of these bags is not as free as a hanging punching bag but where your options are limited these bags will do the job. This Ringsport Free Standing Punching Bag is very durable and can stand up to some very heavy punching from big guys.


HOW TO HANG A PUNCHING BAG

USING WALL FRAMES

Punching bag wall frame | Ringsport

Punching bag wall frames are quite easy to find at most sports store but they are usually kit form which makes for easy shipping but is does not make for a strong and stable punching bag frame. It is best to get fully welded wall frame that has wall bars that are 8 to 10mm thick with at least 4 wall holes and two attachment bars giving you 8 holes to drill into the wall.

The eye bolt is the first place that will wear, so it is best if you can use a stainless-steel eye bolt. This is the first part that will need replacing.

You will be best to go to a specialist boxing supplier if your boxing bag is heavier than 30kgs. Ideal hanging height should be 2.5m to the highest point for hanging which will give you enough room to fit a snap hook or two and a swivel.

The straps on a punching bag are usually at about 30cm to the bag.

Boxing Bag Swing

Remember, the longer the distance from the top of the frame to the punching bag, the more likelihood of the bag swinging.

Punching bag swing has a lot to do with how the punching bag is hit. You will notice punching bags hit by beginners always swing more.

When you hit a punching bag, you need to release the power without pushing the bag.

FIXING THE FRAME TO WALL

Your wall fixing is very important because a punching bag wall frame is only as strong as your fixings to the wall.

If you have a brick wall, my advice is don’t use dyna bolts nor metal fixings that expand as you tighten the bolts. There is a good chance the brick will crack as the bolts are tightened.

It is best to use heavy duty plastic plugs around 10 -12mm with 10mm bolts.

One other thing is, don’t drill too close to the ceiling because when you get close the top of the wall there may be only 1 or 2 bricks above the holes to support the frame, which may not be enough.

I have seen walls that had to be repaired by a brick layer, and then a plaster.. you can imagine what the cost would be. If you can find something to hang the bag on, ideally with rope, hang it like that as that will save you time, money and any chance of damaging walls.

SWIVELS

punching bag swivel kit

 

Punching bag swivels I think are essential. They help your boxing bag's outer material wear more evenly. And they put less strain on the bag while it is being hit.

Swivels also help with wear and tear on the hardware holding the bag up; the snap hooks, the wall frame and D clamps if using, and they help deaden the sound.

All the punching bags at my boxing club have springs and swivels holding them up. It is best to use stainless steel swivels which will wear much more slowly than mild steel swivels.

SPRINGS

Punching bag spring | Ringsport

Punching bags springs although not essential they are a luxury and worth having not so much for a kicking bag but for punching bag, it gives the bag a softer feel when hitting and takes some of the shock of the punch. It may not seem like much at the time but after a lot of round you will notice it. A Punching bag spring is ideal to attach between punching bag and its attachment, it will make the punching bag better to hit by allowing it to take some of the shock instead of your hand. It will also help the bag wear better by absorbing the shocks will be absorbed by the spring. The only issue it is hard to get punching bag frame that will hold a punching bag over 40kgs.

EYE BOLTS

If you are using punching bag eye bolts to attach your punching bags to any metal frames, such as I-beams or steel work that you may have set up, make sure they are stainless steel. 

Stainless steel eye bolts out last mild steel by at least 2 times.

This guide went over my personal tips from years of experience, how to hang your boxing bag, as well as the best sizes for you and different types depending on what your boxing or fighting styles are.

If you are left with any questions, please feel free to come visit our shop in Perth or get in touch with us here on the website. You can comment below on this blog, give us a phone call, or send us a message for a prompt response via email.


We hope this punching bag buying guide gave you all the information you need, and thank you for visiting our Ringsport blog.

Written by Richard Davis, owner at Ringsport Perth Boxing Equipment. Boxing coach at Premier boxing club.


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