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PUNCHING BAG BUYERS GUIDE, HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT BAG AND SET IT UP

Premier boxing gym punching bag training

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 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 at this time with Corona virus at large and keeping many people training at home while all gyms in Australia closed.

BENEFITS OF HITTING THE PUNCHING BAG

  • 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 PUNCHING BAG

  • SIZE & WEIGHT
  • OUTSIDE MATERIAL
  • INSIDE MATERIAL
  • SHAPE
  • HANGING STRAPS

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, punch bag size will dictate the weight, I will give you a list of the most common sizes that adult men and gyms purchase at the Ringsport store and the percentage of size 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 where going to use the bag for punching and kicking with an emphasis on kicking, including low kicks then a longer and heavier bag would be needed, a 150cm x 38cm or 180cm x 38cm 45 to 50kg bags

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 manufacture is willing to give you 3 to 5 years in a commercial setting (Gym use) or up to 8 year home use is a good warrantee similar to 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 and that will put the price up considerably, a high quality unsplit leather punching bag will cost up to $500. Leather is one of the most durable of the materials that are used. It is not seen very often these days because of the cost, 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 thinner and quite weak in 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 this 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 that 14 years old and still going strong. It is an Australian made Ringsport Elite punching bag.

CANVAS

Canvas bags are the cheapest option you will find because canvas is a cheapest material and cheap canvas will not stand up to a serious boxer or kick boxer pounding it. Saying that you can get good quality canvas but that starts to become more expensive as rip stop vinyl and it is not that nice to hit, high quality canvas is quite stiff and can be harsh on your legs and gloves when it is new, best to avoid canvas unless you are buy a cheap bag for kids to play with.

WHAT IS INSIDE A PUNCHING BAG?

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 bags density nice and firm to hit, but not hard.

These bags usually have some small sandbags added to increase the weigh as the shredded rags are very lite. 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 place and packed well so they do not move over time, if they do move and end up close to the edge of the bag and create dangerous hard spots that can injure your hands.

I know of some punching bags to be 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 not be hitting with your fists.

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.

FILLED OR UNFILLED 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.

TYPES OF PUNCHING BAGS

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

 

DIFFERENT TYPES OF PUNCHING BAGS

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. The Ringsport free standing punching bag is very durable and can stand up to some very heavy punching from big guys.

HANGING YOUR PUNCHING BAG

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 as this is the first part that will need replacing. You will be best to go to a specialist boxing supplier if you punching 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 usually at about 30cm to the bag. 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 and 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 or and metal fixings that expand as you tighten the bolts as 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 to 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 and you can imagine what the cost would be.

If you can find something to hang the bag of with ideally rope, hang it as that will save time, money and any chance of damaging walls.

SWIVELS

punching bag swivel kit

 

Punching bag swivels, I think are essential and help a punching bag outer material wear more evenly the but less strain on the bag while it is being hit. It also helps with wear and tear on the hardware holding the bag up, like the snap hooks the wall frame and D clamps if using and deadens the sound. All the punching bags at my boxing club have springs and swivels holding them up and it is best to use stainless steel swivels which will wear much more slowly that 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. Visit Ringsport to check our spring.

EYE BOLTS

If you are using punching bag eye bolts to attach you punching bags to any metal frames like I beams or and steel work that you may have set up, make sure they are stainless steel, they out last mild steel by at least 2 times.


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