An exercise session using a heavy bag provides a superb workout. It develops hand-eye coordination, muscular strength and endurance, whilst also being a superb way to let off steam, say, after a frustrating day at work.
A punch bag (such as this one on Amazon) makes a superb addition to any home gym and only takes up a minimum amount of space. Provided you get the right one, it can be used by all members of the family.
Over the years I’ve had experience of using a large number of bags and I thought it might be useful to outline my thoughts on the best punching bag for beginners.
As a beginner, you don’t want to spend an absolute fortune on a top of the range punching bag that’s more suited to professional fighters. At the same time, you want a quality product that is robust enough to take years of abuse.
What kind of punching bag should I get?
It’s important that the bag is suited to your needs: you may not have the space to have a punching bag permanently hanging in place; you may be getting the bag for a child or teenager; you may want one that’s suitable to kick as well as punch.
I’ve outlined a number of potential options for all these possible scenarios to help you when deciding on what to look for.
Best punching bag for kids
I think purchasing a punching bag for children is an excellent idea. Kids often have a hard time expressing their emotions and a session on a punch bag allows them to work out any pent up frustrations they might have. It’s certainly better that they vent any negative emotion on the punch bag rather than their siblings or another child.
My own children study martial arts, and I find that by having a punching bag that’s specifically designed for kids in mind, allows them to practise many of the techniques that they’ve been learning in the dojo. It’s also great that they get to experience what it’s like to actually strike a solid object, which makes their martial arts practise much more realistic.
I’m a big fan of the Bobby Bully (which you can see here on Amazon). This is an anatomically correct torso made from a tough durable rubberised material. It’s tough enough to withstand the strongest of strikes and yet is soft enough that it can be used without protective gloves.
It’s height adjustable from 50 to 55 inches tall, so that it grows with your child. It has a strong base which, when filled with water, weighs about 170 lbs. This means that it’s heavy enough not to slide about when it’s being struck.
The round base means that the dummy can be tilted on its side and rolled into position, making it relatively easy to move around.
Here’s a clip of it in action:
Best punching bag for a teenager
For a teenager, you’ll need something a little bigger than the Bobby Bully. Since teenagers will be throwing harder strikes, the base will need to be a little more sturdy and designed in a way to firmly anchor the punching bag to the ground.
I really like the Dripex Freestanding Punching Bag (which you can see here on Amazon). This free standing punch bag measures about 69” high and has a smooth, durable surface that has a bit of spring to it. This means that it’s soft enough so that you won’t bruise your hands and knuckles when using it.
What I particularly like about this bag is that it has shock absorbers built into the unit just above the base. This helps to keep the noise down when it’s being used. Indeed, one of the drawbacks of using traditional hanging bags is that, because they’re attached to the structure of the building, they can cause the entire house to reverberate when they’re being hit.
The base is over 19” across and features 12 suction cups to root it to the ground. Once it’s filled with sand, it weighs approximately 182lbs, meaning it’s not going to move anywhere when it’s struck. Again, it’s a round base, meaning the punching bag can be tilted and rolled into position if needed.
I also like how reasonably priced this punching bag is making it an affordable option for both teenagers and parents alike.
You can see it in action below:
Best free standing punching bag for beginners
Free standing punch bags have an advantage over the more traditional hanging bags in that the can be moved around and, if necessary, transported to a new location with relative ease. Hanging bags require fixed attachment points to be installed, meaning it has to remain permanently in position. I’ve written previously on how to install a heavy bag.
I’m personally a big fan of the Century BOB XL (like this one on Amazon). It’s made by the same company as the Bobby Bully, but this time it features an adult sized torso to practise against. It’s made of the same highly durable rubber that’s soft to the touch meaning that you can use it without wearing gloves if you want to.
It features an anatomically correct torso, head and groin area which means you can practise a whole array of head, body and groin/upper thigh strikes. It’s this element that makes it such a useful tool for training at home.
With conventional punch bags, you’re striking a vertical cylinder. This means you’re limited to the number of strikes you can actually do. For instance, it’s very difficult to do upper cuts on a traditional punch bag. With the Century BOB XL, the dummy has a chin on which you can practise this punch all day long.
As a martial arts practitioner, I tend to spend each training session on the dummy, practising a certain strike. It might be the knife hand strike on the side of the neck one day, and then a palm heel strike to the nose the next. It’s this ability to really focus on aspects of your training that makes it such a good bag for beginners.
I also like how it can adjust from 60″ to 82” in height. By simply adjusting the dummy’s height, you can train against a different sized opponent. This enables you to develop your punching accuracy and hand-eye coordination. You’re not just striking the same target day in and day out. By adjusting the height, you have to adjust your stance and hand and feet positions in order to land an effective strike.
It’s also really solid. When it’s full of water, it weighs about 270lbs. This means that it won’t go skidding around the floor when it’s struck. If you have a particularly highly polished floor surface, then you may want to purchase a rubber mat (such as the one here on Amazon), to help eliminate any unnecessary movement.
The base is 24” in diameter and is circular. This means that, although it’s very heavy, the dummy can be tilted on its side and rolled into the desired position.
You can see the Century BOB XL dummy in action below:
Best Hanging Heavy Bag
I appreciate the fact that there are those who like a more traditional type of heavy bag, namely one that hangs from a supporting structure.
I really like the RDX Zero Impact G-Core bag (as seen here on Amazon). The surface of the bag is highly durable and made from Maya hide leather, which is soft to the tough.
You can buy the bag in two sizes: 4ft and 5 ft. I would recommend the longer version, as this opens up the number of strikes you can practise. Indeed, it enables you to start incorporating kicks into your repertoire.
It’s typically sold with some rust proof hanging chains, and some high quality, gel bag gloves. Provided you’ve got somewhere to hang it, you’ve got everything you need to start training. I’ve previously written extensively on how to hang to heavy bag – see the ‘Related Articles’ section at the bottom of this article.
One of my criticisms of hanging heavy bags is their tendency to swing after each heavy punch. You typically have to wait 1-2 seconds for the bag to rest into its original vertical position. Whilst this may not sound long, it does disrupt your flow fo training, particularly if you’re working on a combination of strikes. It also allows you to have a bit of a breather, which if you’re looking for a high intensity workout, isn’t what you want.
This issue is reduced on this bag due to the incorporation of a tethered base loop at the bottom of the bag. This allows you to attach a heavy bag anchor (such as the one here on Amazon). This dramatically stops the bag swinging so much.
I also really like that the RDX website says that the G-Core twinned layer is “waterproof & can be used outside”. I’ve written previously about the benefits of training outside.
All in all this is a fantastic bag at a very reasonable price.
Best Punching Bag for Kickboxing
If you’re a kickboxer, then you’ll need a bag on which you can practise your low and high kicks. This mean there needs to be an extended surface which is capable of receiving your strikes.
I really like the Ringside Freestanding Bag (as seen here on Amazon). It stands at approximately 6’4” tall and has a base tank capable of holding up to 270 pounds of water. This ensures it remains upright regardless of the strikes it’s subjected to.
More importantly, the durable synthetic leather shell extends all the way down to the base, meaning it has a huge area on which to practise.
It has a 32” circular base, which means the bag can be tilted on its side and rolled if it needs to be relocated.
How do you use a heavy bag for beginners?
Okay, so now you’ve got your heavy bag, how do you use it? Here’s a great video giving some really insightful tips so you can start training effectively from day one.
Whether you’re looking for a bag for your a young child or teenager, a free standing or hanging version or one to use for kickboxing, I hope I’ve gone someway to answer the question on what is the best punching bag for beginners.
I’m a firm believer in the benefits that heavy bag training provides: it a great cardio workout, develops strength and coordination, and is a superb way to work out any frustrations or stress you might be feeling.