Can you use a heavy bag for kickboxing?

A heavy bag is an essential component of kickboxing training and develops balance and power.  It also provides a superb cardio workout, burns off excess fat and tones up all the major muscles of the body.  However, you should incorporate other training methods as well or your technique will suffer.

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Develop Balance

One of the advantages of using a heavy bag in your training is to develop your balance.  When you kick a heavy bag with force, the recoil as your leg meets resistance can be enough to knock you off balance.  You’ll need to adjust your stance and make micro-adjustments with your feet to stay upright.

Continued practice with a heavy bag will help develop your sense of balance.

Develops Power

A heavy bag provides instant feedback when it’s hit, allowing you to assess the effectiveness of your strike.

The first bit of feedback is the sound the bag makes:  a solid hit will result in a deep resonating thump.

The next bit of information you’ll receive is the amount the bag swings.  A strong strike will cause the bag to swing violently.

With this feedback you can start to adjust your technique in order to be able to deliver more powerful strikes.

You’ll soon realize that to throw a powerful punch requires the effort of the whole body: the power comes from driving against the floor, and flows up through the legs and twisting torso before being channeled down the arm and, ultimately, through the fist.

Provides a cardio workout

A session on the heavy bag provides an amazing workout.  It takes a great deal of energy to move a heavy bag which results in a large number of calories being burned up.  It’s therefore a great way to burn off excess fat.

The heavy bag can be struck with both punches and kicks making it a full body workout.

Develops Muscle

Striking and moving a heavy bag is like a resistance workout and as a result is a useful tool in developing muscle mass and tone.   Because the entire body is involved in kickboxing – in punching and kicking techniques – a heavy bag workout develops the entire body.  It’s one of the reasons why fighters tend to be so toned.

However, it’s important not to become over reliant on training with a heavy bag….

Bags Don’t Hit Back

One of the obvious points is that the bag is a static training partner.   It just hangs there getting hit, it doesn’t counter attack. 

If you’re not careful, your technique can suffer:

  • You may start unconsciously lowering your guard and not protecting your head with one hand whilst you throw a punch.  
  • You don’t have an opportunity to react to your opponent’s movements.  When struck, bags swing in a circular motion and don’t react like a live fighter.   As a result, your footwork won’t be developed.
  • Defense is just as important as learning striking techniques.  This aspect isn’t developed at all when training with a heavy bag. 
  • When hitting a heavy bag, you tend to just stand there just whacking it.  This can lead to an excessive focus on developing power.  Speed is just as important – a quick punch will land sooner than a slow, powerful punch.
  • It’s also difficult to know how accurate your punches are on a heavy bag.  In an actual fight, you need to be able to hit with inch accuracy.  This can only be trained by sparring with a live opponent.

The best way to train is to combine heavy bag training with frequent sparring sessions.


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