Using a heavy bag makes for a great work out. It burns calories, tones muscle and develops cardio-vascular fitness. It’s also great for your mental health, allowing you to take out your frustrations of the day on your heavy bag.
Having a heavy bag hanging in your basement has a number of advantages:
- The first has to be the convenience. You simply have to wander down to your basement in order to have a work out. There’s no time wasted travelling to the gym or getting changed.
- It’s a lot cheaper than going to the gym. Sure there’s the initial set up costs involved in buying the bag itself as well as installing it, but once that’s paid for, there are no further costs involved. Contrast that with the monthly gym fees would otherwise be paying to use a heavy bag.
- Instant access. Having your own heavy bag means that there’s no need to wait for the equipment to be freed up because someone else is using it.
Over the years I’ve hung and installed dozens of heavy bags for friends and family. Some of these have been in basements which have been converted into mini gyms.
These are the steps I go through when hanging a heavy bag in a basement:
The first step involves deciding where to hang the bag itself.
When positioning the bag, you’ll want to locate it so that a) you’ll have plenty of room to move around the bag and b) and the bag can swing freely without crashing into anything.
You’ll also be constrained by the structure of your basement. Essentially you’ll have two place where you can hang a heavy bag from in a basement: the ceiling joists or the wall.
How to hang a heavy bag from a ceiling joist
The ceilings found in basements typically consist of a series of parallel wooden beams or joists that hold up the floor of the rooms above.
Unlike in other areas of the house, these beams are usually exposed (and not covered by a drywall layer). If they are covered by drywall, you can see my other article here.
Having exposed beams makes the hanging process a lot easier.
Personally, I’m slightly cautious about mounting a heavy bag from a single beam. I’m worried that the weight will be too great causing damage to the beam itself.
It’s important to remember that the beam has to support not just the bag itself but also the forces that the bag is subjected to as well. This includes when the bag is swinging and when a kick or punch causes the bag to jolt sharply upwards and then downwards.
A rough guide is that the supporting structure needs to be able to hold four times the weight of the bag.
The ceiling also has to be high enough so that the bag hangs at the correct height once it’s in place. Once installed, I like to have the middle of the bag in line with my solar plexus when I’m standing next to it. The allows me to use the bag for head shots and, depending on the height of the bag, low kicks as well.
I like to adopt an approach which spreads the weight of the bag over several beams.
I do this by screwing a 1.5 – 2 inch thick plank of wood at right angles across five of the ceiling joists. I ensure that the plank is firmly screwed to each of the beams it crosses.
I then attach an eyebolt, such as the one here on Amazon, to the middle of the plank.
This creates a very secure fixture point from which to hang the bag. Once the eye bolt is in place, I take the D-rings at the end of the straps at the top of the heavy bag and hook them onto a hanging chain. I then attach the other end of the hanging chain to the eye bolt itself.
You may want to enlist the help of a friend when it comes to hanging the heavy bag as they can be difficult to get into position single handedly.
Mounting a punching bag to a brick wall
If for whatever reason, you’re unable to hang your heavy bag from the ceiling, then you may want to look at using a special bracket to hang it from the wall.
These are simple, right angle brackets, such as this one on Amazon, that allow the bag to hang freely several feet away from the wall itself.
In this scenario, you’ll want to work out how high to secure the backet on the wall so that the bag will hang so that the middle of the bag will be in line with your solar plexus.
I’ve done this by standing next to the wall and putting a chalk mark on the brick work at the height where my solar plexus lines up.
I then get my friend to support the bag whilst it rests on a chair. I ensure the centre of the bag lines up with the chalk mark I’ve put on the wall. I’ve then used a step ladder to attach the chain to the top of the bag and hold it upwards. I put another chalk mark on the wall at the height of the top of the chain.
This chalk mark indicates the correct point that I’ll need to line up with the fixing point on the hanging bracket.
From this I can position the bracket in the correct position and mark the points where I’ll need to drill to fix the bracket in place.
Once in place, it’s simply a matter of attaching the hanging chain to the bracket and then to the D-rings on the heavy bag.
Mounting a punching bag to a wooden joist wall
If you have wooden joists making up your wall rather than brickwork, then it’s still possible to hang a heavy bag using a wall bracket.
Rather like we put a plank across the ceiling joists in the method above, we adopt a similar approach for the wall joists.
We simply need to get two lengths of 1.5 – 2 inch planks to cross several of the vertical wall joists. These wooden joists may be covered by a layer of drywall so you’ll need to locate them first before you can do anything.
You can do this by tapping the wall itself: the underlying beams will sound less hollow, or you can use a stud detector finder like this one on Amazon.
I always drill a few test holes to find the exact edges of the wooden beams beneath the drywall. These can easily be skimmed with filler to remove them once you’re done.
Once you’ve located them, attach the horizontal plank so that it covers at least 3 of the vertical beams.
Depending on the fixture points on the bracket, you may need a couple of these horizontal planks one above the other.
I always use screws to attach the horizontal planks to each of the vertical beams that they cross.
Once in place, it’s then simply a matter of attaching the bracket to planks itself.
Sometimes the screws that come with the brackets themselves are a little substandard. I usually end up using heavy-duty screws from a local hardware strore.
If you do hear creaking you may need to reconsider how to hang the bag.
Don’t worry there are several options.
Alternatives: a free standing heavy bag
If you don’t want to go through the hassle of setting up a heavy bag or if you don’t have strong enough support beams in their home, there are alternatives.
A free standing bag stand
This type of free standing punching bag stand, such as this one on Amazon, is really good. It’s a simple sturdy design and has a built in speedball. It’s a great alternative for those that don’t want to go to the trouble of attaching fixtures to the structure of their home.
Self Standing Bag
These bags have a weighted bottom which can be filled with water or, even better, sand. Once filled, they’re really stable and a viable alternative to hanging a bag. Here’s a link to a great one from a very reputable brand on Amazon.
I hope these directions for installing a heavy bag in your basement have been helpful. I’m a DIY novice, so if I can do it, anyone can. Once in place you can start to reap all the benefits of training with a heavy bag.