A heavy bag makes an ideal addition to a home gym. It’s a valuable tool to develop full body explosive speed and power, hand-eye coordination, and stamina, as well as being an easy way to let off steam after a hard day’s work.
Heavy bag work forms a major component of a boxer’s training regime and plays a major role in getting them fighting fit. You might have no interest in fighting yourself, but you can still use the tools these athletes use to obtain the same level of conditioning.
They are relatively inexpensive bits of kit and, with proper care, will last many years. Once reason why they aren’t as popular as they should be, is that trainers might be put off from installing them. This needn’t be an issue, and in this guide I’ve tried to outline some potential options for a number of different scenarios.
Is a heavy bag a good workout?
A heavy bag provides an excellent workout that builds your cardio-vascular conditioning, develops every muscle in the body and improves your hand-eye coordination. It’s also a great stress reliever enabling you to work out your frustrations. A vigorous session on a heavy bag therefore offers both mental and physical benefits.
What do I need to hang my heavy bag?
In order to hang a heavy bag you need: a hanger chain, a ceiling mount, a drill, fixing bolts, and a friend to help you lift it into place!
The hanger chain consists of a spider web of chains, the ends of which have an S-link which hook onto the D-rings at the top of the bag. The chains feed into one central chain and it’s this that attaches to the ceiling mount.
The base of the ceiling mount attaches securely to the ceiling, typically by being screwed or bolted into one of the supporting beams. A ring protrudes from the base, and it’s this ring to which the hanger chain is attached with an S-hook. In some designs, the ring can rotate, allowing the heavy bag to rotate as it’s being punched.
I prefer to distribute the weight over a number of beams by using a strong plank of wood, as I’ve outlined above.
Having a friend to help you get the bag in place is extremely useful. Heavy bags can be really heavy and if you attempt to lift it yourself, you could end up injuring yourself.
Outlined below are a number of ways in which you can hang a punch bag depending on where you want to hang it.
How to Hang a Heavy Bag in a Basement or Garage
Most home gyms are located in either the gym or garage. These spaces make ideal workout spaces allowing you to exercise without disturbing others but when considering where to hang your punch bag, there are a number of points to bear in mind:
Ensure there is plenty of space. The bag will swing when it’s hit and so it’s important that there is plenty of surrounding room so the bag’s movement isn’t hindered.
You’ll also need to have space to move around the bag yourself. Indeed, to really benefit from the workout, you’ll need to treat the punch bag like an actual opponent and bob, weave and pivot when striking the bag. You’ll need room to move 360 degrees round the bag itself during a heavy bag session.
Ensure that the structure is sufficient to hold the bag. You need to ensure that walls and ceiling are sufficiently strong to hold the bag that you’ll be installing.
It’s important to note that the structure not only needs to hold the weight of the bag itself but also handle the forces that the bag is subjected to. Not only will the bag swing but it may also jolt upwards when hit, only to come crashing down, further testing the strength of the supporting structure.
It’s often recommended that the structure is able to hold four times the weight of the bag itself.
Most garages and basements will have a ceiling that consists of a series of parallel wooden beams that are positioned about 16 inches apart. It’s important that these are strong enough to support the heavy bag when it’s being used.
One method to help spread the weight is to fix a strong plank of wood (at least 2 inches thick) so that it runs at right angles to the direction of the ceiling beams. It’s an idea to cross at least five beams to help distribute the load.
It’s an idea to use two long wood screws to secure the plank to each beam. To stop the wood splitting, it’s probably best to pre-drill the holes with a drill with the appropriately sized drill-bit.
Then attach the heavy bag hanger (such as the one here on Amazon) to the middle of the plank so the screws of hanger go through the plank and the underlying beam.
It’s then simply a matter of attaching the ends of the hanging chains to the D-rings of the punch bag. The top of the chains are then connected to the S-mount.
It’s worth getting a friend to help you lift the bag so that you can connect the S-mount to the heavy bag hanger.
The bag can then be gently lowered and will be able to swing freely. The bag’s now ready to use.
As I’ve mentioned before, it’s really important that the supporting structure is strong enough to support the weight of the bag as well as the forces that it will be subjected to when in use. If you hear any creaking sounds or any signs of strain then it’s an indication that the ceiling isn’t strong enough. Obviously I can’t judge this for you so please do take care when selecting where to hang your punch bag.
How do you hang a punching bag on drywall?
Sometimes the ceiling beams are covered by a layer of drywall. If this is the case, then you’ll need to find the underlying structure. This can be done using a stud detector (such as the one here on Amazon).
An alternative is to tap the drywall; the hollow sounding areas are the voids between the wooden beams. I would also carefully drill a few test holes to establish the exact width of each beam; these can easily be filled in later. This is important to establish the centre of each beam which is where you’ll want to attach the supporting plank to.
Whatever you do, don’t try to attach anything to the drywall itself. You’ll end up pulling it down and destroying the ceiling!
Hanging a heavy bag from a truss
Sometimes the room in which you want to hang the heavy bag has one or more sturdy wooden or metal beams or trusses in the ceiling.
Provided they’re strong enough, these are potentially ideal locations from which to hang your bag. There obviously needs to be enough room for the bag to swing freely and for you to be able to move around it.
You can get hangers (such as this one on Amazon) that are specifically designed for this purpose. They consist of a strong strap which goes round the beam and has a D-ring from which you can attach the chains from which the bag hangs from.
How much weight can a ceiling beam hold?
Fine Homebuilding states that a 2–inch by 6–inch beam found typically in garage and basement ceilings, will support a weight of up to 50 pounds per square foot.
It’s also important to remember that when you have a long beam stretching across the room, the weakest point will be in the middle. If you can, you should try to hang the beam nearer to the walls; this will put less stress on the joists.
In addition, long beams will be weaker than shorter beams. This is because the longer the beam, the more weight the walls will have to support. If the beam is too long, it will actually start to sag in the middle.
Therefore, ideally you want to hang a heavy bag on a set of shorter beams and locate it as near to the wall as possible, whilst still allowing the bag to swing freely.
How to hang a heavy bag from a high ceiling
If you’ve got a particularly high ceiling, then there are a few extra steps to take to ensure the heavy bag is set up at the right height.
I like to have a bag hanging so that the middle of it is in line with my sternum. This allows me to utilise the full height of the heavy bag. I can practise headshots as well as low body shots. If the bag is long enough, I can also practise kicks to the thigh.
If you’ve got a high ceiling then if you hang the bag in the normal way, as I’ve outlined above, then it can end up being too high.
In order to set it at the right height, I would balance the bag on top of a chair, with the help of a friend, so that it’s in the correct position.
With my friend holding the bag in place, I then climb a step ladder and measure the distance from the D-rings at the top of the bag to the fixture point on the ceiling.
I then use this measurement to obtain a strong chain that’s the appropriate length, such as this one on Amazon.
If the chain is too long, then I would simply get some bolt cutters to cut out the surplus links and reattach the carabiners at each end.
It’s then simply a matter of connecting the chain to the top of the bag to the ceiling fixture.
Essentially what you now have is a pendulum – a heavy weight hanging from a length of chain. If you hit the bag hard enough the bag will start to swing over quite a long arc.
How to stop a punch bag swinging
In order to stop a heavy bag swinging excessively, you may then want to get an anchor (such as this one on Amazon). This is just a weighted bag that sits on the floor and attaches to the base of the punch bag, typically with a bungie.
You’ll want to check that your punch bag has a loop at its base for attaching the bungie to. Don’t worry if your bag doesn’t have one, there are convertor kits which fit securely around the circumference and provide an attachment point.
How to hang a heavy bag from a tree
Hanging a bag outside from a tree has a number of advantages:
- It allows you to train outside in the fresh air. This can be better than training in a dark dungeon environment of a basement or garage.
- It’s always accessible, allowing you to train whenever you feel like it.
- It’s quite simple to install; there’s no drilling or fiddly bits of equipment to deal with
The first thing to consider is where to hang your bag. You’ll need a branch that is both strong enough and high enough to be able to attach it to. It will need to be strong enough so that it can hold at least four times the weight of the bag to be able to cope with the physical forces that it’s subjected to when it’s in use.
There are specific loops designed to hang heavy bags from, such as the one below:
The strap goes round the branch and incorporates a D-ring which can be attached to the hanging chain.
If the branch is particularly high, then you may need a chain extender. This is simply a length of chain with carabiners at each end, that hangs in between the loop and the hanging chain. If you need to shorten the chain, then simply use a bolt cutter to remove any excess chains.
With the help of a friend, it’s then a simple matter of lifting the bag into position and attaching the D-rings on the hanging strap to the hanging chain.
If the branch is particularly high, it may encourage the bag to swing wildly when in use. You may want to consider attaching a bag anchor to its base to make it more stable.
As you can see, hanging a bag from a tree is fairly straightforward and makes an ideal addition to your home workout set up.
How to hang a heavy bag from a steel i-beam
If you’re fortunate to have strong steel beam in your gym area, then you’ve got an ideal supporting structure to hang your punching bag from.
There are special adjustable hanging clamps which attach securely to the i-beam and provide a fixture point from which the hanging chain can be attached.
The advantage of this type of clamp is that it can fit a range of different sized beams. They’re also very simple to install, requiring no drilling, and can hold a significant amount of weight – some can hold up to 1000lbs.
You simply need to attach the fixture to the i-beam. This is usually simply a matter of tightening the clamp so that it fits snugly around the beam. Once locked in place, this provides a secure anchor point from which to hang the punching bag.
How to hang a heavy bag from a wall
Some people might be concerned about hanging their heavy bag from the ceiling: the supporting beams might not be strong enough or you may not want to drill holes in your ceiling.
There is an alternative – you can hang it from the wall.
This involves using a right-angle bracket that fits securely to the wall and provides a secure fixing point from which to hang the bag, like the one below:
If you’re attaching it to a stud wall, then you may want to consider reinforcing the area to which the bracket is attached by screwing sturdy wooden planks (1 – 1.5 inches thick) horizontally between the vertical wooden beams that make up the structure of the wall.
Often the wall is covered with a layer of drywall so you’ll need to locate the underlying beams by using a stud detector that I previously mentioned or by tapping the wall to find the hollow areas in between each beam. Regardless of the method you use, I would suggest drilling a few test holes to find the edge of each beam. These can easily be filled in later if needed.
Whenever you drill into drywall, you do need to check that there are no underlying electric cables or pipework. Stud detectors typically have inbuilt features that make this relatively simple to do.
It’s important to secure the vertical beams, so that it can accommodate the fixing points of the bracket. This can be done by holding the bracket in place onto the wall and marking where the fixing points are on the wall. You then simply need to ensure the planks of wood cover these points.
Once you know where exactly to attach the planks to the wall, you can pre-drill holes into the planks and beams. This is so the wood doesn’t split when you tighten the fixing screws.
Once the planks are securely attached to the wall, you can then attach the bracket itself. I would suggest that you engage the help of a friend who can hold the bracket in place whilst you screw it in place.
It’s important that you use the correct screws for the job that are strong enough to cope with the weight of the brack, heavy bag and the forces it is subjected to.
Obviously I can’t tell if your wall will be strong enough to cope with having a bracket and bag attached to it. If in any doubt, you may want to engage the services of a professional to inspect it for prior to installation.
If you have a brick wall, the task is made easier as you can simply attach the bracket directly to the wall itself. You will need to mark the points on the wall where the fixture holes need to be drilled.
Once the holes have been drilled, the bracket can be lifted and bolted in place. I would use highload bolt anchors for the purpose. This type of fixture expands to g
How to hang a punching bag from a concrete ceiling
A concrete ceiling provides a solid structure which can be used to suspend a heavy bag from.
If you have access to the other side of the ceiling ie the floor on the next level up, then you can drill through the concrete ceiling to create a number of holes right through the concrete.
You’ll need to mark out where to drill these holes but holding the hanging fixture to the ceiling and marking where the bolts will need to be positioned.
Once the holes have been drilled, you can then feed suitably sized bolts all the way through it. Use a washer and fixing nut on the top side so that the bolt is hanging down through the hole. You’ll need a friend to hold the bolts in place whilst you attach the washers and nuts on the floor of the next floor up.
You can then feed the bolts through the holes in the hanging fixture before attaching washers and nuts. All the nuts can then be tightened to hold the fixture in place.
It’s worth checking this hanging arrangement on a regular basis. The vibrations created when the bag is in use can cause the nuts to loosen over time.
If you can’t access the other side of the concrete ceiling, then all is not lost. Instead of having a bolt go all the way through the concrete, you can use a wedge anchor bolt.
You’ll need to drill holes that are the same diameter as the wedge anchor. It’s then a matter or placing the bolt into the hole attaching the hanging fixture and tightening the bolt.
Wedge anchor bolts are designed so that as they are tightened, they expand outwards, firmly gripping the sides of the hole they are in. You can pick them up at your local home depot store.
Wedge anchor bolts are extremely strong, but again, it’s worth regularly checking the fixing to ensure that it hasn’t loosened over time.
Once you’ve attached the hanging fixture to the ceiling using wedge anchor bolts, it’s then simply a matter of attaching the hanging chain to it. With a help of a friend, you can then lift the heavy bag and attach the chain to the D-rings at the end of the straps at the top of the bag.
How to hang a heavy bag from a pull up bar
If you’ve got a pull up bar that’s attached to a wall then most of the hard work is done for you.
It’s important to note that I’m not talking about the type of pull up bars that attach to door frames. I’m afraid these just won’t be suitable and will likely come flying off as soon as you start hitting the bag.
I’m talking about the sturdy pull up frames that are attached firmly to a solid wall ideally with wedge anchor bolts or similar.
With this type of bar, you have the advantage of being able to use it both to do pull ups and have a thorough workout on a heavy bar.
Some pull up bars have a metal loop that is welded to the horizontal bar to which you can attach the hanging chain. It’s then simply a matter of lifting the bag and attaching it to the loop each time you want to use the bag.
If your pull up bar doesn’t have a metal loop then this isn’t necessarily a problem. You can use a hanging strap like the one below.
The advantage of this type of hanging strap is that the weight of the bag pulling down makes the loop grip the bar itself even tighter. This will prevent the bag sliding around when it’s being struck.
The it’s simply a matter of lifting the bag and hanging chain and attaching it to the hanging strap.
How to hang a punching bag without drilling
There may be a number of reasons why you might not want to drill into the supporting structure in order to install a fixture from which to hang a heavy bag. Perhaps you’re worried that the beams aren’t strong enough, or maybe you don’t have the DIY skills needed, or maybe you simply don’t want to drill holes in your house!
Whatever the reason, there are a number of alternative ways to hang a heavy bag that don’t involve drilling.
Perhaps the first option is to purchase a heavy bag stand.
This is a free-standing framework from which you can suspend your punching bag. They’re strong, typically able to hold a bag that’s up to 100lbs and, perhaps best of all, there’s no handyman skills required in order to install your heavy bag: it’s simply a matter of attaching the bag and hanging chain to the loop on the heavy bag stand.
Another option might be to suspend your heavy bag outside using a tree branch as the support. You can use either one of the hanging loops that I’ve mentioned previously, with tie down straps or with rope. I’ve written about this method previously here.
Is it safe to hang a punching bag from the ceiling?
Provided you’ve located a suitable place to hang your bag where the beams are strong enough and you use an additional supporting plank to distribute the load (as I’ve described above), then it is safe to hang a bag from a ceiling.
If your DIY skills aren’t the greatest, then you may want to get a professional in to fix the punching bag in place.
It’s also really important to regularly check the hanging bag fixtures to ensure everything is in place. Screws and fixtures can loosen over time so these should be inspected and tightened or replaced if needed.
How do you hang a heavy bag without shaking the house?
Heavy bags are typically hung from the supporting beams in the ceiling using a ceiling mount. Because it’s being attached to the structure of the building itself, then when the heavy bag is hit, the shock waves can resonate throughout the entire house. The result is that the entire house can shake.
The key to reducing the amount of shaking in the rest of your house when using a heavy bag is to look at the type of ceiling mount you plan to use. If it’s a solid, metal fixing, then it will transmit the vibration straight from the bag itself to the wooden supporting beams and to the rest of the structure of the house.
One particularly good wall mount is appropriately called ‘The Silencer’ (which can be seen here on Amazon). It’s a German engineered product, consisting of a strong, wooden rectangle on which a rubberised mount is attached. It reduces noise & vibration by up to 58% and is capable of holding up to 300 pounds.