Having your own heavy bag is a fantastic tool to develop and maintain your fitness levels. I know that after only a few minutes of pounding my heavy bag, I’m usually dripping with sweat and panting to get my breath back..
Not only is bag work a fantastic cardio-vascular exercise but it’s also a great stress reliever. I always feel better after a workout session on the bag: my mind is clearer and generally I’m in a better mood than when I started.
I’ve installed dozens of punching bags for friends and family over the years and one of the frequent questions I get asked is ‘how to hand a heavy bag from a tree’.
Some of the benefits of hanging a heavy bag from a tree are as follows:
- It allows you to exercise in the fresh air. This is always preferable and I’d much rather work out in the open than in a dark, dingy basement.
- It’s relatively quick to set up and there isn’t any drilling required or the installation of complicated bits of kit.
- It’s easily accessible. If you’re able to set this up in your garden then it’s right there when you need it. You don’t have to travel to a gym in order to exercise. This makes it far more likely that you’ll use it on a regular basis.
Some of the equipment you’ll need:
- A step ladder
- A heavy bag hanging strap
- Someone to help you lift the bag. These are often heavy so it’s a good idea to have someone to help you when you’re lifting one.
It also goes without saying that you’ll need a tree branch that’s the right height and thickness to be able to support the heavy bag with ease.
The branch will need to be able to support at least four times the weight of the bag. This is because of the additional forces the branch will be subjected to as the bag swings around from being hit.
Occasionally the bag will also jump upwards, say from a powerful upper cut or kick, and the jolting recoil as the bag falls down adds an additional burden that the branch will need to be able to handle.
The advantage of using a branch is that usually you’ll hear it creak and groan before it snaps, giving you at least some warning so you can get out of the way in good time before the branch snaps.
There are a couple of methods I’ve used to suspend a heavy bag from a tree and I’ll go through both methods below:
Using a bespoke strap
Previously I’ve used a purpose made strap to hang a heavy bag from a tree, such as the one below (which you can see here on Amazon).
It’s very easy to install and simply loops round the tree branch. It has a D-ring and oval screw lock system which allows you to easily remove the bag without having to take down the strap. This particular bag can hold up to 500lbs making it suitable for practically every heavy bag.
The straps from the heavy bag simply feed up to the oval screw ring on the strap and are held securely in position.
Depending on the height of your tree branch, you may want to use an extension chain to lower the heavy bag. This is just a length of chain with two carabiners on each end. You clip one to the oval screw ring and the other to the D-rings on the end of the straps of the heavy bag. You can see an example of one on Amazon here.
Using tie down straps
Tie down straps are heavy-duty strips of nylon strapping, one end of which has a cam buckle attached. You feed one end of the strap through the cam buckle to create a loop which can be tightened as required.
They are usually used to tie down items to trailers or to your roof rack. They’re strong and the cam buckles holds the strap firmly in place. I’ve previously used the straps below (and I attach a link to them on Amazon here).
I’ll throw the strap over the branch and feed one end through the D-rings on the end of the straps of the heavy bag. I’ll then pass the end of the strap through the cam buckle and begin to pull it tight, as a friend gradually lifts the heavy bag to the desired height.
This system has the added advantage of being very flexible in that it allows you to have superb control over the exact height of the bag.
It can also easily be dismantled quickly. A simple press of the cam buckle will release its grip of the nylon strap and the heavy bag will fall to the ground.
For good measure, I’ll attach a second tie down strap to the branch and heavy bag in exactly the same manner. This provides additional support and means that you’re not solely relying on one strap to hold up the heavy bag.
The two methods outlined above allow you to hang a heavy bag from a tree with relative ease. The bag can be put up and taken down with ease. They’re both secure, provided the branch itself is strong enough and both these methods avoid any damage to the tree itself.
Frequently asked questions
Can you leave a heavy bag outside?
The answer to this question really depends on the type of weather you experience in your area and how sheltered the spot is where you hang your bag.
If it rains a lot then the bag is likely to get drenched and damp. This can lead to mould developing which can not only damage the fabric of the bag but is also a potential health hazard: as you punch the bag, spores can be released which can be harmful if inhaled..
Significant and prolonged dampness can also cause the bag to rot and over time, it will literally disintegrate.
Conversely, if you live in a very sunny location, the UV light can degrade the fabric of the bag. Plastic will actually break down and turn brittle as a result of prolonged exposure to sunlight.
There are some heavy bags which can be hung and left outside, such as the one below. You can see more details on Amazon here.
The RDX website says that the G-Core twinned layer is “waterproof & can be used outside”.
No doubt that even this bag would last longer if you took it inside after every training session but factored against this is the ‘ease of use’. I would have thought it would be better to leave it hanging, if it means you’re going to train on it regularly.
Continually having to set up and take down the bag before and after every session is likely to become tiresome after a while which might mean you become less inclined to train.
I think there’s a trade off – you know the bag won’t last as long if you leave it hanging up outside but at least you know you’ll be more included to use and benefit from it.