Using a heavy punching bag as part of your workout routine brings a number of benefits. It develops strength and explosive power in your upper torso, builds cardio-vascular endurance and improves hand-eye coordination.
It can also bring improvements to your mental health. I know that whenever I’m feeling frustrated or annoyed by something, a quick ten minute blast on my punch bag makes me feel a whole lot better.
Over the years, I’ve installed a number of punch bags for friends and family. These tend to be the traditional cylinder-shaped bags that you hang from the ceiling. These take a little time to install and tend to be permanent features. This may not be a problem if you’ve got a dedicated gym but, over the years, I’ve come to appreciate the value of a portable punching bag.
What is a portable punch bag?
These types of bag don’t hang from a fixed point like traditional punch bags but rather have a heavy base to which the punching target is fixed. The base is typically filled with sand or water which ensures the punching bag remains fixed in position regardless of how hard it’s punched.
As an aside, I would always recommend the base is filled with water. This makes the base much easier to empty, either by tilting the base over or by siphoning the water out with a hose.
Even when the base of these bags is full, they’re still relatively easy to move. You simply need to tilt the round base onto its side. It’s then a matter of rolling the unit into the desired position.
The Advantages of a Portable Punch Bag
Without wishing to state the obvious, portable punching bags can be moved around relatively easily. This has a number of advantages.
You’re able to move it outside during the summer. There’s nothing like training outside when the weather’s nice. You’re in the fresh air and when the sun is shining, you can’t help but feel better.
During the cold winter months, I have my training bag stored in my garage which serves as a mini-gym. During the summer, I wheel it onto the patio area of my garden and train there. When it’s outdoors and not being used, I cover it with a waterproof cover (such as the one here on Amazon), to help protect it from the elements.
Move it around in your gym. I don’t know about you but I tend to accumulate new pieces of exercise equipment over time. It might be an additional set of weights or an exercise bench. It does mean that my workout space can become crowded. Invariably I’ll need to reorganise my gym to ensure everything still fits.
Having a fixed hanging punch bag makes this difficult to do whereas with a free standing punch bag you can simply tilt it on its side and roll it to the desired position.
No fear that you’ll pull the ceiling down. With traditional hanging bags, there’s always the slight fear that the weight of the bag together with the forces acting upon it when it’s struck, will cause the supporting beam to break. I’ve written previously on how to hang a heavy bag and all the methods used require you to attach the bag to the supporting beams in the ceiling. If these beams aren’t strong enough, or if you haven’t made a good enough job of securing the fixtures, then the bag could come falling down (together with anything that it’s attached to!).
Quicker to install. Your typical hanging bags take time to install. You have to find a suitable beam, screw in the proper fixture, install the hanging chains and finally hook your bag in position. All of this takes time. In contrast, with a free standing bag, you just have to wheel it into position and fill it with water. Filling it just involves sticking the garden hose into it and turning on the tap. What could be simpler? You’re then all set to start training.
You can transport it with ease. Hanging bags are fixed by secure fixtures to the ceiling. If you want to transport it, say to a friend’s house or if you move house, you’ll need to install the same said fixtures at its new location. With a portable punching bag, you just need to siphon out the water and put the bag into your car.
Ground based so it doesn’t swing. One of the things I don’t like about hanging bags is that they can swing wildly when you strike them unless you have someone holding the bag. You then have to grab the bag to put it back into a neutral position. I find that this can interrupt your training flow; just when your mid-combination, a powerful punch will send it jolting backwards. You then have to stop and reset everything before restarting. It may only take 1-2 seconds but this pause disrupts your training and allows you to have a breather.
This isn’t a problem with free standing bags. They have a heavily weighted base (when full of water) which roots the bag to the ground.
I’ve outlined below some of the bags that, in my opinion, offer good value for money.
The Best Portable Punching Bags
Century BOB XL
This is one of my favourite free standing punching bags. It features an anatomically-correct torso made from a firm synthetic rubber. It’s soft to the touch, so it can be used without gloves, and yet it’s durable enough to withstand any kicks and punches you care to throw at it. I’ve written extensively about these types of bag here.
I like how heavy the base is: it holds 270 pounds of water, meaning it stays in position when you train with it.
It’s fully adjustable and can be raised and lowered from 60″ to 82” inches tall. This effectively allows you to train against multiple sized opponents.
The best feature is the realistic looking head which enables you to practise a range of uppercuts, knife hand strikes, and elbow strikes.
The XL version is slightly longer that the standard Century BOB. This allows you to practise groin shots and kicks to the upper thigh, if you’re interested in training from a self-defense perspective.
Century Wavemaster XXL Training Bag
For individuals that prefer the more traditional style of bag, I would recommend the Wavemaster XXL.
Again the base can be filled with water so that it weighs approximately 270 lbs; this means it’s a really solid bit of kit.
I know of one user who has used the bag for over five years and regularly beaten the living daylights out of it and yet it shows little sign of wear.
It’s also nicely sized, standing at about 69 inches tall and 18 inches in diameter. The base is approximately 27” in diameter. The surface of the bag is made from a very hard wearing vinyl and it feels slightly springy to the touch.
Dripex Freestanding Punching Bag
This is an ideal budget portable punching bag. It’s reasonably priced and stands at about 69” tall.
It’s stability is improved by twelve large suction cups that are on its base and the manufacturers recommend that the base itself is filled with sand. Together the bag is anchored to the ground.
The surface of the bag is soft but firm and it’s remarkably quiet when being used. This is large part because of the shock absorbers on the bag’s base.
I hope this has given you an insight on my views on a number of different portable punching bags. They’re a great tool and provide a superb workout.
It really is worth investing in this type of punching bag: they’re a great conditioning tool, build strength and coordination and provide a great way to unwind and de-stress at the end of the day.