A punching bag is an excellent tool for increasing strength and stamina. You can pick up a punching bag for your gym to burn calories and develop core muscle groups at home. The first thing you should do when choosing a punching bag is to determine the right size.
Punching bags usually range between 2-1/2 and 6 feet in length and have a diameter of between 12 and 14 inches. The weight range of the typical punching bag is 40 to 100 pounds.
As you can see, there are several factors to take into account when sizing a punching bag. In this guide, I’ll explain the various punching bag sizes, how to size a punching bag for your home, and what you can use in place of punching bags.
What Is a Punching Bag?
If you’ve ever entered a dojo or a gym before, then you’ve probably laid eyes on a punching bag. For those that don’t know, a punching bag is cylindrical in shape, it’s filled with fiber or foam (sometimes water), and is punched and kicked by all sorts of people.
Punching bags are used almost primarily to build muscle. However, you can use a punching bag as a means to release sweat and stress. The main types of punching bags are known as hanging and freestanding.
Types of Punching Bags
Although most gyms will have either a freestanding or a hanging punching bag (sometimes both), there are at least 6 types of bags you should know about. I’ll explain what they are below.
Freestanding punching bags are punching bags that sit atop a base. The base is not usually mounted onto the ground, so users can move the bag from place to place by lifting or dragging it around.
Hanging punching bags use a suspension system that keeps it mounted on the wall or rafters. This type of bag will usually hang around 1 foot above the ground, depending on the bag’s size and the length of the chains or ropes keeping the bag suspended.
If you want to work on the speed of your punches and reflexes, then you need a speedbag. These bags are filled with air, making them lighter than traditional punching bags. They’re attached to a spring system, which allows them to bounce back when struck.
Angled punching bags look almost exactly like hanging bags. The difference is the style—the surface is slightly angled to help users practice and perfect their uppercuts. It also comes in handy for basic kicking and punching training.
Grappling dummies are not bags in the traditional sense. Instead, they’re shaped like humans to give users a more realistic feel of what it’s like to take a human body to the ground. This speciality “bag” is mainly used for combat sport training.
Body opponent bag
Body opponent bags (BOB) are dummies that are fixed to the floor. It also uses a spring system, which allows it to return to its normal position when struck or taken to the ground. It’s ideal for practicing body shots and strikes to the head.
What Size Punching Bag Should You Get?
Since freestanding and hanging punching bags are the most widely used varieties, the sizes mentioned below refer to them.
Punching bags come in a wide variety of sizes. The typical punching bag size range is between 2-1/2 and 6 feet in length, with a diameter of between 12 and 14 inches. Usually, the bigger the punching bag is, the more resistance there will be when struck.
In terms of weight, you’ll usually find punching bags of at least 100 pounds. However, there are considerably lighter and heavier models that offer varying levels of resistance and movement. Also, punching bags come in an assortment of materials, including canvas, nylon, and vinyl.
How to Size a Punching Bag
It’s important that you choose a punching bag of the correct size. A general rule is that a punching bag should be at least half the user’s weight. So, if you’re 180 pounds, you should look for a 90 to 100-pound model to hit around.
Here’s a brief guide on who would benefit from different punching bag sizes.
- 40 pounds—Ideal for youth boxers (13 years and under).
- 70 pounds—Ideal for teenagers and amateur boxers.
- 100 pounds—General-purpose weight, ideal for intermediate-level boxers.
- 200 pounds—Ideal for heavyweight boxers or experienced gym rats who want to build upper-body strength.
If you’re going to get a hanging punching bag, you should also consider how strong your rafters are in keeping the bag up off the ground. For those that don’t want to risk significant damage to their property, perhaps a freestanding punching bag fixed to the ground would be the better option.
Punching Bag Alternatives
However, you don’t need a punching bag to improve hand speed and upper-body strength. There are several punching bag alternatives you can consider, including:
Shadow boxing requires absolutely zero tools. You can practice boxing on your own and in an open space to ensure your elbows and feet don’t bump into nearby objects.
If you have someone who wants to train with you, you guys can give sparring a try. Sparring isn’t about winning and losing; it’s about improving your boxing skills. You will need at least padded gloves and headgear to ensure the safety of all participants.
Focus mitts are specialized gloves that a partner or trainer wears. The goal of focus mitts is to strike them, giving you a realistic feel of how opponents move in the right. The resistance of focus mitts depends on the strength of your partner, so they’re mainly used to improve accuracy.
For those that want to improve arm strength, speed, and endurance, you can remove punching bags from the equation and shadow box with wrist weights instead. These simple tools are worn as gloves or bracelets that strap around your wrist. Their main purpose is to add resistance to your arms, so you have to actively use muscles to lift and strike with them strapped on.