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What is a Punching Bag?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 23, 2024
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A punching bag is a cylindrical air, fiber, foam or water filled bag that is made for striking or kicking. The bags are used for boxing and marital arts workouts in gyms and in homes. A punching bag allows martial arts and boxing enthusiasts the opportunity to practice their moves as well as burn fat, build muscle and relieve stress while punching or kicking the bag. The two main types are hanging and free-standing.

A free-standing style of punching bag has a heavy duty frame. Many of these frames hold up to a 100 pound (45.36 kg) punching bag. The bag typically hangs from a chain at the front of the unit. A large footprint, or base on the stand gives a free-standing punching bag more stability. The hanging type of bag is wall-mounted, with the bag hangs from a chain or strap from the end of a metal beam supported by brackets.

Punching bags may be made from canvas, nylon, leather or vinyl. A bag created from vinyl may be described as being made of "synthetic leather" or a similar term. Most bags are 14 inches (35.56 cm) wide and the length varies with the weight. For example, a 100 pound (45.36 kg) punching bag may be 48 inches (1.2192 m) long while a 30 pound bag (13.61 kg) could measure about 30 inches (76.2 cm) in length.

Speed bags are very small and teardrop shaped. They can be attached to a free-standing or hanging assembly. A speed bag is used by both professional and beginner martial artists and boxers to increase speed and improve timing. Speed bags are often air-filled and as said to help improve hand-eye coordination. Double-end bags are similar to speed bags, but are round or marshmallow-like in shape and usually have a foam filling.

Fiber-filled or pre-filled bags are designed to be resilient and tend to absorb the impact of a punch more than air-filled or foam-filled bags. Some bags have a water-filled core, made to reduce the impact on the body from constant punching. A punching bag may be sold separately, with the hanging or free-standing hardware and/or as part of a set complete with boxing gloves. Some sets include an instructional DVD.

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Discussion Comments
By AnswerMan — On Feb 11, 2014

When I use a heavy punching bag at the gym, I try to get someone to hold it in place for me. If it starts swinging around after each punch, I spend more time dodging it and less time hitting it.

I've noticed that a lot of martial arts studios favor a Wavemaster punching bag, but the traditional boxing gyms still use an Everlast punching bag.

By Reminiscence — On Feb 10, 2014

My wife's jujitsu instructor has a Wavemaster punching bag at every corner of the dojo, and I've tried a few kicks and punches myself while waiting for her lesson to end. I don't think some people understand how much conditioning it takes to work those bags for more than a few minutes. I was completely worn out after only a few sets of kicks, and I wasn't even going full out.

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