YOU SHOULD TRAIN LIKE YOU FIGHT
This is not an uncommon phrase to hear from boxing coaches and there's good reason for that. Even if you have no intension of ever stepping into a ring, you should train as if you will. This will help you get the most out of your bag work.
Prior to starting any bag workout, it's important to take the steps to properly protect your hands. This means wrapping your hands and using a good pair of well-fitted bag gloves. There is no substitute for old school hand wraps when it comes to supporting your wrist and reducing repetition injuries to the small bones and tendons in your hand.
FIND YOUR RANGE
It's important to find the proper distance from the bag. Don't stand too close to the bag, because when you strike the bag you will push it and develop a swinging motion. Don't stand too far back, because you you'll be at risk of hyper-extending your elbow.
FIND YOUR STRIKE ZONE
The key is to find a range where you can strike the bag and not lean over your lead foot. The goal is to punch at eye level. A helpful tool can be to put a chalk mark on the bag at eye level and also at belt level. The space between the chalk marks is your strike zone.
Don't just stand there throwing punches, use the heavy bag as your sparring partner
Move in and out from the bag as you work your punches. As the bag moves, so should you. Move around the bag, manage your distance from the bag and work your feet just as much as your hands.
DRILLS AND COMBINATIONS
Let's be honest... standing in front of a heavy bag and throwing the same two punches over and over is monotonous and boring. Use drills and combinations, not only to make the workout less repetitive, but to work on your agility, stamina and endurance. Work different combinations as you move from working both head and body punches.
- Work your basic jab cross, cross or jab combinations. If you're right handed, perhaps add in a left hook.
- try constant punching for 10 seconds on and 10 seconds off
The last drill is great for developing stamina and endurance. Remember to extend your punches, don't shorten them. During the 10 seconds off, keep moving and keep your hands up. As your stamina improves you can start extending the work/rest periods.
KEEP YOUR GUARD UP
It's important to practice keeping your guard up. Elbows are hard, the abdomen is soft, so now is a great time to practice keeping your arms up in the guard position. When executing your punches, combinations or drills, always return your hands to the guard position. This will help your body develop muscle memory for keeping your guard up. During your rest period, keep your guard up as well. This is a tiring task, but now is the time to practice.
For this you will need a round timer, or there are a number of apps available which will allow you to set round length, rest time and number of rounds. If you are training at home (which many of us are right now) this is a very helpful tool. Working your way up to longer round times and a greater number of rounds allows you to improve your technique while increasing your stamina and endurance.
Check it out:
Remember... even though the bag does not punch back, in the end, the bag always wins.