To select the right punching bag, you must use the Goldilocks rule: Not too heavy or too light. You don’t want a heavy bag that is too light; it will swing too far away when you hit it and offer no resistance,” explains Olajide Jr.
You also don’t want a bag that’s too hard, as Olajide Jr. says a hard bag will be too traumatic on your knuckles—although you can counter a too-hard bag by using bigger gloves such as 14 or 16-oz gloves with padded knuckles. Still, he adds, you won’t get the same workout quality as with a bag that’s the right hardness to begin with.
Next, consider what type of workout you will do with your punching bag. Neiman says it’s essential first to identify your why, then figure out which punching bag will help you achieve your goal.
According to Neiman, traditional heavy bags are great for working with various striking techniques. In contrast, water training bags (which Neiman and his team use at Rumble Boxing) are great for taking a more traditional boxer’s approach to heavy bag training.
Finally, you should decide between a freestanding or hanging bag (anchored from the wall or on a stand). Olajide Jr. prefers hanging bags for the most realistic training results.
Hanging bags move and sway, allowing you to practice footwork, timing, rhythm, and defensive and offensive punching techniques in response to the movement, something freestanding bags can’t quite match.
For conventional bags, stick with heavier options. Olajide Jr. says anything under 125 pounds is too light, although some more lightweight boxers or beginners may get away with 100 pound options. “Make sure it isn’t sand filled, and if filled with material and not sand, make sure the material isn’t compressed too densely as it hurts the knuckles,” he advises.
Lastly, when learning to punch a waterbag or conventional heavy bag, the most important thing to remember is to wrap your hands.
According to Olajide Jr., (and research) it’s easy to hurt your hands1, scuff the skin on the knuckles, and even break your wrist if your hands aren’t wrapped appropriately. “Thick gloves will help ease the impact on the knuckles, but only the hand wrap can protect the wrist from injury,” he warns.