If you’re interested in finding out the speedbag benefits, and how to use a speed bag, you’ve come to the right place.
When I first got into boxing in my early teens, I remember walking into my first gym and hearing that rhythmic sound of a speed bag being hit perfectly (if you know, you know, and I’m sure you can hear that sound right now).
A speed bag is a small air filled bag anchored in the center of a round rebound platform that is positioned parallel to the ground. Its boxing benefits include timing, precision, and hand-eye coordination.
At my present day gym (which has a combination of boxing, mma, muay thai, and kickboxing classes), they actually don’t have any speed bags. It seems boxing and other striking based martial arts have been using speed bags less and less. So are there still some benefts to speed bag training?
In this post, we plan to breakdown speed bag benefits, how to use a speed bag, and why it may not be as popular as it once was.
What Is a Speed Bag and Speed Bag Benefits – Highlights
- Despite the name, a speed bag teaches timing, rhythim and accuracy – not speed
- Listen for the 3 bounces to better time your speed bag punches
- The main benefits of a speed bag are timing, precision, hand-eye coordination, and stamina
- Some practical things speed bag training teaches you is to:
- keep your hands up
- to stay loose in between throwing punches
- My last gym would make us go through an entire workout then at the end go a round or two on the speed bag to force you to keep your hands up even when exhausted
- For more natural positioning and better timing training – you can consider using a double end bag
- The biggest con with using a speed bag is that the punches thrown really aren’t applicable for realistic striking since it forces you to keep your arms in an unnatural posotion and throw punches completely different from how you would normally
- Lastly, an often unspoken benefit of a speed bag is that: it can get you used to not flinching or overreacting when a punch is thrown at you
- This is something that everyone new to boxing and striking martial arts will have to get used to.
Here’s a quick table comparing speed bag training to other common boxing training:
|Speed Bag||1. Improves hand-eye coordination2. Enhances speed and timing 3. Builds shoulder endurance4. Low impact on joints||1. Limited power development2. Doesn’t simulate real fighting conditions 3. Not effective for lower body training|
|Boxing Sparring||1. Realistic fight simulation 2. Tests and improves defensive skills 3. Builds mental toughness 4. Allows for adaptive strategy||1. Risk of injury 2. Requires skilled partners 3. May reinforce bad habits if not corrected|
|Heavy Bag Work||1. Builds power and strength 2. Allows for diverse range of techniques 3. Effective for conditioning 4. Can practice at your own pace||1. No feedback on defensive skills 2. Can be hard on joints and hands 3. Limited movement practice|
|Shadow Boxing||1. Enhances technique and form 2. Improves spatial awareness 3. Good for warm-up and cool-down 4. Can be done anywhere||1. No impact training (i.e., can’t feel strikes) 2. No immediate feedback 3. May not build power|
What Is a Speed Bag?
A speed bag is a small air filled bag anchored in the center of a round rebound platform that is positioned parallel to the ground.
A speed bag is generally used for practicing punching speed, hand-eye coordination, and the rhythm necessary in boxing and other striking sports. However, its not as common as it once was. Its use in boxing gyms has certaintly diminshed over time, but it can still have some benefits.
Previously, its been a standard part of a boxer’s training equipment, known for its fast-paced, rhythmic movement that challenges both new and seasoned boxing athletes.
With its roots anchored deep in boxing history, the speed bag (while not as popular as it once was) continues to serve its purpose, helping athletes sculpt and refine their fighting skills.
How Do You Use a Speed Bag?
Here are some basic tips on how to use a speed bag:
- Stand squarely in front of the platform with power distributed evenly between both feet
- Keep your elbows up and loosely extend your arms towards the bag
- Keeping your elbows and hands raised up high is one of the main things speed bags teach you*
- With a closed fist, start your first punch by hitting the lower part of the bag with the fleshy part of your hand (in between your pinky knuckly and your wrist bone)
- The bag should hit the platform and rebound back, hitting the platform again before your next punch.
- (one punch > it hits back of platform > it bounces off front of platform > it hits back of platform once more > then you punch with other hand)
- Try to maintain a slow and steady rhythm by listening to the speed bag bounch of the platform a total of three times in between punches
When you feel good with the basic hitting rhythm, you can start to incorporate more advanced techniques and goals like:
- Can you go an entire round while keeping a steady rhytm and speed
- You can using a more active stance like when you hit it with your left fist you can bring your left foot slightly off the ground and then do the opposite when you hit it with your right fist.
- Can practice bobbing and weaving by dodging the bounce back as if it wear a counterpunch from an opponent
- Consider eventually using a smaller bag to practice better accurary like the Title Super Speed Bag which is 4″ by 7″)
- You can also practice some combinations (such as a lead hook) on a speed bag
Remember, it takes time and persistence to master the speed bag – always go slow and rhytmically at first.
Is a Speed Bag Really Important or Necessary?
While a speed bag is a staple for many boxing and martial arts gym, it may not be completely necessary for striking training.
Some of its uses can be better addressed with other types of training – here is a list comparing different types of training and its effectiveness for boxing (Speed bag vs Sparring vs Heavy Bag work vs Shadow Boxing)
- Speed Bag vs. Boxing Sparring: Speed bag training is mainly for enhancing speed, timing, and hand-eye coordination, whereas sparring provides a more realistic fight scenario to test your skills. Sparring is more comprehensive but comes with the risk of injury.
- Speed Bag vs. Heavy Bag Work: Heavy bag work focuses more on building power, and you can execute a diverse range of techniques, including kicks, elbows, and more. Speed bag focuses primarily on upper body speed and agility but is not as comprehensive for building power.
- Speed Bag vs. Shadow Boxing: Speed bag training offers a level of resistance and tactile feedback that shadow boxing doesn’t provide. However, shadow boxing is more versatile in that it can be performed anywhere without equipment and allows you to work on footwork and technique more freely.
- Boxing Sparring vs. Heavy Bag Work: Sparring provides real-time feedback from a live opponent, something that a heavy bag cannot offer. However, heavy bag work can be safer and can be tailored more to your own specific training needs.
- Boxing Sparring vs. Shadow Boxing: Sparring is more advanced and allows you to test your skills in a live scenario. Shadow boxing can help you focus on technique and can be a good tool for visualization, but it doesn’t provide the same level of realism or feedback.
- Heavy Bag Work vs. Shadow Boxing: Heavy bag work allows for impact and therefore is effective for power development, something shadow boxing doesn’t offer. However, shadow boxing allows for a focus on form and technique and doesn’t require any equipment.
As you can see speed bag training excells at increasing:
- arm/shoulder stamina
- hand eye coordiation
However, these benefits can likely be addressed by other types of trainnig (especially with the addition of a double end bag).
Why Do Boxers Continue to Use Speed Bags Despite Limitations?
While it’s true that speed bags aren’t perfect—they can’t simulate the movements of an opponent or provide the satisfaction of landing a heavy punch—they continue to find a place in boxing gyms around the world. Why?
Because they offer some unique benefits that are hard to replicate. A speed bag helps boxers improve their speed, enhance their reflexes, and train their brain to anticipate movements and respond accordingly. This is often why experienced boxers return to the speed bag even after years of fighting—it’s a training tool that consistently challenges their abilities.
One advantage of speed bags is their adaptability to various training routines. Even if you’re not interested in boxing professionally, you can still incorporate speed bag workouts into your regular regimen for a solid cardio exercise. Hitting a speed bag with high intensity for one minute can elevate your heart rate and give you a solid upper-body workout.
It’s also worth remembering that the purpose of a speed bag isn’t to replace other kinds of training, but to complement them.
Benefits of Using a Speed Bag – Full List
Having poor timing not only limits your offensive capability, but also leaves you vulnerable to opposing attacks.
If you’ve watched a boxer train with a speed bag, you might have noticed a consistent rhythm playing out: the fists are punching with consistent intervals, mirroring the rhythm of a metronome. With every strike, the bag bounces back against the backboard, rebounding in precise timing for the next punch. This interaction teaches you to synchronize your strikes with a moving target, improving your timing in the ring.
In essence, the speed bag serves as a real-time combat simulator, allowing you to train with an unpredictable target, helping you sharpen your response time and improve your striking rhythm.
Your punching precision is another main benefit of a speed bag. Knowing how and where to throw your punches under stress will have a strong impact on how effective of a fighter you are.
Bonus: if you want to better work your precision, you can use a smaller speed bag to focus on hitting an even smaller target.
3. Shoulder & Arm Strength and Endurance
As I mentioned earlier, increasing your shoulder and arm strenght stamina and enduracne is another main benefit of speed bag training.
Like I said, my previous gym would have us do a full boxing class then at the end for the last couple rounds have every to speed back rounds to force us to keep our hands and guard up even when tired.
4. Hand-Eye Coordination
Next, another fundamental skill that significantly benefits from the use of a speed bag is hand-eye coordination.
When using a speed bag, your eyes must constantly track its movement while your hands must react with precision and speed. This is consequently training your brain to multitask effectively. By doing so, you ace the skill of anticipating the bag’s movement and match it with precise punching ability.
5. Develop Better Punching Technique
A speed bag reflects your punches, providing valuable feedback on your technique. Your timing, punch force, and punch efficiency are significantly enhanced with consistent speed bag training.
Hitting the speed bag at the perfect angle will effect whether or not it bounces back in the correct spot.
Boxing isn’t merely about inflicting power punches. It’s a balance of power, precision, and pace. If you swing recklessly, you not only risk getting counterpunched but also expend energy unnecessarily. Speed bags cultivate discipline, necessitating measured, precise punches.
6. Good for at Home or in Gym Training
A speed bag is a relatively small and inexpsensive piece of equipment that can easily be installed at your home or mounted in a corner at your boxing gym without taking up too much space.
If you have a free corner in your basement, garage, shed, or at home training area, you can easily fit a speed bag and get a solid workout in.
7. Increases Punching Speed
Consistent training with a speed bag has an essential impact on your ability to deliver quick punches.
As you increase your speed of punches it will bounce the speed bag quicker and quicker forcing you to throw faster and faster punches.
Quicker responses translate to increased speed of punches in real-time boxing situations. Remember, precision is just as important as speed in boxing; hitting a small, fast-moving target like a speed bag can also improve accuracy. As a side benefit, you’ll also enhance your reflex actions.
How Can a Speed Bag Improve Hand Speed?
While we always recommend starting very slow with a speed bag, over time as you get more practice with it you can speed up the punches thrown.
This will teach your to not only keep your hands up but to throw faster punches to keep up with the increased rate of bounces of the speed bag.
8. Low Impact Training
Boxing training can be tough between constantly pounding on the heavy bag to trading blows when sparring so having a low impact and effective form of training is always a nice compliment.
- You aren’t throwing haymakers at a heavy bag
- You aren’t giving and taking hits in sparring
You can get a good endurance based workout with a speed bag with minimal damage and still sharpen your boxing skills.
9. Good Cardio
If you’re in search of an efficient way to improve cardiovascular health, speed bag training is worth consideration.
The continuous, quick motion of hitting the bag gets your heart pumping, thereby improving cardiovascular endurance. A bonus is that this form of cardio is far from monotonous, making it easier to stick with over time.
A 15-20 minute session on the speed bag can equate to a decent cardio workout, especially when done with minimal break periods. The intensities can be varied, so whether you’re a beginner or an experienced athlete, you can get a good heart-pounding workout.
10. Increases Mental Focus
Being an essential part of a boxing routine, the speed bag isn’t something you can hit mindlessly – you have to focus the entire time to make sure your punches are accurate and timed correctly.
A rhythmical back and forth motion demands unwavering attention and considerable coordination. Therefore, training with a speed bag inherently compels you to focus intensely, preventing you from slipping into a daydream.
Side note: Regular use of a speed bag can also lead to an increased ability to concentrate under pressure.
11. Stress Relief
One last advantage of smacking a speed bag is its power as a quick and easy stress release. T
he physical exertion required to keep the bag in motion, combined with the rhythmic sound of the bag bouncing back and forth, can act as an emotional outlet which can definitely help you vent pent-up emotions and tensions.
Beyond the biochemical benefits though, the speed bag also serves as a form of active meditation. Focusing on the rhythm, the sound, and the physicality of the movements brings you into the present moment, which is one of the key principles of mindfulness. By integrating fast-paced speed bag workouts into your day-to-day regimen, you can declutter your mind, let go of your worries, and embrace a feeling of tranquility that outlasts the duration of your training session.
So How Useful Is a Speed Bag Really?
Even though its popularity has waned in recent years a speed bag is still useful and excels at:
- increasing hand-ey coordination
- perfecting timing
- sharpening accuracy
- increasing arm and shoulder endurance
How to Setup a Speed Bag and Other FAQs
What Is the Ideal Size and Setup for a Speed Bag?
Beginners should usually start with larger bags since they move slower and are easier to hit. As their skills improve, they can progress to smaller bags which offer quick rebounds, compelling the boxer to react faster to maintain the rhythm.
For an ideal setup, the speed bag platform should be solid and sturdy. Most platforms are built of wood, which provides the best rebound. A rebound swivel is necessary to hang the bag from the platform. It should allow for quick and smooth rotations so the bag can revert back in a straight path.
The height of the mount should allow for the bag to line up with the boxer’s mouth or nose when it is at rest. This helps maintain high hands, a defensive position that allows the fighter to react quickly by either attacking or defending. With these considerations in mind, creating an ideal speed bag setup from the get-go can enhance your overall speed bag training experience.
Are There Any Common Mistakes to Avoid During Speed Bag Training?
As with any form of exercise, there are common mistakes to avoid when training with a speed bag.
- avoiding hitting the speed bag too hard – especially initially (rememer timing and precision are key – and not speed)
- avoid using body rotation when hitting that bag (atleast initially)
- standing square with a slight rotation of your shoulders and hips is usually best for beginners
- try to maintin a good boxing stance and hit the speed bag with the fatty part on the side of your hand in between your pinky knuck and wrist bone
Properly Judging the Height of a Speed Bag
For ideal speed bag practice, you should set the speed bag at about lip or nose level.
This is because the primary punches thrown on a speed bag are meant to come from above, with the hands slightly elevated. This allows for a proper arc of the punch, aiding in the rhythm and flow of bag punching.
Having said that, a critical aspect to consider is that the optimal height of your speed bag could depend on what area you are specifically seeking to work on. Suppose you are looking to engage shoulder muscles more than usual. In that case, you may consider placing the speed bag at a height slightly above your natural reach as it will require additional exertion, resulting in a touger shoulder workout.
What Gloves Should You Wear for Speed Bag Workout
In terms of using gloves for speed bag training, it largely depends on personal comfort and protective needs.
There are a couple options for gloves with speed bag training:
- hand wraps
- allows for a better feel of the bag while keeping your hands fairly shielded.
- speed bag gloves
- offer more protection
- bag gloves
- offer the most proctection but most unnatural fist position
Our recommmendation is to go with hand wraps or speed bag gloves. Speed bag gloves are likely best for beginners for the added protection.
What Are Some Different Types of Speed Bags?
Generally, speed bags come in three distinct shapes: teardrop, bullet, and balloon.
- The teardrop-shaped bags are the most common. They offer an adequately challenging target size and an ideal bounce pattern for beginners and advanced punchers alike. Usually, they’re filled with air and present an excellent platform to improve hand-eye coordination and striking accuracy.
- Bullet style bags are smaller, lighter, and have a thicker punching area. This design tests the aptitude of an advanced boxer, making them an ideal choice for seasoned fighters aiming to enhance their high-speed punching and accuracy levels.
- Balloon speed bags, on the other hand, are larger and have a slower rebound motion. They’re perfect for beginners or any individual new to boxing because they offer an easier target and relatively gentle rebound.
With these bags there are also different mounting setups you can consider:
Fully Mounted Speed Bag
When we speak about the fully mounted speed bag, we are referring to a type of setup where the bag is securely attached to a stable structure, typically using a swivel and bracket. This standard speed bag setup is often seen in boxing gyms and training facilities, providing a sturdy and solid base.
One advantage of a fully mounted speed bag is its ability to endure powerful hits without extensive movement. It allows trainees to practice at a rapid pace without any reservations about stability. Moreover, a well-installed mounting system ensures safety and reduces noise from the rebound of punches.
The fully mounted speed bag setup offers advantages not just in terms of speed and power but also with respect to its elevation. It’s vital that the bag is hung at eye level or slightly higher, as this forces boxers to keep their hands up during their workout, which is beneficial in real fight scenarios. Keep in mind that a properly mounted speed bag setup provides a realistic and comprehensive training structure for boxers at all experience levels.
Over the Door Style
The ‘Over the Door’ style speed bags represents a popular and inconvenient type of speed bag setup.
As the name suggests, this setup entails the speed bag being placed over a door, using specially-designed brackets or straps. They are enormously handy as they can attach to virtually any door, making them a favorable choice for an indoor home gym setup.
The prime advantage of an over the door style lies in its space efficiency, but it lacks the stability of a fully mounted speed bag.
Free Standing Speed Bag
While this doesn’t exactly count as a speed bag, its another affordable option for at home bag training.
These stand on their own mount. I’ve found that these aren’t great as my wife and I have used one similar to the one pictured. It seems like now matter how much weight is weighin it down, it still moves all over the place.
Quad or Double Tension Speed Bag (Double End Bag)
A doubl end bag iss a type of speed bag designed with four or two points of tension, hence the name. It allows for balanced rebounding of the bag, providing predictable and consistent responses while throwing naturally positioned punches.
A quad or double tension speed bag, compared to a single tension bag, offers more control over the bag’s movement. This feature promotes the development of precise striking skills and enhances hand-eye coordination. For starters in boxing or fitness enthusiasts, training with this bag allows for a progression in skill level at a steady pace, catering to a series of synchronized, rhythmic striking practice involving different angles and intensities.
Are Double End Bags Just Better Speed Bags?
Contrary to common belief, double end bags and speed bags have distinct purposes so it’s hard to definitely say one is bettern than the other.
However, the reason a double end bag may be considered more effective for boxing training is because your punches come out of their natural location – instead of the raised up, overhead position used with a speed bag.
- It’s important to note here that a double end bag is designed to emulate a moving target. It sways in unpredictable directions when hit, forcing the user to react with agility and accuracy. This characteristic makes it an ideal tool for building speed, enhancing reflexes, and understanding boxing tactics, such as feinting and defensive maneuvers.
- On the flip side, a speed bag’s main function is to improve a fighter’s rhythm and speed. It’s hung at a higher level and moves in a predictable pattern when hit, making it a perfect tool for honing sustained hand-eye coordination, building shoulder endurance, and refining accuracy.
How Do You Use a Double End Bag?
To use a double end bag you can try to follow the below basic tips:
- initally, you can focus on hitting the bag with one punch at a time and try to get a solid rhythm going (10 lefts/10 rights then consider rotating hands)
- can try slipping after each jab
- throwing 1’s and 2’s
- learn to move with the bag in with slips and counter puching
How Do you Clean and Maintain a Speed Bag?
So, how exactly do you clean and preserve a speed bag?
- Wipe the bag after every session to remove sweat and dust
- For deep cleaning, you can consider using a solution of mild soap and warm water or a leather cleaner.
- Using harsh chemicals can compromise the bag’s durability. After cleaning, it’s crucial to let the bag air dry.
- Maintaining the bag involves checking the bag’s tightness, usually determined by the air-filled bladder.
- Generally, the platform and the swivel are likely to require less frequent care, a simple wipe down and occasional lubrication of the swivel should do the trick.
Note: Always refer to the manufacturer’s instruction for particular care specifics for your bag.
Heavybag or Speed Bag for Fitness?
When it comes to the dispute of heavy bag versus speed bag for fitness, it really depends on what your training goals are.
|Criteria||Speed Bag Workout||Heavy Bag Workout|
|Objective||Primarily focuses on improving hand-eye coordination, speed, and rhythm.||Aims to build power, strength, and endurance. Provides a comprehensive workout for the entire body.|
|Cardiovascular Benefit||Moderate; the speed bag can get your heart rate up but generally not as much as a heavy bag workout.||High; intense sessions can serve as an effective cardiovascular workout.|
|Strength Training||Limited to upper body and especially shoulder endurance.||Full-body workout that includes significant upper body, core, and even some lower body strength training.|
|Technique||More specialized; focuses on timing and quick hand movements.||Broad range; allows for the practice of various punches, kicks, and combinations.|
|Complexity||Generally simpler movements that are focused on speed and repetition.||Can incorporate a wide range of complex movements and combinations.|
|Equipment Needed||Speed bag, speed bag platform, and gloves or wraps for hand protection.||Heavy bag, gloves, and optional hand wraps. Some prefer to also use shin guards for kicks.|
|Space Requirement||Relatively small; speed bag platforms don’t take up much room.||More space needed, especially if you plan to practice footwork and movement around the bag.|
|Impact on Joints||Low impact, good for people who may have joint issues.||Moderate to high impact; not ideal for those with hand or wrist issues unless done carefully.|
|Skill Level||Beginner to advanced; more about speed and timing than power.||Beginner to advanced; allows for a range of techniques and combinations.|
|Caloric Burn||Moderate; depends on the intensity and duration.||High; can burn a significant number of calories depending on intensity.|
|Versatility||Mostly upper body focused; limited types of exercises.||Very versatile; can incorporate punches, kicks, knees, elbows, and various combinations.|
|Injury Risk||Generally low if done correctly.||Higher, especially if proper technique is not employed or if pre-existing joint issues are present.|
A heavy bag workout is quite physical and high-intensity. It’s great for strength training and building raw power. Also, it can help improve your cardiovascular health because of its high demand for energy output. If you’re keen on adding bulk and muscle mass, especially in your upper body, a heavy bag might be the way to go.
On the flip side, the speed bag is more about finesse and technique. Working with a speed bag ramps up your speed, rhythm, and hand-eye coordination. It provides a different form of cardiovascular workout, akin to interval training, by alternating between high-intensity bouts of punching and rest periods.
What Are the Different Types of Heavy Bags and Other Bags for Boxing
At a basic level, there are three main categories of heavy bags:
- the traditional heavy bag
- uppercut bags
- specialty bags.
1. The traditional heavy bag, possibly the most recognized of them all, sports a cylindrical shape and can weigh anywhere from 40 to 100 pounds. It’s designed to develop a fighter’s total punching power and hand speed.
2. Uppercut bags, also known as angle bags, are shaped to allow punches from different angles. They assist in improving the skill and power of uppercut and hook punches in particular.
3. Specialty bags are a diverse bunch, with each one engineered for specific training motives. These include speed bags and double end bags.
Here is a fully bulleted list too which include bags frequently used in other martial arts (like Muay Thai, grappling, and MMA):
Traditional Heavy Bags
- Classic Heavy Bag: Cylindrical, filled with sand, water, or cloth, and typically weighs between 60-100 lbs. Good for basic punch and kick training.
- Upper Cut (Angle) Bag: Similar to the classic heavy bag but with angles at the top and bottom for practicing uppercuts and body shots.
- Muay Thai Bag: Longer and slimmer than traditional heavy bags, designed for practicing low kicks and knee strikes, in addition to punches.
- Wrecking Ball Bag: Round shape, great for practicing hooks and uppercuts.
Speed and Agility Bags
- Speed Bag: Small, air-filled bag suspended from a rebound platform, used for improving hand-eye coordination, speed, and timing.
- Double-end Bag: Anchored at both the top and bottom, this bag bounces back rapidly, helping to improve timing, speed, and accuracy.
Grappling and Groundwork Bags
- Grappling Dummy: Shaped like a human, used for practicing throws, ground-and-pound, and grappling maneuvers.
- Banana Bag: A longer, banana-shaped bag used primarily in Muay Thai for practicing clinch work and knee strikes.
Wall and Free-Standing Bags
- Wall Bag: Mounted on the wall, useful for practicing strikes in environments where hanging bags is not possible.
- Free-Standing Bag: Sits on a base that is often filled with water or sand. Good for environments where you can’t mount a bag.
- MMA Bag: Versatile bag designed for mixed martial arts training, accommodating punches, kicks, elbows, and even some throws.
- Body Opponent Bag (BOB): Shaped like the upper torso and head of a human, allowing for targeted striking practice.
How Can You Increase Your Punching Power (How to Punch Harder)
Many factors contribute to how you can increase your punching power and punch harder, including technique, strength, speed, and bodyweight.
Some practical tips and training on how to punch harder are:
- Work on honing your punching technique via regular practice of basic punch drills.
- Keep in mind, a punch with proper technique will always yield superior results in comparison to a misguided swing, irrespective of its speed or power.
- Include of strength and resistance workouts, such as push-ups, pull-ups, band work, heavy bag workouts, and weight training (with inclusion of olympic weightlifitng movements)
Note: Punching power is a byproduct of speed and mass (and likely genetics); therefore, a swifter punch, can pack significantly more power than a slower one.