10 Heavy Bag Training Tips

May 7, 2011 May 7, 2011 by Johnny N Bag Training, Boxing Training 121 Comments

Heavy Bag Training Tips
Don’t just throw punches at the bag, learn how to hit a heavy the proper way. Here are 10 heavy bag training tips to develop your boxing technique as well your punching power.

10 Heavy Bag Training Tips

1. Pay Attention

The number one problem of heavybag training is that it builds bad eye habits. The two common problems I see are fighters staring too hard at the bag or not looking at the bag.

Too Much Staring

This kind of intense eye contact is pretty cool since you feel like a hunter keeping his eye on the target. In the ring, staring at a target telegraphs to your opponent where you are going to punch next. Whatever you do, do NOT look down when you throw a body punch. This makes the punch so much easier to defend and so much easier to counter. You especially don’t want to telegraph a body punch because your head is wide open.

Don’t stare too much at one spot that you can’t see anything else.

The correct way to look at the bag is to just look forward. Imagine the bag as opponent in front of you and try to keep the entire bag in your field of vision. You want to keep an eye on his head and body movements at the same time. You aim your punches but you’re not staring so much into one spot that you can’t see anything else.

Lazy Eyes

This is when the fighter is not even looking at the bag. Believe it or not, some fighters can’t answer when I ask them, “What are you looking at when you punch?” I’ve caught new boxers staring at the ground or just looking to the side when they throw big punches. It’s amazing how often boxers punch blind when they get tired.

Don’t just let your eyes roam all over the place. Lazy eyes leave you vulnerable in the ring! Stay focused and pay attention to the bag. This increases your accuracy and more importantly, so you can see counter-punches coming your way. Best way to cure lazy eyes: put little squares of duct tape around the bag to give the eyes something to look at…or just spend more time using other equipment like the double-end bag which keeps your eyes alert.

Ultimately you want to keep your eyes on the bag without staring into it. You want to have a general awareness of the entire heavybag. Keep the bag in view and also be aware of how far the bag is from you at all times.


2. Keep Your Balance

Throw punches at the bag but don’t throw yourself at the bag. Stand on your own two feet and don’t fall into the bag. Keeping your balance makes for better punching power and better footwork around the heavybag.

Don’t use the bag to hold you up. Don’t push with your shoulders; this bad habit allows skilled fighters to keep you off-balance by moving when they feel you leaning into them. Worst of all, do not push the bag around with your head; that’s just a great way to leave yourself open for uppercuts.


3. Punch, Don’t Push

Don’t push the bag, hit it. Don’t make the bag swing all over the place, give it a seizure. There’s an old saying that goes, “If you want to know who’s hitting the bag correctly, just ask the blind man.” This is because you can tell if you’re punching correctly just by listening to the sound of your punches hitting the bag. What you want a snapping SMACK sound when you punch it and not a dull THUD sound. In case you don’t know, I wrote guide a while back: How to Throw a Snapping Punch

A push punch will only push the bag around as your arms get tired. A fast snap punch will jolt the bag in place with a big smack sound. Relax your arms and throw quick snapping punches. Commit some power but don’t have your fist making contact with the bag for too long. As soon as you make contact, return that fist and throw the next punch. You can always tell if you’re pushing if your arms are getting tired quickly. Again, limit the amount of time your fist makes contact with the bag.


4. Ground Your Feet When You Punch

Plant those feet when you punch. Being grounded means more balance, more power, more control, more mobility to move away after the punch, more everything! You can move around all you want but when it comes time to punch, ground your feet! If you find it hard to keep your feet on the ground, just take smaller steps when you move around. The pros punch so much harder because their feet are always on the ground even as they move around the ring.


5. Move Your Feet When You’re Not Punching

Move your hands or move your feet.

As my trainer use to say, “Move your hands or move your feet or move your head.” If you’re not making an offensive move, you’re making a defensive move. Because a heavy bag isn’t punching you, we won’t worry about head movement but we can definitely work on foot movement. Always move when you finish punching.

Keep Your Distance

Maintain a proper distance at all times. Move with the bag and keep it at arms reach at all times. Don’t let the bag get too far or too close. Don’t be lazy with your legs. Move with the bag instead of standing there and waiting for it to come to you. Back up when it comes at you and follow it if it swings away. If you can’t move your feet as swiftly as the bag swings, you need to lighten up the punches or get a heavier bag…or develop better footwork.


6. Don’t Wait

This is what separates the men from the boys. Watch any professional fighter work the heavybag and you’ll see that they’re ALWAYS throwing punches. Even when they rest, they only rest for maybe 2 seconds at most.

The beginners are always waiting around in between combinations. They’ll throw big punches and then just walk around for 5-10 seconds to catch their breath. These long periods of inactivity will kill you. Real fights don’t have 10-second breaks for you to catch your breath.

The moment you stop punching,
your opponent starts punching.

So what’s the moral of the story? —NEVER STOP PUNCHING! You don’t always have to punch hard, but you have to keep throwing. Put in some light punches and jab as you move around the bag to catch your breath. When you’re ready to throw the big shots again, step in and fire away.


7. Less Power, More Breathing

Hitting the heavy bag is a lot like running–it’s all about the breathing! Don’t worry so much about trying to hit hard. Focus on explosive breathing, not explosive punches. Stay relaxed and work on your breathing so you don’t get tired.

Power comes from good technique,
endurance comes from good breathing.

Power and endurance has very little to do with how much effort you put into your punches. The pros throw hundreds of power punches using nothing but good technique and breathing. Good breathing allows you to stay relaxed and throw many punches without tiring out. Good technique allows you to deliver maximum power without wasting any of the energy you put into the punch.

Don’t let the bag wear you out. A bag works at your rhythm which is only when you want to punch. Learn how to conserve your energy for more challenging workouts like the double-end bag or sparring. If you’re still getting tired against a heavy bag, you’re not ready for competition.


8. Throw 3-6 Punches

Throwing 3 to 6 punches at a time is the sweet spot. Not 1, not 2, and NOT 10. It’s enough to do damage, yet short enough for you to get out before your opponent fires back. Combo all your punches together. Try some normal combos (1-2-1-2, 1-2-3, etc) as well as some unorthodox combos (1-3-2, 3-1-2-3-3, etc). Fights are fought in combinations, not single punches. Keep throwing combinations and keep up that rhythm.

Aim your punches high for the head and low for the body. The biggest problem I see is people who don’t punch high enough for the head. Come time to fight, their shoulders get tired because they’re not use to punching high.


9. Be Active When You Rest

Everybody gets tired.
The important thing is that you’re always doing something.

Don’t just stand there when you get tired. Keep moving! If you’re going to rest, do it as you’re moving around and throwing light punches. Do NOT rest by leaning on the bag or doing your Mike Tyson slip choreography. Worst of all, do not rest by standing still like a punching bag.


10. Keep Your Hands Up

You have to be careful not to get carried away with your power.

It’s easy to be lazy on defense when the bag isn’t punching back.

You THINK your hands are up but you don’t really know until you get punched. You could be racking up hundreds of hours on the heavy bag developing a bad habit and not find out how open you are until you step into the ring. Don’t drop your right hand when you throw the jab and especially do not drop your right hand when you throw the left hook. Don’t just cover your head; keep your elbows down to protect the body as well. The most helpful tip I can recommend is to have a trainer or friend watch you and yell at you every time you drop your hands.



Heavy Bag Training

The heavy bag training is for developing efficient power, not absolute power. You’re not breaking bricks with a single punch. You need power punches you can sustain throughout an entire fight, not just for one round. Keep your hands up, move around the bag, and make sure you’re always throwing fast punches. Pay attention, stay balance, and work that bag! If you do it right, it gets easy. The heavy bag becomes a warm-up for the real workout, which is in the ring.


Other boxing guides on heavy bag training:

boxing ebook Advanced Boxing Techniques 30 Day Fighter's Diet Advanced Boxing Footwork Drills
Did you learn something? Share It!


João Monteiro May 7, 2011 at 12:34 pm

really hekpfull technics, in my case, the best i learned, is to never stop punching, don’t wait that 5-10 seconds before you star the next combination!

Johnny, never loose the strengh for teaching
Greatings from Portugal


DKL May 7, 2011 at 10:10 pm

Great Article
Man, you sure know your stuff. I set up a heavy bag up at my house that hangs from a tree outside. The limb it hangs off of is about 40 feet in the air so when the bag moves, it moves as much as a real guy would in the ring. You can cut the bag off, stalk the bag, keep it at your range as you move and pivot out when comes at you. One of my best inventions yet… Got the idea from a basketball gymnasium that had a haevy bag hanging from the cieling. Now if I could just invent something that would punch at back at me…;-)


charles September 22, 2012 at 3:54 pm

i would like to see your punching bag set up outside.
Are you in the Los Angeles, CA area?


Michelle December 28, 2013 at 2:59 pm

the wife…


peter May 8, 2011 at 12:50 pm

thanks like alway your number 1!


spyroskonst May 9, 2011 at 5:21 am

thanks for the tips!
i’ve been reading your articles for some time now. All your articles are really helpful. As for current instructions the “always punch” tip was the best. I have a bag at home and my rests are quite big thinking what i’ve read right now. I’ll try everything from what you’re writting. 😀


Jess May 10, 2011 at 4:10 am

Yukon Boxing
Another great article with solid tips!


Johnny N May 12, 2011 at 10:55 am

@DKL – I always had a fantasy that I could do something like that! I hate when a bag swings back at me too quickly!

@everyone else – THANK YOU! Stay tuned, guys. I have some really really good stuff coming. I just need some pictures and video.


muneeb khan May 18, 2011 at 4:28 pm
Johnny N May 20, 2011 at 11:44 am

@muneeb – GOOD LUCK!


MuayThaiViper June 8, 2011 at 6:48 am

Great article!
Awesome tips which I have followed to improve my boxing. It would be great if you could link to a video with some great examples of bagwork.

Also, you didn’t mention to keep your chin DOWN! 😉

Keep up the good work!


Johnny N June 9, 2011 at 9:37 am

Thanks MuayThaiViper, I’ll have to put a video together. And oh yeah, better keep that chin down EVERYONE!


TheOne June 25, 2011 at 2:15 pm

😀 Now i throw punches like Muhamed Ali


Truth September 23, 2013 at 2:16 am

Haha, you wish.


Soren June 27, 2011 at 11:42 pm

Thanks. it’s awesome and usefull. I’m going to Use this types to develop my boxing.


uso August 29, 2011 at 7:30 am

on the breathing part do u inhale as hard as when ur punching exhale out hope I didnt confuse you or would u say breathe in as normal as possible exhale hard as u punch?


Johnny N August 31, 2011 at 3:43 pm

@uso – usually, you inhale in one deep breath but exhale in short tiny breaths. With each short exhale, you throw one sharp punch. Don’t try to waste all your air into one punch.


Gonzo October 29, 2011 at 11:38 pm

Hello Johnny N,
Would you please teach us the proper technique to hit a double end bag. By the way, I train at Eddie Herredia Boxing Club in East Los Angeles, California. I am 5’8 and weight 135 lbs. And, I have sparred with 1997 National Golden Gloves Light welterweight champion Adam “Bomb” Reyes, and former WBC Light middle weight champion Sergio “Latin Snake” Mora. So, If you need a sparring partner for any of your students, you have a rooster right here.
Thank you,
Hector Gil


Johnny N November 1, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Thanks for being available, Gonzo. I might be able to learn a lot of things from you. The proper way to hit the double-end bag is to try to touch it. Treat it like a speed bag, just try to touch it at first and consistently touch it for a whole round. Then slowly put a little more power until you can hit it non-stop without missing. I have a guide coming out, just need pictures and video.


Joe January 3, 2012 at 11:59 am

Do you think a freestanding bag is as good as a hanging bag, right now i can only access a freestanding bag.


Johnny N January 5, 2012 at 12:05 am

No way, not at all Joe…but if it’s all you got, then you’ll have to make do with it.


Joe January 5, 2012 at 8:31 am

what are the advantages of a hanging bag?


Johnny N January 5, 2012 at 2:22 pm

It moves around forcing you to use your feet to move with it. Also because it moves, you have to be a little more alert and accurate.


Joe January 6, 2012 at 8:21 am

Thanks for the advice johnny, it seems I can get a hanging bag after all i found one that I can afford.

WinnieThePooh January 4, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Hey Johnny,

My coach told me when I hit the heavy bag I’m too close to it and should take more advantage of my longer reach. When I do step back though I feel like my punches have no pep to them and occasionally locking my joints with nothing to hit hurts. Any tips on finding my range better or faster with a heavy bag?


Johnny N January 5, 2012 at 12:07 am

Winnie, learn to stand so that your punch connects within the last 3 inches of full arm extension. Your elbows are hurting because of hyper-extension. It happens to me too sometimes — very painful. Make sure you warm-up your joints with lots of soft shadowboxing before you throw hard punches.


WinnieThePooh January 12, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Thanks Johnny! Gonna try it out.


rommel January 19, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Exelente articulo!!!! now my heavy bag will know whos is the boss. thanks coach!!


Johnny N January 21, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Make a video of you destroying the bag and post it!


gordon marino January 29, 2012 at 10:00 pm

I’ve been training boxers for decades and these are some great tips. Realistic, clear, nuanced. I especially liked the one about the lazy eye. I always find boxers looking down at the ground in front of them. And I’m always telling them to relax their face — their eyes.

But thanks again. I learned a lot from your post.


Johnny N January 31, 2012 at 2:24 pm


For some reason, I felt like your name was familiar so I looked it up. I read this post before: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/15/boxing-lessons/ and found it to be particularly enlightening. I’ll be sharing it on the ExpertBoxing Facebook later. It’s an honor to have you post here. Thank you.


J February 7, 2012 at 9:40 pm

for the punching bad should i just throw my favorite combinations? im very new to a gym (only a week) since i know i have a long way to go i just try to master one punch at a time for now. proper cross proper hook, i even did the “overhand right/hook” you explained to me, i also like to practice all different types of jabs, eventually i want to get to the point where i can be on the move plant land all in a milli second and keep moving , do i have a good game plan for the bag johnny by doing that?


Johnny N February 9, 2012 at 4:32 pm

If you’re new to training, learn the basic combinations from your trainer and practice them. Master those first before experimenting with new ones. Practicing different kinds of jabs is a good idea.


Mark February 8, 2012 at 8:47 am

This site provides pretty much all the internet based information I’ll ever need when it comes to boxing. Johnny, thank you for your effort!


J February 9, 2012 at 4:50 pm

thank you johnny. and is it a good idea to train one punch at a time to perfect each punch then slowly adding punches? or should i just do combos?


Johnny N February 9, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Do both.


Tyrone March 12, 2012 at 2:34 am

I’ve been hitting the heavy bag for a few months now and noticed that my knuckles have been bruising. I use handwraps and tend to wrap with a bit more cushion around my knuckles and I wear 16 oz gloves, but the bruising still happens. I never dig my punches into the bag either, I try to do faster punches with minimal contact time with the bag. The bruising doesn’t bother me, but my wife complains that it’s not pleasant to look at. I’m 160 lbs so should I consider getting heavier gloves? I can’t seem to find that many 18 oz gloves online. The 3 that I was looking into were:

Fighting Tri-Tech $100
Title Platinum – $80
Title Black – $200

Have you tried any of them? The Title Platinum seems to be my top choice right now, but only because it’s the cheapest of the 3. Dishing out $200 dollars for boxing gloves is a bit much unless they’re absolutely amazing.


Johnny N March 13, 2012 at 12:01 pm

You might have bad form Tyrone. I would pick Title Platinum out of the 3 gloves. You also shouldn’t be beaten on the heavy bag for more than 3-5 rounds a day. Start working with the other bags or other equipment. As you already know, too much of anything can be bad.


Tyrone March 13, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Thanks for the advice Johnny! I’ll work with the trainer more so he can give me some pointers on my form. Definitely gonna take it easy on the the heavy bag training as well.


Philippe April 22, 2012 at 7:56 am

Hi Tyrone. I saw Adidas has some 18 oz. gloves for $99 on the Title website.


Micah March 19, 2012 at 6:14 pm

I put two homemade slip bags about a foot in front of my heavybag. I’ll swing both slip bags and then work the heavybag with both slip bags acting like punches coming at me. I have to slip, bob, weave and duck and counterpunch and it works great for me. Have you ever heard of anyone doing this?


Johnny N March 21, 2012 at 10:08 am

You’re the first person, Micah! So I have to ask: does it work? Is your fighting getting better?


Micah March 22, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Yeah, I think it has made slipping punches more of an instinct instead of a conscious thing, and it has greatly improved my counterpunching speed (its only a split second to punch back), and it has developed my eye for seeing openings in which i fire a straight right or jab. I start sparring again next month and I can’t wait to see how well my counter right and counter left hook go with my long range jab (drowning style). The new slipping article is awesome by the way.


Liam March 23, 2012 at 5:24 am

Nice article.

I often see people at my gym pounding the heavy bag hard and sure they are working their power – but I like to hit the heavy bag at about 50% and concentrate on speedy combinations/movement. Whenever I say to my trainer I’m working my speed he replies that the “bag is for power, the speed bag is for speed”, then tells my to throw 100% at it. I mix up my speedy combos with a few 100% shots here and there, but I’m concentrating more on speed. Would you say I was correct in that the heavy bag is a underutilized tool for developing speedy combos with power because most people just look to throw 100%ers?


Johnny N March 23, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Your right Liam. The heavy bag doesn’t have to be for power all the time. It’s a great bag to work speedy combos.


motorgeek April 21, 2012 at 2:23 pm

i am a complete beginner to boxing, and i suck at learning things by reading them, i would love to learn to box but i dont want to really compete, maybe spar a little, if i were to join a a gym or something would they take me seriously even though i wouldnt be like a prized fighter…..do they care? im not sure what im asking..srry ……guess what im asking is would they help me even though i suck and its not my main priority?


Johnny N April 25, 2012 at 2:28 pm

Trainers will take you seriously if you really want to learn. At some point though, you’ll have to accept that your learning will be limited if you’re unwilling to test your skills at the highest level by sparring. But anyway, everybody starts somewhere. It’s not like everyone walks into the gym thinking they’ll be champion one day. Give it a shot and see if you like it.


Bobby April 30, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Can a narrow heavy bag mess up your technique as far as proper stance (feet position and body angle)?


Johnny N May 1, 2012 at 5:18 pm

No. Stand in front of it as if it was a real human being.


Battleofstamfordbridge May 28, 2012 at 6:53 am

Great tips. I’ve been doing heavy-bag work at home for years, but always forget “Keep your hands up” as there isn’t a fist to remind me that my hands are low.


vvtill June 30, 2012 at 6:21 am


I do not understand this part 7. Less Power, More Breathing. Initially i thought we have to punches harder in order to developed punching power, but in this part you mention that focus on breathing and throw light punches, i’m kind of confuse for this part….. please advice


Johnny N July 1, 2012 at 1:05 pm

It’s exactly as I explained it. Use less muscle effort, and more breathing effort. Punching is like running… when you have the right breathing, you can run faster and longer using less energy. Beginners are so focused on punching that they forget to focus on the breathing. The development of your breathing will allow you to be better punchers!


Jason Lee July 1, 2012 at 10:07 pm

Great article as in all the other ones! Just a request for a tutorial/article in the future concerning the “ssss” sound boxers make while punching. I know its generally to breathe as you punch so your stomach doesnt tighten up and to also keep your mouth closed(I guess). But I’ve been traiing for a while with a mouthguard and uncomfortable with that sound and not sure if im doing it correctly. I feel more comfortable doing a takwondo “huh” sound for some reason as I punch. Can mouth be a little open, etc?? Jus curious of your thoughts….


Gilles July 2, 2012 at 6:28 am

Got the same problem: shouting a bit definitely helps when hitting the heavy bag, but taking the habit of keeping your mouth shut will help you when sparring as you will avoid biting your tongue or getting your jaw dislocated.


Johnny N July 7, 2012 at 10:34 pm

Great question, Jason. The answer is way more complicated than you think and there are many different ways to visualize the breathing.

The reason why you make the “ssss” sound while punching is to activate your core with the punch, while releasing as LITTLE air as possible. By releasing only enough air to power the punch, we have more air for more punches, allowing us to throw more powerful punches in a combo before having to inhale again.

The taekwondo “huh” sound is because you guys needs a stronger/wider reaction from the core to power a wider-range movement like a kick. In boxing, we do a smaller “sss” because our jaws have to stay closed (to prevent from being broken). We also do a smaller “sss” sound because punches are more compact tighter movements and are thrown in much faster succession.

The breathing SHOULD feel weird when you first learn it. It’s supposed to be a small tight explosive breath. If you don’t have the trained movement, it should definitely feel weird. What you don’t want is a lazy exhale…or a loud one where you lose all your air in one punch.

PS: I recommend for you to listen to my breathing in my guide for “shoeshine combinations”.


vvtill July 2, 2012 at 5:31 am

Yes i agree with jason, may i know is controlling breathing means every time i throwing a punch no matter it is cross, jab or hook. I must make this sound ” SSSSSH” (Exhale).And that’s what we call controlling breathing? Correct me if i’m wrong.


Johnny N July 7, 2012 at 10:35 pm

Yes, make an exhalation with each breath.


Jack July 19, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Johnny —
I would be interested to hear your opinion on the relation longevity of a fighter and heavy bag use. If you have time watch this short clip of a MT fighter:

Now this guy is throwing everything in those kicks and elbows, as boxers will in their punches. My question is, do you believe you should limit a fighters exposure to the heavy bag or at least using it for full power due to the damage it may do over an extended period?

Lastly, I train kickboxing but find your writing to have much cross over. I want to remain fast and agile, like you state in your other post “8 reason heavy bags suck” too much use can either harm your hands (in my case knees, shins and hips) or it can still tense you shoulders – in turn effecting hand speed. How often do you recommend using the heavy bag and when using do you recommend spending more time on technique drills than power drills? Would you recommend using focus pads/mitts often or would you say the same applies to them as to heavy bags?

Keep up the work. Thanks.


Johnny N July 23, 2012 at 10:02 am

The knees and shins are far more durable than the hands so they aren’t comparable. I think the heavy bag should only be used 6 rounds tops, unless you’re doing less impacting work on it. As for technique, you should ALWAYS be doing technique regardless of what equipment you’re using. But mitts is much better work than the heavy bag. Focus pads and mitts don’t impact as hard as heavy bag.


Vato Loco July 20, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Dat be Buakaw bro. That dude is used to kicking trees and sheet. After kicking trees the heavy bag feels like tissue paper. Buakaw trains like he’s in that movie “Bloodsport,” only he’s REAL and his training is REAL, and not some made up camera tricks in REEL life cuz.. When Big George Foreman was still fighting in his first career back in the swinging seventies he switched trainers and started training under Gil Clancy. Clancy said all Big George wanted to do was his roadwork, hit the heavy bag for many rounds, and chop wood. Clancy said he noticed that all that excessive heavy bag work made Foreman’s punches more powerful but yet at the same time he sacrificed some speed. Foreman was known to hit the heavy bag sometimes for up to 9 minutes without a rest period in his prime back in the seventies.


Daniel July 20, 2012 at 4:16 pm

😀 you again are talking jokes 😀 Buakaw does not train like the movie Blood Sport 🙂 He is kicking and punching bags,pads,sparring running and calistenics 🙂 Normal old school. I know this from first hand.And i am muay thai fighter for 7 years and i know how the thais train.lol you lost me with that ”blood sport” :D.And I will respond to Jack.Yes, you can kick and punch heavy bags.Although i respect what Johny say, i really dissagree about his statement.Heavy Bag is perfect for endurance, power, and for kicking is good for the shins.You must to have hard shins.


Vato Loco July 21, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Hard punchers might develop sore tender hands from too much time on the heavy bag especially if they punch hard for their weight. Small delicate hands and a hard punch mean you could develop some hand problems from the heavy bag down the road. While Muhammad Ali was definitely not a hard puncher he developed hand problems later on and at times he hardly used the heavy bag. Against a non-stop punching machine like Joe Frazier, Ali would have to train on the heavy bag to toughen his hands for hitting Joe Frazier’s hard head for 12-15 rounds. For easier opponents Ali would spend less time on the big bag and rest his hands.


Daniel July 22, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Its just a fun clip for buakaw and the banana tree.You toughen your shins by repeatidly kicking bags and pads.BloodSport…Vato Loco rules watching too many movies 😀 I know for Packman, its a good exercise 🙂


Vato Loco July 22, 2012 at 2:01 pm

When Rocky Marciano first started boxing he trained at a YMCA. In fact with no quality sparring available Marciano spent a great deal of his time pounding the heavy bag. The overtime spent on the heavy bag and a running routine that was often done twice a day for a total of 7-10 miles daily no doubt accounted for much of Marciano’s tremendous stamina and ability to be strong for a full 15 round fight. Matter of fact, that was Marciano’s early training routine which was spending enormous time punching the heavy bag, some exercises, followed by throwing punches in shoulder deep water in a pool for about half an hour, and of course his roadwork. Marciano rarely used the speed bag and when he did, he attacked it rather clumsily. Even later on Marciano was never a fancy dan with the speed bag or skipping rope, but as long as Rocky kept his hands high while attacking the speed bag his trainer Charley Goldman didn’t care about style points. P.S. Daniel Son, bro I know the whole banana tree was more for publicity than a normal part of his training routine. In the words of the Joker “Why So Serious” Daniel Son. Now when you can snatch the pebble from my hand you will be an honory Master like the Vato Loco, but until then you are the student and I am the teacher. Comprende?


vato loco February 28, 2013 at 1:23 am

vato loco, i liked that info. you sound like a good student of the game.you have any info on archie moore? he use to train close to where i live,but that was long ago,way before my time…………..adios


Jason July 25, 2012 at 1:41 pm

I like #6 the best, great article


Jason Lee July 29, 2012 at 1:35 am

Thank you for responding to my July 1st comment Johnny!


sicnarf September 13, 2012 at 3:24 pm

hey johnny im recovering from a boxers fracture i broke my second metacarpal bone..do you have any suggestions on what to do or may b a frend of yours had it or experience from any gyms…how does a boxing trainer treat it and tell him to do to get his grip strength back and how long will it take for a healthy person like me to fully recover…anything i should put on my knuckles before i put the handwraps besides gauze and tape???? thanks


Sir September 15, 2012 at 1:23 pm

great article, all I have at my house is a heavy bag so I tend to be hitting it a lot. Are there any drills I can do with the heavy bag, mainly all I do is work on my grounding and implosion which you talk about in other articles, crappy pinpoint punches with some X’s on my bag, and trying to keep in the sweet spot distances with my jab while circling the bag. Is there anything else I could do on it that could benifit rather than just beating it senseless?


Johnny N September 17, 2012 at 10:15 am

I would lay off the bag and do shadowboxing. Install a slip rope somewhere and shadowbox around it.


Jenniferlynn September 26, 2012 at 10:14 pm

I read most of the comments and questions, but not all so hopefully I’m not duplicating one. How do you gauge how heavy your bag should be? I love to watch boxing and decided that instead of the typical female exercise choices, I would like to try a heavy bag. I’m hoping I’ll get a great workout, release some stress, and pick up some skills just incase I need it. I’d like to incorporate some kicks as well, but need to learn more about that technique. I’m not a wimpy girl and I can throw some respectable punches, so again I’m just not sure how heavy the bag should be. And thank you to you Johnny and everyone else for the great info.


Johnny N October 2, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Typically the punching bags are around 50-75% of your body weight. If you’re going to be kicking, then you’d need around 1x of your body weight or maybe a little more depending on how hard you kick and how long you need the bag to be.


Marvin October 26, 2012 at 5:33 am

This question may sound stupid to u.(im a beginner) but this is important to me. By u mean snapping sound, are u also referring to the jab?


Johnny N November 5, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Yes, ideally every punch would be a snapping punch.


TGW Bounty January 3, 2013 at 8:44 am

Thanks man, I’m just starting heavy bag training in an effort to drop a few stone.


student January 21, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Hey to all!
I’ve dug some valuable web app on the net – timer with randomly played commands for hit combinations. It might be usefull for those who train on bag. This is polish page, but controls are intuitive. Check it and tell if it was worthwhile.


Uthman July 18, 2013 at 9:57 am

indeed yo very greit! Just keep the boxing spirit blazing and never give up giving us tecniques, when I read yo essy you rilly Inspired me to join boxing BRAVO administrator 🙂 🙂 in Uganda we say ” OLIWAKABI” meaning yo superb, greit en moo of the kind
Thank you soo much


Dan July 25, 2013 at 2:21 am

Excellent tips, been looking for a decent guide for a while now but it seems i have found it!
– ***** –


Southpaw August 14, 2013 at 11:17 am

I had some questions about injuries or pain? I hit the bag maybe three or four times a week. I get this kind of ache in my left neck extending down through my shoulder that takes a day or two to shake off. Also sometimes it huts by my left elbow and very rarely my left hand hurts. Is this normal or am I doing something wrong. I’ve backed off on hitting it so hard lately and incidents of pain have been less but outside of that I was wondering if there were any other strategies for avoiding possible injuries or needless pain. Thanks!


Johnny N August 27, 2013 at 10:51 am

You either need better hand protection, better punching technique, or a combination of both. You might also be over-training. Anything over 30 minutes of high intensity bagwork can be too much on the hands.


Jake September 30, 2013 at 9:51 am

Great article with some really awesome tips for training. I’ve already sent it to a few people. Do you have any video(s) you’d recommend that demonstrate some of the tips you discuss. Obviously you cover a wide range of things, so I assume there is probably more than one video to check out.


Johnny N October 6, 2013 at 6:41 pm

I’ve got a ton of videos on my Youtube channel. Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/expertboxing


Jake November 19, 2013 at 5:38 am

Thanks! Awesome videos.


Dick October 29, 2013 at 11:19 pm

Hi Johnny!

I have these very cushioned gloves and a bag with a PVC type lining that really seems to dull sound.

Now I might be making excuses for my lack of punching power, or I might punch hard like I believe I do and its just the heavy bag and my gloves that are stopping the gunshot sounds.

How can you tell other than sound if its a hard shot?

How can you tell for sure?

My heavy bag full of clothes either folds around my hand as it gets slammed into the tree or it has a siezure and bounces up and down in a wonkey way in place.

I do tend to dig deep on the bag because its kinda soft on teh inside with the clothes so I have to to get any sort of resistance.

My hand moves really freaking fast, and it feels like I landed heavily on one foot as I transfer the weight just by rotating my hips, but the sound on the bag isnt the gunshot sound I would like it to be.


Johnny N November 8, 2013 at 6:56 pm

You know the punch is hard because of the power you feel in your body. It’s not necessary to hear a loud smack.


MAS January 31, 2014 at 11:15 am

Quick question if yore still around…

I like to watch footage of great fighters to learn techniques. Now, im not a fighter myself, just a guy with a heavy bag in his basement. I was watching Tyson work the heavy bag with Kevin Rooney and noticed Mike wasnt throwing a lot of punches but sizing up the bag for 10 seconds or so before throwing his 3 to 4 punch combos. I know, we are not gonna ever be iron Mike Tyson but in your tips you say we should always be punching.

Is this just a case of, well…THATS MIKE TYSON or what?


Johnny N February 12, 2014 at 3:09 pm

I honestly don’t know. Maybe they’re working on a technique and Tyson is taking some time to think? Or maybe Tyson is trying to look good for the cameras? I can bet you that he doesn’t stand around for 10 whole seconds when he’s in serious training mode.


MAS February 17, 2014 at 7:16 am

Thanks, bro…

There isnt much footage of the old time, big punchers hitting the heavy bag on youtube.

Id be considered a heavyweight and I get bored jabbing and 1-2ing at the bag so i’d love to see the old guys banging away…Foreman, Frasier, etc…

I love Tysons peek a boo style but I have trouble bending at the knees and exploding like he did throwing his hooks.


Zia March 10, 2014 at 11:31 am

Written with pin point accuracy, Was trying to find some good tips on Youtube, even there I didn’t find anyone talked about looking at the right spot.
Another important and ignored one is # 7 – Breathing.! Perhaps the most important think to remember.

One think more I would like to add, use the power waist into your punches. Practice this art and learn it to perfection, that will save a lot of your punching power.


Chris Forever Young March 21, 2014 at 8:53 am

Excellent article, for newbies, or old guys needing to get back to basics! Boxing was my first combat sport and it ALL starts with the jab! As a natural southpaw, I fight orthodox, so I love my jab and, of course, my left hook!


Johnny N March 23, 2014 at 6:53 pm

Nice highlight video, Chris. Is that you?


Chris Forever Young March 24, 2014 at 8:13 am

Johnny, yessir. From some of my cage fighting matches over the past 4 years. Am retired now (again, heh). Prior to that I boxed in college in the late 80’s and then kickboxed all through the 90’s. Some very good stuff on your site man, thanks!


Johnny N April 8, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Really awesome footage. Thanks for sharing and stopping by, Chris. I’m sure you’ve got a library of experience in your head. Too bad you weren’t in the MMA era, huh?


Juan June 17, 2014 at 3:12 pm

hey Johnny I got sum questions for you


Johnny N July 23, 2014 at 12:50 am

hey Juan, I got a box for those questions. Look below 🙂


mo September 4, 2014 at 5:18 pm

Hi , is it necessary that only those who are professional boxer can work out with punching bags ??? I’m a boy 5’1″. 48 kilo and wanna become fit enough and make a good body , currently doing workout in a regular gym , now I’m thinking to start working with punching bag , should I do or not ? What’s your recommendations ? Kindly reply johnny really need your help .


Johnny N October 15, 2014 at 9:18 pm

I don’t see why not.


mitja October 29, 2014 at 1:00 pm

hi Johny. i’m 4 week out for tournament. i’m i training all time but now i have question about periodisetion for those last 4 weeks. what is better when i’m working on heavy bag(3 – 5 times per week) for those 4 weeks :

a) everything in one work out: bag:few rounds for strategy then power punches, then speed drill and last endurance?

b) everything in one week but on different day mon speed drills on hb, w power punches fri endurance

c) block periodisation: 1. week endurance only, 2. week power 3. week speed?

+ sparing sparing ofcourse, this is question more for specific S&C.

Thank you


Johnny N November 25, 2014 at 12:02 pm

I would do A or B. C sounds very extreme. But A or B or a rough combination of both. I don’t think it matters that much between the 2 considering bag work isn’t that much of your real skill training anyway.


Billy sullivan September 2, 2015 at 6:38 pm

How often should I work the heavy bag? For the most part I work the bag Tuesday Friday and light work on Sunday. Would it be okay to hit it more then three times a week I’m not sure because I do it after I lift but Sunday is just a bag work out


Alex Martinez November 24, 2015 at 8:56 am

Hey what do you think about putting tape on your boxing bag for accurancy?


Johnny N November 25, 2015 at 10:21 am

Yes Alex, it’s common in many gyms and I do like the idea.


Alex Martinez November 25, 2015 at 11:04 pm

Thank you for your time and thank you for doing it from heart cause nobody is paying you … I really appreciate your website thanks 😀


tony December 15, 2015 at 12:01 pm

I been punching the heavy bag for months .. but i hav a dumb question, what are youre thoughts on working out while intoxicated, off weed


Althea Carissa Martinez March 22, 2016 at 4:35 pm

Thank you! I will try it. 🙂 Thanks for the article. Have a nice day! God bless you!


Yavuz April 15, 2016 at 2:29 pm

Great tips… Simple and Functional… very realistic… very helpful…

I will tell my students to read all your tips…

Thank you or this great contribution to boxing…

God bless:)


Ansh June 4, 2016 at 11:24 am



Ansh June 4, 2016 at 11:26 am

Am a beginner …I want to know ..controlling the breath while punching


Eray Bilgi July 29, 2016 at 1:48 am

That is a so useful informations for fighters. I do many of them these technics but I will try to whole of them. Greetings from Turkey. 🙂


cole November 18, 2016 at 8:15 am

what type of gloves should I buy if I’m going to have a heavy bag at my house just to practice on? Do they need to be boxing gloves or are smaller MMA gloves sufficient? I am the very most beginner.


Johnny N November 18, 2016 at 9:12 am

16oz boxing gloves would be my best advice for you. Stay away from the small MMA gloves, they don’t protect your hands as well.


cole November 18, 2016 at 10:44 am

thanks Johnny – I was looking at 12oz boxing gloves but maybe will move up to the bigger ones based on your advice.


Tina C January 3, 2017 at 1:44 am

Loved this article, some of the best advice i’ve read. Here’s my question- I’m a woman and used to use a small heavy bag at home with light bag gloves and then MMA style gloves for about 5 years. Caused myself some hand damage but nothing too serious (one burst blood vessel, but no broken bones).
I moved, stopped boxing for about 3 years, and then recently started going to a gym with a large heavy bag and boxing again. I started using 16oz bag gloves with wraps because i was getting a lot of bruising and scraping. But with the heavy bag gloves, i can go longer, less bruising, but i now seem to be experiencing hand tremors after a workout. Dont remember that from before. Is that normal? Any thoughts? Also, do men get annoyed when they see a woman using a bag? Cuz I’ve gotten a fair amount of weird looks and I’m not used to training in a gym…. (and no, I’m not making noises… lol)


Johnny N January 3, 2017 at 2:37 am

Ignore the guys, Tina. Maybe it’s because you hit harder than they expect. 🙂

I suggest you need better gloves and also a change in the way you wrap your hands and even the way you punch. You could also try not hitting the heavy bag so much. Many pros spend less time on the heavy bag because of the hand trauma.


Tina C. January 4, 2017 at 10:47 pm

Thanks for the response Johnny!
Ha, I dunno if it’s that, but thanks for the laugh 🙂
I kind of get “evil” looks- maybe because some of the gyms have their heavy bags hanging from some of the other equipment? but it’s not my fault where they hang their bag… i would have signed up for a boxing gym but i also do cardio, weights, and yoga/pilates so a regular gym with a heavy bag seemed the most efficient option.

Ironically enough, I looked at your video on handwraps and it turns out that your video/method is the one i chose for my handwrapping! Before i read this article- didnt know it was you (came across these 2 resources separately)! Guess that goes to your efficacy that I agreed with you on 2 separate occasions (and I have done a lot of research). 😀

I have everlast gloves that are practically brand-new (because I used lighter gloves before) so i dunno if it would be the gloves. I have been wrapping my hands pretty tightly- should the wrap be a little loose? (to the point my thumb aches sometimes). Also, should i cut back on hitting hard? I do use the bag for some anger management 😛

Thank you so much for your time, I appreciate it greatly as I know you must be busy!


Johnny N January 8, 2017 at 12:50 pm

Wrap your hands looser, Tina. And also try a different brand of gloves. Maybe Rival or even Casanovas.


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