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Don’t Kill The Heavy Bag!

I get a lot of questions from people about how to avoid or recover from sore or injured hands from working out on the heavy bag.  Common mistakes when people are new to heavy bag training is that they do too much too often or they try to “kill” the bag with as much power as they can muster every time they hit it.

Whether you’re a competitive fighter, a self-defense enthusiast or someone just looking to get fit, heavy bag training is a great activity to add to your workouts.  In addition to developing your striking and kicking skills, it’s great for cardio, toning muscles, burning off body fat and it’s a lot of fun.  It beats jogging on a treadmill for hours on end!

I also believe that subjecting your body to “proper” heavy bag training can increase bone density and strengthen your connective tissues.  For those reasons, I consider it an excellent activity for “mature athletes” who want to maintain those qualities at a point in life when muscle mass and bone density can begin to decline.

My point though is you have to be smart about it.  Many people begin heavy bag training and before long they are smashing it with all of their might.  That can be counter productive in a number of ways.

  1. It increases the probability of soreness and injuries
  2. It tends to lead to sloppy and incorrect body mechanics
  3. It requires more time to recover between heavy bag training sessions
  4. Trying “too hard” will result in excess muscle tension that will slow you down and REDUCE the power that you can generate.

It’s fine to incorporate maximum power heavy bag work once in a while to “test” not develop your striking power.  I suggest though that you give your body time to adapt and become more resilient BEFORE engaging in this type of training.  Keep in mind that punching power increases faster than the time required for your body to adapt to the stress and strain of impact.  It should take you a minimum of 10 weeks or so before your bones and connective tissues are ready for the intensity.

I came across this video of world boxing champ, Manny Pacquiao which is an awesome example of how your heavy bag training should look.  Of course you can incorporate kicking into the mix, but it should give you the idea.

(Notice too that he’s training with boxing gloves, as opposed to thin bag gloves, to further absorb the impact energy of his punches)

Do you agree or disagree?  One way or the other, please feel free to comment.




About Randy LaHaie

I’m the founder of “Protective Strategies,” a training and consulting company providing self-defense and combative fitness solutions to law enforcement, high-risk professionals and private citizens since 1994. I am a retired police officer, court-declared expert in use-of-force and critical incident performance, and a life-long student of self-defense and combative fitness. “My Thing” is to help people incorporate functional and minimalist workout strategies to improve their health, fitness and personal safety.

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