Last updated: March 30, 2021

I have many clients who don’t do martial arts and boxing training but who like the idea of throwing a few punches.

But when I see them at the speed bag, I can often tell that they haven’t been properly coached.

So, I had a boxing friend of mine work with our team to train us on how to hit a speed bag to coach our clients.

And if you want to get started today, then follow these tips on how to use a speed bag properly.

Tips For Hitting Speed Bag

When you see experienced boxers working on the speed bags, it’s quite captivating, and they certainly make it look so easy.

But if you want to avoid looking like a fool in the gym, then work with this approach.

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Beginner Tips

1. Stand Square

man with both his hands in front of his face

You’ll always tell a beginner at a speed bag because they tend to get into a boxing stance.

That might be right when you’re punching a heavy bag, but it simply won’t work here.

Stand less than an arms-length from the bag with your upper body square to it.

That way, you’ll have a lot more control over your arm and hand movements.

2. Set Up The Speed Bag At Forehead Level

The speed bag should also be hanging at about the same height as your face so that you avoid looking down or up at it. It’s the best way to see the rebounds properly.

You’ll also find that this helps you keep your hands at the right level giving you a lot more control over the rhythmic punches.

3. Hit The Speed Bag With Your Palms

black man punching using a speed bag

Most beginners will immediately jump in and hit a speed bag with a fist.

The problem is that you have very little control over the movements of the bag and how it rebounds when you use your knuckles.

Open up your hands and tap the bag in a high-five kind of way.

Also, avoid using boxing gloves and choose hand wraps instead.

Advanced Tips

There’s a reason boxers spend so much time on speed bags, and it all comes down to the fact that it takes a lot of practice to get it right.

But, once you advance from the total beginners’ stage, you can start using some of these Rocky tips.

Here’s how to hit the bag like the pros.

1. Set Your Timer

iphone timer screen

Aim to hit the speed bag for 10 minutes either as part of a warm-up or cool-down routine [1].

And don’t guess about how much time you’ve done.

Grab a phone and set a timer, and then clock down the minutes one fist at a fist.

The benefit of this approach is that you can focus on your speed bag technique and gradually increase the speed and intensity over the same amount of time.

2. Take A video

No, I don’t want you to post it on YouTube or share it on other social media to brag.

Unless you have a coach monitoring your training all the time, you’ll need a  way to assess if you’re doing things wrong.

Set up your phone and take a video and then watch those sections where you might get out of rhythm to see if there is one thing you could improve to hit the bag more consistently like Rocky.

3. Change The Rhythm

man working out with a speed bag at home

As you hit the bag with the side of your fist and get used to timing the rebounds with each fist, it’s time to spice things up a bit.

You can do this by using a different number of punches with one hand, e.g., the easiest change is to go right, right, left, left, and so on.

But you could also do things like three punches with your right hand and two with your left.

It trains your coordination a lot more, even if you get out of sync a bit.

Benefits of Hitting A Speed Bag

man with a speed bag on his hand

There are a few great advantages you gain when you hit the speed bag several times a week.

1. Great For Low Impact Cardio

Unlike heavy punching bags, using a speed bag is a type of training that is very low impact.

It’s why many boxing pros make it part of their warm-up routine, as it gets the blood flowing and heart racing without putting much strain on the body.

The whole idea behind the speed bag isn’t to punch as hard as you can with your hands and fists. It’s about focusing on a bag at eye-level and gradually increasing the speed and technique. 

Once you master the technique, you’ll be surprised how high you can get your heart rate in a matter of minutes.

2. Hand-Eye Coordination

woman in a boxing stance

When you’re new to this equipment, hitting the bag consistently more than twice with your hands will be a struggle.

That’s mainly down to a lack of coordination between your hands and eyes.

It takes a lot of practice to get the technique right.

And you always want the bag at eye-level because so much of the exercise is about focusing on your eyes, not the fist movement.

Ultimately, it’s crucial for boxers as it increases their reflexes and the precision of every punch. Rocky never guessed where his punches would land.

3. Focus On Keeping Your Hands Up

One thing you’ll hear coaches shout in a boxing gym is “keep your hands up!”

While the fighting stance with the elbows tucked in to protect the body is different from the stance at a speed bag, the technique forces you to use a speed bag with your hands always up high [2].

A friend of mine who is a boxing coach will send his newbies to hit the bag for punishment if they drop their fists too low.

Now let’s look at routines many boxers use.

“The speed bag doesn’t achieve one, singular goal. It isn’t just about eye-hand coordination or speed. When it is used correctly, it can provide some beneficial edges that other pieces of equipment don’t.”

 

-Dough Ward, Boxing trainer, and contributor at TitleBoxing.com.

Speed Bag Training Routines

teen learning how to use a speed bag

Here are four very different speed bag workouts that help you learn the technique and skills.

1. Accuracy

You’ll need a small speed bag for this one, and it’s all about precision as you hit the bag.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Set up the bag at head height and fully pumped up to give more bounce.
  2. Start slowly punching it with your knuckles and watch it bounce in a perfectly straight line.
  3. Punch slightly off-center and watch the angle of the rebound change.
  4. Adjust your feet and slowly move around the bag in a circle while maintaining the same rhythm.
  5. Work all the way around the speed bag back to the starting position.

2. Speed

bald man working out with a speed bag

It’s kind of obvious for speed bag exercises, but most people struggle to increase the speed of their strikes.

Here’s what you should do:

  1. Set a timer on your phone for 30 seconds.
  2. Start punching at a reasonable rhythm that you know you can maintain.
  3. Make solid contact with each fist, allowing your arms to flow naturally.
  4. Count the number of punches and repeat the exercise a few times.
  • For your next training sessions, aim to increase the number of strikes by 1 for the same 30-second interval.
  • Gradually increase by one punch as your skills, strength, and endurance improve.

3. Stamina

Using a punching bag is a great way to improve upper-body strength and cardiovascular stamina [3].

But there is one technique that can really help to improve your stamina.

Here’s what you should do:

  1. Aim to punch the speed bag at a steady rhythm so that you feel the burn after 1 minute.
  2. Repeat this for 4 sets with 20 seconds of rest between each set.
  3. The next time, try to increase the time for the sets by 15 seconds while keeping the pace the same.
  4. Continue this for several weeks until you can reach 3 minutes per set and notice the increased arm endurance.

4. Strength

tall man using a speed bag inside a gym

This is a very different type of exercise and more of a shoulder training to increase your punching power.

Here’s what you should do:

  1. Deflate the bag so that you can still see the shape without creases.
  2. Get into a proper boxing stance with your elbows tucked in.
  3. Now, strike the bag as hard as you can with one fist.
  4. Count how many times the bag hits the back of the platform.
  5. Repeat it for each type of punch and keep a record of the drills over time.

FAQs

Is a Speed Bag a Good Workout?

Yes, a speed bag is a good workout. A speed bag workout is not just for improving eye to fist coordination, but you can also use it as a great cardio trainer with low impact on joints. Professionals also adapt the use to increase their stamina and strength.

How Long Should You Hit the Speed Bag For?

You should hit a speed bag for at least 5 minutes. Most boxers will aim for 10 minutes to warm up their muscles and regularly go through drills in between other types of workouts.

Did You Like Our Speed Bag Workout Routines?

Look, you honestly don’t need to have goals of hitting the bag like Rocky to get great benefits from using a speed bag. Hell, you don’t even need to have any interest in fighting, MMA, or kickboxing at all.

Working out on a speed bag gives you great drills to get fitter and stronger, and it’s a great way to let off some steam without having to face an actual opponent.

Try it out for your next gym session, and then share your experience with us on social media.


References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19996770/
  2. https://www.reddit.com/r/amateur_boxing/comments/4a196z/keeping_your_hands_up/
  3. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/endurance-exercise-aerobic

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